A woman has tried to get pregnant for five years. One day, her husband woke up feeling sick to the taste of breakfast. It is the signal of Couvade Syndrome.
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What is Couvade Syndrome?
Symptoms of sympathetic pregnancy, or also known as Couvade Syndrome – the phenomenon of a husband’s morning sickness in place of his wife – stem from parallel physiological reactions that appear on the husband who is about to become a father. In a study by researchers from Memorial University in Canada, men and women had similar levels of prolactin and cortisol hormone before their baby was born.
What causes Couvade Syndrome?
After birth, fathers and mothers will have lower levels of sex hormones (testosterone for men and estradiol for women). The fathers with sympathetic pregnancy experience higher levels of prolactin and greater levels of testosterone depletion.
Because an increase in prolactin levels seems to increase the bond between individuals, the researchers speculate that these hormonal changes play a role in the connections between the fathers and their babies.
There are several psychological theories to explain the couvade syndrome, but they do not seem to be satisfactory. These theories suggest that the cause of couvade syndrome is the man’s envy of the baby being born, where the feeling of being replaced and “marginalized.”
From our perspective, a man with couvade syndrome will become extremely compatible with his pregnant wife. In that state, the husband will feel his wife’s feelings while not intentionally.
How does Couvade Syndrome work?
Most men know when their wives get pregnant, while in most cases of empathy, the root of sympathetic symptoms remains a mystery at the time they appear.
Understanding the mechanisms of couvade syndrome can provide the first step towards understanding the mechanisms behind empathy. When this phenomenon appears, one individual will somehow perceive the physiological experiences of another being far away.
For example, a woman (naturally) feels a burning pain in her right hand when writing a letter. Later, she discovered that it was at that time that her daughter suffered a burn on her right hand during an experiment at school.
Like couvade syndrome, this physiological resonance state is not actively triggered. Of course, the big difference between these two phenomena is that the husband not only knows the wife is pregnant, but he is still living beside his wife. While with empathy, the couple appears to be in a distant state, and the person who experiences this phenomenon does not know that the other person is experiencing the event.
Therefore, proximity to geographic distance and cognitive awareness are two factors that make the difference between couvade syndrome and empathy. However, in addition to these two factors, there are many similarities that these two phenomena share the same underlying mechanisms.
Experts say that the most effective treatment of Couvade Syndrome is to make the husband feel his important role when attending parenting or support classes when his wife gives birth. In particular, taking the time to prepare for the labor of the wife as well as being a good father can help them avoid feelings of anxiety or fear.