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couvade (ko͞ovädˈ), imitation by the father of many of the concomitants of childbirth, at the time of his wife's parturition. The father may retire into seclusion as well as observe various taboos and restrictions. One explanation for this custom is that the father and mother of a newborn both have to be cautious and avoid foods and activities that might, through supernatural means, bring harm to themselves or the child. Another explanation contends that the father simulates the wife's activities in order to focus evil spirits on him rather than her. A third reasoning is that the father asserts his paternity by appearing to take part in the delivery. Indigenous South Americans (see Natives, South American), such as those of the Guianas, the Caribs, the Arawakan Guayapé, and the Northwestern and Central Gê of E Brazil, believe that the child has a stronger supernatural bond with the father than with the mother and use the couvade to reinforce this bond. In extreme forms of couvade, the man may mimic the pain and process of childbirth and expect his wife to wait on him in the following days. The practice has been noted since antiquity, in such widely dispersed places as Africa, China, Japan, India, among native populations of North and South America, and among the Basques of France and Spain.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the customs and rituals of childbirth creating the illusion that the father rather than the mother is giving birth to the child. Thus, the father pretends to be ill, adheres to a diet, groans, sometimes dresses in women's clothes, and later accepts congratulations and cares for the infant while the mother returns to work immediately after giving birth. There is evidence that the custom of couvade existed among the ancient Celts, Thracians, Scythians, and many tribes of America, Asia, and Oceania. Most Soviet ethnologists regard the custom as a reflection of the transition from a matrilineal to a patrilineal society, although some interpret it as a sign of the transition from group to paired marriage. Couvade also includes elements of magical aid for the woman in labor and of concern for the child.


Khazanov, A. M. “Zagadochnaia kuvada.” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1968, no. 3.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
El autor referia en 1989, frente a la abstinencia posparto, que, los hombres Surui observan algunas veces la practica de la couvade. El nuevo padre no esta lejos.
Doctors and researchers say the best way to deal with Couvade syndrome is to understand that it does exist and that it is a basic human reaction to the pregnancy.
Specific topics include an early novella by Yeats (John Sherman, 1891), William Trevor, Maurice Leitch, Cristina Garcia, Amrita Pritam, Jesus Urzagasti, Nestor Taboada Teran, Rene Poppe, Wilson Harris ('Couvade'), and Christopher Okigbo.
Norris did some research into Curly's strange illness and decided he was suffering from Couvade Syndrome - phantom pregnancy symptoms.
The kumbessias or accommodations for pilgrims at novena festivals represent, in his opinion, a survival of the primitive custom of the couvade (233).
Like the couvade, like ritual scarrings that symbolize menstruation in men, like pederastic rites that initiate boys into manhood and employ procreative imagery, Diotima gives witness to "the determination of men to acquire the powers they ascribe (whether correctly or incorrectly) to women," which Halperin calls "a remarkably persistent and widespread feature of male culture."(40)
It is in this way that myth appears in Harris's "Couvade" and The Four Banks of the River of Space as both a creative bridge between cultures and as a resource through which stases of oppression can be revised.
(13) Qeste rappresentazioni costituiscono una ripresa in chiave comica di materiali rituali e narrativi folklorici ed etnologici, quali i racconti del "padre allattante" e del mito della couvade, di cui ripetono, nelle forme consentite dalla cultura del tempo, alcuni significati.
The most elaborate instance is his diagnosis of Leontes' couvade syndrome, an affliction of fathers-to-be.
"The Bloom of MOtherhood: Couvade as a Structural Device in Ulysses.
These practices are collectively known as "couvade rituals." The word couvade is derived from the French couver, meaning "to incubate, hatch, or brood," and signifies the male's engagement with his unborn baby.