Words from the Midwives
Wisdom, stories and truths
Well, hello there. Let’s clear some things up about the definitions of commonly used words we find ourselves surrounded by in the childbearing year. Chances are, you or someone who’s posted in that Facebook group you’re on has used them incorrectly. And since education is a key element to empowerment, it’s important to know how to use these words. Let’s begin.
Menstrual Cycle: The cycle of a woman’s period. It’s always a good idea to track one’s cycle, whether you’re trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid pregnancy. It helps to keep your mind in tune with your body. To track one’s cycle, count from the first day of the period bleeding to the first day of the next period.
Ovulation: The releasing of an egg from the ovary. Some women can feel this release, called Middleschmertz, and describe it as a small cramp on one side of the pelvis. Whether you feel it or not, it’s still happening.
Fertile, as in days: The time one is fertile to become pregnant. This is (about) 14 days before the next period. Once you know how many days are in your menstrual cycle, you will be able to determine when you’re most fertile.
Infertility: The inability to conceive without intervention or treatment after one year of actively trying. Yes, ONE YEAR of actively trying to make a baby. We recommend that if there is no conception after six months, to have the sperm counted. This is the simplest and easiest way to see if this is the reason conception has not occurred. If the sperm exam reveals no problem such as poor movement or low count, then keep trying before moving onto the next steps.
Pre-conception: Before pregnancy.
Morning Sickness: The feeling of nausea with or without vomiting at any time of day during pregnancy. Morning sickness usually strikes in the mornings due to low nutrition and peaks around nine weeks post-conception. The best way to stave off morning sickness is to eat something before you feel nauseas. The means about every two hours.
Birth Doula: Someone who provides physical, informational, and emotional support before, during, and just after birth.
Usually, trained and certified through a training course, a doula is a great way to have support during this time. Doulas do not provide any medical care or advice.
Midwife: A medically trained professional practicing midwifery specializing in low-risk pregnancy and birth.
There are several types of midwives:
Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) is typically trained through the apprenticeship model taught by other TBA’s. Uncertified, unlicensed.
Certified Professional Midwife (CPM- hey…that’s us!) is a midwife who has completed training and passed the national exam as set by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM).
Licensed Midwife (LM- again, us!) is a midwife licensed to practice midwifery within the state. Each state has their own guidelines for licensure and most require the CPM credential.
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is a nurse who is educated in obstetrics. Some states allow CNM’s to practice both in a hospital and homebirth.
Ob/Gyn: Obstetrics/Gynecology is the medical and science of practicing such. This is a specialist field and encompasses all of the aspects of the medical care of a woman’s anatomy. Ob/Gyn’s are also surgeons.
Low-Risk pregnancy: A pregnancy with little to no risk or problems.
Most women are low-risk! That’s great news because this protects the space for high-risk patients to have time and care with a specialist.
High-Risk Pregnancy: A pregnancy with one or more risk factors with causes potential for or greater chance of maternal or fetal morbidity or mortality. CPM’s do not provide care for high-risk women.
Morbidity: Being diseased
This means that, if one is high-risk, there is a condition of illness for the woman or baby.
Mortality: The condition of death.
This means that, if one is high-risk, there is a condition or likelihood to the woman or baby of fatality.
Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC): A subsequent baby born vaginally after a woman has had a Cesarean Section. In Idaho, CPM’s can attend a VBAC for someone who has only had one C-Section not less than 18 months prior.
Homebirth: A birth at home, usually planned for. This is what Red Tent Midwives provides.
Birth Center: A location designed for out-of-hospital-birth, usually attended by midwives.
Waterbirth: A birth in the water, usually planned.
Yes, we support this, too!
First Trimester Ultrasound/Sonogram: An ultrasound to determine due date, confirm/rule out multiple babies, and/or to detect a baby’s heartbeat, as it’s too tiny to hear with a Doppler. This is the most accurate time that an ultrasound can determine/confirm an accurate due date. This is a diagnostic test with a ultrasonographer, results are read by a doctor or radiologist.
20 Week Ultrasound/Anatomy Scan: This is an anatomy scan to measure adequate growth in the baby. Less accurate to determine due date than an early ultrasound.
