Little Lily, who still carries a comfort elephant, thinks she would like the assignment of Birthmother because she finds the newchildren so cute. But, in Chapter 3 when she says before her mother that she hopes to be a Birthmother, her mother exclaims, "Lily!...Don't say that. There's very little honor in that assignment."
Lily does not understand why her mother reacts this way because she has talked with her friend Natasha who knows a Ten nearby. This Ten does volunteer work at the Birthing Center and relates how the Birthmothers get fed well, enjoy gentle exercise periods, and mostly amuse themselves the rest of the time. But, Lily's mother knows that the Birthmothers only serve for three years, and after three children that are given hard labor and work until they no longer can. In short, the Birthmothers are much like brood mares, used for their reproductive qualities, and then relegated to lives of inconsequential value.