Sympathetic Pregnancy Symptoms in Dad

Couvade Syndrome

Mom and dad comparing bellies
Photo © Image Source/Getty Images

Dads, have you ever noticed that you were gaining weight along with your partner's pregnancy? Do you find yourself feel queasy at certain times of the day? Have you experienced appetite changes? Have you notice an increase in the amount of flatulence you experience? Then you may be experiencing sympathetic pregnancy symptoms, also known as Couvade Syndrome.

What is Couvade Syndrome?

Couvade comes from the French word couvee meaning "to hatch." It has come to mean a man having a "sympathetic pregnancy." Yes, this means that your partner could start to vomit, gain weight, and have many of the "joys" associated with pregnancy.

Generally, sympathetic pregnancy symptoms begin in the end of the first trimester and increases in severity until the third trimester. The only known cure for couvade is to birth.

Doubting the Dads?

Some people have doubted the reality of couvade syndrome. These doubters say that the weight gain that the father may experience is caused by the eating habits of the mother, nerves, or other changes that pregnancy makes in one's life. The vomiting? Of course, that is blamed on nerves, too.

What do the dads have to say about this? They don't know what to think about vomiting, weight gain, and changes in sexual appetite. How can you tell everyone at work that you need to lie down because you have morning sickness?!? And, of course, they would stop vomiting if they could.

"All I know is that once she started feeling better, I started falling apart," remember Kevin, dad to four. "Her morning sickness would subside and I would get the flu.

I always assumed I was just run down. It wasn't a bad flu, I'd feel light headed and vomit, but as the day wore on I felt better, but it was like this for several weeks. One of my friends finally said: 'Dude, you've got morning sickness!' Sure enough, once I realized that it went away and didn't come back.

I wish I could say the same for the weight gain."

The Research on Sympathetic Pregnancy

This is something that has been researched and found to be quite real. Some men are more susceptible to couvade than others. For instance, if you and your partner have experienced infertility or if you were adopted, you could be more likely to experience couvade syndrome. There is no research going on at this point with same-sex partners, but that could change in the future.

The truth is we probably won't see a lot of research on this general topic for a variety of reasons including that it is not taken seriously by many people. Sometimes the partners who are experiencing this don't even notice - they assume it's just normal or they think that it is not related to pregnancy at all. (How long can you have the flu?)

So, people, know that you are not alone and that you have the medical community backing you up. Eat some crackers, get out of bed slowly, drink some ginger tea, and try to get a bit of rest and know that birth is right around the corner. Don't let anyone laugh at you when you say you're gaining weight and maybe get some new clothes because you've outgrown the others.

Realistically, all you can is to treat the symptoms with the help of your own practitioner.

This can be helpful for some people. Many people will feel better as the pregnancy progresses, which is often a welcome relief for people at any point.

See also: Overzealous Dads in Pregnancy


Holditch-Davis D, Black BP, Harris BG, Sandelowski M, Edwards L. Beyond couvade: pregnancy symptoms in couples with a history of infertility. Health Care Women Int. 1994 Nov-Dec;15(6):537-48.

Kazmierczak M, Kielbratowska B, Pastwa-Wojciechowska B. Couvade syndrome among Polish expectant fathers. Med Sci Monit. 2013 Feb 21;19:132-8. doi: 10.12659/MSM.883791.

Continue Reading