Let’s talk about some basic labor and delivery maternity terminology. Here are 5 pregnancy vocabulary words you need to know in the land of L&D — some labor and delivery vocabulary words. I think this medical terminology for labor and delivery will be super helpful — all from an L&D nurse!
Sometimes patients have NO idea what anything is.
Or, sometimes they’ve read up so much on EVERY. LITTLE. THING. on our friend, the internet, that they have so many mis-guided notions about things I want to scream!
Frankly — I’m not sure which is worse. :)So, here’s some basic labor vocabulary, so you’ll go in with at least a little bit under your belt. This pregnancy medical terminology is just the tip of the iceberg.
If you’re wanting to know more about deliveries — check out this class that will get you prepared before D-day!
Normal Delivery Vocabulary
Pitocin is a hormone used at delivery
It’s a synthetic of what your body is already producing. Most often used after delivery to get your uterus to clamp back down so you don’t bleed to death (we like to keep your blood inside of you).
Also used to induce people (see below). Usually done IV, but can be done as a shot. Want to know more about Am I In Labor <– That page has tons of awesome info!
The basic idea behind an induction is to push the baby’s head into the birth canal by squeezing your uterus (contractions of the uterus — most often called contractions).
If you’re wondering more about induction check out this.
The Epidural is Used for Pain Relief in Labor
An infusion (like an IV, but it looks different) that goes into your epidural space in your back to make you fairly numb from about your boobs to your knees. It works in varying degrees on women. Some are totally numb, some feel a fair amount of pressure. Done by an anesthesiologist. Or, you could just use this special word. 😉
The majority of women in the United States use the epidural for pain relief.
If you’re wanting more about pain relief options in labor, I have a whole chapter on it in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples.
An IV is used in most hospital deliveries
Most doctors want you to have an IV if you are delivering in a hospital.
If you are not being induced, sometimes we can just leave a plastic tube in your arm to leave you more freedom to move.
Most often this is just infusing water to keep you hydrated. You can lose a LOT of blood in a short time span during delivery and we desperately want a way to help you if that happens.
Most often the IV is removed 2-4 hours after the time of delivery.
If you drink a lot of water ahead of time, this makes the nurse’s job easier, hence making it easier on you. IV’s are often on birth plans — I have a free birth plan worksheet in my Free Beginning Prenatal class.
Your bag of waters (amniotic sac) is important at delivery
Your baby is being surrounded by a bag of waters (also called the amniotic sac) that contains mainly baby pee as well as a few other things produced by the mother (the water is called amniotic fluid). Most people’s water doesn’t break on their own, and often your doctor will come break it to speed up labor.
It’s normal, but if you have concerns, discuss it with your doctor. Is my water broken is one of my most popular pregnancy posts.
Understand the word induction before going to the hospital
Induction can happen in many ways. Induction is basically starting you in labor.
If you are being induced, the doctor will pick a way that they are most comfortable with, considering your cervix and how “ready” it seems to be. Most inductions will not happen until at LEAST 39 weeks, but often doctors want to wait until 40 — or even past your due date.
There can be significant differences between an induction and natural labor, which is why I recommend people take my induction class.
Or, learn some of your own ways to go into labor.
So, that’s my top five normal delivery vocabulary.
Bonus Labor Medical Terms:
Braxton Hicks contractions — these are also known as “false labor” these are contractions that are not pushing the baby into the birth canal.
Cesarean Section — When they have a surgery to cut the baby from your abdomen rather than delivering vaginally.
NICU — This is a place where babies who need help go. Full name is neonatal intensive care unit. Often babies in here have a low birthweight, are premature or are having difficulty feeding or other issues.
Uterus — this is where the baby is grown, and is the main female reproductive order (the fallopian tubes are attached to the uterus).
Related posts: Gifts for L&D nurses
If learning things like this, helps you know what to expect, I’d recommend checking out the Online Prenatal Class for Couples let me help simplify labor and delivery for you. Be sure to check-out the great reviews.
If you’re not ready for the full class I also offer a free beginning class which you can sign up for below.
This post was originally written in March 2014, and has been updated.