Husbands of pregnant women suffer many of the symptoms of pregnancy their wives do, including nausea and vomiting, weight gain, food cravings, changes in appetite, toothaches, and other aches and pains, according to this month's issue of Nursing Research. Nearly 90 percent of expectant fathers had at least one symptom at some point in their wives' pregnancies, reports Dr. Ora L. Strickland of the University of Maryland School of Nursing; one man suffered from a total of 17 symptoms.
Strickland studied 91 fathers-to-be, one third of whom were black and the rest white. The sample was derived from private obstetricians' practices and included only men who were married and free of mental or physical illnesses. Half of the men had jobs considered middle-class, the other half had jobs considered working-class. The average age of men in the study was 28.3 years.
The men most likely to suffer symptoms were working-class men and those who said their wives' pregnancies were unplanned. Blacks reported more symptoms than whites at each trimester, but whites had an increasing number of symptoms as their wives' pregnancies progressed.
Although men who also were anxious and irritable were the most likely to have pregnancy-like symptoms, this condition was not limited to first-time fathers. Lack of "fathering experience," notes Strickland, "is not an important factor in explaining the occurrence of paternal symptoms during pregnancy."