Hanson in his pregnancy suit. All photos by Three Pregnant Dads
To honor the many sacrifices moms make, most men would opt for flowers or chocolates. But three male coworkers who really want to understand the mom experience are taking their celebration of motherhood a (giant) step further — by wearing 33-pound pregnancy suits, complete with breasts and a fake 9-months-along belly.
The British men, who work together in Barcelona creating personalized books for their company The Book of Everyone, were researching a mother’s day book when the idea to emulate the pregnancy experience hit them. “We were thinking, how can we honor mothers? Both our own mothers and our partners,” Jonny Biggins, one of the three dads, tells Yahoo Parenting. “Now that we’re doing it, there’s no going back.”
Biggins and his colleagues Steven Hanson and Jason Bramley each committed to wearing the “empathy belly” for one month, leading up to U.K. Mother’s Day on March 15. They wear the suit all day and night, only taking it off to bathe, and each of the men is documenting his experience being nine months pregnant with posts and videos on their blog, Three Pregnant Dads.
From left: Biggins, Hanson and Bramley.
“We’re trying to empathize a little and go through some of the physical discomforts women go through, though not all of them,” Biggins says, pointing out that the three men are spared plenty of the biological pregnancy trials like swollen ankles or tender breasts. Still, the suit is intended to put pressure on the bladder, stomach and lungs and cause the wearer to feel bloated, a common pregnancy complaint.
Nine days into the project, Biggins, a 45-year-old father of two, says he has a whole new appreciation for what pregnant women go through. “I’ve had to slow down. Little things like picking something up or tying your shoes becomes a huge task,” he says. Nights, too, have been rough. “It’s like sleeping on a boulder, it’s really uncomfortable. But you start adapting and customizing to make it work.” Biggins says he’s added a second seat to his bicycle to rest support his belly, and has to wear a maternity band to minimize chafing.
“At the end of the day, women are superhuman,” Biggins says.
Hanson and Bramley have had their own challenges. On day five, Bramley, a 44-year-old dad of one, blogged about how hard it is to simply get around with his new belly. “I wonder why pregnant women don’t use wheelchairs,” he wrote. “I have a chair in the office with wheels, this is a blessing. With the added weight of my pregnancy suit and one firm push, I can glide effortlessly across the office to my desired destination. Genius.” Hanso, a 45-year-old dad of one, noted that while his newfound breasts seemed exciting at first, that moment passed quickly. “What an awful night, I just couldn’t get settled,” he wrote. “Tried to make a small city out of pillows around my bump. What were at first quite a pleasurable novelty, my boobs soon became about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit. They were way too warm and hung on my arm sending it to sleep, and waking me at the same time.”
On his most recent blog post, titled “5 Things I Didn’t Know a Week Ago,” Biggins also noted the strange body changes. “Having breasts is fun for a day and then they get in the way,” he wrote. He also noted how quickly pregnant women’s bodies start to seem like public property. “If you like the idea of having your belly stroked by women you’ve just met, this [belly] is an unlikely ice-breaker.”
Biggins says he now has “nothing but admiration” for women who go through pregnancy. “I want it over, I really want it over,” he says of sporting his new bump. “But our philosophy at The Book of Everyone is to think more about what other people have been through. We have to walk in other people’s shoes, so this is a great way of getting a different perspective while creating some discussion and having a little fun.”
As for the reaction of others, Biggins admits he’s gotten some strange looks. “My wife thinks I’m bonkers,” he says. “But you get a certain amount of admiration, and a little sympathy is coming in there as well. It’s interesting – I think that’s what women get, too.”