He’s nauseous, has a headache and is super-sleepy. No, he doesn’t have the flu. It’s more likely that the daddy-to-be is having pregnancy symptoms. Even though it’s the woman who goes through the hormonal and body changes, sometimes the man also feels the physical pinch of pregnancy. Along with these pregnancy pangs, a man may feel anxious, tired or unsure as the big birth day closes in.
Sympathetic pregnancy, or a man experiencing the symptoms of his pregnant partner, is a real condition. Also known as Couvade syndrome, it’s not the actual growing baby behind this pregnancy problem, but stress and empathy. The stress of the impending birth causes the man to release chemicals in his body, according to the website BabyCenter.
The chemical release of Couvade syndrome results in an array of pregnancy-type symptoms. These include nausea, swelling and weight gain. Feeling empathy for the woman may also cause couvade. For example, the man feels empathetic towards his ever-swelling wife. Suddenly his feet also begin to swell and he notices the scale tipping towards a higher number.
Fathers and Emotions
While any man can experience sympathetic pregnancy symptoms, some research points to the beginning mental state as a risk factor. In a study of 143 expectant Polish fathers researchers found that the more emotional sensitive the man was, the more physical distress he experienced during his partner’s pregnancy, according to the Medical Science Monitor. The largest numbers of symptoms found in this study were flatulence, weight gain and appetite changes.
Individualized Physical Changes
The symptoms that men have during pregnancy can run the gamut from major nausea and breast tenderness to minor aches and pains. The specific symptoms often echo what the mother is feeling. For example, if a man’s wife has an achy back, he may experience the same thing. If his friend’s wife is nauseous, his friend may have that symptom. These can persist up and through labor. A man may even feel stomach cramping when his wife or girlfriend is having contractions.
Physical changes aren’t the only symptoms that men have during pregnancy. The anxiety and stress that may result in physiological signs can cause their own problems on their own. This is with or without physical aches and pains. During pregnancy a man may worry about his ability to be a good father or feel left out. The man’s mental state may show up as worry or even anger towards his partner. He may act jealously when it comes to talking about the baby or want to spend time with friends instead of his pregnant partner.