Ask the Brains; June/July 2006; Scientific American Mind; by Katherine E. Wynne-Edwards, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore; 1 Page(s)
Many factors--from social to hormonal--could play a role when an expectant father experiences typical pregnancy side effects such as nausea, weight gain, mood swings and bloating. The condition is called couvade, from the French verb couver, which means "to hatch" or "to brood." Across a wide range of studies--and an equally wide range of definitions of what constitutes couvade--estimates of the frequency of couvade range from less than 20 percent to more than 80 percent of expectant fathers.
Only recently has this phenomenon received attention from scientists, spawning a variety of hypotheses. Because a couple may experience lifestyle changes together, the cravings and increased appetite of a pregnant wife may pave the way for her husband's weight gain, heartburn and indigestion. Conversation at home can range from frustrated incapacitation to boundless anticipatory joy, fostering jealousy of the ability to carry a child, guilt over having caused this transformation in his partner and selfish attention seeking. Changes in sexual activity, shifts in social priorities, time off work, or the arrival of a mother-in-law for a potentially stressful extended visit may also contribute.