Have you ever hear of Couvade Syndrome? Most men haven’t heard of this and as a matter of fact most don’t even realize this is a thing… until it is too late.
Pregnancy is good news not only for the mother-to-be and father-to-be but for all their relatives. However, the period of pregnancy is characterized by a lot of stress and surprises for the mother-to-be who may experience all sorts of changes in her body including mood swing, nausea, vomiting, and hormonal imbalance. The common notion is that women are the only ones who undergo these changes but that’s not true. The father-to-be also experiences a change in his body and the balance of his hormones that are similar to that of the pregnant woman.
Sympathetic Pregnancy Pains
The changes that expecting fathers experience during the nine months gestation period is commonly called sympathetic pregnancy pains, which is characterized by a lot of physiological and psychological symptoms such as stress, anxiety, sleep disorders, weight gain, vomiting, nausea and much more. It is believed by many individuals that this notion is a myth but it has been proven to be a fact and correct medically.
There is no need to worry if you are currently experiencing something like this as it is believed to be completely normal. In addition, the symptoms often go away after pregnancy but this is a disputable fact. Some researchers argue that the symptoms don’t go away after her pregnancy.
For instance, a study published in 2015 investigated the causes of sympathetic pregnancy pains and concluded that the symptoms especially weight gain does not disappear after the female partner gives birth. The study which was published in the American Journal of Men’s Health was conducted by a pediatrician at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Dr. Craig Garfield, and his colleagues.
The researchers followed the life of 10,263 men for 20 years from when they were 12 years old and found that their weight and height changed over time as the study participant became fathers and when they did not (For the men who did). The investigators then concluded that weight gain in fathers-to-be may remain even after delivery.
What Is Couvade Syndrome? (Pregnant Dad Syndrome)
The sympathetic pregnancy pain is also referred to as pregnant dad syndrome or Couvade Syndrome. The word “couvade” is derived from a French term “couver” which is translated as “To brood.”
In recent times, Couvade Syndrome is viewed by many as the natural want and desire of the father of the fetus to be more involved in the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Compared to decades ago, men are now more involved with these processes that they may experience symptoms that are similar to that of the expecting mother. Pregnant women require all the help they can get and most of it comes from the expecting father.
Apart from just the need to help a pregnant woman, many men feel more responsible when they take care of their partners. It also gives them the chance to show love to both mother and baby even before the baby is born.
Expecting fathers are as anxious as their pregnant partners to meet the newest member of the family and this is a big change in the life of the duo. It is reported that the symptoms of Couvade Syndrome usually commence in the first trimester of pregnancy and may gradually increase during the pregnancy.
Early Symptoms of Couvade Syndrome
As already mentioned above, the symptoms are similar to that of the pregnant partner including:
- mood swings
- weight gain
- …and the likes
According to a report filed in 2005 by Sanjay Gupta, M.D who was the then chief medical correspondent for CNN, about 90 percent of men experience at least one pregnancy-like symptom when their partner is pregnant. Chief among them is weight gain as this is an obvious symptom that can be easily noticed by expecting dads and people around them.
It is stated in the Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology that these symptoms may be the natural consequence of the envy of the procreative abilities of women by their male counterparts.
Common Couvade Syndrome Symptoms
The common symptoms of couvade syndrome include but are not limited to respiratory problems, weight gain, diarrhea, heartburn, bloating, genital irritations, indigestion, leg cramps, toothache, backaches, restlessness, depression, nausea, headache, low libido, decreased or increased appetite, anxiety, mood swings, constipation, sleep disorders, vomiting, abdominal pain and other pregnancy-related symptoms.
These symptoms are usually mild and may go away by themselves after a short period of time. However, you can take the common pharmaceutical medications prescribed to treat the symptoms you are experiencing. It is recommended to speak with your doctor before taking any medication.
Causes Of Couvade Syndrome
There is no universally accepted explanation for Couvade Syndrome but there are several explanations that are believed to have addressed the reasons why men experience these symptoms when their partner is pregnant. However, it is believed that the condition is not a result of any disease or mental illness.
The first explanation states that stress is the primary culprit behind Couvade Syndrome. Pregnancy is a stressful period for both the pregnant woman and her partner because he has to assist her with things around the house as well as the changes she is experiencing. Stress may cause men to experience a number of symptoms that may be similar to that of an expecting mother.
