Why Some Men Might Experience Pregnancy Symptoms When Their Partner Is Expecting a Baby

year ago

Fatigue, nausea, and reflux are some of the symptoms a woman can expect to have during certain stages of her pregnancy. What she may not expect is that her partner could possibly also develop some of these, all the more so because men cannot get pregnant. But even if that’s the case, men can actually experience some of the discomforts that women have when pregnant. In fact, not only is this a fact, but it’s much more common than what you might think.

<strong>Bright Side looked for the cause of this peculiar phenomenon and this is what we found.

What is this phenomenon called and what does it mean

When a couple is expecting a baby, they might be sharing something more than just the excitement, doubts, and long hours of shopping to welcome their baby. Chances are they are also sharing some symptoms.

This phenomenon is known as “couvade syndrome.” The name comes from the French, and it means something like “to hatch.” However, you might know it by its more popular name: sympathetic pregnancy. This name really hits the mark, as a male partner may experience altered hormone levels, nausea, weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, and even labor pains, depending on the case.

How common is the condition

While this condition is not yet fully acknowledged as being a health-related disorder, there are differences of opinion among physicians and other scientists as to what causes it. More research is needed to fully understand the nature of the syndrome.

However, several studies have found that this condition is rather common. It may affect a large percentage of expectant fathers. Results may vary depending on their nationality, and symptoms can appear late in the third month or further along in the last trimester of a woman’s pregnancy.

Why does couvade syndrome occur

Although experts still do not know why some male partners exhibit these symptoms, there are a number of theories that have tried to explain it.

According to certain researchers, it may be a somatization response. While the name might seem scary, somatic symptoms are just physical symptoms that have an emotional root. Think of, for example, when you’re in love or very excited and you feel “butterflies in your stomach.” It may be that the stress and anticipation of a new baby and the new responsibilities that fatherhood comes with can produce symptoms in men, similar to those experienced during pregnancy.

Other scholars claim that couvade syndrome could be caused by a series of hormonal changes that men undergo when their partner is pregnant. They think there could be a reduction in testosterone and cortisol production and an increase in prolactin and estrogen, hormones normally associated with the female body.

On the other hand, there are scientists who believe that the more involved a future father is with the pregnancy and delivery of his partner, the more likely he is to share his partner’s discomfort. It would be a way to express empathy with the mother and a strong desire to identify with his new role as a father.

How to manage the condition if it occurs

Fortunately, once a woman gives birth, her partner’s symptoms are likely to go away as quickly and suddenly as they first appeared. Meanwhile, it might be a good idea to keep in mind that these are nothing but temporary ailments that won’t put anybody’s health at risk. The best way to handle them is to find ways to ease them.

Some of the recommended options are for you to exercise or even meditate to deal with anxiety. You can also take natural medicines and above all, it’s important to have a balanced diet to counteract stomach discomfort or, if necessary, therapy for a more personalized solution. In any case, feel free to consult with a physician for other options.

Bonus: A story from an internet user

When I was pregnant, my husband peed more often than me, used my body pillow, and put hot water bottle on his back before bed because it hurt. He had a harder time than me. © psydelem / Reddit

Did this happen to your partner or to a man close to you? Do you have a funny story about something that happened to you or another couple while they were expecting a child?

Please note: This article was updated in January 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Preview photo credit Depositphotos.com, psydelem / Reddit


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My other half definitely picked up on my symptoms. Sympathy pains lol


Let’s hear it for the excited and nervous dads out there. We love you. Support and love is a beautiful thing. Moms are amazing. Dads can be wonderful too. Interesting article.


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