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What is a sympathetic pregnancy?

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Sympathetic pregnancy, or couvade syndrome, is a condition in which an individual close to an expectant mother, usually the expectant father, feels the same symptoms of pregnancy as the expectant mother. These symptoms may include food cravings, loss of appetite, postpartum depression, morning sickness, mood swings, body aches and labor pains, according to babyMed.

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Some men experiencing a sympathetic pregnancy may have only a few symptoms, such as weight gain or mild nausea, whereas others actually feel stomach pain while their wives are in labor. Evidence suggests that the disorder may be rooted in biology, as a few studies show that men with pregnant partners experience increased levels of female hormones such as estradiol, states babyMed. Additionally, the phenomenon can be related to physical conditions. Pregnant women tend to eat more than usual, and husbands may feel inclined to overeat as well, resulting in weight gain and mood swings.

As babyMed explains, it is generally accepted that sympathetic pregnancy is a psychosomatic disorder closely related to anxiety. The arrival of a baby is one of the most stressful times in life, and most of the symptoms associated with sympathetic pregnancy are also associated with high stress. There is no specific treatment needed for sympathetic pregnancy, as cases of the condition clear up after the baby is born.

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