A few weeks ago, I wrote the first of two posts about words I didn’t know the meaning of until the missus became pregnant. Part 1 covered A to M in the alphabet and included some bobby dazzlers like Episiotomy, Hyperemesis Gravidarum and Mucus Plug.
After the shock of Googling the latter and being greeted with images of the mucusy blob, I’ve recovered adequately to continue the final part of my list. Part 2 covers the rest of the alphabet from N to Z – enjoy (and try not to vomit in your own mouth):
N is for Natural Birth: A philosophy of childbirth that is based on the belief that women who are adequately prepared are innately able to give birth without routine medical interventions. Some woman (and their partners) want their births to be as natural as possible, which means a vaginal delivery with no pain relief and little intervention. This means that they would prefer to not have a c-section, would be against the use of forceps and may not even want to be examined by a Doctor, for example. Although natural births may be viewed as being a bit hippyish, there’s obviously no right or wrong when it comes to pregnancy and birth – some people want to take as many drugs as they can, whereas some prefer it to be as natural as possible. In reality, most people fall somewhere in the middle!
O is for Oxytocin: A hormone that stimulates the uterus to contract during child birth and the breasts to release milk. The human body is incredible. One of the most incredible things it does during birth is create oxytocin and release it in huge amounts through the woman’s body. Also known as the love, cuddle or bonding hormone, oxytocin helps the mum-to-be get through labour by starting the contractions, assists with maternal bonding when the baby is born and starts the production of milk when the baby latches on. It’s also supposed to play a big part in that other “O” word – orgasm!
P is for Polydactyly: An abnormality in which a person is born with more than the normal number of fingers or toes. I think the description says it all to be honest – some people are born with extra fingers or extra toes because the body follows a different set of directions when forming the hands or feet when the baby is growing. These extra digits can be fully formed or could be small, non-functional nubbins. It’s all a bit freaky, but unfortunately it’s just one of those things that can happen.
Q is for Quickening: The moment in pregnancy when the pregnant woman starts to feel or perceive fetal movements in the uterus. Being a bloke, I’ll never know what it will be like to feel something move inside me – well, apart from if I ever go for a prostate examination. But the reality of being pregnant is that the little one will soon start moving, stretching, kicking and punching inside the mothership. A woman who is pregnant for the first time usually feels the little one’s movements between 18 and 20 weeks, whereas a woman who has been there done that will feel them around 15 to 17 weeks. The early movements are often described as a fluttering, but can be confused with gas – for me, I just picture the chestburster scene from Alien when the baby Xenomorph pushes through the bloke’s chest.
R is for Rhesus Disease: A condition where antibodies in a pregnant woman’s blood destroy her baby’s blood cells. Not to be confused with an addiction for the peanut butter cups known as Reese’s Pieces, the disease can cause babies to become anaemic and develop jaundice. This occurs if the mum has rhesus-negative blood and the baby has rhesus-positive blood, so the mum’s body produces antibodies to kill the foreign blood. This basically means the mum is killing the baby without knowing it. During antenatal screenings, all pregnant women are offered blood tests to see whether the mum is RhD negative – if she is, she is offered injections throughout pregnancy to prevent this.
S is for SIDS: Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – or cot death – is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. Arguably a newbie parent’s worst fear, SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies. Despite the hysteria which surrounds it though, only approx. 270 babies die in the UK of cot death each year, which seems to be much lower than you’d expect. If a baby has died but their death cannot be explained, then this is attributed to SIDS. As no-one knows what causes SIDS, it is difficult to prevent it, however you can reduce the risk of sudden death through things like placing a baby on their back to sleep, reducing their exposure to tobacco smoke and not using things like pillows or cot bumpers.
T is for TENS: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a method of pain relief which can help during pregnancy whereby a device with electrodes (TENS machine) is attached to the woman’s back in order to stimulate the nerves with an electrical current for therapeutic purposes. To me, this looks and sounds like some kind of self torture instrument. You are actively attaching self-adhesive pads to your skin in order to administer an electric shock to your system. I know pregnancy and labour is bad, but is it really bad enough to try and fry yourself like some kind of Texan serial killer? If the answer is yes, then a TENS machine may help by scrambling your normal pain signals and / or by helping to produce more endorphins to help with pain relief.
U is for Umbilical Cord: The cord that connects the developing fetus with the placenta while the fetus is in the uterus. OK, so this one is a slight lie as I already knew what the umbilical cord was and what it did, but it’s pretty bloody difficult finding words beginning with U! Something I did learn about the umbilical cord though was delayed cord clamping – this is where you choose to hold off cutting the cord for 10 minutes or so until the pulsations have stopped or the placenta has been delivered. We opted to do this to ensure (as much as you can) that all of the goodness from the placenta has reached the sprog.
V is for Ventouse: A device using a vacuum cup which fixes onto the baby’s head to help pull them down through the last stretch of the birth canal. Sometimes babies need a little helping hand during birth. It may not look like they’ve got far to go, but it must be pretty hard work tunnelling your way down and rotating as you do so. If the baby is too tired, distressed or maybe a bit lazy, the midwife / doctor may wish to use a ventouse to help pull the sprog out. This basically sucks onto the head and helps the medical dudes get some leverage prior to yanking. Using a ventouse is an alternative to forceps and can often result in the baby looking like Dan Aykroyd in Coneheads for a few weeks after the birth.
W is for Water Birth: A birth in which the mother spends the final stages of labour in a birthing pool, with delivery taking place either in or out of the water. For once, the word is pretty self explanatory. Rather than laying or kneeling on a bed, some people prefer to give birth in an over-sized paddling pool This was our preferred option, but there was little time to even fill the pool up before Baby L came into the world. A water birth is supposed to help the mum feel more relaxed and suffer less pain due to the calming effects of the lapping water. Personally, it feels a bit gross to me to be sitting in water surrounded contaminated with various bodily fluids, but each to their own – some families obviously don’t mind though (see above photo!). Rest assured though, if you do crap yourself whilst giving birth, the midwife has a fishing net to discretely fish out your bowel movements. Lovely.
X is for ???: The alphabet beat me – I couldn’t think or find any pregnancy words with ‘X’ that I didn’t know. I’m sorry for being a failure.
Y is for ???: After the disappointment of ‘X’, I could not bring myself to write about a ‘yeast infection’.
Z is for Zygote: The resulting one-celled organism after a female egg is fertilised by a sperm. I’ve tried a few ways of saying this word, but I’m not quite sure what is the correct way. Is it Zeegotee, Zygoat, Zygotee? Who knows. Either way, it is the earliest development stage of the embryo. It is no wonder that the word is barely used as it is not only difficult to say, but I find it sounds either like a Greek God or expensive Italian sports car.
So that’s it for Part 1 and Part 2 of my newly discovered words as I’ve covered the entire alphabet (if we ignore ‘X’ and ‘Y’). Obviously there were more words that I uncovered, but these posts have taken long enough to write so there is no way I’m going through the alphabet for a second time!
Are there any words that you learnt during pregnancy or birth that you didn’t know previously? Are there any terms in my list above that you didn’t know even if you’ve been through the entire ordeal? Let me know below!