Dads Have Physical Symptoms Too

My wife is pregnant and I’ve started putting on weight too! I’ve also been having nose bleeds and headaches. I’m excited about being a parent and helping care for our new infant, but I’m afraid there is something physical going on. What’s wrong with me?

In a word, there’s nothing wrong with you. Given that you’re not actually pregnant, most of what you’re going to go through while your wife is expecting will be psychological. But as you’ve found out, there are some occasional physical symptoms too. In fact, somewhere between 25 and 90 percent of dads-to-be in this country experience couvade syndrome (from the French, “to hatch”), or “sympathetic pregnancy.” The symptoms are pretty much the same as those your wife has probably been complaining about for a few months: mood swings, food cravings, weight gains. But some are a little stranger-especially for a guy-such as toothaches, headaches, itching, nosebleeds, and sometimes even cysts.
[Read more...]

High Anxiety and Expectant Fathers

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m a first time father-to-be, and the entire pregnancy has been going very well for me and my wife. But about two weeks ago, I started experiencing anxiety which was pretty severe at times. I got very scared about me or my wife getting ill or having an accident and dying. My mind went into total freefall mode and I started thinking about all the terrible consequences this would have. Is it normal for someone to experience some pretty heavy anxiety about these issues? I’m over it now, but I wonder whether other fathers-to-be go through the same thing. Also, do you have any advice on how I can keep calm (or at least try to!) for the last 10 weeks of the pregnancy?

A: What a fantastic question. The short answer is that what you describing is actually quite common. The difference between you and most other expectant fathers is that they keep their worries to themselves—and that just makes things worse.

Almost all fathers-to-be have some kind of anxiety (and I believe that those who claim they’re worry-free are simply not paying attention). The most common concerns are financial security, changes in the marital relationship, the impending lack of sex, the loss of free time and personal space, and, as you pointed out, fears of danger to the mom, the baby, or the dad himself.

[Read more...]