As the term suggests, a sympathetic pregnancy is a situation where a husband or partner of a pregnant women feels or undergoes many of the same symptoms as the pregnant woman herself. This is also sometimes referred to as the Couvade Syndrome a Phantom Pregnancy.
And the sympathetic pregnancy is not a new thing that is seen only in today’s days of sensitive caring and involved dads who are eager to be part of the process of pregnancy as well as eager to bond with their babies.
This is a phenomenon that has been noted since ancient times and has been observed even in primitive or tribal societies.
The symptoms of a sympathetic pregnancy could include –
- Many of the same symptoms of early pregnancy such as nausea, vomiting, uneasiness, etc.
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances could also be noted.
- There could be digestive problems such as heartburn, diarrhea or constipation, stomach pain or indigestion as well.
- Aches and pains such as toothache and headache could also manifest themselves.
- A sympathetic pregnancy could bring about many of the same food cravings, and changes in appetite that the expectant mother may have. Aversions to certain smells, tastes and foods may also be present.
- The person experiencing a sympathetic pregnancy may actually put on weight and even experience increase in breast size. There could be changes in the nipple such as hardening or increased tenderness.
- In certain extreme cases, the expectant father may put on as many as twenty five to thirty pounds and grow a belly as big as a woman who is about 7 months pregnant.
- Some extreme cases could even display symptoms such as nose bleed which is one of the pregnancy symptoms.
- As the due date of delivery nears, the person experiencing a sympathetic pregnancy could also experience birthing or labor pains.
Many hormonal changes are seen to occur in expectant fathers, even those who are not undergoing a sympathetic pregnancy.
Their hormone levels are often seen to fluctuate, in a way that makes them better disposed to bonding with their baby at birth. This is seen to be one way for nature to ensure father child bonding.
Hormonal changes can also cause the partner of the mother to experience baby blues as pre natal or post natal depression is termed.
Earlier it was psychological causes that were thought to cause these symptoms, now however it is thought that there could be a biological basis to this as well.