In 1994, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s blockbuster hit Junior explored the possibilities of male pregnancy. As part of a fertility research project, Schwarzenegger’s character implanted an embryo onto the wall of his peritoneal cavity—thereby giving birth to a healthy baby girl. Fast forward 28 years, the concept of male pregnancy now has dedicated forums, Fanlore pages and an entire erotic genre to its credit.
In an attempt to decode the purpose and appeal for the latter, SCREENSHOT spoke to two authors spearheading the ‘mpreg’ genre on Amazon. From biological explorations to the theoretical nitty-gritty, here are all of the conceivable insights they had to share about the fantastical world that is slowly evolving into a full-blown online subculture as we speak.
Mpreg, short for male pregnancy, is an erotic genre and plot device in which—you guessed it—men become pregnant. Classified as a subgenre of gay romance, mpreg broadly features ‘carriers’ (men who want to become pregnant) and ‘seeders’ (men who want to impregnate other men). The genre is also synonymous with ‘Omegaverse’, a fictional universe that divides people into biological roles of ‘Alpha’, ‘Beta’ and ‘Omega’ based on a hierarchical system.
“Mpreg books can fall on varied points along the romance spectrum but the one constant is that, at some point, a man is going to get pregnant,” said Kiki Burrelli, a ‘paranormal gay romance’ author specialising in the genre. “In my books, the mpreg plot takes a back seat to the characters who are often lonely and in need of not just a romantic companion, but a family.”
When publishing her first novel back in 2016, the author credited Ann-Katrin Byrde, a famous writing duo, for introducing her to the world of mpreg. “In the beginning, I had a lot of questions most people have like ‘Where does the baby come out of?’,” said Burrelli. Guided by her two mentors along the way, however, it wasn’t long before the author was hooked on the idea. “It wasn’t the unusual, slightly-taboo aspect of a man becoming pregnant that intrigued me, but the idea that these characters could find their soul mates and start families of their own.”
As for Aria Grace, her initiation into the fantastical genre was triggered by a friend who asked her to co-author an mpreg novel. “I’ve always gravitated towards gay romance novels because it makes me so happy when a couple chooses to be happy and accept love—despite what their society might think about them,” Grace admitted. However, the author found a vital piece to the ‘happily ever after’ puzzle missing in traditional gay romance novels.
“Men couldn’t have a biological family at the end of each story even if they wanted to,” Grace explained. “So, when I discovered mpreg and realised the happy couple could complete their family with biological children in the same way that a male-female couple could, I felt like I’d finally found the perfect stories for me.
The earliest fanworks listed on Fanlore with the mpreg tag are from 1983. Although Junior aided the popularity of the plot device in the late 90s, it wasn’t until fanfiction platforms like Wattpad gripped mainstream culture that the genre really took off.
“I think the popularity of fanfiction over the past ten years really gave birth to the mpreg fiction we’re seeing now,” Grace echoed. “I’ve been told that an episode of Supernatural in which one of the brothers becomes pregnant—or at least he thinks he is—could have also spurred some mpreg fanfiction.” For most of its part, however, mpreg seems questionably synonymous with Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson on Wattpad—with all seven members of the South Korean boy band BTS trailing close behind. Although Grace is dubious about its exact origins, the author is grateful that the genre exists.
Authoring books available in English, French and German, Grace dabbles in various genres including contemporary M/M (Male/Male) and mpreg Omegaverse. Burrelli, on the other hand, “writes about things that go bump in the night and make them fall in love.”
“The creatures I spend the most time with are shifters—men and women who can turn into animals. I’ve also written about mermen, aliens, and dragon shifters,” she said. Harbouring a love for paranormal romance, the author has finished penning the final spin-off series, Wolves of World, “where Nephilim, archangels, wolf packs, soul warriors, demon kings, cherubs and cambion go head-to-head in a war for all humanity.”
Now that we know the ‘whats’ and ‘whens’ of mpreg, let’s get into the much-awaited ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of the genre. How is mpreg written? What does the research and thought process that goes behind the literary subculture look like?
