What causes couvade syndrome?

Father holding baby

Dad and his newborn
Free image courtesy of

Couvade syndrome, also known as a sympathetic pregnancy, is an interesting condition in which future dads experience some of the same pregnancy symptoms as their partners. Mums you’re probably thinking “what a load of…!”, while we’re sure you dads are thinking “I knew there was a good reason I’ve gained so much weight.”

It is believed that 50-80% of dads-to-be will experience couvade syndrome, whether it is their first child or they are experienced fathers. These dads will experience pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, food cravings, weight gain, sleep disturbances and even labour pains! And we’ve only listed some of these symptoms.

Did you know…some dads who experience couvade syndrome gain as much as 14 kilos during his partner’s pregnancy and some even resemble a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy?

So what causes couvade syndrome?

Well, unfortunately, there are only theories as of right now, which we’ve listed below. Take a look and tell us what you think.

1. It’s a psychiatric disorder in which a man is a) jealous he can’t give birth (are they serious?!), b) guilty he impregnated his wife and she now has to endure labour (this is a little more acceptable), or c) engaging in a pseudo-sibling rivalry where he constantly tries to outdo his wife.

2. It’s a reaction to a changing social role. He’s becoming a dad, this can be a daunting task, mums we’re sure you can understand that.

3. It’s biological. Expectant fathers in Canada with couvade syndrome were found to have higher levels of female hormones and lower levels of male ones in their bodies during his partner’s pregnancy. Could this be true for all dads?

4. It is a collection of psychosomatic symptoms that results from his body reacting to all of the emotions associated with becoming a father. This theory seems in line with theory #2 if you ask us.

5. Men only gain weight, because they adjust to their partner’s eating habits during pregnancy and their stomach problems are just a case of serious nerves.

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