Nausea, cravings, weight gain - and that's just the dad-to-be

Expectant parents Harry Ashby and Charlotte Allsopp.
Expectant parents Harry Ashby and Charlotte Allsopp. Photo: Facebook

It's not unusual for expectant mums-to-be to take some time off work due to morning sickness or pregnancy related aches and pains. But now one UK dad has cited pregnancy illness as the reason for him needing sick leave from work.

Harry Ashby lists persistent nausea, weight gain, food cravings and breast development as symptoms he has experienced since partner Charlotte Allsopp fell pregnant. The security guard's doctor confirmed the symptoms and diagnosed the 29-year-old with Couvade syndrome.

Harry Ashby, who is expecting a baby with fiancée Charlotte Allsopp, says he's suffering all the symptoms with her.
Harry Ashby, who is expecting a baby with fiancée Charlotte Allsopp, says he's suffering all the symptoms with her. Photo: Facebook

Although Mr Ashby has been told he is the first man in the UK to take sick leave from work due to pregnancy-related illness, he is not the first man to suffer Couvade syndrome. The condition's name is derived from the French word "couver", meaning to hatch or brood, and is believed to occur in most industrialised parts of the world.

While the cause is usually put down to anxiety or other psychological processes, experts have discovered that some men actually experience similar hormonal changes as those that occur in their pregnant partners, with more prolactin and cortisol in their bodies during the pregnancy.

There are reports of men craving food from their childhood, developing larger breasts, tiredness, stomach pains, and even having a "baby bump" to show off.

Mr Ashby said his cravings often matched those being experienced by his pregnant partner.

"I'd ring asking Charlotte what she was having for lunch. She'd say salt and vinegar crisps, and I'd be eating them at the same time - I normally hate them," he told the newspaper.

The couple's baby is due in January and Mr Ashby says his symptoms started two months after he found out Ms Allsopp was pregnant. 

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"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," Ms Allsopp 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."

Mr Ashby initially thought he was suffering from a bug, but after symptoms persisted he researched online and came across information on Couvade syndrome. He says a visit to the doctor confirmed that he was suffering from the condition.

"I was shocked. I've been told I’m the first man in the UK to be signed off work for being pregnant," he said.

The couple believe Mr Ashby's condition could have been brought on by the pain of Ms Allsopp losing a baby in 2012.

Ms Allsopp said although she was shocked at first by her partner's diagnosis, she is glad he understands what it is like to experience pregnancy aches and pains.  

"But I do get a bit tired of having to look after Harry when he should be looking after me," she told The Sun. "It proves women are tougher than blokes when it comes to pregnancy."

While Mr Ashby is looking forward to saying goodbye to his pregnancy symptoms once Ms Allsopp gives birth, he is also a bit apprehensive. 

"I'm a bit nervous, as some men who have Couvade syndrome also had bad labour pains when their partners give birth,” he said.

Let's hope the hospital room where Ms Allsopp gives birth is equipped with enough pain relief for two.