Occasionally, during their wife’s pregnancy, men suffer the same symptoms as the future mother. This can be assimilated to hysterical pregnancies (or all the signs of pregnancy, without the baby) in women.
In the late nineteenth century, S. Weir Mitchell gave a series of lectures on psychosomatic illnesses, and included the following story concerning an hysterical pregnancy, associated with the husband’s morning sickness:
The woman was the mother of two girls and wanted to have a boy. Her periods stopped for one month, then returned for the following three, but less abundantly, which was what usually happened when she was pregnant.
From the second month, she started vomitting every morning, which was also usual for her. At the same time, she put on weight and, as this was mainly around the abdominal area, she was certain that she was pregnant.
The wife was not Dr Mitchell’s patient, but her husband consulted him for his own morning sickness which started at the same time as his wife’s, as it had for her preceding pregnancies. Dr Mitchell advised him to leave home, which he did. His morning sickness then stopped.
The doctor later learned that the wife continued to gain weight and vomit every morning until the seventh month, when her periods returned. She was examined and, when she was convinced that she couldn’t be pregnant, she started to lose weight and was back to normal within a few months.
Doctor Mitchell does not report when (or if) the husband reintegrated the family home.
Another case of morning sickness in a husband appeared two weeks after his wife’s periods stopped. He vomitted daily before his wife reached her second missed period.
Her only symptoms up to this point had been her husband’s morning sickness, which only lasted two months. This was identical to the sickness experienced during his wife’s preceding pregnancies, except that, for the other pregnancies, his symptoms had not appeared until both he and his wife knew that she was pregnant.
The Lancet (476, 1878, 66) describes a case where the morning sickness of both the husband and the wife began and ended at the same time.
A Dr Judkins mentions a man being ill in the morning during his wife’s pregnancy. The same thing happened each time that she was pregnant, and the man told the doctor that his own father had suffered from morning sickness during the first months of his mother’s pregnancy when she was expecting him, which the doctor thought showed an hereditary predisposition.
Do any modern husbands suffer from morning sickness during their wife’s pregnancy? We don’t seem to hear much about it. Perhaps, if they do, they are too self-conscious to make it public.