To: Don Wise, chief executive

To: Don Wise, chief executive

From: Paul Servant, assistant chief executive

Re: Afterbirth

Dear Don

A funny little lady in comfortable plastic shoes, orange hemp trousers and green thick-rimmed glasses was in the senior managers meeting this morning. Apparently she’s the senior midwife on the home birth team and was standing in for the women’s services general manager.

It was handy that she was there as we were discussing the new maternity strategy that will offer all women, pregnant or not, a birth choice. We had a very useful discussion about how to stop more people having home births.

I can’t understand the attraction myself. All that gunk flying around the living room, mother-in-law screeching from the kitchen, the cat making off with the placenta and no chance to slope off home after for a quiet night in with Mr Smirnoff before mum and baby return. And where’s the pain relief, operating theatre, nice person with bolt-cutters and the Resuscitaire?

We can’t afford home births. Not the cost of offering them, which is nickel and dime, but the cost of running empty maternity wards if everyone opts for the DIY home version.

We will have to launch a marketing campaign to encourage as many mums as possible to have their low risk births in hospital where they don’t end up using the expensive kit, but we get full tariff for them anyway.

There is this bizarre notion put about that childbirth is a beautiful, harmonious, deified experience, where the angels sing and harps play and the scent of rose petals precedes the stork’s arrival.

I actually can’t think of anything less enticing than trying to pass a bowling ball through the eye of a needle. In such a situation I would want copious amounts of pain relief and a team of cleaners to wash up after me.

The worst thing about all of this is that at the end of it you are left with a helpless, crying, feeding, pooping machine that you can’t leave for a nanosecond for the next eighteen years as they devour every penny you can earn and borrow. Mind you, they will all require tarriffable services later.