It has also been argued that Couvade Syndrome is caused by several factors including a statement of paternity, expression of somatized anxiety, identification with the fetus, pseudo-sibling rivalry, uncertainty about the pregnancy, hesitation about becoming a father, and envy about the procreating abilities of women, just to name a few.
Sleep disorders are common among pregnant women. This is another way for fathers-to-be to stress out as they will have to stay awake to keep their pregnant partner company when they are unable to sleep for one reason or the other.
Severity Levels of Couvade Syndrome
Some say that the symptoms of Couvade Syndrome may differ in terms of severity from one person to another. There are several factors that determine how people experience the syndrome.
For instance, it is reported that men who grew up without having their fathers around may experience more Couvade symptoms compared to those who did have their father around. The same goes for men who have battled with infertility and miscarriages of their unborn child at some point in their lives.
The changes pregnant women experience with their hormones, mood swings, and even appetite can also contribute to the symptoms of Couvade Syndrome. When a woman is pregnant, she may lose appetite for some types of food and have an increased appetite for others. She may also crave eating out every now and then. Most men actively participate in the life and activities of their pregnant wives and may eat what she craves thus gaining more weight.
How To Manage Couvade Syndrome
After understanding what Couvade Syndrome entails, the first set of questions that runs through the mind is “What’s the cure? ” and “How can I prevent it?.”
It is important to reiterate that Couvade Syndrome is not a disease or an illness and so we cannot cure it by any pharmaceutical drug designed to treat or prevent the condition. In addition, judging from the possible causes of the syndrome, one can only manage and mitigate but not cure or prevent.
There are several ways to manage the condition and chief among them is understanding what Couvade Syndrome is all about.
Experts believe that the best way for men to manage the condition is to hear and understand what it is, the major factors that influence it, what to expect, and possible ways to manage it. This is especially because of the stress and anxiety that correlate with having a symptom that you are unable to explain may be enough to accelerate the severity of your condition.
Preparing to Be a Father
Meanwhile, if you already know what you are signing up for, you will be physically and mentally ready to face it, thus handling it properly. Furthermore, preparing to become a dad may be stressful, hence learning to manage stress while getting ready for the baby’s arrival will help to reduce the severity of the symptoms associated with Couvade Syndrome. If you do not treat stress for a long period of time, it may be overwhelming and even lead to other critical health conditions like depression, high blood pressure, cognitive disorders, cardiovascular diseases and many others.
Expecting dads may also manage the symptoms of Couvade Syndrome by actively engaging in the activities that pregnant woman often do to manage stress and other pregnancy-related symptoms. This may sound too hectic to some men who are busy with other affairs, but it will go a long way in helping you manage your symptoms properly.
These activities may include attending prenatal classes with your pregnant partner, daily exercises, prenatal visits to your OB-GYN, massage for the two of you, talking to your partner about how you feel, and planning for the baby’s arrival together. These activities can be beneficial in treating the symptoms of Couvade Syndrome. They are also effective in strengthening the bond between you and your partner. Controlling what you eat and when you eat is another amazing way to prevent weight gain during this period.
Managing Couvade Syndrome With Herbal Supplements
Alternatively, you may consider trying out natural herbal remedies for your symptoms. There are several herbs that are beneficial in treating and preventing Couvade Syndrome-related symptoms such as valerian root extract, maca root extract, Tongkat Ali, ashwagandha and many others.
Herbs like ashwagandha and maca root extract are effective in regulating the balance of important hormones in the body including adrenaline, estrogen, insulin, and testosterone. Ashwagandha can also regulate the level of cortisol in the body by about 28 percent. This is the hormone that controls stress in the body.
As already mentioned above, stress may be the major contributing factor to the severity of Couvade Syndrome. Keeping the level of cortisol within the normal range may go a long way toward preventing the unpleasant symptoms that accompany the condition. In addition, herbal remedies like ashwagandha can be both safe and effective in managing several health conditions and providing long-lasting solutions compared to pharmaceutical medications that may not be as effective and may be accompanied by numerous side effects.
Learn more about the benefits of ashwagandha.
Learn more about the benefits of maca.