Bouts of pain, cravings, and morning sickness with the expected weight gain are common symptoms experienced throughout a woman’s pregnancy. A British dad-to-be claims he has insight into what his fiancée and the Duchess of Cambridge are going through, after taking leave of absence at work for “sympathy morning sickness.” Harry Ashby of Birmingham, UK, and his doctor confirmed he has couvade syndrome shortly after his 19-year-old fiancée, Charlotte Allsopp, fell pregnant two months ago.

"He started throwing up in the mornings and we'd lie on the sofa and moan at the same time about our aches and pains,” Allsopp, a hairdresser, told The Sun. "My breasts were getting bigger and so were his. After a while, he started complaining of pains over his chest; it started freaking me out." The couple even began to have the same cravings, like Chinese takeout, orange Lucozade, and salt-and-vinegar chips, which they both normally dislike.

It was only after Ashby, a security guard and part-time model who prides himself on his physique, put on 7 pounds that he decided to see his doctor to explain his unusual symptoms. Ashby’s doctor told the dad-to-be he was the first man in Britain to be given a sick note for couvade syndrome, which allowed him to take a leave of absence from work until he recovers from the sympathy pains. "I was shocked. I've been told I'm the first man in the UK to be signed off work for being pregnant," Ashby told The Sun.

Although Ashby was signed off sick with the unusual condition, couvade syndrome is still not widely recognized by doctors. According to the Mayo Clinic, couvade syndrome, also known as sympathetic pregnancy, is best characterized when a healthy man — whose partner is expecting a baby — experiences pregnancy-related symptoms. While some studies suggest that couvade syndrome might be common, it isn’t a recognized mental illness or disease. Doctors are still on the fence about whether this is a physical condition with psychological causes.

A 2007 study published in the Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology found men with expectant partners experienced more physical symptoms than psychological ones. Although some partners were not able to find an explanation for their symptoms, some perceived that they were related in some way to the altered physiology of their female partners during pregnancy. However, medical experts believe there is no physical reason for these psychosomatic symptoms, which were thought to be triggered by shared anxiety about pregnancy. This belief would apply to Ashby’s case, since Allsopp had a previous miscarriage, The Independent reported.

Whether couvade syndrome is real or not is still undetermined, but Ashby is less concerned about what people believe and more focused about when his wife gives birth in January. “I’m a bit nervous, as some men who have couvade syndrome also had bad labor pains when their partners give birth,” he said.

Allsopp says she is less sympathetic about Ashby’s symptoms. "I do get a bit tired of having to look after Harry when he should be looking after me," she said. "It proves women are tougher than blokes when it comes to pregnancy."