Child development gives new meaning to “baby daddy”


Rubena Loewen

Life lesson– Child development student junior Michael Elias takes his turn with the Empathy Belly. He chose to wear the pregnancy simulator to his small fifth period class to try and avoid some of the embarrassment.


He closed his eyes because he knew what was coming.

“I watched the birth videos as a freshman,” junior Michael Elias said. “When I watched it my junior year I knew better than to open my eyes.”

Elias is one of a handful of males in Julie Jameson’s child development class.

Junior Nathan Ramirez said the class has made him think about consequences.

“Protection is always needed,” Ramirez said. “If you do think about having a baby, think about it long and hard.”

One of the requirements of the class was to wear an Empathy Belly, a simulated pregnancy suit that mimics the weight and constraint of being seven months pregnant.

“Hopefully it deters them from experiencing a teen pregnancy as a father or mother,” Jameson said. “The Empathy Belly is actually made for the male.”

“Wearing the Empathy Belly makes me feel out of my own element,” junior Hagen Williams. “I only had to wear it for 20 minutes, and it is an uncomfortable feeling.”

Child Development students had to wear the belly for one class period, either in Jameson’s class or in another class.

“I used to make all my students wear the Empathy Belly all day during their classes,” Jameson said. “One time the bladder (filled with water) burst, and a kid had to rush back to my class.”

According to Jameson, an Empathy Belly costs $900, so it’s harder for students to wear it all day now since numbers have increased in her program.

“The class has taught me things most guys don’t really think about,” Williams said. “You see first hand and learn about how to go through having a child.”

Ramirez said he learned how strong women are through the experience.

“Women are stronger than men because they have to go through all the pain and torture when they get pregnant,” Ramirez said. “This class makes me respect women and have more sympathy because of all their hardships when they are pregnant.”

Elias chose to wear the belly to his smallest class full of females.

“Wearing it out of class is embarrassing because I tried to hide it but can’t,” Elias said. “It gives me an insight on women being pregnant.”

Not only is the belly heavy, but it constricts breathing and bears down on the bladder.

“It hurt wearing a belly because it was very heavy,” Ramirez said. “I couldn’t breathe. It was a crazy experience.”

Both Williams and Elias said the experience has made them not want to have children any time soon.

“It was very awkward and weird watching the video and because of this video, I don’t intend to have kids,” Williams said. “There’s so much more I would have to deal with than what I had expected. I’m just not ready for that.”

The next step in the class will be taking care of baby simulators overnight. These automated dolls mimic babies as they cry and need holding. They also sense when the “parent” is not close by and begin to cry.

“Men shouldn’t be scared to take the class,” Williams said. “It’s not always fun to take it, but there are positives in the end that will help out your future.”