When women become pregnant, gaining weight is a very necessary and expected part of the beautiful process. But how about weight gain in their partners? Do men really gain weight in pregnancy, or is that just a myth?
People often joke about men gaining pregnancy weight along with the expecting women in their lives. It is not something many people probably give much thought to or take seriously.
However, there is definitely truth to the matter.
What The Experts Say
Men gaining weight during pregnancy is actually considered to be normal.
An article by The New York Times revealed a study conducted in 2009 by the marketing company Onepoll, where five thousand male respondents reported that they ate more as the pregnancies of their partners continued to progress.
The average weight gain for men was said to be 14 pounds, though some sources say it can be high as 30 pounds.
The reasons why men gain weight aren’t a mystery, but they can be difficult to avoid.
1. Eating Out More Frequently
Since no one may feel like cooking, or mom-to-be may be hungrier when she’s out and about, couples tend to go to restaurants more often when a baby is on the way. When I was in my third trimester, I had an issue with chocolate custard.
My husband and I were running out to get it more than I’d like to admit, and I’m sure he very much enjoyed the opportunity since he loves chocolate more than I do!
2. Extra Treats Are Available Around The House
Much like a squirrel stashes away acorns when winter is on its way, a woman may horde cupcakes and bags of chips in preparation for baby-to-be’s arrival.
Just kidding. However, there certainly may be more snacks available around the house, and dad-to-be can’t help but indulge.
3. Meals May Be Larger In Size
When a pregnant woman cooks her partner dinner, larger portion sizes are likely to be expected. She’s eating for two and he reaps the benefits.
4. Sympathy Eating
Men may feel sympathetic to their pregnant partners, and join them in indulging. Some men may simply want to help women feel better about their expanding waistlines.
When It Becomes Unhealthy
A study completed in 2015 by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and published in the American Journal of Men’s Health showed that men who had children were more likely to continue to gain weight after a child arrives.
The study tracked more than 10,000 men for two decades and reported that those with children were likely to gain an average of four pounds, while single men tended to lose weight.
The study results are not something that should be taken lightly, warned lead author of the report and Northwestern Associate Professor, Craig Garfield.
“The more weight the fathers gain and the higher their BMI, the greater risk they have for developing heart disease as well as diabetes and cancer,” the study found.
Researchers add that because of the findings, it is necessary to focus on preventative strategies for new dads. Especially since children’s health outcomes can be influenced by a father’s weight.
Additional Pregnancy Symptoms Men Can Experience
Termed couvade, derived from the French word “couver” which means “to incubate,” men can actually experience one or more additional pregnancy symptoms. These include nausea, food cravings, odor aversions, breathing trouble, mood swings, sleep problems and fatigue.
It is said that these symptoms tend to strike in the first trimester, taper off in the second and then come back in the third trimester. Scientists claim that couvade is actually a very real biological reaction that may occur due to impending fatherhood.
Men may also experience some of the hormonal surges women experience in pregnancy.
In an experiment conducted in 2000 by Anne Storey, a parenting psychologist, and Katherine Wynne-Edwards, a zoologist, the two women and their colleagues at Memorial University in Newfoundland began a quest to understand the physiological and behavioral changes that expectant fathers may undergo prior to their children being born.
The women especially focused on the hormone prolactin, which rises dramatically in expectant mothers. This hormone helps encourage tender feelings, calmness and strong feelings of emotion.
What was discovered was that dads also had high concentrations of prolactin. And the more connected a couple was when baby was born, the higher a dad’s prolactin level and the more extreme his “pregnancy” symptoms were.
It was also revealed that dads with significantly higher levels of prolactin tended to be more responsive to their babies and more attached to them than men with lower levels of the hormone. For four to seven weeks after a child’s birth, a doting dad’s prolactin levels may continue to be elevated.
Testosterone levels of those fathers with higher prolactin levels drop an average of 30 percent and make them less likely to stray from their partners, more compassionate and less competitive.