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When Dads Feel What Moms Feel: Delving into Couvade Syndrome

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Couvade Syndrome

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You might be familiar with the term “sympathy weight,” which refers to the extra pounds a father gains while his partner is pregnant. However, for certain fathers, the experience of impending fatherhood can extend beyond just gaining weight. Men whose partners are expecting a baby might develop diverse physical and emotional symptoms similar to pregnancy, a phenomenon known as couvade syndrome a.k.a sympathetic pregnancy.

What is Couvade Syndrome?

Couvade syndrome, or simply couvade, refers to the occurrence of sympathetic pregnancy symptoms in men. The term “couvade” originates from the Breton word “couver,” meaning brood, hatch, or incubate. In this phenomenon, some men undergo symptoms resembling those felt by their partners during pregnancy. While various experts have studied this phenomenon, it’s important to note that Couvade syndrome is not officially recognized as a medical condition or psychological disorder.

Anthropologists have connected couvade to ritualistic practices of ancient societies. These rituals involved men mimicking pregnancy experiences during their partners’ pregnancies, even going so far as to simulate labor and delivery.

The contemporary understanding of couvade could be linked to evolving perspectives on fatherhood, highlighting the more involved and participatory role that expectant fathers may take on during the stages of pregnancy and childbirth.

Couvade Syndrome and the Evolution of Fatherhood Perspectives

In the annals of tradition, fathers were cast in the role of providers and guardians, their presence often confined to that of mere observers during their partner’s pregnancy.

Fast forward to today, fathers now step into a prominent spotlight within their partner’s pregnancy journey. This includes involvement in prenatal classes, actively participating in childbirth, and even skin-to-skin contact with their freshly minted bundle of joy. As this paternal engagement in the pregnancy voyage deepens, it’s possible that an amplified self-awareness of their own pregnancy-like experiences blooms, potentially fueling a heightened recognition of couvade syndrome.

Are Men Capable of Feeling Pregnancy Symptoms?

While men don’t experience pregnancy in the same physical way as women, some men can feel Couvade syndrome symptoms, both emotional and physical. Here’s what some of those symptoms are:

Couvade Syndrome Symptoms

– Feeling sick or throwing up (nausea and vomiting)

– Stomach troubles, like pain, bloating, or problems with going to the bathroom (diarrhea or constipation)

–  A burning feeling in your chest (heartburn)

– Changes in how hungry you are

– Gaining or losing weight

– Toothaches

– Backaches

– Skin issues

– Cramps in your legs

– Feeling like you might faint

– Feeling weak

– Irritation in your private parts or when you pee.

-Emotional Symptoms:

– Changes in how you sleep

– Feeling nervous or worried (anxiety)

– Feeling sad (depression)

– Not wanting to be close to someone in a romantic way (low libido)

– Not being able to sit still

When Does Couvade Syndrome Start and How Long Does Couvade Syndrome Last?

Experts have noticed that sympathetic pregnancy symptoms often start during the first few months of the pregnant partner’s pregnancy. Then they might go away for a while, usually during the middle part of the pregnancy. But, surprise! They might come back in the last few months when things are getting close to the baby being born.

Can It Be Treated?

Here’s the thing: there isn’t a special treatment for these symptoms, which aren’t considered a sickness or a mental problem. But, if you’re going through these symptoms while your partner is pregnant, there are some things you can try to make them better.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Learn about what’s coming. Go to classes or read about being a parent.
  2. Have a conversation with someone about how you’re feeling. It could be your partner or someone close to you. They might have some good advice or just be there to listen.
  3. Get ready for what’s ahead. You can make your home safe for the baby or just get your mind ready for being a dad.

Remember, you’re not alone, and there are ways to make things easier.

Final Thoughts

The intriguing phenomenon known as Couvade Syndrome sheds light on the intricate connections between expectant fathers and the pregnancy journey of their partners. While men cannot physically experience pregnancy, the emergence of pregnancy-like symptoms, both physical and emotional, showcases the remarkable interplay between empathy, psychological factors, and hormonal shifts.

As the traditional roles of fathers continue to evolve, Couvade Syndrome underscores the increasing involvement of fathers in pregnancy and childbirth. It highlights the depth of emotional connection and shared experience that can occur between partners during this transformative phase of life.


1. What causes Couvade syndrome?

Couvade syndrome, also known as sympathetic pregnancy, is believed to be influenced by a combination of factors. Strong emotional bonding and empathy between expectant fathers and their pregnant partners may trigger physical and psychological symptoms. Stress, anxiety, and changing hormonal levels are also thought to play a role, while shifts in societal perceptions of fatherhood and increased participation in pregnancy-related activities might contribute to the development of this phenomenon. However, the exact cause of Couvade syndrome is still a subject of ongoing research and discussion.

2. Is Couvade syndrome real or fake?

While some skepticism exists due to its complex nature and lack of clear understanding, there is anecdotal and research-based evidence supporting the existence of Couvade syndrome. It's not considered a formal medical condition, but rather a collection of symptoms with underlying emotional, psychological, and possibly hormonal factors.

3. When does Couvade syndrome start?

Symptoms often emerge in expectant fathers during the first trimester, which is the initial three months of the pregnancy. These symptoms might then subside or lessen during the second trimester, only to potentially resurface and intensify in the third trimester, closer to the time of childbirth. The timing can vary for each individual, but the general pattern involves symptoms appearing early and potentially recurring later in the pregnancy.

4. How long does Couvade syndrome last?

Couvade syndrome symptoms typically occur during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy and may last for a few weeks to several months. However, the duration can vary widely among individuals.


On behalf of the editorial team at Parenthoodbliss, we follow strict reporting guidelines and only use credible sources, along with peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and highly respected health organizations. To learn about how we maintain content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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