New 'mommy suit' allows men to experience pregnancy

Men, want to experience what pregnancy feels like? Now you can, according to Japanese inventors of a new male pregnancy suit, dubbed Mommy Tummy.

This week, bloggers and news websites have been buzzing with news of the wacky new device, which was on display at Vancouver's SIGGRAPH 2011 interactive technology conference last week. To give men a taste of the experience of childbearing, the device simulates nine months of weight gain, breast enlargement, and baby kicking in just over two minutes.

"The suit resembles a flak jacket or the lead vest that people wear when getting dental X-rays," writes blog The Hive Daily. To simulate the growth of the baby, a bladder in the belly fills with water; other bladders in the chest expand to simulate milk-laden breasts. The baby's kick is produced by a series of actuators that lie against the wearer's stomach and fire on and off, adds The Hive Daily.

How does it measure up to the real thing? The researchers stated that during laboratory testing, 80 percent of mothers who donned the suit said it accurately replicated the experience of pregnancy.

The Japanese scientists at the Kanagawa Institute of Technology devised the suit to help men better understand the experiences of their female partners, and they say they hope the suit will be used in hospitals and pregnancy classes to help men feel more empathetic.

"It's hard to tell in two minutes if someone becomes more empathetic," said Robert Songer, a researcher on the Mommy Tummy project in an interview with Live Science, "but we have gotten a lot of comments about how users are glad that they're dudes."

Live Science reports that while the suit does not simulate labor or food cravings (or hormonal mood swings), future versions will feature a remote unit that attaches to pregnant moms, so the fathers-to-be can feel the baby kick at the same time his partner does.

Learn more: http://www.siggraph.org/s2011/content/mommy-tummy-pregnancy-experience-system-simulating-fetal-movement

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