Write your birth plan on your vulva, Mila (it might get read that way)
According to recent interviews Mila Kunis has firm views on who gets to see her in labour. She’s allowing her doctor and Ashton Kutcher, and Ashton is only allowed if he stays firmly away from the business end.
“Two people are allowed in my delivery room. My doctor and my significant other. And he is staying above the action. He’ll be head to head. Not head to vag. Unless he wants to risk his life and see. But I wouldn’t if I were him. I highly doubt he wants to see that being ripped apart and shredded. Because it will be shredded. It’s just a matter of how badly.”
Many sites, including Mamamia.com.au where I saw this story, are asking if Mila should be worried about her partner watching her bits get “shredded”. I am mainly worried that she may think it’s possible to give birth with an audience of just two people, no matter how hilariously-presented and firm her birth plan is. And that’s assuming people reads the damned thing in the first place.
Her doctor will read their birth plan. It is, after all, what they’re paying him for. And perhaps Mila’s labour will be short enough (and her wallet large enough) to persuade her doctor to stay for the whole process. I doubt it though; doctors usually leave the painful tedious hours of cervix dilation to the midwives, and then rush in at the actual emergence of the baby. It will often be several different midwifes, even without shift changes, so the person sticking their finger up your fanjo to check dilation will often be a completely different person to the one who did it an hour previously. Will they all have read the birth plan? Will they bollocks.
So that’s probably your partner plus three people having a good long look at the business end. Want some mild drugs? That’ll be another person in the room. Want the good drugs? That’ll be an anesthetist and possibly their assistant. That’s plus five. Doing it in a hospital? Expect a nurse or five. And some catering and cleaning staff. And people to operate specialised machines. And, if you get really unlucky, some student nurses and doctors. That’s… that’s plus LOTS. There is a good chance there’ll be more people at the birth of your baby that at their first birthday party.
My labour was a fast and straight-forward affair and there was still 13 people present in the room when my daughter was born. Waters broke at 6am, hit the hospital at 8am, c-section completed by 10am. It didn’t even encompass one change of working shift but I still had so many people packed in there it felt like student party in a small flat (complete with drugs and people freaking out). And all of them were having a good gander at the business end. If I’d written “hello, nice to meet you” on my vulva, I’d have saved myself most of the talking I had to do.
Honestly, I’m not even sure who half of the thirteen people were. There was me and my husband (in ridiculous little red hats to mark us out so no one would do something silly like pass us a scalpel or ask us to hold the intestines). There was my surgeon and his nurse, and my anesthetist and his nurse, and a midwife and some other midwife and that’s only eight accounted for… look, I don’t even know why the remaining people were there. They could have been vital medical staff. They could have been the cleaners. They could have been a tour group in from China and desperately lost on their way to the Opera House. I have no idea. All I know is that, for a significant amount of my stay in the hospital, there was a real chance that people would recognise my vulva better than my face.
I was told to write a birth plan. I didn’t. Thankfully absolutely no one checked or I would have been making excuses like “my early labour ate my homework”. I did discuss various options with my partner, so he knew what to push for if I was out of it, but I had nothing in writing. I have no regrets – long birth plans are, I am convinced, only recommended to stop pregnant women from nagging the staff about inconsequential details so they can get on with delivering a healthy baby. Want the father to catch the baby? Sure, if it’s possible. Want whale music? You’ll need to bring it and something to play it on and someone to press the button but whatever. Want your medical staff to read a five page document on how birth should work when they have already delivered hundreds of babies? And think you’ll only need one person present? On your fecking bike, love.
Look, this is not Mila’s fault. The general portrayal of labour and childbirth is as far removed from the reality as the Kim Jong’s family album is from coverage of them in the international news. Before childbirth, mothers-to-be are fed a shite load of stuff about choices and empowerment and all this hoohah about how you can choose to push your baby out your hahhoo. And then the baby decides to arrive and you realise all your lists and ideas are useless and you may as well just roll with the punches. Honestly, it’s a good way to set you up for actually having a baby – they don’t read the damned plans either. Not even if you write it on your bits.