“Every book I release goes through months of plotting and researching before the first word is ever penned,” Burrelli explained. “My stories tend to have numerous subplots that delve into the lives of the supporting characters, in addition to the main romance and story. So, the biggest challenge is keeping every character’s storyline clear.”
Reading and watching copious amounts of religion, mythology and folklore, Burrelli perceives her works as the rendezvous for her fascination with romance and all things supernatural. Ridding herself of the ‘traditionalist’ label when it comes to her monsters and heroes, the author usually picks the lore that works for her story and creates the rest. “And like every author I know, I also have a close and personal relationship with Google, as well as a search history that would likely land me behind bars—should anyone ever notice.”
Over to Grace, the author outlined the absence of a rigorous and detailed process before creating her bestsellers. “As a woman writing from a predominantly-male perspective, I’ve always had to use a bit of my imagination,” she said. “Since I’ve personally been pregnant and delivered a few babies of my own, the pregnancy part is one of the areas that doesn’t require much research.”
Now that we’re on the page about pregnancies—not that I’ve been totally waiting to write about this or anything—let’s get into the supposed “delivery methods” these authors typically feature in their novels.
When I was cooped up in the dim-lit corner of my room to give mpreg a chance and unleash my inner fujoshi, I spotted authors detailing the birthing process with maniacal precision. While the ones I read incorporated C-section and anal birthing, I was curious to know if authors are restricted to biological methods in the genre which is essentially hinged on fantasies.
“This is one of the most amazing things about the type of mpreg I write,” Burrelli said, slowly confirming my suspicions. “I have the freedom of writing fantasy, and that doesn’t end when it comes to the method of labour.” Birthing scenes in Burrelli’s literary works have previously featured loads of C-sections and dedicated ‘birthing canals’. “I’ve also written about fathers who lay eggs and babies who are born magically as puppies—appearing next to their parents during their first shift. And there was that one time I had an emergency physician perform a C-section on himself in the back of a truck that was racing down the highway!” The genre transcends imagination, to say the least.
As for Grace, the author has written some books featuring C-sections while others mention the baby simply being “pushed out”—usually without delving into a lot of detail. Grace also outlined how some creators have talked about a “new hole” that opens up at the time of delivery. Here’s a cue to nudge your mental image of the term in the right direction:
“I’ve even put breastfeeding in several of my books since my readers confirmed that it felt very natural for a mammal who delivers a live baby to also produce milk for that baby,” Grace continued. “So, I often include nursing scenes. But that isn’t as common as just leaving those details to the imagination of the reader. Really, if the author can imagine it and the readers are open to it—anything is possible.”
Grace, however, likes to mix up the delivery methods and situations to keep things dynamic and interesting. “But since my books are written primarily for escape and entertainment, I don’t go too deep into complex topics. Mine are usually on the ‘fluffier’ side of angsty romance with a happy ending,” she added.
Now that we know the sky’s the limit for the genre in terms of its labour scenes, let’s analyse the journey leading up to it. Yes, I’m talking about all of the physical and emotional tolls that come along with pregnancies. In a realm where male gestations are a possibility, would morning sickness, mood swings and sweet-and-sour chicken binges be labelled as ‘female-oriented’ challenges? If so, what would ‘male-oriented’ experiences look like?
“The challenges the pregnant character faces depend on the themes being explored in the story,” Burrelli mentioned, just when I was noting stoicism and stubbornness as possible male-oriented challenges. In her Welcome to Morningwood series, the characters deal with uncomfortable experiences that come along with pregnancies, but also touch upon the way the person is tended and cared for by their mate. “My Omega Assassins Club series focuses more on social issues that sometimes go hand-in-hand with societal pressures men and women face today in regards to gender roles and identity,” Burrelli added.
