The empathy belly test: Walking a mile in mom’s shoes
Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Friday, May 12, 2017 6:00AM PDT
Swollen feet, shortness of breath and just all-around discomfort are common ailments women have to deal with late in a pregnancy. But what if men could experience all of that as well? That’s the goal of the “empathy” belly, a pregnancy suit that simulates what it’s like to be nine-months pregnant.
Ross McLaughlin decided to put it to the test, to really appreciate what moms go through by walking a mile in their shoes.
The 33-pound suit, provided to us by Ford Motor Co., a compression belt to restrict the lungs, fake breasts, weight and water bags to simulate a fetus’ head pushing on the bladder, and lead balls to simulate fetus limbs. It took about 15 minutes to strap McLaughlin into the contraption.
"It's pressing. I've got to use the restroom,” he said, “Isn't that crazy?"
"Try that for nine months," said producer Sandra Hermiston as she rolled her eyes.
Ford has been using the empathy belly to better design vehicles, which is good news since a survey by the automaker found 88 per cent of pregnant women drive at some point in their pregnancy.
But to start the test, McLaughlin decided to walk instead, wandering around the streets of downtown Vancouver.
"I want to see you give birth to that thing," joked one woman. Another new mom thought the empathy belly was a great idea.
He then went to Urban Fare, where he found simple things like bending over to reach a product on the shelf difficult.
"The last few months of pregnancy, your legs get really stiff," explained a cashier at the store.
"Do you think if men had to do this, we'd have babies?" McLaughlin asked her.
“No,” she replied with a laugh.
Next up was the driving test. McLaughlin struggled to get into the vehicle and buckling up around the bump wasn’t easy either.
“We had a smaller vehicle and it was really hard. You had to reach up pull yourself out. It wasn't easy," explained one new mom.
McLaughlin says the test gave him a unique insight into what women go through during pregnancy.
"Do you appreciate what mom went through?" he asked another young woman.
“Yes, definitely” she said.
"Well I'm really starting to appreciate it too," said McLaughlin.
Happy Mother’s Day!