6 Surprising Pregnancy Symptoms — for Dads!

02 May 2016


Becoming a dad soon? Then you're sure to relate to at least some of the following puzzlements, like this one: Your pregnant partner has a good excuse for indulging her cravings for potato chips and ice cream, but why are you digging in just as fast?

Chances are you're not just sharing snacks — you're sharing symptoms too, along with 90 percent of dads-to-be. In fact, pregnancy symptom–sharing is so prevalent, researchers have dubbed it couvade syndrome. Have you done or felt something over the past few months that made you wonder, "Wait, who's pregnant here?" Read on to see how many of these sympathetic-pregnancy symptoms resonate with you.

Symptom #1: Anxiety

Even the most chill dudes can experience restless nights, heartburn, and bouts of fatigue while their partners are pregnant. Why? Turns out some men are much more likely to share pregnancy worries with their co-parent-to-be. How can you tame the tossing and turning? Reach out to other expectant dads, many of whom may be shaking in the same shoes as you. And don't think you can turn off the nerves by shutting out the pregnancy. Being more involved can actually make you feel better prepared.

Symptom #2: Nausea

Morning sickness isn’t exclusive to mornings — or moms-to-be. While this infamous pregnancy woe is attributed to an uptick in a woman’s hormones during pregnancy, men may also find themselves reaching for the saltines (or running for the toilet). But rather than estrogen being the culprit, male queasies are likely the result of the aforementioned anxiety as well as changes in diet, which are pretty common for men who eat to relieve stress. The cures: Get (or stay) physically active, talk about what’s worrying you with your partner or a friend, eat right, and watch your alcohol intake.

Symptom #3: Mood swings

Don’t be shocked if your partner goes through a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde routine a couple of times a day, especially between weeks six and ten, when hormones are surging through her body like a tidal wave. She may ping-pong between joy and sadness, tranquility and anxiety, and sweetness to (extreme) crankiness — and you may do the same. The fact is that while hormones intensify mood swings, the underlying cause is the same in both men and women: nerves.

Symptom #4: Changes in sexual appetite

During pregnancy, a woman’s sex drive can either rev up (lucky you) or shift into neutral — or do both within the same week. Some men find themselves energized by the prospect of having a baby, while others are exhausted just thinking about it. And some expectant parents are too scared about hurting the baby to even think about having sex.

Symptom #5: Weight gain

A bigger belly may be a given for a mommy-to-be, but why is it that a man gains an average of 14 pounds during his partner’s pregnancy? Snacking might be one factor, but that’s not the whole story. A more likely culprit is cortisol, aptly dubbed the “stress hormone” because it’s secreted at higher volumes during periods of anxiety. Cortisol regulates insulin and blood-sugar levels so your body may think it’s hungry when it’s not. Battle the bulge by stocking your kitchen with healthy snacks and watching your overall calorie intake. Also consider amping up your exercise routine to reduce stress and your waistline.

Symptom #6: Aches and pains
Many symptoms of couvade syndrome seem to have clear causes is nerves, but others are more mysterious. Men consistently report toothaches, backaches, headaches, leg cramps, and other pains. Some men even report experiencing pains in the same places at the same times as their partners. Researchers have yet to find any physical explanations for these simultaneous ouches, so the cause is likely psychological. Whatever the case, treating what ails you with honest communication about the upcoming changes in your life is probably a lot more effective than popping a painkiller.


Taboola. (2011). 6 Surprising Pregnancy Symptoms – for Dads!. What To Expect [Online]. Available: http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/photo-gallery/surprising-pregnancy-symptoms-for-dads.aspx#01 [2011]

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