Childbirth Terms Can Make You Want to Puke :: How To Be A Dad

by pregnancy journalist

Childbirth Terms Can Make You Want to Puke

You can turn the most vulgar, scary or embarassing concept into a phrase that you might expect Thumper to say to Bambie. It’s called a euphemism (yoo-fuh-miz-uhm).

“The stork” are just two simple words and look how handy they are for some shyer parents as a quick dodge for answering a little child’s question about where babies come from. Some people just can’t face going into an explanation of a penis energetically penetrating a woman’s vagina, squirting fluid inside and then making a tiny body grow inside her belly. Go figure.

But, that’s just a fun perk of euphemisms, the primary benefit is the ability to turn something hideous and awful into something tame and fluffy. For instance, a doctor will tell you something like “you might experience some pressure,” which is a medical euphemism for “you will experience a galaxy of pain that will make you wish for death and immediate cremation.”

What did we learn so far, boys and girls? Euphemisms can be Useful-isms. Let’s take a look at some childbirth-related words and see if there might be some room for improvement. We’ve listed out some birthing terms, roughly in sequence of appearance, along with our suggested replacements to lighten things up a bit.

Bloody Show → Crimson Tide

Medical definition: The blood-tinged secretion of the “mucus plug” which filled the cervical canal, signaling impending labor.

Mucus is gross when it comes out of the nose, but add blood and send it through a vagina? Suddenly you’re wishing the body provided a better starting pistol for childbirth.

Mucus Plug → Life Cork

Medical definition: An accumulation of mucus that seals the opening of the cervix during pregnancy.

“Plug” just sounds so negative and plumbing-related, and “mucus”… yeah, we already talked about that one.

Amniotic Sac → Baby Bubble

Medical definition: The fluid-filled enclosure the fetus gestates within, inside the womb.

Sounds like some kind of creature is about to attach itself to your face or an unlucky doctor’s, right?

Water Breaking → Fountain of Birth

Medical definition: The rupture of the amniotic sac, and the leaking or gushing of its fluid that follows.

You just don’t really want to hear the word “break,” “breaking” or “broken” in association with anything when your woman is about to deliver a baby. It just sounds like something is going wrong before it’s even started.

Effacement → Blossoming

Medical definition: the thinning of the cervix in preparation for birth, it is expressed in percentages. 100% effacement is when a woman will begin pushing.

Sounds like Voldemort’s face is manifesting in the interior of the womb or something. Creepy! The regular definition is “to rub or wipe out; erase,” like effacing graffiti, but what woman likes the sound of something being wiped out inside her vagina?

Breech → Bottom’s Up

Medical definition: When the baby enters the birth canal with the buttocks or feet first as opposed to the normal head-first presentation.

This just sounds like an intense scene in a film involving rescue workers or lawyers or something. Since the baby is butt-first, why not call it something you’re more likely to chuckle at than panic about?

Epidural → Liquid Courage

Medical definition: injection of anaesthetic into the space outside the dura mater enveloping the spinal cord.

Holy shizzam! In some places, dad’s are not allowed to be present in the room when an epidural is administered, because in this case “administered” means jabbing a horse needle directly into your woman’s spine!

Episiotomy → Folding the Seats Back

Medical definition: surgical incision into the perineum [vagina to butthole—ARG!!!] in order to prevent vaginal laceration and to facilitate delivery.

This word doesn’t sound too bad by itself as words go. But if you just read the medical definition or have ever witnessed one or even plan on ever thinking about it again, EVER, you’re going to want to call it “Folding the Seats Back.”

Forceps → Rootie Tootie Grab ‘n’ Scootie

Medical definition: a surgical instrument in the form of a pair of pincers, used especially in the delivery of babies.

WTF? PINCERS!?! Alien autopsy, anyone? You shouldn’t have to remind yourself that you’re going to deliver a HUMAN baby.

Afterbirth → Doggie Bag

Medical definition: The placenta and the fetal membranes that are expelled from the uterus after the birth of the baby.

First off, this one sounds too much like aftermath. Honestly, it LOOKS too much like aftermath. When you see this stuff, you may not be able to watch the original Japanese version of Iron Chef for a loooooong time.

There is just too much stress involved in pregnancy and childbirth without people throwing around words that make you want to puke in your mouth or on the person saying them. The baby delivery process, when talked about, doesn’t have to seem like a gory sci-fi horror film… inside a woman’s birth canal instead of outer space. It can all be scary enough by itself.

So, you see, boys and girls? We’re always less fearful of the things we understand better, but when they’re too gross and scary for understanding to do anything about, we’ve got euphemisms to make us less inclined to uncontrollable shaking and projectile vomiting.

