A man experiences the pain of childbirth at a pain experience camp in Ji'nan, capital of East China's Shandong province, Nov 3, 2014. Volunteers attended the activity here on Monday to understand the hardness of childbirth.
The pain was sudden and so severe that I let out a loud "ah!" As the nurse raised the charge and the pain grew, I felt like a powerful hand was twisting everything in my stomach. I was beyond wincing. Before my mind went blank, I remember crying out "stop".
I was perspiring profusely when I got hold of my senses and it took me 5 minutes to get back upon my feet.
Some other men who underwent the simulated labor described it as "hell".
The program is designed to give men an idea of the pain women go through during childbirth. It was organized by the hospital where my wife is to give birth. And it is aimed at making husbands and wives better understand each other.
I had heard labor pain is the most severe pain a human goes through. Now I know why.
The program also includes other experiences such as making the men wear a stuffed vest and sleep on their left side throughout the night－something that almost every pregnant woman has to do.
Such programs that allow men to get a "taste" of the pain and discomfort women go through during childbirth have become popular over the past couple of years.
On March 8, 2014 (International Women's Day), Chongqing Daily conducted a survey on men's knowledge about childbirth, and asked 13,424 men whether they would like to experience some of the pain of childbearing. About 19 percent of the respondents said they would.
This prompted one hospital after another to organize such simulated childbirth programs. Even some TV shows have joined the fray. In April 2015, Fight for Her, a TV game broadcast on Jiangsu TV, invited some celebrity husbands to experience a labor simulation program. In the show, actor-director Wang Yuelun gave up halfway while actor Lu Yi could not endure the pain at all and called for a "Caesarean section".
And to think of the other pains a pregnant woman has to bear. Pregnant women have to endure morning sickness, some more than others. Their feet can swell, making walking difficult. Many cannot sleep well. And they are nervous because they cannot be certain about their or the child's health, and most are scared of going into labor.
A guinea pig like me has to endure the pain for only 10 minutes or so, which can be "switched off" any time upon request. But when a woman in labor cries "no", no device can "switch off" the pain.
After I was back on my feet, the nurse told me that the "pain" I "endured" is categorized as level 6, while actual labor pain is between level 10 and 12, and the intensity of the pain increases exponentially from one level to another.
Let's hope more men are willing to get to know the pain women experience giving birth.
The author Zhang Zhouxiang is a writer with China Daily.