Birthzilla

We’ve all heard about bridezillas, the women who are so obsessed with having the perfect wedding that they become tyrants toward everyone else. There’s an argument to be made that many homebirth and natural childbirth advocates are “birthzillas” who justify their hypersensitivity, obsessive need for control, and rudeness to everyone else with the all purpose excuse “It’s my special day.”

Consider:

Obsessive need for control – One of the hallmarks of the bridezillas is the obsessive need for control. No detail is too small for consideration, planning and decrees.

Birthzillas? It’s difficult to imagine anything more obsessive than birth plans. Birthplans, in addition to being useless for their stated purpose of improving the birth, are attempts to plan the unplannable. You might as well have a “weather plan” for the day of birth for all the good it’s going to do you. Birthplans, like obsessive wedding plans, have the added drawback of irritating everyone around you. The need to ruminate on every aspect of the day, and share those ruminations with everyone else is boring at best and narcissistic at worst.

Hyersensitivity – Bridezillas spend a lot of time being angry. Things aren’t going according to plan. People are not taking their desires as seriously as they take them. People don’t behave as instructed. Everything is perceived as a slight. Flowers the wrong color? Have a fit. Napkins not folded just so? Accuse the caterer of incompetence. Groom expresses a different preference that has not been preapproved? Who does he think he is? After all, it’s not about him. It’s all about, exclusively concerned with, revolving only around Bridezilla.

Homebirth and natural childbirth advocates spend a lot of time being angry. The birth is not going according to plan. The hospital staff are not taking their desires as seriously as they take them. The hospital staff are not behaving as instructed. Everything is a slight. Offered an epidural? Have a fit. Labor support not exactly as desired? Accuse the nurses of evil intentions. Baby needs something different than the pre-approved birth plan? Who does that baby think he is? After all, birth is not about the baby. It’s all about, exclusively concerned with, revolving only around Birthzilla.

Outsize feelings of disappointment – Bridezillas are psychologically very fragile, and make no apologies for their fragility. Cake filling the wrong flavor? The wedding is ruined.

Birthzillas are psychologically very fragile and make no apologies for their fragility. Baby needs resuscitation before being placed skin to skin with Birthzilla? The birth is ruined. C-section needed to deliver a healthy baby? That no longer qualifies as a birth at all!

Using others as characters in performance art – This is perhaps the worst of the many unattractive traits of Bridezilla. Everyone, from the guests, to the bridesmaids, to the groom himself, are nothing more than bit players in Bridezilla’s ultimate piece of performance art, her wedding. Bridezilla feels free to dictate what the guests should wear, how much the bridesmaids should weigh, and every possible details of the groom’s existence. What if those people feel badly about the way they’re treated? Bridezilla doesn’t care. It’s her day and that means she’s entitled to use people any way she wants.

Birthzilla is the same. Everyone, medical personnel, her partner, even the baby are nothing more than bit players in Birthzilla’s ultimate piece of performance art, “her” birth. Birthzilla feels free to dictate what everyone involve is allowed to do or say. What if her requests compromise the obligation of medical personnel to provide safe care? Birthzilla doesn’t care. It’s her day and that means she’s entitled to use people any way she wants.

Bridezillas are narcissists. They have an outsize view of their own importance, a hypersensitivity to slights, a feeling a being persecuted when things don’t go their own way, and an insensitivity to others who work with or for them. Homebirth and natural childbirth advocates often behave like narcissists, too. They have an outsize view of their own importance, a hypersensitivity to slights, a feeling of being persecuted when the birth does not go as planned, and an imperiousness and insensitivity to others who work with or for them.

Ultimately, both bridezillas and birthzillas are psychologically fragile. Instead of integrating the inevitable disappointments associated with a wedding or birth, they get psychologically “stuck.” They experience their disappointments as narcissistic injuries and respond with rage and accusations of persecution. They have no time for and no interest in the feelings of others, and feel entitled to use other people for their own ends.

Ironically, the behavior of birthzillas often fails to produce the perfect birth, just as the behavior of bridezillas cannot produce the perfect wedding. Because of their psychological neediness and fragility, they are unable to appreciate that every change in plan is not the “fault” of someone, unable to accept that unwillingness of providers to follow commands is not a sign of persecution and, worst of all, unable to enjoy what they have.

A version of this piece first appear in August 2009.

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  • Hollie

    How can you not expect an aggressive backlash from women, when childbirth has become aggressively medicalised? Detailed and “demanding” birth-plans, as Kitzinger states, are a reaction to a genuine threat as opposed to an imagined threat. Perhaps you should consider the dangers posed by over-medicalisation first and realise the significance that has on women’s perceptions of childbirth, women’s perceptions of healthcare professionals, and, consequently, women’s wishes for the birth of their baby.

    You, however, do not seem to have considered this. You seem to have taken just as personally women rejecting invasive, pressurised, and often terrifying medical ‘care’, just as personally as women take this ‘care’.

    You’re assume that women making their own decisions are nothing but child abusers, who are stupid little things who should just shut up and do what the nice doctor told them. I’ve experienced this before- obstetricians telling women their baby will die if they don’t have an induction for post-dates. Obstetricians completing “cause for concern” documentation when they decline the Vitamin K injection for their baby. All because some obstetricians don’t assess the actual level of risk posed by refusal of such care. A little realism would help you tenfold.

    “Informed choice”, but only if it’s your choice right?

    I am totally up for women making choice, whatever choice they make. If they have all the information, time to discuss it and make their own decision, even if that decision is not the same as my own, I can respect that. Even if the thought of the risk and consequences concerns me, I don’t call them “birthzillas” as you so arrogantly do.

    I think you don’t like people saying no to you. ‘MERICA! Land of the free to do whatever they tell you to do.

    • Young CC Prof

      Nope, women write long birth plans because they are working off myths from the 1970s. They refuse interventions that no one ever does anymore.

      Babies do die of being post-dates, especially if older than 42 weeks, or if risk factors like diabetes or cholestasis are present. (Anecdotes about women who refused an induction and delivered a live baby does not prove that refusing postdates induction is smart, any more than one anecdote about surviving motorcycle tricks without a helmet proves motorcycles are safe.)

      Refuse Vitamin K? About a 1.7% risk of severely disordered bleeding. 1.7% sounds small, but when we’re talking about a dead or brain-damaged baby, the risk is way too high for me, especially since there are no negatives to getting the K shot.

      The birthzillas aren’t child abusers, they’re doing their best to protect their baby. Pity people like you have taught them that the hospital is evil, obstetricians don’t understand childbirth, and they need to protect the baby FROM doctors. Teach them that birth is safe, that epidurals cause grave harm, that most birth interventions do more harm than good. Result? Women refuse necessary interventions, women and babies suffer.

  • hanks a lot for sharing this with all people you actually know what you are talking approximately!

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