Male Moms

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on alternatives to natural child birth through a woman's uterus.

Miracle Birth Signals Male Moms?
Related Issue: Lactating Fathers

Miracle Birth Signals Male Moms?


It may be every woman's fantasy, and a nightmare for the typical man: creating a male mom.

The notion of pregnant men may still seem to belong to the realm of fiction, but the prospect inched closer to reality with a medical miracle in Montreal recently.

Dionne Grant, 30, delivered a healthy baby boy after the fetus developed in her abdomen. The birth -- a rare ectopic pregnancy carried to term -- proved that a baby can grow outside the womb.

And if a fetus doesn't need a womb, then does it need woman? ''Scientifically, (getting a man pregnant) is a possiblity, and one day I'm sure somebody will do it,'' said Dr. Togas Tulandi, chief of obstetrics and gynecoloy at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.

''It's not science fiction. It's scientifically possible.''

The spectre of male pregnancy, though remote in the short term because of health risks, could have broad implications as Canada moves to legalize gay mairriage.

Scientists have argued for years that there is no scientific barrier to implanting an embryo in a man's abdomen, where it would be carried to term then delivered through surgery.

Perhaps the greater barrier, some say, is psychological. Are men ready for the discomfort -- to say nothing of the cravings, fatigue and nausea -- that come with nine months of pregnancy?

''Scientifically speaking, male pregnancy is possible, and it's a germane issue,'' said Dr. Vyta Senikas, of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. ''But I don't know how men would put up with it if, every time they cough, they lost a little bit of urine. Or the hemorrhoids. Or the other physiological changes that naturally accompany pregnancy.

''I'm not sure men are psychologically prepared.''

The notion of a pregnant man might be scientific speculation for now. But then, the idea that a 62-year-old woman could become a mother, as happened recently, would have been unthinkable 50 years ago,'' Dr. Senikas said.

Some see a plus side for society if men were able to bear children. Morning sickeness would be considered a national medical emergency, and paid parental leave would last for five years.

Arnold Schwarzenegger played a pregnant man in the 1997 move Junior. If his blessed condition occured in real life, the actor would surely be campaigning for California governor on a platform of wall-to-wall day care.

The ''miracle'' that gave rise to the male-mom speculation happened in Montreal's Sacre(acute)-Coeur Hospital on Aug. 6. A baby boy gestated for 37 weeks outside Ms. Grant's uterus.

Such so-called ectopic pregnancies in the abdomen happen once in every 10,000 pregnancies. It is virtually unheard of for one to be carried successfully to term, since they are extremely dangerous to both the mother and child's health.

''Statistically, the death warrant was already signed. But God was smiling that day,'' Dr. Senikas said. ''It's not just one in a million, it's (even rarer) than one in a million. It's like winning the lottery big time.''

The doctor who performed the emergency procedure said Ms. Grant, a visitor from Jamaica, came in complaining of bleeding and abdominal pain. He scheduled a caesarian section.

''When I opeened her up, to my big surprise, there was no fetus in the lower portion of the uterus,'' said Dr. Robert Sabbah, whose lightning-speed care is credited with saving the baby and the mother's life.

''So I went to explore. I saw feet in her abdomen.''The baby survived because its placenta had attached itself to the top of his mother's uterus. The trick for a man, doctros said in interviews, would be finding a place that could tolerate the implantation of the placenta, which feeds nutrients to the fetus.

So while a male pregnancy is theoretically possible, risks remain, including masssive internal bleeeding and abnormal fetal development. Men would also have to take large doses of female hormones. ''(Male pregnancy) might be a way in the future for both men and women to procreate,'' said Dr. Gerry Marquette, head of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the B.C. Women's Hospital in Vancouver
Source: Ingrid Peritz, www.globeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20030815/PREG/TPScience/  

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