Couvade (French, from couver, 'to hatch', from Latin cubare 'lie down) describes the imitation of a pregnancy. It is performed by a man. The anthropologist E. B. Tylor was the first person that made use of the name couvade.
Practise[change | change source]
To do so, the father carries out the same restrictions as the mother. These usually start closer towards the end of the pregnancy. It often proceeds for various amounts of time after childbirth. Restrictions: certain food taboos, staying only in the village or at home, avoiding certain places, no consumption of alcohol, cigarettes or stimulants or handling with sharp instruments. In some cases, the man copies the woman’s behaviour and pains during childbirth.
Occurrence[change | change source]
The couvade is known throughout history, for example in the ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, in the Basque Country and in the south of France. These days, it still exists in various cultures around the world among indigenous people in India, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Africa, North America and South America.
Reasons[change | change source]
These range from the spiritual and physical protection of the child, bonding of father with child as well as wife, the public recognition of fatherhood and support and relief of mother so she can maintain the household after the childbirth. The reasons for couvade are in some cultures linked to certain myths that give instructions and show what can go wrong if the parents do not follow them.
Consequences of not doing couvade[change | change source]
It is believed to have huge impacts on the child such as illness, disability, death and the transformation into other creatures.
References[change | change source]
- E. B. Tylor (1878) Researches into the early history of mankind and the development of civilization. Boston : Estes & Lauriat
- H. Ling Roth (1893) ‘On the Signification of Couvade’. The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol. 11: 204-243