American Gymnast Teaches Her Husband What it's Actually Like Being Pregnant & The Reaction is Perfect

·4-min read

Let’s say it like it is: pregnancy is pretty damn magical but a barrel of laughs it is not.

For every tender tiny baby wriggle there’s a bout of sickness, a curious episode of trapped wind (seriously?), a sleep-disturbing urge to wee. Honestly, the time you’ve spent on or with your face in the loo? You’re not getting that back.

And then there’s the kind of discomfort and frustrating impracticalities that come with carrying a small (but, surprisingly heavy) human day and night for what feels like 700 weeks. Remember not needing a strategy to get out of bed? Forget that. And, as for that pair of socks that rolled under the bed? See you in four months, guys.

Perhaps a most frustrating part of pregnancy, though, is that whilst we endure the unpleasant, the painful, and the downright obscure symptoms of growing a tiny person, our partners, although (hopefully) sympathetic, are often blissfully ignorant to what being pregnant actually feels like.

Nodding in agreement? You aren’t alone. Someone who shares your feelings of frustration is American former artistic gymnast and Olympic gold medallist Shawn Johnson, who recently took matters into her own hands to try and give husband, Andrew East, a taste of what it feels like to be expecting.

In two video clips posted on Instagram, Johnson, who is pregnant with the couples' second child, uses clingfilm to secure a 14-pound (roughly 6.5kg) medicine ball to East’s abdomen, mimicking a baby bump, and instructs him to complete simple, day-to-day tasks that become significantly more challenging when you’re pregnant.

Part 1 begins with East looking noticeably nervous whilst wife Johnson wraps the ball firmly in place and notifies him, to his horror, that the average weight gained by a person during pregnancy is 30 pounds (13.5kgs – give or take) – more than double what was protruding from his abdomen (though, note that every pregnancy is different, and weight gain and distribution varies from person to person).

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Within seconds of playing pregnant, East is overwhelmed with discomfort. ‘Already feeling it in my upper back and lower back. This is half of the actual weight? That’s terrifying! My quads are like fatigued already [and] we haven’t even started. My stomach hurts, I feel irritable.’

Wrapped and ready to go, Johnson assigns East his first task: she drops a small toy on the floor, and instructs him to retrieve it. To absolutely no pregnant person’s (or previously pregnant person’s) surprise, East struggles to reach the toy whilst bending over and eventually resorts to awkwardly squatting where, finally, he succeeds in collecting the discarded toy. ‘Wow, that’s actually wild,’ he exclaims, bemused. ‘Is that real life?’ Yes, that it is.

Part 2 begins with East, clearly apprehensive after his toy tussle in Part 1, saying ‘I’m nervous for whatever’s about to go down.’

Johnson then instructs him to lay down on their bed and then get back up again which, as those who have experienced pregnancy will know, is effectively the same level of difficulty as running a marathon. In heels. Basically, really bloody difficult.

East reclines with ease but is shocked to find that, with the med ball in place, he can no longer sit up again. Struggling, he asks Johnson for a hand, which she refuses, before proceeding to tell him that the trick is to roll over. ‘That’s crazy, dude’ he says, visibly surprised.

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‘This is good, this is building empathy,’ he says, after eventually rising to his feet (presumably relieved that the fandango is over – for now, at least).

The videos have been a hit on Instagram, where fans have commented in their thousands in support of pregnancy simulation for partners and with suggestions of future tasks for East to tackle whilst faux pregnant (putting on socks and shoes is a popular one, as is running after their toddler daughter Drew).

Although likely filmed for the lols, Johnson and East's videos actually do an important job in exposing how polarising experiences of pregnancy can be between the person who is expecting and their partner. And how, whilst a makeshift med ball baby bump is a wildly impractical way for a partner to gain an understanding of what it feels like to be pregnant, what's very clearly lacking is a method (not necessarily physical) by which the partner can get a better idea of what it's like being pregnant so they, in turn, can up their support.

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