Are you having a sympathetic pregnancy?

Your spouse is pregnant, gaining weight and experiencing the symptoms. But how is it that, as her spouse, you’re gaining weight and experiencing these symptoms too? You might experiencing what’s called a sympathetic pregnancy — and it’s not all in your head.  If you’re experiencing similar pregnancy symptoms as your spouse, you might be suffering from  Couvade Syndrome.

What is Couvade Syndrome?

Couvade Syndrome is a condition when a father-to-be experiences common pregnancy symptoms like mood swings, nausea, anxiety and food cravings, just like his spouse. The name “couvade” is derived from French, which means “incubate,” and the condition is also known as sympathetic pregnancy.

There’s no actually findings on how many men experience Couvade Syndrome as most men never report their symptoms. However, researchers think that as much as up to 65% of men experience some degree of it. All you have to do is pay attention to how many men put on weight during their wives’ pregnancy, and you’ll find that it’s actually pretty common.

Why does Couvade Syndrome happen?

Couvade Syndrome may seem inexplicable but may actually be explained by science. Canadian researchers in the 80s found that fathers-to-be actually experienced hormonal changes in their bodies, such as a fall in testosterone levels and an increase of prolactin and cortisol as the due date approaches. They believed that this was the body’s way of preparing men for fatherhood, and may also explain how men can form strong bonds with their baby even though they did not go through the process of labour.

There is also some element of psychology linked to Couvade Syndrome. Scientist found that men who have struggled with infertility or miscarriages tend to experience Couvade Syndrome more often, as they are usually more empathic and psychologically attached to the pregnancy.

How can I control Couvade Syndrome?

Since Couvade Syndrome isn’t an illness, there is nothing to worry about if you have the symptoms. It actually helps if you understand the biological changes behind it, so that you can accept that it’s real and normal.

Many of the symptoms of Couvade Syndrome are linked to anxiety caused by excessive cortisol, so taking steps to manage your stress will help reduce the severity of the symptoms. Be an active partner in the pregnancy process, such as attending pre-natal classes with your wife, and talk about your child’s future with your wife. You will feel less anxious if you feel more prepared for your child’s arrival.

Lastly, now that you know about Couvade Syndrome, be more supportive to your friends also anticipating impending fatherhood. Don’t laugh at them if they show signs of Couvade Syndrome, but instead talk to them about their fears and give them good pointers for getting ready for parenthood.