This story was reported and produced by the ABC Owned Television Station Group and is reprinted with permission.
Aches and pains. Mood swings. That constant pressure on your bladder that sends you running to the bathroom at all hours of the day. Pregnancy isn’t all about that maternal glow. In a unique tribute to their mothers and wives (and moms all over the world), three British men are getting a taste of what pregnancy can be like by spending a month wearing sympathy bellies.
Jason Bramley, Steve Hanson and Jonny Biggins donned the 33-pound suits just over a week ago and plan to wear them in the run up to March 6, when England celebrates Mother’s Day. The rules are simple – the bellies must be worn around the clock (except for when they’re showering), the men will all keep diaries of their experience, and no cheating!
The bellies simulate many of the physical experiences of carrying a child; they come with fake breasts and are designed to put pressure on the lower back, bladder, stomach and lungs.
“I think it is as close as possible to simulating how pregnancy may feel for some women,” said ABC News Senior Medical Contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton, an OB-GYN based in the United States.
The men’s reaction to their new bellies has been significant and immediate. On Day 1, Jason Bramley likened the pain in his back and shoulders to “the morning after a rugby match.”
In the days that followed, he experienced issues with sleep and quickly learned how complicated simple tasks, like retrieving a dropped cellphone, can become.
“(It’s) the little things we’re finding quite arduous; simple things, tying shoelaces, dropping pens, putting plugs in,” Bramley told ABC.
Bramley calls the reaction they have received “extraordinary.”
Men tend to think it’s a bit more of a stupid thing to do and they don’t really understand why we would even brother to empathize or understand pregnancy,” he said. “Whereas women find it quite charming and they engage much more in the idea and either they find it hysterical or they find it quite an honorable thing to do.”
Bramley, Biggins and Hanson, all dads, work together in Barcelona, Spain, and are working on “The Book of Mum,” dedicated to moms and motherhood.
Bramley says the experience has made him reflect on his wife’s pregnancy. He tells ABC he wonders if he could have been more supportive.
“I was working all the time,” he said. “I think I didn’t quite understand, just because I was so busy, what my wife was having to manage…I wonder if I should have spent more time emotionally supporting her through her pregnancy.”
As for post-“pregnancy” life? Bramley is looking forward to the return to normalcy.
“Just touching my toes again,” he said.
Follow the “Three Pregnant Dads'” journey on their website.More On