80 Responses to “Childbirth Terms Can Make You Want to Puke”

  1. Paulo says:

    I was wondering why the doc was so emphatic about getting rubber boots on before the baby came. And why was there that plastic pocket draped off the edge of the bed? And then the baby came. And I knew.

  2. Desiree says:

    Doggie Bag? Worse than Afterbirth. Not sure what’s BETTER, but the idea of a tiny dog in a bag sliding out is worse to me than knowing the placenta is gonna arrive.

  3. Stephanie K. says:

    I cringed at the episiotomy section…still cringing. Never had one. Can’t imagine. AH! NOOOOOO!!!

  4. chris says:

    I watched (BIGEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE) my wife’s seats get folded back it was the most horrible thing I have ever seen.
    as always though funny post

  5. Annie says:

    Ummm this makes me thankful for my c-section. Anyways my favorite one was: Rootie Tootie Grab ‘n’ Scootie. I laughed until I had tears in my eyes at that one. Personally I didn’t give a shit about giving birth. I don’t find it beautiful or amazing. What I found beautiful and amazing was my child once she was cleaned up. The process before that was not pleasant so why should we bother to kid ourselves??

  6. Betsy says:

    As a doula and birth educator, I laughed too! Thanks for a dad’s perspective on the whole “gross-out” factor.
    May I correct one thing?
    Breech birth means, in fact, the butt is DOWN (meaning– coming out first). Correct positioning IS “Bottom’s up”… that’s what we WANT!
    Sharing with all my birth peeps– can’t wait to see what they say.
    Oh, and you need to come up with one more– for Vacuum Extraction.

    • Christine says:

  7. Lolanie says:

    Hilarious! Although I’d change “Fountain of Birth” to “Water Cannon”, myself. Or perhaps a geyser?

  8. Brit says:

    Maybe I will use these terms when teaching my childbirth prep class 🙂 I’m sure the dads will appreciate it.

  9. Natalia says:

    When my Life Cork decided to move it was a REAL Crimson Tide so being a newbie we ran to the hospital (taxi first stopped at my hubbie’s office at 4am so he could get his laptop, then headed to the original destination). False alarm, of course, but as I was already there, doctor decided to try and go with it. After several hours laying on a bed connected to more peripherals than my old PC and peeing on the infamous bedpan (called “duck” in my country), doc came and activated the Fountain of Birth, which actually seemed more like he just opened the Hoover Dam. And then, right then, he decided I should move a little around to see if it activated the whole thing. The room ended more like the Mississippi course and it did not help a lot.

    Good thing I skipped Folding the Seats Back and it ended in the Butcher’s Playground (aka C-Section). If you didn’t like to see the seats being fold, thank you were not around for this one. Hubbie wasn’t there but I wonder how can you ever touch your wife again after knowing her inside part, without thinking she can unstitch if you pull/push too hard 😉

  10. Chris V. says:

    The worst part of the episiotomy is LISTENING to the snipping. It almost sounds like the doctor is in there cutting his fingernails, but you know that’s not what he’s doing….

    • Rebecca says:

      none of these terms bothered me until Chris mentioning the sniping sound of “folding the seats back” sounds akin to clipping nails **SHUDDERS MAJORLY WITH A SIDE OF THE WILLIES AND HEEBIE JEEBIES*

  11. Mandy K says:

    “Uterus Massage” is Dr. / Nurse for “Uterus Compressions due to it not realizing the baby is out, so it can stop now.” 24 hours of uterine CPR every two hours. While conscious. And my mom wanted to try it.

  12. Kevin says:

    I laughed when I got to the bit about Voldemort at almost the exact moment I was thinking about Dumbledore.

    I was picturing Dumbledore standing in a delivery room saying “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself” when suddenly you had Voldemort emerging from the womb. Well timed!

  13. KariKari says:

    Y’all are the greatest! Of all time!

    How about a new term for “stripping the membranes”? I wish I’d have kicked my OB (first birth) when she did that without asking or informing me first.

    My midwife (next birth) got in the way of Old Faithful when my son was born. It took us all by surprise because one layer of “baby bubble” had already ruptured (& been verified) the night before.

    • HazelBroadway says:

      That happened to me to…all over le hubby’s face.

  14. elizabeth says:

    Love the euphemisms.
    As a woman who has given birth to two children in the span of 16 months, the youngest being 6 months, the above terms are still rather fresh in my mind. I’d like to see a post some ‘birth plan’ humor. With my first, I wrote a birth plan that all but flew out the window when the doctor made the decision to induce. However, I still asked that any attending doctors and nurses familiarize themselves with my plan and pay special attention to words and phrases I did not want to hear. A few examples:
    “Oops, my bad”
    “Hmmm, that’s strange”
    “I’ve never seen that before”

    Additionally, I remember the doctor telling me to reach down with my hand and feel the baby’s head crowning (another great term). Ummm, no. I’m well aware she’s crowning. I can feel her coming out of my vagina. I don’t need to reach down to figure that one out, I assure you.

