Physiological and psychological correspondence between parental pairs in the third trimester

Nancy Lee Brady-Freitag, Marquette University

Abstract

It is believed that expectant fathers, experiencing the stress and anticipated changes of pregnancy, may somaticize that stress to physical pains that represent their partner's experiences in pregnancy. The syndrome that describes a male's afflictions that are similar to the pregnant female's is called the couvade syndrome. The purpose of the present study is to determine the extent to which expectant fathers experience physical or emotional reactions corresponding to their partner's reactions during the third trimester of pregnancy and to determine what emotional factors contributed to this phenomenon. This study is designed to produce information regarding the comparisons of 100 expectant fathers to two control groups of nonexpectant men, one group of 100 with no children and one group of 100 with children age five and older. It is designed to show the correlates of symptom manifestation and the expectant father's emotional state, as reflected in levels of anxiety, depression, hostility, and empathetic involvement with the wife in the pregnancy. The instruments chosen for the study include the Multiple Affective Checklist, which will measure the respondent's state levels of anxiety, depression and hostility, a portion of the California Personality Inventory which measured the empathic personality of the men who experienced the symptoms and a symptom checklist which was used to obtain data on symptoms experienced by the participants. Significant findings were found between the three groups of men and the total number of pregnancy symptoms they reported experiencing. Significant findings were also found in the paired data analysis or correlation of reported pregnancy-like symptoms experienced by expectant fathers and the symptoms their partners experienced. Anxiety, hostility, depression and empathy were found to be nonsignificant as risk factors for expectant fathers experiencing pregnancy-like symptoms. It appears that the best predictor for expectant fathers to experience couvade symptoms was the number of symptoms their pregnant partner experienced. Therefore, educating fathers-to-be before the third trimester when the symptoms usually appear of the possible development of couvade symptoms might prevent health related problems and unnecessary medical costs associated with this problem.

Recommended Citation

Nancy Lee Brady-Freitag, "Physiological and psychological correspondence between parental pairs in the third trimester" (January 1, 1994). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI9517923.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9517923

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