Couvade Syndrome

Wikipedia offers this definition of Couvade Syndrome:

Couvade syndrome is a medical/mental condition which "involves a father experiencing some of the behavior of his wife at near the time of childbirth, including her birth pains, postpartum seclusion, food restrictions, and sex taboos".

Another term for it is a sympathetic pregnancy. But some cultures take the concept a step further. From The Art of Folly by Paul Tabori:

In Brazil the new father is deliberately made ill. They use the sharp teeth of the aguti to gash his body. Then the wounds are washed with poisonously burning tobacco juice or a liquid in which black pepper has been mixed. The "father/mother" suffers duly while playing his strange role. In some other tribes he is subjected to a strict diet, not for days, but for weeks, during which he gets so little to eat that he becomes skin-and-bone. Among the Vaga-Vaga tribe, for instance, he is forbidden to eat bananas, coconuts, mangoes, sugar cane, poultry, pork, and dog meat.

No dog meat. That's rough. But my favorite Couvade ritual comes from the Huichol Indian tribe:

During traditional childbirth, the father sits above his labouring wife on the roof of their hut. Ropes are tied around his testicles and his wife holds onto the other ends. Each time she feels a painful contraction, she tugs on the ropes so that her husband will share some of the pain of their child's entrance into the world.

The thumbnail shows a yarn drawing owned by the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco that depicts this ritual.
Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 03, 2008
Category: Babies, Medicine



Comments
Talk about being at the end of your rope! Ouch.

I don't want my bride leading me around by a string... They can bag that.

And pain? We're both still going through that. We have a 20-year-old in college grin
Posted by Kenneth on 12/03/08 at 07:11 AM
It was so painful to me to think that my (first) wife would be screaming in pain during the birth of our child. I suggested she take any and all drugs offered by the medical staff. She agreed. However, I could not bear the thought that I would hear her cry out in pain at some point.
My solution?
On the appointed day I delivered her to the hospital. I made sure she was as comfortable as the circumstances would allow and that the staff were attentive to her every need. Then, making sure I had a full battery charge on the cell phone, I made my way to the nearest pub to await news of the arrival of the newest member of our family. It worked out well for everyone. She did not have me hovering near her and possibly inferring with the medical staff. I did not bear the guilt of hearing her crying/screaming and not be able to do something about it.
agent j
Posted by agent j in Toronto, Canada on 12/03/08 at 09:50 AM
Ok, speaking as a woman who has given birth to two children, I will tell you childbirth hurts like a motherf***er. Not just because I've been led to believe it was painful, but because it IS painful. With my second daughter, my epidural wore off and they couldn't get it fully functioning again before she arrived. I felt EVERYTHING. Once it was over, I was fine and my recovery was very quick. But those few hours were extremely painful. I tried to inflict pain upon my husband by digging my nails into his hand with each contraction but that didn't seem to faze him in the least. I may have to try the ropes next time....

And Agent J, I would kill my husband if he wasn't right next to me.
Posted by KW in Dallas, TX on 12/03/08 at 11:48 AM
Hey, I didn't say it wasn't painful...the Lamaze teacher/freak did. I don't understand though why women feel like the man deserves pain just because the women are going through it. We didn't make up who gets to give birth. I know men are blamed for everything, especially white men, but, believe it or not, there are many things that just are and are not anyone's fault.

For my first child, I didn't want to be present during the labor but I was very much involved in helping my wife deal with the contractions. In hindsight, I am glad I was present for it because it was the most awesome moment of my life.

For the second child my wife had a c-section...I was NOT going to miss that. That was so cool.
Posted by Madd Maxx on 12/03/08 at 12:23 PM
LOL I know YOU didn't say that, Maxx. I just think that lamaze teacher needs a punch in the ovaries.

My husband didn't actually WATCH the delivery. He said if I ever wanted him to touch me again, he couldn't watch. But he was wonderfully supportive, sitting next to me, with his back to the gore. He can't even watch the scene in Knocked Up where she gives birth. LOL He did think it was pretty cool to watch them start the epidural, though.
Posted by KW in Dallas, TX on 12/03/08 at 12:27 PM
Yeah, it took a little while before I wanted to touch my wife again after seeing what I saw (a nurse and I each had a foot and had to push my wifes legs back for each contraction to try to get the little bastard to drop). My wife still doesn't want sex and she didn't even see it from my angle .
Posted by Madd Maxx on 12/03/08 at 12:31 PM
if someone is going to respond to a comment then they really should read all the preceding comments first. as far as childbirth, i can't give anecdotal evidence either way, i have never had a kidney stone and i had my children by c-section. but i will say that sensation is all in how the brain interprets the signals from the nerves so it is possible for there to be anomolous cases where pleasure is felt instead of pain.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 12/02/09 at 07:35 PM
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