What’s the one thing women do that men can’t do? BAKE CUPCAK–- wait, I mean, HAVE BABIES. Since the dawn of time, men have sat on the sidelines and watched women pace and squat and sing their guttural whale songs as they brought forth the next generation. Sure, they claim to feel our pain. But what would it be like if MEN had to have the babies?
Good news, curious minds! A Dutch television show sent its hosts on a mission to find out! The two very male hosts of Proefkonijnen (translation: ‘Guinea Pigs’) agreed to brave simulated contractions at a birthing center, overseen by a midwife for utmost European crunchiness.
Watch as hosts Dennis and Valerio (he’s Dutch) pull up their their shirts, giggle excessively, and then scream in pain, just like actual women in labor!
Each gentlebrah gets hooked up to two pairs of e-stim nodes, which use electric currents to induce muscle contractions over their invisible wombzones. Every few minutes the cruel, cruel doctor-lady cues another round of “contractions” to appear as if by womb-magic and make war upon their abnormally flat abdominals.
The two react to the pain in completely opposite ways; Dennis can’t stop laughing while Valerio (he’s Dutch) is begging for mercy before they even start the first contraction. The midwife attempts to coach Valerio (he’s Dutch) through the “pressure waves,” but even after a liberally applied hit of nitrous oxide he gives up and quits the experiment. Dennis, who early on couldn’t stop laughing, powers through to the time limit and manages a fairly convincing approximation of real labor ie, he looks and sounds like a miserable, beached sea lion.
Men in labor! It’s just as we’ve always dreamed!
A few thoughts from a woman who has given actual real-life non-simulated birth:
1) This isn’t so much the experience of “labor” as it is just of “contractions.” There’s no pooping or vomiting or leaking of horrible fluids, or swelling or crying or hot-flashes or whacked-out hormones and no one has been denied anything but ice chips and popsicle-water or had an intern’s arm shoved up their clam, and after allllll that they didn’t have to use their ab muscles to push anything out of their anywheres. This is fun and all, but let it be noted: there’s a lot more to labor than “muscle spasms.”
2) E-stim does not reproduce the feeling of actual contractions. I know this because I have A) had a baby and B) put one of those things on my face (don’t ask, it was a long time ago). It’s a whole-body thing rather than a zappy-wasps thing. However, since I’m assuming they couldn’t medicalize up a way for the men to each “give birth” to a giant poop for a more cinematic and realistic conclusion of the experiment, I guess e-stim is probably as close as we’re going to get.
3) They only did this for two hours. Yes. Two (2) hours, and one of the guys gave up halfway through and walked out just like you can totally do in real labor all the time because that’s totally how bodies work.
Are all the women reading this rolling your eyes yet? Two. Two hours.
Was this “experiment” completely realistic? No, of course not. Did it enlighten those two men relative to the challenges of what it’s like to be a woman and give birth? Potentially, but they also seem like a pair of pool-noodles. Either way it’s probably as close to the real thing as they’d be able to get without permanent damage to their internal organs.
What would life be like if men had to give birth? Based on this new vry vry scientific information: giggly.
The pair’s final thoughts on completing the man-birth of their man-baby: “I really thought it was torture. I’m not sure anymore I’m willing to put my wife through this and make her pregnant.”
Good talk, guys. Good talk. Keepin’ it real.