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What Is Couvade Syndrome?

Do dads-to-be really get pregnancy symptoms too?
ByChristian Hoffman, MD
OB-GYN
Updated
March 2, 2017
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More of a dramatic device from TV or the movies than something you come across in real life, couvade syndrome is also known as sympathetic pregnancy. Basically, it’s when your guy decides that as long as you’re suffering through morning sickness, the dry heaves, heartburnback pain and other common pregnancy-related symptoms, he will too. (He just better not dare ask for help from you.) It’s not really recognized as a purely medical condition, and there’s debate whether it’s a physical or mental one at all. Soon-to-be-dads’ symptoms tend to vary widely and can include nausea, abdominal pain, bloating, leg cramps, anxiety, depression and appetite changes.
Even if it’s not a real medical concern (we know, you’re the one who’s going through all the changes here!), if your guy does suddenly come down with a case of couvade, cut him some slack. He’s probably just super-excited that you’re about to be parents and wants to do all he can to get involved, down to carrying that baby with you. Sign up for some pregnancy classes together and let him learn as much as he can about both  delivery and infant care. Then make sure he’s 100 percent better by the time the baby arrives, since you’ll need him to be healthy and hands-on from day one.

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