This week is not the first time I have heard of this sympathetic, phantom pregnancy business – which is officially being called couvade pregnancy, but who came up with that official term I am not sure, as the condition is not even medically recognised. Probably one of the men who claims to have suffered it.
The idea behind this 'condition' is that men who have pregnant partners can suffer a whole host of pregnancy symptoms from morning sickness and cravings to sore nipples. Some have apparently even reported suffering contractions whilst their partner is in labour and going on to develop postnatal depression after the baby is born.
It has come to a wider audience's attention this week after a couple appeared on daytime TV in Britain claiming that they were living through this couvade pregnancy. The man, a tattoo artist – so we are obviously meant to assume he is big, butch and tough usually because of his job – claims to have suffered a host of symptoms including being sick in the mornings at exactly the same time as his partner, who is currently eight and a half months pregnant. He has sore nipples and bloating and has put on two stone, all on his stomach area.
He says he fears he may also end up suffering labour pains when his partner gives birth. His partner meanwhile seems to be humouring him on this, even condoning it, saying she hasn't been able to rely on him to look after her during the pregnancy because he has been laid up as well, bless him, or she certainly said something with the same kind of sentiment.
Well I can tell you he's lucky he's not married to me. I would quite tersely tell him to snap out of it. I just simply cannot believe this is an actual condition that men suffer. I can understand that the impending birth of a child, especially a first baby, is going to be an emotional time for men as well as women, and for some men it may be enough to make them feel sick. But I just can't see any medical reason why men would be struck down with the same symptoms as pregnant women. At best it is all going to be in the mind.
The claim is that couples who are particularly close can endure this couvade pregnancy but that in itself is rather offensive, as I am sure there are countless couples out there who consider themselves to be very close and the man isn't dropping down with morning sickness when their partner is pregnant. Any decent man who feels real genuine empathy for their pregnant partner will be doing all they can to help them out and do things for them, not bending over the toilet with them every morning.
And as for suffering contractions, that would just make my blood boil if I had to put up with a partner crying out in pain himself whilst I was giving birth. I'd quite swiftly tell him he didn't even begin to know the meaning of pain – and I'm not a violent woman.
It seems that there are some men who just can't help but steal their partner's thunder even during pregnancy. They can't bear that their partner is getting all the sympathy and attention so they have to do something to turn the spotlight back on themselves. I bet the men who claim to suffer from couvade pregnancies are the same men who in general every day life are always crowing for people's attention – that or they are just plain hypochondriacs.