Labor & Delivery Terminology

erin6The labor and delivery process is the most emotional, nerve wracking, exciting, overwhelming and, more than anything, confusing day of your journey. After all, your entire life is about to change forever! Here’s a look at a few of the terms that you may hear flying around during the hours that lead up to the birth of your child.


Also referred to as the “bloody show” is when the softened cervix begins to open, thus rupturing tiny blood vessels and leading to blood tinged mucus. This is also known as the mucus plug. This is usually indicative on the onset of early labor.


A term used to measure the opening of the cervix. Through the process of labor the cervix will go from 1cm (the size of a Cheerio) to 10cm (The size of a sliced bagel).


A term used to measure the softness of the cervix. Usually measured in percentage from 10-100% effaced.


A popular form of pain management used in childbirth. A form of regional anesthesia, an epidural is administered through a small tube inserted into the back. The goal is to decrease sensation in the lower half of the body by blocking nerve impulses. More than 50% of laboring women will request this form of pain management.


This refers to how far into the birth canal your baby’s head is located. The scale ranges from a -5 to a +5. Generally speaking, a -5 station is a baby that is not engaged at all, and a +5 station very engaged and preparing for delivery.


The fetal waste that accumulates in a baby’s intestine during gestation. It is expelled during or shortly after birth and is greenish in color. If it is present at the time of birth members from the NICU may be called in for observation.


Short for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This is a hospital inside of the hospital for babies born either very premature or with serious health conditions.


The term given to the position of the baby when the buttocks or the feet are positioned to exit the vagina before the head.


The procedure of cutting the thin skin (the perineum) between the vagina and the anus. The doctor may perform this procedure in the final stages of labor in order to enlarge the vaginal opening in preparation for delivery. This can help prevent excessive tearing.

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Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for intended parents, surrogates and donors. She is the co-owner of Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.