Men can suffer from sympathetic pregnancy

Do you remember that film “Junior”? If you cast your brain back to 1994, you might have a vague recollection of Arnold Schwarzenegger with a giant pregnant belly – yes, that movie…

It was totally weird but pretty hilarious – Arnie gave birth via C-section (in case you were wondering) – and totally unrealistic, of course.

But there is such a thing as ‘sympathetic pregnancy’, also known as Couvade Syndrome (originating from the French word ‘couver’ which means ‘to hatch’, which is basically a condition in which dads-to-be experience pregnancy symptoms similar to those experienced by their expectant partners. Sympathetic pregnancy… Fo’ real folks!

Guys may gain weight, experience nausea, cravings, disturbed sleep, indigestion… all the usual suspects. “Prima Baby & Pregnancy” reports that none out of ten expectant fathers experience at least one of their partner’s pregnancy symptoms (July 2013, p64).

Experts aren’t certain whether sympathetic pregnancy is psychosomatic or an actual biological occurrence – and there is much debate and disagreement on the matter, as well as loads of theories relating to its origin.

A study into sympathetic pregnancy reported in 2007 and conducted by researchers at St George’s University, London hypothesised that symptoms could be related to anxiety over the pregnancy. Anxiety or stress affects hormone levels and… funny things happen.

There are also a bunch of evolutionary theories floating around; if you’re interested Google will spew up a myriad of information for your curious brain to feast upon.

The good news is that the symptoms of sympathetic pregnancy are almost always temporary – so don’t panic if your man has a swollen belly and a weird case of the moobs. It’ll go away.

For more info on Couvade Syndrome, read:

* “Strange but true: Couvade syndrome (sympathetic pregnancy)” at Babycentre.com

* “Men suffer from phantom pregnancy” on bbc.co.uk