On Pregnancy

I have been following the recent storyline about an unplanned pregnancy in the clever comic strip For Better or For Worse by Lynn Johnston (https://www.fborfw.com/) through our local newspaper.

Of course, I have no idea what it’s like to be “with child.” All I know is the process ranges from sickness to discomfort to very painful. I remember Carol Burnett comparing the pain of childbirth to grabbing your lower lip and stretching it over your head.

That’s why a recent National Geographic piece on swamp wallabies caught my eye (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/02/swamp-wallaby-always-pregnant/?). The females of this small hopping marsupial, native to eastern Australia, have two uteruses, so they can conceive while already pregnant. The only other animal able to do this is the European brown hare, although the hares have distinct breeding seasons so the females get a respite. If you’re a female swamp wallaby, however, you can expect to be expecting for virtually your entire adult life. And if you’re wondering about kangaroos, they can conceive about a day after birth, but not before, which isn’t quite the same.

This reproductive strategy wouldn’t work for us because human babies need so much care and attention. But if you’re a marsupial with a handy storage pouch, being continuously pregnant wouldn’t be an overwhelming burden. In any event, the swamp wallaby is so unique it suggests we still have a lot to learn about the process. Perhaps studying these unusual animals will somehow aid us in understanding our own physiology?

I guess the bottom line is if you’re a human female who wants children but dreads the birthing ordeal, just be glad you’re not a swamp wallaby.

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