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Giving Birth

Published: 6th October 2004

Obviously this is a topic I will only ever be able to comment on as an observer. I've been about as close to the action as a male can – as well as being present at my own three children's births, I worked briefly in obstetrics during my nursing training. I've seen a variety of birthing experiences from smooth and natural to emergency Caesarian.

It's very hard to imagine what it's like being pregnant or giving birth. No amount of tummy-touching will ever tell me what it's like to feel a baby kicking. No amount of speculative comparisons with testicle-kicking will ever satisfy my curiosity about labour pain. And no amount of superlatives can ever accurately describe to me the joy of giving birth to a new life.

One thing I can be reasonably sure about is that pregnancy and childbirth are amongst the most amazing and profound things a person can experience. Almost without exception women seem to agree on this. I've never met anyone who said the pain wasn't worth it. It's basically unanimous — giving birth is right up there at the top of the best experiences life offers.

So it really bugs me when I'm told how lucky I am that I'll never have to endure a pregnancy. Why the hell do women say this to men? It's about as empathetic as telling a paraplegic how lucky they are that they'll never have to endure the pain and suffering of climbing a mountain.

I will never know the feeling of having a living being growing inside me, never be able to share my childbirth experiences with others, and never be able to understand what it is to achieve one of the most important thing humans are designed to do — give birth.

This isn't something that actually upsets me on a daily basis. I do not yearn to be pregnant. But every now and then there is a vague twinge that reminds me of what I'm missing out on. And if I ever forget, it won't be long before a female reminds me.