The phrase ‘Birth Plan’ is enough to make almost any man feel slightly uncomfortable. It is in the same category as ‘trimester’, ‘birthing’ and ‘premie’. I suppose these words are discomforting for a few reasons–they sound a bit American, they have no context or usage outside obstetrics, and they have quite a cloying tone.

This feeling is a pity. These words each have a sensible meaning at heart. Pregnancy does divide up into thirds with as much neatness as any soft biological process can. Having a present continuous form of the verb ‘labour’ that is not ‘labouring’ has a reasonable use in terms of language. It is also conceivable that ‘premature’ may not have the right tone in all conversations where babies born early are concerned.

So it also goes with ‘Birth Plan’. The phrase has a use, even if it is squashy round the edges. Like the others, it is not universal. Unlike the others, there are people who would rather get rid of it all together rather than just give it a better name. The reasoning is apparently on the basis that we should not plan a birth, we should let it do its thing. Go with the flow. Hearing this raised no reaction in me–‘going with it’ is basically the man’s position, unless he takes an unethical obstetric role.

I do not intend to do that, in fact I cannot claim to know anything about birth that is not taught in A-level biology, and I probably do not know all of that. However, the idea that a process that is inherently unpredictable should not be planned interested me. It is not the same as saying it cannot be planned. I think this implies that the person who said that it should not be planned thinks it can be, at least to a degree.

When I found out that there can be a good deal of time between contractions, at least in the early stages, and put this together with the notion of planning the birth insofar as one can, I immediately had a variety of ideas.

The basis of these is ‘why not make labour pay?’ There is a lot of time that might otherwise go to waste, post female-emancipation, it seems a shame not do something with it. Physical endeavours are surely out, at least in the athletic arena. But surely intellectual pursuits that require at least on-off consideration are possibilities?

I suggested to Eva that she might use the time to do some freelance stuff, or update her CV. I also suggested she consider writing an oboe concerto. She says she is going to get back to me about those ideas.