Katherine E. Wynne-Edwards is a professor of biology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She was interviewed by Scientific American, and provided a detailed answer as to why some men experience couvade — or sympathetic pregnancy. We recommend that you read her summation here.
The key takeaway is that there are a few hypotheses as to why men might experience symptoms concurrently when their pregnant partner is also experiencing them. Here are a few of the educated reasons as to why couvade may occur.
Some mental health professionals have suggested that couvade might occur because of (1) jealousy about a man’s inability to carry a child to (2) guilt over having caused this transformation in his partner to selfish attention seeking.
There are also sociobehavioral reasons as to why couvade may occur. For example, women traditionally take on the role of shopping for and cooking food within the household. As such, when pregnancy cravings occur, men, too, are eating the same food and, as a result, experiencing the same symptoms as the mother — weight gain, heartburn, and indigestion.
There are also strong biological reasons as to why couvade may occur. Research has found that men who have higher levels of empathy toward their pregnant partner are prone to couvade, which in turn, can result in stronger attachments to the child.
Further, there is hormonal data from nonhuman primates and naturally paternal rodents that indicate a positive association between the expression of paternal behavior and increases or decreases in prolactin, estradiol, testosterone, progesterone and cortisol concentrations. This suggests that hormone changes in expectant fathers involve the same hormones that are changing in an expectant mother.
While there are different hypotheses…they are all based on correlations, and no exact mechanism has been determined. Regardless, we know that couvade is a thing that many soon-to-be fathers experience. Pade Cadre family — did you ever experience couvade? If so, what was like that? Where you aware of it? Take care.