A hospital in China has created a simulation experience so that men can understand the pain of childbirth.
The hospital uses a machine that delivers electric shocks to the upper abdomen for around five minutes. The shocks stimulate the muscles to make them mimic the contractions the body goes through during childbirth, and the nurses increase the pain from a scale 0 to 10, as if contractions were becoming closer together.
Free sessions are held twice a week at the Alma hospital in the city of Jinan in the Shandong province of Northern China, after new mothers complained that their partners were not sympathetic enough about what they had gone through. In China it is not usual for fathers to be in the delivery room as their partners give birth.
This is not the first time a simulator has been built for men to experience the pain of childbirth. Last year a video of two men undertaking the electric shocks in Holland went viral, as did a video of men in Michigan, USA, but this is the first time the practice has been used for sympathetic reasons rather than as a stunt.
So far around 100 men have signed up for the childbirth experience. Many are expectant fathers who come with their pregnant partners, but apparently many 'thrill seekers' have signed up as a test of whether they can handle the paint.
Song Siling, who is trying for a baby with his girlfriend, said afterwards "It felt like my heart and lungs were being ripped apart." He reached level seven on the pain scale before asking the nurse to turn off the system. Many volunteers dropped out within minutes, not able to handle the agony.
The on-duty nurse remarked that although the simulator was painful, it would never match the actual discomfort of childbirth. One man, Wu Jianlong, who managed to get all the way up to 10 on the pain scale, said the experience had changed his whole perspective of childbirth.
"Because all women have children and it usually takes quite a long time, I had thought of it as being something really natural, something really normal that they can get through," he said.
Watch a video of some of the fathers undergoing simulated childbirth below:
Images: Rex Features, Words: Victoria Gray