The birth process has changed a lot since I was born. My mom just went to the hospital and had me. It was pretty cut and dried. Today, she’d be known as a terrible mother. Birth has evolved. It’s become a defining act. It tells the world what kind of mother you are and many believe it sets the tone for the relationship you will have with your child.

If you are newly pregnant or someone close to you is having their first child, you will probably hear a lot of new concepts thrown around. Mothers-to-be have to decide where to have their baby, how to have it, whether drugs or interventions should be involved and how to deal with the baby immediately after the birth. There are lots of decisions to be made. However, to start off with, it’s important to understand the terminology. Here are some terms you might not be familiar with if you are new to the modern birth era:

Birth plan: Birth plans are a fictional document a mother writes before the birth which outlines how she would like the birth to proceed. The plan often contains her wishes to use or avoid medication, induction or c-sections. The mother gives this plan to the doctors and nurses who laugh themselves sick because we all know how cooperative babies are. Yes, babies come on time, on schedule, in exactly the way you want them to be born. That happens all the time.

Doula: Doulas like to say that while the father or doctor catches the baby, the doula catches the mother. The doula is there to mediate between the mother and the doctor and make sure the mother doesn’t make any rash decisions such as deciding at the last moment that she will take any and all drugs and she doesn’t care what she said yesterday about medication, dammit, she wants an epidural now.

Midwife: When I talk about midwives, I am not talking about the nurse midwives that work within the medical community and often share practices with doctors. I am talking about the midwives that do homebirths or births in centers that don’t stock mind-numbing drugs. These midwives are superior to doctors in that they are considered more natural and holistic and will make you feel like a wimp if you whine about drugs or beg for pain medicine. Midwives are often earthy, granola type women who gave birth after two pushes and buried their placentas under a tree. They are the kinds of women who glowed during pregnancy and have magical birth experiences. Clearly, they are either aliens or part of a secret superhuman race. They speak in coded language that only other superhuman women understand. They use code words like “surges” and “orgasmic birth” that will attract other superhuman women and allow them to give birth to their superhuman babies in the midwife environment.

Homebirth: Instead of going to the hospital and bringing the baby home, you have your baby at home. Then, you get to deal with the mess and bodily fluids yourself or assign your husband and/or any onlookers to clean up the biohazards. This is a great way to involve them in the birth process. Nothing makes a new father happier than cleaning up uterine fluid and blood. Also, if you live in an apartment complex, you will be able to alert your neighbors immediately to the fact that a baby is on the way so they can go shopping for baby gifts asap.

Unassisted childbirth: This is for the balls to the wall crowd. Midwives and doctors be damned – in this case, you are going it alone. There are lots and lots of helpful videos and stories on the internet about people who birth without out any medical intervention whatsoever. Sometimes the mother even catches the baby by herself. This requires the kind of woman who is very vigilant during labor as the baby definitely needs to be caught if the mother is standing or squatting. A fresh baby covered in bodily fluid can go flying pretty far. It’s probably a good idea to have a catcher’s mitt on hand.

Orgasmic birth: A contradiction in terms. Attempt to keep a straight when you hear this term. Some first time mothers think this is possible during childbirth. You never hear experienced mothers talk about it.

Photo via Flickr.

Christa T. Palmer (265 Posts)

Christa T. Palmer is a mother of 2 small children who lives in Colorado. She worked in the corporate world for more than a decade, but she was laid off the day after returning from maternity leave. Since then, she has worked as a freelance writer.