Back to Grace, the author outlined how current research and human evolution only provide female-oriented experiences for carrying and delivering babies in the first place. “There isn’t a lot of actual medical history to reference anything else,” she said. “So, yes, my characters usually experience morning sicknesses, cravings, hormonal imbalances, nesting tendencies and more.” However, the intensity of these challenges is subjected to a character’s personality trait. But Grace once again admitted to not spending much time detailing the actual pregnancy itself.
Her books instead focus more on the relationship the Alphas and Omegas share. “The pregnancy and baby are generally part of the concluding chapters to wrap up the overall story,” the author admitted, further highlighting her goal “to allow a happy couple in love to complete their family with biological children.”
She further added how the same goes for all of the M/F (Male/Female) novels she’s written and read. “If the woman gets pregnant, there might be a few scenes dedicated to specific details about it—but the overall story doesn’t usually revolve around the pregnancy. And that’s the same strategy I use in my mpreg books too.”
The closest we’ve gotten to real-life male pregnancies to date is in the case of trans men. If a female undergoes female-to-male gender reassignment surgery, they can choose to keep their uterus—thereby retaining their abilities for pregnancy by pausing testosterone pills for a sufficient amount of time.
According to the Fanlore page dedicated to the genre, however, “in mpreg, the man who gets pregnant is usually human and cisgender.” This is one of the major reasons why mpreg has been labelled as the ‘textbook fetishisation’ of trans men. In a bid to rid the category of this label, authors often use two different tags—#tmpreg (trans male pregnancy) and #cmpreg (cis male pregnancy)—to distinguish their works.
When asked about their take on the labels, Burrelli acknowledged the presence of “exploitative books” in the genre—but neither writing nor reading them. “Mpreg is an aspect and not the main focus in my books,” the author said. “My books are focused on families—creating families of your own and finding a place in the world where you don’t just fit, but are celebrated.”
As for Grace, her books admittingly feature cis men in an alternate universe who ‘magically’ have the genetic ability to conceive, carry and deliver a baby. “I think any keywords or descriptors that make it easier for readers to find exactly what they’re looking for is a good thing,” she added.
Now that we’re on the topic surrounding mpreg audiences, is it possible to narrow down their demographics along the way? “Most of the readers I’ve met have been women above 20 years of age,” Burrelli said. While this is true for most romance genres, the author admitted to witnessing “a growing number of gay men who are pleased to see books with relationships that more closely resemble their own.”
While Grace does not have insights into 95 per cent of her readers, most of the audiences she chats with on Facebook or at conferences are often “women who love a good love story that ends with a happily ever after and a baby.” As for their ages, Grace outlined how they swing wildly between young twenties to well into retirement years.
Both ‘Kiki Burrelli’ and ‘Aria Grace’ are pen names of the respective authors. When asked if this move was influenced by the stigma surrounding the mpreg genre, Burrelli outlined a realm of possibilities that come along with the usage of pseudonyms. “Using a pen name offers a small layer of protection, but the main reason I use one is for my readers. When a reader picks up a Kiki Burrelli book, I want them to be relatively sure what sort of experience they are about to take part in.” The name also allows the author to remain consistent while having the freedom to explore and write in other styles under other pseudonyms.
As for Grace, the creator adopted her pen name years ago when she dipped her toes into erotic literature. “After a few early novels, I moved away from erotica and into gay romance and then eventually landed in mpreg,” she admitted. The author currently uses different pen names for children’s and young adult (Y/A) books, contemporary romance, how-to guides and more—irrespective of the genre or perceived stigmas that surround them.
So if you ever come across works tagged under #mpreg while exploring the stimulating little world of erotic literature, here’s all of the advice waiting for you at the other end:
According to Burrelli, “Read, read, read. And don’t let one book decide your opinion for the entire genre.” As for Grace, “Open your mind and be prepared for anything. Every author has a different take and a different style so if one book doesn’t work for you, try a few other authors to see if you can find the perfect fit.”
Given the fact that male pregnancies are set to become a reality in less than six years, you have plenty of time to conjure up your own imaginations and speculate how they would happen in the future. Given how mpreg novels are more accessible now than ever before, the fantastical genre will undoubtedly survive yet another decade on the internet.