Bringing new life into the world is both thrilling and terrifying, especially for first-time parents. It’s not just moms who feel the pangs of pregnancy — some otherwise healthy dads can experience physical symptoms too.
Couvade syndrome, also commonly called sympathetic pregnancy, is the phenomenon in which the partner will experience some of the same symptoms and behavior as the pregnant partner.
To better understand couvade syndrome, it’s important to know which symptoms men are prone to experiencing when their partners are pregnant and to openly discuss these feelings. That way, you can both do your best to navigate this exciting, albeit stressful period in your lives.
Luckily for you, we’ve outlined four common pregnancy symptoms in expectant fathers and how to manage them in this article.
1. Morning Sickness
Approximately two thirds of women experience nausea or vomiting — a.k.a morning sickness — during the first trimester of pregnancy. Some studies hypothesize that the purpose of morning sickness is to protect the fragile embryo by causing women to expel potentially harmful toxins in foods.
A psychoanalytical theory suggests men experience sympathetic morning sickness due to their envy of the woman’s ability to create life in her body. While it’s certainly an interesting theory, there’s not much scientific evidence that substantiates this claim or any other reason as to why expectant fathers experience nausea and vomiting alongside their pregnant partners.
Need a natural remedy to combat morning sickness symptoms for both mom and dad?
Brew a cup of ginger tea in the morning. Ginger root’s active compound, gingerol reduces nausea and has anti-inflammatory properties to improve digestion.
You can also pay attention to nausea triggers such as certain foods and scents and try to avoid them around the house. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day to remain hydrated.
2. Mood Swings
Thanks to science, we understand that a surge of pregnancy hormones in a woman’s body is partly responsible for the wide range of emotional changes she may experience. Interestingly, men with couvade syndrome are reported to experience the side effects of pregnancy hormone changes too, which include intensified mood swings — elated or calm one moment to suddenly irritable and upset the next. However, there aren’t any definitive studies on the cause for couvade syndrome mood swings.
These mood swings can be tricky to navigate for both partners, as pregnancy can be a particularly stressful point in expectant parents’ lives. The best way to manage this symptom for both parties is to talk things out and express yourself openly with your partner.
You can also keep your mood in check by ensuring you’re getting enough sleep, exercising, eating a balanced diet, and are managing your stress levels.
3. Weight Gain
A British study found that expectant fathers gained 14 lbs on average during their partner’s pregnancy. An online survey following up on the study came up with these reasons why men experienced this weight gain:
- Dining out more frequently
- New snack options in the house to accomodate hormonal food cravings
- Make their partners feel better about their own weight gain
- Serving larger portions as the expectant mom is now eating for two
How can you control sympathetic pregnancy weight gain?
Since there’s no concrete explanation as to why some men experience couvade syndrome, it’s tricky to pin down exactly what’s going on in the body that causes these symptoms in men.
The best advice we can offer here is to have expectant fathers work on managing their stress levels. Setting up the right tools to handle stress will set you up into fatherhood, as raising a child comes with drastic life changes and new responsibilities.
Here are some excellent stress management tips:
- Prioritize what’s important in your life and make time for it and eliminate stressful tasks
- Avoid caffeine late into the afternoon
- Avoid alcohol, which increases cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body
- Exercise — exercising releases endorphins (feel good hormones)
- Box breathing — box breathing is a technique in where you practice taking slow deep breaths to focus the mind
4. Unexplained Aches And Pains
Expectant fathers can sometimes experience leg cramps, back pain, headaches, and other unexplainable pains from couvade syndrome. Again, there’s not enough research conducted as to why these physical symptoms appear — but you’ll have to learn how to roll with these punches as they come.
Some studies speculate that these symptoms could very well be psychological as an uncontrollable urge to compete with the mother because of the important role they will have in their child’s life.
No matter the reason for why your partner is experiencing pain, be sympathetic and offer your support when you can.
His body may not be undergoing the same hormonal changes as your body — but his symptoms aren’t to be ignored. Having open communication throughout the pregnancy will help both of you cope through these pregnancy symptoms and strengthen your bond all the more.
Give him the love and attention that he needs to feel better by being a source of comfort for him. He’ll reciprocate by being the person you count on most while pregnant too.
Above all, you need to take care of yourself, not only during pregnancy but post pregnancy too. Invest in a comfortable postpartum recovery plan with a Bellefit postpartum girdle. These girdles are so much more than high-quality shape wear undergarments — they provide medical-grade compression to ease postpartum pain, provide abdominal and back support, and can help you confidently fit into your slimmer clothes.
Your body goes through incredible changes during pregnancy and again in your recovery as your uterus shrinks back to size and your hormones adjust to baseline. While losing your pregnancy weight will take a lot of hard work and persistence, you can depend on the support of Bellefit girdles.
No matter what odd symptoms come your way as expectant parents, just know that you’ll come out of it together much stronger — and all worries will disappear when you gaze into the eyes of your newborn baby.
We would love to hear back your experiences related to couvade or sympathetic pregnancy symptoms. Don’t hesitate to share back anything we might have missed.