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According to Collins English Dictionary, and of course as everyone knows, a doula is

a woman who is trained to provide support to women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of time following the birth

However, the definition in wiktionary says:

A support person, usually female, who may not have medical or midwifery training, who provides emotional assistance to a mother or pregnant couple before, during or after childbirth.

Is pregnant couple actually an acceptable term for referring to an expectant couple?

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2  
If the male were pregnant, would it be another virgin birth? Merry Christmas! –  tchrist Dec 23 '12 at 19:50
    
IMO the correct phrase would be: Expecting couple. –  KeyBrd Basher Dec 24 '12 at 7:14
    
Not quite a pregnant question that. Wiktionary was right, after all. The Pregnant Couple's Guide to Working Out Together (books.google.com/books?isbn=0471207578); "... a close relationship with the person in distress, an obvious occurrence in the pregnant couple."; "t is important that the pregnant couple understand as completely as possible the concept of risk..."; "the legality of abortion is derived from the pregnant couple's right to privacy"; and, wait, Psychosocial dimensions of the pregnant family (books.google.com/books?id=2QoFAQAAIAAJ) –  Kris Dec 24 '12 at 10:35

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The earliest uses I find of the phrase are in the 1950s, in the works of Alan Frank Guttmacher, a distinguished ob/gyn physician and author of several books on sexuality and reproductive health addressed to the general public.

There are scattered uses in Google Books through the 60s and 70s, but since the 80s the phrase has been widely used, not only in popular magazines and newspapers but also in academic books and peer-reviewed journals in obstetrics, nursing, psychotherapy and social work.

Pregnant does not necessarily mean physiologically gravid. In English it was first used in the sense “compelling” (a pregnant argument) as early as the last quarter of the 14th century, and MED records only a single use of the “literal” sense (ca. 1425) against ten uses in figurative or derived senses such as “imaginative, discerning, highly significant” and “compelling, weighty”. The physiological sense is undoubtedly primary now, but none of the other senses has entirely disappeared—consider “pregnant pause”, which choster cites, “pregnant wit”, “pregnant with hope”.

In light of those uses, it seems a bit churlish for grammarians to deny a mother (and her medical supporters) the right to implicate the father in the burden of pregnancy as well as its inception.

At any rate, “pregnant couple” is widely employed, and presumably just as widely accepted. You must decide for yourself whether it is acceptable to you.

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Churlish? You try being physiologically gravid and see how well you take it when some man wants to claim that "we're pregnant." –  KitFox Dec 31 '12 at 15:59
    
@KitFox A very valid objection, and I have rewritten to clarify my point, which was directed to the grammarians. –  StoneyB Dec 31 '12 at 17:02
    
applauds Thank you kindly. –  KitFox Dec 31 '12 at 17:06
    
@KitFox ‪Brava! –  tchrist Dec 31 '12 at 17:10
    
@KitFox "I endeavour to give satisfaction." –  StoneyB Dec 31 '12 at 17:30

I think OP has answered his own question simply by asking it (he wouldn't have asked unless he found the usage somewhat "odd").

I admit the pregnant couple does actually occur (Google Books claims 1590 instances, in that link). But compare that to 2,650,000 instances of the pregnant woman.

More to the point, there are 6740 instances of the pregnant man. Some people will say anything.

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I like the way you challenged that misleading google books metric! –  ZJR Dec 24 '12 at 2:03
    
I suggest that this is a false comparison, reflecting the greater frequency of occasions for speaking of "the pregnant woman". This Ngram gives a fairer comparison of properly commensurable uses. "Pregnant man" is a different matter: most hits deal with mythology, comedy, psychosexual issues, and the sensational case of Thomas Beatie. –  StoneyB Dec 24 '12 at 15:42

The answer depends on whether you think that pregnant refers to having been impregnated, or simply in a state of expectation.

Women are impregnated, whereas men, like pauses, can only be expectant.

It is better to say that the couple is expecting, not that they are “pregnant”, lest certain matters of unlikely biology or private sexual practices be brought unpleasantly to the fore of conversation.

In short, your crowd-sourced Wiki-Shunnery definition is sloppy to the point of gross biological error.

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4  
+1 for eloquence; but the word has been so often employed in much remoter figurative senses (indeed, was in use in English in figurative senses for two hundred years before it was employed in the maternal sense) that I cannot find this use objectionable. Besides, if a woman is impregnated does it not imply that a man was at some point impregnant? :) –  StoneyB Dec 23 '12 at 20:24
    
Pauses can certainly be pregnant. english.stackexchange.com/questions/14437/… –  choster Dec 23 '12 at 20:41
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I'm pretty sure I remember hearing the phrase "we're pregnant" more than once, when a couple was making the big announcement. Sure, it's not biologically correct, and "we're expecting" might be more anatomically correct, but I believe that it was meant to be deliberately tongue-in-cheek. In an informal setting, it might sound more quaint than erroneous. In a more formal setting (like, say, Parents magazine), I'd expect to see something more carefully worded. –  J.R. Dec 24 '12 at 1:12

I'm afraid that, to me at least, pregnant couple sounds nonsensical and owes more to fashionable notions of 'inclusivity' than to reality. But that's me.

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‪+1‪‪‪‪‪‪‪‪‪‪‪‪ –  tchrist Dec 31 '12 at 17:11

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