“We are pregnant.”

Coined from the French term “couver,” meaning to hide, Couvade (/koo-vahd/) Syndrome refers to a recently acknowledged phenomenon in which men who are emotionally and psychologically attuned to their pregnant partners experience shared pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness, bloating, reduced libido, change in urinary or bowel habits, nausea, and emotionally erratic behavior. It is also known as sympathetic pregnancy or pregnant dad syndrome. Typically, symptoms begin during the first trimester, subside during the second, peak during the third trimester and disappear after birth.

The theories postulated are few and varied, ranging from somatization to pregnancy related lifestyle changes, with there being no consensus explanation for the strange syndrome.

Some schools of thought believe pregnancy symptoms in men are rooted in a subconsciously envious reaction to the ability of a woman to carry a child, while others maintain the less cynical view that the syndrome is a physiological expression of the guilt and empathy husbands feel for their wives as they go through the tedious and transformative process of childbearing.

A third postulate is that the weight gain men experience is likely due to their wives’ appetite changes. Everyone knows a pregnant woman’s cravings are not to be questioned, and often these new tastes are inclined towards the nutrients required by the growing fetus, including triglycerides and fatty food sources.

Hormone levels also change during pregnancy, favoring an increase in feminine hormones such as estradiol and a reduction in testosterone.

The extent of symptoms have been shown to be related to the level of paternal attachment to the pregnancy. Enthusiastic fathers who participate in bonding rituals such as listening to the baby’s heartbeat, frequently feeling for kicks, attending antenatal appointments, etc are likelier to experience Couvade.

Because it is a transient syndrome that leaves no long-lasting effect on the bearer other than feelings of discomfort or concern, Couvade is generally not treated. It should also be noted that despite the psychosocial theories, it is not qualified as a mental illness. However, if the discomfort proves serious, therapy and meditation is always advised to relieve anxiety.


Happy Father’s Day!!!