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Keywords:

  • men;
  • in vitro fertilization;
  • personality;
  • anxiety;
  • father–infant relationship

The psychological functioning of fathers with children born after in vitro fertilization (IVF) has received little attention. Among men in general, little is known about predictors of early father–infant relationship (here also defined as attachment). The first aim was to compare IVF fathers and control fathers regarding personality traits, state anxiety, depressive symptoms and early father–infant attachment. The second aim was to assess whether early father–infant relationship is explained by the father’s prenatal relationship with the unborn infant, his personality traits, state anxiety and symptoms of depression. Fifty-three IVF fathers and 36 controls filled in self-rating scales measuring father–infant attachment, personality, anxiety and symptoms of depression at 2 months postpartum. At gestational week 26 their prenatal relationship to the unborn infant was assessed. It was found that IVF fathers rated more somatic and psychic anxiety, indirect aggression and less assertiveness. They were as strongly attached to their infant as the controls. Fathers, who had rated higher attachment to their unborn infant during pregnancy, who were less anxious, more assertive and less irritable, were more attached to their infants than men who had been less attached to their unborn infants and who were more anxious, less assertive and more irritable. In conclusion, although IVF fathers are as strongly attached to their infants as other fathers, they may benefit from emotional support as they have elevated levels of anxiety proneness and indirect aggression. It is important to pay attention during pregnancy to fathers who have a less optimal attachment to their unborn infant and who have high levels of anxiety and irritability, as those three factors are related to a weak emotional father–infant relationship.