The fact that fathers don’t experience the same things pregnant women do seems like something that’s taken for granted or treated like a joke. For the 90 percent of men who experience at least one pregnancy-like symptom, though, couvade syndrome is real. It’s when otherwise healthy men whose partners are expecting babies experience symptoms of their own. Here are some of those symptoms and ways to deal with them from the certified nurse-midwives at Desert Blossom Women’s Care.


Even very relaxed guys can have restless nights, fatigue, insomnia and even heartburn in the weeks leading up to becoming dads. It’s a stressful time, and there are a lot of changes. Who wouldn’t be anxious? Talk to your partner, friends, family, healthcare team, midwife and other expectant parents about your concerns, and get involved with the pregnancy to feel more prepared and in control.


Mom can blame morning sickness on hormones, but Dad’s nausea probably is from a combination of anxiety and diet changes (especially stress eating). Make sure you’re eating right, drinking in moderation, and staying active to help blow off steam. Taking a walk with your partner is a great way for both of you to feel better.

Mood Swings

When the mom-to-be’s hormones and stress cause mood changes, it may affect the dad-to-be’s mood. Nerves are at the heart of your mood changes, and with a baby on the way, your life is guaranteed to change. On top of your emotions, you’re probably getting less sleep. Take it easy on yourself, make sure you get enough sleep, and keep talking to your partner about your future.

Weight Gain

Mothers gain weight because of their growing babies, but fathers put on an average of 14 pounds during pregnancy, thanks to sympathetic snacking. Stress makes you secrete cortisol, which can trick your brain into thinking you’re hungrier than you are, and directs where gained weight goes. Keep healthy snacks around, watch how much you’re eating, and consider doing a little more exercise to reduce stress and weight.

Aches and Pains

During their partner’s pregnancy, some fathers get toothaches, backaches, headaches, leg cramps or other pains. These pains could be in the same places and times as their partners. It’s likely caused by stress, so manage stress by talking about your feelings with your partner.

Sexual Appetite

Pregnancy can cause a woman’s sex drive to shift one way or the other, and a man may experience this shift as well. These changes won’t necessarily overlap. Regardless of how you’re feeling, maintaining physical and emotional intimacy without sex is a necessary part of communicating affection with your partner. Have some decaf coffee together before work, hold hands while walking together or snuggle on the couch.

Desert Blossom Women’s Care for Your Whole Family

At Desert Blossom Women’s Care, our primary focus is on mom and her growing baby, but we care for and celebrate all growing families. We provide comprehensive women’s healthcare before, during and after pregnancy, and connect with your team of physicians. All women can receive midwifery care, and all families can benefit from a gentle, specially trained touch. Get in touch to schedule an Arizona midwife appointment.

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