What is sympathy pregnancy?

If your partner seems grumpy and a little sick, but isn’t actually sick, they could be feeling what you’re feeling. Literally. No need to worry though; your partner isn’t actually pregnant. Sympathy pregnancy, or Couvade Syndrome, is a common condition that some partners experience during pregnancy.

Couvade syndrome

Its symptoms include that of an actual pregnancy, minus the baby. Your partner could experience their very own bout of morning sickness complete with vomiting and nausea, leg cramping, and abdominal pain, almost like having a baby inside! Cravings, mood swings, and crankiness are also common.

Since sympathy pregnancy can occur at any point, no one is quite sure what causes it. The most conclusive study suggests a correlation in the hormone levels of both you and your partner during your pregnancy, which could result in feelings of pregnancy. It’s also caused by a partner’s need to take an active role in your pregnancy and the stress of becoming a parent soon.

Sympathy pregnancy is not at all harmful for either of you; in fact, it sheds perspective as to what you’re both feeling. The best cure? Talking it out. You both need to express what you’re feeling, pregnancy related or otherwise, and make decisions together. Baby impacts both of your futures, and giving your partner a more active role, or the feeling of one, during pregnancy can help you both feel better. Though, you might still have the cravings.

Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
Read more
  • Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D. “What can you tell me about Couvade syndrome? Can men really experience sympathetic pregnancy symptoms?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 1/15/2014. Web.
  • Storey AE, Walsh CJ, Quinton RL, Wynne-Edwards KE. “Hormonal correlates of paternal responsiveness in new and expectant fathers.” Evol Hum Behav. 21(2):79-95. Web. 3/1/2000.
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