  15. Ypsi says:

    “Fundus” is kind of an odd one. It’s the top of the uterus but it sounds vaguely menacing and… fungal. Ew.

    As for the “afterbirth”, I remember after my 2nd was born and the placenta (also a questionable term) was out, I peered over in the mid wife’s direction. She was bent over what looked like a very gooey, tomato-y round thing on a tray and I thought, “pizza! Awesome! I’m starving!” It was the placenta.

    • Scott says:

      This was the only statement that made me feel like puking.. I don’t know if I will ever look at pizza the same way ever again.

  16. Willow M says:

    Ugh, I just read ‘fold back the seats’ as ‘fold back the steaks’… I need to go to bed!

  17. jenbloomer says:

    Water breaking was definitely “water cannon” for me with number 2. I was pushing him out, had a ton of “pressure” then bam! All over my hubby who was holding my leg. Looked over to see a nurse mopping up the floor across the room. At least my husband has a sense of humor. The midwife felt bad for him (she was prepared – dressed for it). He said, “this is nothing, she’s puked on me before!” Ah, what you can put up with for the ones you love.

  18. Jenn says:

    Reading this in bed next to my hubby. Laughing so hard that I woke him up. Article very funny….comments freaking hysterical! Love reading what your twisted minds come up with. Keep up the good work!

  19. Marilyn says:

    I laughed at the post, and got tears in my eyes reading the comments, from trying to keep my giggles silent. My water breaking was like Niagara Falls…happened IN MY SISTER’S KITCHEN while I was babysitting her children, and my husband was at work an hour’s drive away. My sis drove me to the hospital and her poor husband had to clean up after me.

    Did anyone else go loopy from the painkiller stuff they give you for c-sections? I remember knowing what I wanted to say but not being able to make the right words come out. They wouldn’t let me have my baby until I was sane again.

  20. Scott says:

    So I saw my first wife’s Liquid Courage administered… Let me tell you that you don’t ever want to see that. Horse needle is right but only part of the description. Its around 6 inches and it has notches cut out regularly down the length of it. The Dr started putting it in and all I can think of is “How the hell is that still in her spine?!!”

    I saw my second’s wife’s Butcher’s Playground. Its unreal how they pull and stretch, start pulling stuff out and then put it all back in afterwards.

    BTW.. one of the nurses was a student nurse and passed out 3 times during that process. Went from standing to full out impact with the floor. They wound up escorting her out after the 3rd time.

  21. Travis Ledington says:

    Not sure if this is out of date or if maybe Arizona Laws/Procedures are different but I was not only allowed in the room for the Epidural, but the Anesthesiologist asked for my help. Positioning my wife and holding her still while throwing away trash as the process went along.

  22. Gustavo says:

    As a doctor (not an OB-Gyn), I really laughed a lot at the post, while remembering some weird labors. The funniest was the imagination of Voldemort coming out of the uterus (I myself thought effacement as a very unclear expression). I never liked to “Fold the Seats Back”. It doesn’t always prevent vaginal lacerations, and in the majority of labors, lacerations, when they happen, are very small. One more information about folding the seats back: there is another technique that involves cutting one of the labia minora, but it bleeds a little more (in some countries, it is the preferred technique)

  23. Andy W says:

    After making our way to the hospital, my wife squishing in her slippers all the way down the hallway, she said to the registration nurse “uh, I think my water broke.” After a quick check under the hood the nurse grabbed a walkie-talkie type device off the wall and announced to the rest of the birthing suite they should prepare for a patient who was “GROSSLY RUPTURED”. The nurse swore it’s a medical term…

  24. James says:

    After a difficult 20 hour long labour, I witnessed ‘Folding the seats back’ and I tell people I’ve seen things that would frighten a country veterinarian. The fact that was our first kid (of two) just shows how forgiving my girlfriend is 🙂

  25. Petey says:

    Hey guys my fiancée is due now gone over her due date by 10 days & will be induced by Monday coming. I’m very screamish when in hospitals and see large amounts of blood (thank god I’m a guy right!). Is the hole birthing experience as bad as I’ve heard? Is there large amounts of blood involved ie when baby comes out & placenta? Anything you could advise not to see & to avoid or leave room around? I fear I’ll faint if anything is gross which could trigger me fainting.

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