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Many of you have seen the YouTube video of Dutch guys “in labor.” Now there’s another one circulating about American men “in labor.” Each of the guys is hooked up to an electrical stimulation machine with electrodes attached to their abdominal muscles. When enough electricity is delivered to give the guys “contractions,” viewers watch as they freak out and lose their minds over what they’d previously perceived was probably tolerable pain that women had exaggerated.
In the Dutch video, the guys are taken care of by a midwife team that provide both the electrically stimulated contractions and the TLC to get them through the pain. In the American video, a doctor does the zapping and the guys’ wives do the handholding. All told, each of the guys put up with about an hour of labor before they call it quits and decide that yes indeed, labor really does hurt as much as women say.
There are some really interesting contrasts between the Dutch and the American men’s labors. The Dutch guys labor in a traditional birthing room used for real labors (y’know…the kind women have). There’s not much medical equipment on display and the guys wear their own clothes. There’s a queen-size bed, a nice deep tub and big windows that let in lots of natural light.
The American guys “labor” in paper gowns on operating room-style delivery beds in rooms filled with medical equipment. They’re strapped to contraction monitors and electrodes that deliver pain to their abdominal muscles. They writhe and scream and are obviously pain, but what they experience doesn’t really compare with labor. In real labor women have abdominal, uterine, back and leg pain and often, intestinal cramps. Plus, they don’t get to call it all off after an hour.
In the Dutch video, the midwives offer the guys pain relief in the form of nitrous oxide, AKA laughing gas or gas and air. I wrote about how nitrous oxide is making a come back in the United States and how it’s used for pain relief in labor virtually all over the world. In the American video the guys get nothing. One guy jokes about wanting an epidural and this is the part of the video that’s actually fairly similar to real labor.