Pregnancy is as much as a big deal for a Dad as it is for a Mom. Even though fatherly instincts kick in after a while, there is a physical aspect of it which most of us are not aware of. Don’t worry they are just normal and is more common than you think.
- Feeling left out: This is the most common symptom experienced by the father especially after the first trimester is over. Your partner would be talking about all her problems to either her gynaecologist/ girlfriends/ her mother/ your mother/ searching on the net etc. She is already paranoid about how her body will change or if the symptoms she is experiencing are normal or not.You might want to retaliate but that will just strain your relationship more.Talk it out and tell her that you have absolutely no problem in discussing or knowing about any changes that are happening to her body. Just be honest and share how you feel. One more thing that can really help is finding an OB/GYN who likes to include you more in the conversation like asking you How you feel ? or Telling you more about your baby and your partner’s body?. Someone who encourages BOTH of you to ask questions and also answers them precisely. Some practitioners even go as far as letting you touch your wife’s cervix or doing the job of the nurse while pushing. Don’t worry that’s good, as time goes by, you will realise that it’s better to be on this side of the fatherhood. Being a spectator will just stress you out even more.
- Couvade Symptoms OR Sympathy Symptoms: Around 90% of the men experience them while their partners are pregnant. They are:
- Mood Swings: Yes, that’s right. The raging hormones of your partner can cause uneasiness and restlessness in you too. Mood swings will exacerbate especially after you hear your child’s heartbeat or feel any movement. This is when you will actually feel that a new human is about to enter this world and a tonne of responsibilities are about to knock your door. So, it’s okay to feel a little weepy or emotional.
- Anxiety: Since you are the father and supposedly, the provider for the family, this new addition might take a huge toll on you. It’s better that you discuss the finances with your wife even before trying to have a baby. Questions such as Cost per year for the baby? How much savings do you need to have before the baby arrives? If you both are planning to work, how much does daycare cost? etc. should be discussed as soon as you are mentally ready to have a baby.
- Cravings: Those night time cravings will affect you too. Some fathers also gain a little weight while their partner is expecting. This is all because of increase in cortisol levels in the father’s body. Cortisol is basically a stress hormone which signals your brain to eat more. This can cause you to have intense cravings.
Don’t worry about all these symptoms. Studies have shown that more intense the couvade symptoms, the better you will care for your newborn.
- Jealousy: Almost 60% of the dads feel jealous of their wives while they are pregnant. This is because of all the attention she is getting from everyone. While everyone has been asking her if she is stressed or worried about weight gain, you are standing there like, “ Excuse me, I think I have gained weight for no reason. How about showing some sympathy over here?”. This jealousy might even sweep in again after your baby is here. This is because your partner will be busy in taking care of your newborn and you won’t know how to contribute to that. Research has shown that the communication between couples can drop off to about 90% of what was before after having a baby. While it’s normal at the start, you might want to change it before it becomes permanent. Here are a few things which can help.
- Have a conversation for around 30 minutes daily which doesn’t have to do anything with the baby at all.
- Get rid of that macho attitude and share your concerns, fears etc. with your partner.
- Plan your involvement in family tasks.
- Plan your finances.
- Decide on your sleeping arrangements eg if you want to co-sleep or you want the baby to be in another room.
- Talk about the discipline styles you want your child to be raised with.
- Sexual desires: A lot of men have decreased sexual energy when their wife is pregnant. There can be many reasons for it, like stress, anxiety etc. but the most common one is being afraid of harming the baby. This is the most common misconception among expectant fathers. The amniotic sac starts way ahead of the vagina so you shouldn’t worry about that. However, if your wife has a history of preterm labour, suffers from placenta previa (when the placenta covers the opening of woman’s cervix) or incompetent cervix (weak cervical tissue which might not be able to support the baby weight for long), sex is off the table.
There have been many theories which tend to explain the reason for all the symptoms, some say it’s because of the man’s envy from women’s procreative abilities while others say it’s because of the mental stress which arises due to seeing their partners in so much of physical pain. Whatever the actual reason may be, one thing which we know is that these emotional changes are what causes a man to identify with his pregnant partner and also strengthen his protective instincts towards his family. Which of these pregnancy symptoms kicked paternal instinct in you? Tell us in the comments box below.