This is a procedure that collects a lot of information to be given to your doctor or midwife. WE don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, that’s not why an ultrasound is solely ordered by a practitioner. Usually the gender of a baby is seen at this time.
Surprise Twin: The discovery of a second baby during labor or just after the birth of the first baby. If you learned that you’re expecting twins during your pregnancy, it’s not considered a ‘surprise twin’, although it might be to you. Midwife Jenny is a surprise twin.
Surprise Breech: A baby presenting in the breech (bottom first) position at the onset of labor and birth which was not determined in pregnancy.
Yes, babies can be born safely in a Breech position. If you are getting care from a doctor and they automatically state you “have to have a C-Section” keep pressing.
External Cephalic Version: The hands on process done by a trained professional to attempt to turn a baby into an optimal birthing position.
Usually done after 35 weeks to turn a baby from a Breech position to a cephalic (head down) position. This should only be done by a trained professional! A Spinning Babies person is not a trained professional.
Labor: Contractions which cause change to the cervix (effacement and dilation) with or without a pattern. Anything else is Braxton Hicks, see below.
Braxton Hicks: Contractions which do not dilate the cervix. Some can be quite strong and can hold a typical labor pattern.
Cesarean Section: A surgical birth where a cut is made in the abdomen, through the muscle, tissues, fat and uterus to pull a baby and placenta from the woman. Many cesareans are not necessary for birth, but they are in some cases.
Emergency Cesarean: An unplanned cesarean birth that results from an emergency during labor that would prevent a safe vaginal delivery to mother or baby.
Natural Birth: A vaginal birth without any intervention or medication. Your body was designed for this. You can do it, we can help you.
Vaginal Birth: The birth of a baby born vaginally with or without medication or intervention.
Induction: The process of artificially producing a labor pattern.
This is usually done with drugs either in the bloodstream or rectally but also includes all natural methods including herbs.
Augmentation: The process to enhance a labor already in process.
A woman who is in labor, whether a good pattern or not, does not get induced but rather has her labor augmented, usually with drugs like Pitocin, or having her waters broken artificially by her care provider.
Intervention: Any process introduced in a pregnancy or labor to alter or change the projected outcome. These include a version, breaking of waters, Pitocin, any induction or augmentation.
Hemorrhage: Excessive bleeding of 1,000 mL or greater within the first 24 hours after birth but can occur up to 12 weeks postpartum.
This has been changed in 2017 from the before teaching of a 500mL of blood loss by AGOC, most likely because 1000mL is the blood loss in a standard, non complicated C-Section delivery. Red Tent Midwives practices on the side of 500mL for hemorrhage in our homebirth practice.
Postpartum: The state of being after the birth of a baby.
Anyone who has had a baby in their lifetime is postpartum. It’s not something one has, it’s something one is.
Baby Blues: Feelings of sadness or anger 2-3 days postpartum and resolve without treatment within 2-3 weeks.
Hormones are powerful!
Postpartum Depression: Depression anytime within the first year after having a baby.
There are more than 3 million cases reported per year. You are not alone even though you may be feeling that way. The good news is is that it is treatable and in some cases, without medication, although sometimes it is needed. There are several tiers of PPD so talk to your midwife or doctor and we can help you. You are not a bad mom.
Postpartum Anxiety: The feeling that everything needs to be perfect or that a woman is not a good mom, no one else can care for her baby, etc.
This can go on for years (hello helicopter parents). Talk to your midwife, partner, doctor or counselor about your feelings. Sometimes medication is needed but not always.
Breastfeeding: Feeding a baby from the breast. Also referred to as nursing. And yes, you can!
Bottle Feeding: Feeding a baby with a bottle whether it be with expressed breast milk or formula.
Pumping: Expressing breastmilk from the breast(s).
Pumping is not necessary to produce milk. Nope.
We hope that this helps you as you read, speak and write about your own experience throughout the childbearing year. Remember, to always seek a professional’s advice with questions before posting or seeking opinions on Google or Facebook groups.
*This is not a comprehensive list and is not intended to treat, diagnose or relieve symptoms.
Jenny Jahn CPM, LM is co-founder and midwife at Red Tent Midwives.