Men Fall Pregnant Too! A Look at Couvade Syndrome

The manifestation of the condition can vary widely. Anything from simple weight gain to back pains during pregnancy and stomach spasms during birth. As many as 80% of expectant fathers can experience Couvade in some form or other, although only a very few will display the more dramatic symptoms.

Symptoms of Couvade can include:

  • Variations in appetite
  • Weight Gain
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea/Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Toothaches
  • Mood swings
  • Backache
  • Itchy skin
  • Food cravings

It seems that the symptoms are most profound during the third and fourth month then again just as the birth approaches. All symptoms seem to disappear after the birth.

The reasons for the manifestation of Couvade in modern man is of course poorly understood. Many theories exist for the onset of this psychosomatic condition, here are a few:

  • A physical expression of anxiety over the birth.
  • Sympathy/empathy with your partner.
  • A form of pretend sibling rivalry where your partner becomes the sibling that you want to outdo.
  • A method of identifying with the foetus.
  • A display of guilt for having impregnated your partner.
  • An assertion of paternity.
  • Outward appearances of ambivalence towards fatherhood being counteracted by internal anxiety.
  • Jealousy of the mother's ability to carry the child.
  • Jealousy of the mother's birth experience.

As you can see, there are many alternative theories, so pick one that most suits your character.

The best way to fight Couvade is to firstly understand that it really does exist and that it is simply a basic human reaction to the pregnancy. The next thing to do is to try to understand why you are reacting in the way you are. Most men show only very mild symptoms, so unless you feel the baby kicking inside of you or you need pads for your leaking breast milk, then you don't really need to worry.

Couvade is becoming more common in the western world with the social changes that have taken place in the last thirty years that now allow the man to take a more active and caring role in pregnancy. The most common manifestation of Couvade is caused by the deep empathy that you have towards your partner and the changes that she is going through.

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