Male Sympathetic Pregnancy
Understanding Couvade Syndrome
It may seem hard to believe, but the next time your husband complains that he too has morning sickness, or that he is putting on the pregnancy pounds as well, don’t be too hasty to scoff at the idea! He may be experiencing Couvade Syndrome.
“Couvade” (which comes from the French word couver, meaning “to hatch”) may effect as many as 80 percent of expectant fathers, according to Scientific American. While many men experience this syndrome in one form or another, only a small percentage will display the more dramatic symptoms.
Dr. Carol Kleinman, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, says that Couvade Syndrome has come to mean “a man having a sympathetic pregnancy and is the condition where a husband of a pregnant woman develops some of the symptoms of pregnancy.”
According to Dr. Kleinman, the typical symptoms include vomiting, weight gain, indigestion, increased or decreased appetite, diarrhea, constipation, toothaches, and headaches. Other symptoms include mood swings, itchy skin, and insomnia. “It usually begins at the end of the first trimester and increases in severity until the third trimester—and the only known cure for Couvade is birth,” says Dr. Kleinman.
Michelle Ramos, 33 weeks pregnant with her first baby, says that her husband, Daniel, started his symptoms almost from the day she found out she was pregnant. “I had heartburn from the first day and thought I had an ulcer until I realized I was late for my period. From the very beginning Daniel wasn’t well either—it seemed like for every three TUMS I ate, he had to have a couple himself. We went through a lot of TUMS in those early days!”
When Ramos experienced abdominal cramping between weeks eight and 15 due to her stomach stretching out a little, her husband ached right along with her. “Since he obviously wasn’t pregnant, we didn’t know what was wrong with him. I would call my mom and tell her the stories about his strange behavior and she would laugh and tell me that my father had behaved in the same way. So I knew it was possible for men to act funny during pregnancy, but we didn’t know it was an actual syndrome, with a name, until about the fourth or fifth month.”
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