When we think of pregnancy symptoms, we think of moms to be.
But what if I told you that dads can experience pregnancy symptoms too?
You might think that sounds bonkers, but it’s true.
Some men experience symptoms of pregnancy alongside their partners.
These sympathetic pregnancy symptoms are a bit of a mystery. But if you find yourself craving chips or noticing a touch of back pain during those nine months, then don’t worry – you’re not going mad!
In this article we’ll be walking you through the wonderful and weird world of male pregnancy symptoms. And we’ll finish off with 7 seriously surprising male pregnancy symptoms.
Sympathy pregnancies – they’re no myth
When a man experiences symptoms of pregnancy during their partner’s pregnancy, this is called Couvade Syndrome (more popularly known as a sympathy pregnancy). Sympathy pregnancies are still not fully understood, but nonetheless, it is a well-reported phenomenon.
Men the world over have reported experiencing sympathetic pregnancy symptoms. Now, don’t worry too much, these symptoms are usually pretty mild. You might just find yourself leaning into some cravings from time or time, or noticing slight changes to your appetite and sleeping patterns.
The important thing is to remember this is nothing to worry about. Experiencing these symptoms is going to feel a little odd at first – especially since there’s no obvious cause most of the time. But rest assured, you’re not suffering from mental health concerns or hypochondria. You’re genuinely experiencing these changes alongside your partner.
What causes male pregnancy symptoms?
Whilst there’s no known cause behind Couvade Syndrome, numerous theories have been developed to explain the phenomenon.
The somatization theory
Some medical professionals believe that male pregnancy symptoms are somatic symptoms. Somatic symptoms are genuine physical symptoms like any other, but their cause is emotional. If a father-to-be is experiencing mental anxiety then they may experience physical symptoms as a result.
The hormone theory
The hormone theory posits that fathers-to-be actually go through hormonal fluctuations during their partner’s gestation. It is thought that men experience decreased testosterone and an increase in estrogen. As a result, new dads experience symptoms traditionally attributed to pregnant mothers.
The attachment theory
The attachment theory suggests that those men who are more actively involved in their partner’s pregnancy journey are more likely to experience sympathetic pregnancy symptoms. Anything from listening to the baby’s heartbeat to attending pregnancy-related classes and events could lead to an increased level of attachment and the sympathetic pregnancy symptoms that follow as a result.
The psychosocial theory
Some medical professionals have determined that male pregnancy symptoms have a fundamentally psychological origin. It is thought that if a father-to-be is feeling envious or guilty, they may develop symptoms of Couvade Syndrome.
Finally, some people dismiss the reality of male pregnancy symptoms completely. Couvade sceptics would say that all pregnancy-like symptoms are just the result of lifestyle changes associated with going through a pregnancy with their partner. Anxiety may be high, routines may change, and (as a result) things like eating and sleeping habits fall out of whack.
7 surprising male pregnancy symptoms
Whatever theory resonates with you the most, the fact is, that men do experience these changes. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at 7 of the most surprising male pregnancy symptoms.
It doesn’t matter how laid back and chilled out you are most of the time. Expecting a child is a big lifestyle change and you’re bound to feel a little more anxious (and excited) than usual. It’s not just the moms who have pregnancy worries. As the supportive partner you’re likely to be concerned about your partner and your new baby. Some new dads also find themselves feeling a bit left out – after all pregnancy is a time when all the focus is on mom.
2. Nausea & vomiting
Sorry lads, you might not actually be exempt from the dreaded morning sickness. It’s not uncommon for men to feel a little nauseous (or even vomit) at this time. Usually this can be attributed to underlying anxiety.
3. Mood swings
Expect to feel some ups and downs. Mood swings are a common sympathetic pregnancy symptom. As your partner’s emotions fluctuate, so will yours. There’s a lot to deal with – pregnancy hormones, birth planning, telling family and friends about the new arrival. Everything’s new, so be kind to yourself and forgive each other for those wobbly moments.
4. Weight gain
We always hear moms lamenting baby weight. But it’s not uncommon for dads to follow suit. You might not be eating for two but appetite changes are typical around this time. Your routines will have changed dramatically, and you might just find yourself partaking in those pregnancy snacks.
Changes in libido are completely normal during pregnancy. Everyone is completely different. Both men and women can experience both increasing or decreasing libidos during pregnancy. Whether your relationship becomes hot and steamy or your sex life takes the back seat for a while – both outcomes are completely normal. Remember, intimacy isn’t just about sex. There are plenty of other ways to show how much you care.
6. Aches & pains
Here’s where those sympathetic symptoms get a little strange. Some men report being completely dumbfounded by the physical symptoms that come out of nowhere whilst their partner is pregnant. Everything from headaches to cramps to back pain.
Last but not least, let’s talk cravings. Cravings are one of the most talked-about pregnancy symptoms. We often hear tales of women craving the weirdest things. Be it ice cubes, soil, coal, or toothpaste, there’s no end to the madness. And (you guessed it) it’s not just women who experience these mysterious taste-bud changes. Men too have reported craving the weird and the wonderful.
Not just for the moms
So, there we have it. Turns out pregnancy symptoms aren’t just for moms. Though nobody really knows what causes sympathetic pregnancy symptoms, there’s no doubt that some dads experience a myriad of symptoms whilst their partners go through pregnancy. So don’t be surprised if you start to feel a little different when there’s a baby on the way.