(Reuters) - A hospital in eastern China is offering fathers-to-be a chance to experience the pain of childbirth after several new moms complained they got little sympathy from their partners.
Free sessions are held twice a week at Aima maternity hospital in Shandong province and about 100 men have signed up to be tortured. Most are expectant dads but there are thrill seekers too among the volunteers for "taster sessions".
For the simulations, pads attached to a device are placed above the abdomen, giving electric shocks that induce pain. The test subjects writhe in agony for up to five minutes as a nurse gradually raises the intensity on a scale of one to ten.
Song Siling, who is trying for a baby with his girlfriend, shut his eyes and grimaced as the needle on the electrode monitor inched forward with a beep.
"It felt like my heart and lungs were being ripped apart," said Song, who made it to level seven before frantically waving to the nurse to turn off the system. Others dropped out within minutes when they couldn't take the pain.
Despite their obvious discomfort, the on-duty nurse said the simulations could never match the torment of actual childbirth.
"Still, if men can experience this pain, then they'll be more loving and caring to their wives," said Lou Dezhu.
Wu Jianlong, who braved the pain right up to level 10, says the experience radically altered his views on childbirth.
"Because all women have children and it usually takes quite a long time, I had thought of it as being something really natural, something really normal that they can get through," he said.
Wu, whose wife is three months pregnant, yelled in pain and clenched his fists before giving in and begging the nurse to stop - he had reached the maximum limit by then.
Unlike in the West, Chinese men are often not in the room when their partners or wives give birth. Some state-run hospitals do not allow expectant dads to enter, even if they want to.