Dizziness, nausea or morning sickness, sleepiness, and craving for certain foods – many of us know that these are some of the signs that a woman is pregnant. But what if we see these signs manifested in a man - do we also conclude that the man is pregnant? Have you heard of dads experiencing these signs instead of their pregnant wives, or going through them along with them?
I’ve heard about this many times in the past even before I got married and pregnant myself. When I finally got pregnant with my first child, some of my neighbors told me in jest to cross over my husband while he’s asleep to ‘transfer’ the symptoms of paglilihi to him. I just laughed it off.
Then, I found out that one of my male friends, Joel Saludares, a social media manager, experienced paglilihi together with his wife on both pregnancies.
Joel posted in his Facebook status that he was “nahihilo at naduduwal…,” and eventually shared the good news that he and his wife were expecting their first baby. So when he made a similar post on Facebook recently, we already knew why he was happy to be experiencing dizziness and nausea again.
“I go through the same things my wife experiences like nausea, dizziness and vomiting, and it usually happens around the second month of my wife’s pregnancy. We both did not have a craving for any particular food, but we noticed that we wanted to eat fruits more often during her pregnancy. It lasted for about a month,” Joel shares. When he told his wife’s doctor about the incident, he says that Ob-Gyn simply laughed at it.
Dr. Margarita Santella-Jara, my Obstetrician-Gynecologist-Sonologist says that she has some patients – about 2 in every 20 - who tell her that their husbands are experiencing paglilihi. Among the common signs experienced by the husbands were increased sleepiness and craving for some foods. It has actually made Dr. Jara wonder because according to her, they don’t teach you this in medical school. What’s interesting is that Dr. Santella-Jara’s own husband experienced paglilihi, too. She said that her husband liked eating sour food while she was pregnant with both of their daughters. “I noticed that it usually happens to couples who are very close, whose bonds are very strong and who communicate with each other well.”
This unexplainable phenomenon, if you may call it that, has its up side, too, she notes. “One benefit that this brings is that it boosts the pregnant woman’s self-esteem, because she feels that she is not alone in her pregnancy. Another benefit is a stronger bond between the couple because they are able to share the challenges and difficulties of being pregnant in a unique way since not many go through the same experience as they do.”
While some husbands show their care for their pregnant wives by accompanying them to prenatal check-ups, there are those who, unintentionally, go through the pregnancy journey by sharing the symptoms of infanticipation. While medical science could not explain it, it’s good to know that men are given an opportunity to experience first-hand how a pregnant woman feels, allowing them to understand their wives when they get cranky or emotional, crave for food in the middle of the night, or simply feel lethargic or unwell. This gives a whole new meaning to a man and a woman “not being two, but one” for couples who share in the joys – and pains – of pregnancy.
Margarita Santella-Jara, M.D., FPOGS, FPSUOG is an Obstetrician-Gynecologist-Sonologist who holds clinic at World Citi Medical Center in Quezon City and at MCT OB Scan and Polyclinic at Sikatuna Village in Quezon City.