by MIA FREEDMAN
“Did you have a plan for your placenta?” the woman asked me earnestly. She was pregnant. I was confused.
We’d only just met at a BBQ and as she repeated her question, I cocked my head quizically like a Labradoodle trying to understand a complex sentence. I’d never heard the words ‘plan’ and ‘placenta’ together and I was having trouble reconciling them.
“Huh? You mean did I, like, cook it or bury it in the garden?” She shook her head. “No, I mean when you gave birth did you have a plan for how your placenta would be delivered?”
Blink. “Um, out of my vagina? Does that count as a plan?”
More head shaking. The woman was growing impatient because she had a plan and she wanted to tell me about it. Her three page birth plan had “Delivering The Placenta” as its own subhead with half a dozen bullet points underneath.
I know this because she showed it to me on her phone while I tried not to stab myself with a sausage.
My personal view of birth plans is that they’re most useful when you set them on fire and use them to toast marshmallows. But there are some women who live for them: I call them Birthzillas because just like a Bridezilla focusses on the wedding not the marriage, The Birthzilla appears more interested in having a birth experience than a baby.
This term won’t win me any friends among those who believe passionately in a particular type of birth. Homebirth, freebirth, waterbirth, hypnotic birth, active birth, calm birth, silent birth……there’s a first-world menu of options for anyone who wishes to select from it, both inside and outside the hospital system.
Birthzillas usually speak about ‘empowerment’ and ‘control’ and use a lot of personal pronouns. Their own experience is invariably at the centre of their narrative even though they will always claim (and probably believe) that they’re acting selflessly for the good of their baby. This baffles me. It’s a bit like going to Paris and obsessing about the in-flight entertainment instead of, you know, PARIS.
Some women define themselves by the type of birth they had, even though their children are now in primary school. I antagonised this subculture a few years ago when I spoke out about freebirth (the practice of giving birth at home without any medical support not even a midwife) and called it reckless.
Many “birth advocates” came after me with pitchforks and autosignatures like:
“Anne-Marie, mother of Wyllow (happily freebirthed in 2002) and Jaydyn (proudly waterbirthed at home in 2004).”