Sunday, June 24, 2007

Stretch Marks for Dads: What fatherhood does to the body and the brain



Last weekend, Tufts University hosted a scientific conference on the "parental brain." Or at least the maternal brain, which was the subject of eight symposia, while fathers and their brains were the focus of just one. Once, this imbalance would have seemed inevitable, since there didn't seem to be much to say about how becoming a father affects men physically. But now, evidence is accumulating that pregnancy and parenthood leave their marks on men's bodies. Women are not the only ones who are built for parenting, and recognizing that is good for fathers and the rest of us, too.

Historically, when men did more than donate sperm to a pregnancy—by suffering physical ailments along with their wives—they got called crazy. The condition labeled "sympathetic pregnancy," or couvade syndrome (from the French word couver, or "to incubate"), describes expectant fathers who are stricken with some combination of weight gain, nausea, food cravings, backaches, insomnia, and other delights familiar to pregnant women everywhere. Until recently, couvade was relegated to the overwrought TV medical drama as a "psychosomatic" curiosity, with a list of potential causes that would please any Freudian (identification with the fetus, pregnancy envy, pseudo-sibling rivalry).

But in the last handful of years, scientists have shown that normal, healthy, non-pregnancy-envying men often undergo real bodily changes when they're expecting children. READ MORE...

3 comments:

Sara said...

Cool! I'm sending this article over to my children's father. He and every other expecting dad I've been around went through obvious body changes during their pregnancies.

rafael said...

interesting!

Daniel said...

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