A qualitative exploration of the couvade syndrome in expectant fathers

Brennan, A., Marshall-Lucette, S., Ayers, S. & Ahmed, H. (2007). A qualitative exploration of the couvade syndrome in expectant fathers. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 25(1), pp. 18-39. doi: 10.1080/02646830601117142

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Abstract

The aim of this qualitative study is to explore the nature and duration of male partners somatic and psychological symptoms, across gestation and parturition, collectively called the Couvade syndrome. Fourteen men with expectant partners aged 19-48 years from diverse social and ethnic backgrounds were interviewed. The data was processed using qualitative analytical software WinMAX Professional and the emerging themes and sub-categories identified and analysed. The first was “Emotional Diversity in Response to Pregnancy”, that varied with time and other factors and also included mixed and polarised feelings such as excitement, pride, elation, worries, fears, shock and reluctance. The second was “Nature, Management and Duration of Symptoms”, which revealed the types and duration of physical and psychological symptoms experienced by men. Attempts at managing these were influenced by social and cultural factors. Physical symptoms were more common than psychological ones, and their time course demonstrated trends similar to those reported for the Couvade syndrome. Although the former were reported to their GPs, no definitive diagnosis was made despite medical investigations being performed. The third theme, “Explanatory Attempts for Symptoms” was influenced by cultural beliefs and conventions like religion, alternative medical beliefs or through the enlightenment by health care professionals in the process. Some participants were unable to find explanations for symptoms but some perceived that they were related in some way to the altered physiology of their female partners during pregnancy. These findings highlight the need for further research to acquire deeper insight into men’s experiences of, and responses to, pregnancy as a way of explaining the syndrome.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Couvade syndrome, Modern Couvade, Sympathetic pregnancy, Pseudo-pregnancy, Pseudocyesis
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: School of Health Sciences > Department of Child Health & Children's Nursing
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/2004

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