10 Outdated Pregnancy and Labour Terms that Need to Change

Recently there have been some serious changes to the terms used in the labour ward. While not all hospitals are on board, one Australian hospital is suggesting we use non-gendered terms for inclusivity.

You can read the full story here but below are a list of a few of the terms and their suggestive changes.

  • For mum or mother: “gestational” or “birthing parent”
  • For dad or father: “non-gestational” or “non-birthing parent”
  • Other options for dad include: “second biological parent”, “non-birthing parent” or “co-parent”
  • For mother’s milk: “human milk” or “chest milk” 
  • For breastfeeding: “chestfeeding” 
  • Instead of maternity care department: “perinatal services”

Now, we’re not here to ruffle feathers or upset anyone, but, if we are changing things around, can we PRETTY PLEASE look at changing a few of these other common labour and outdated pregnancy terms?

They may not be gender offensive but they are still pretty damned awful. And offensive to anyone who has had these terms connected to them.

So, let’s try again with these outdated pregnancy terms, shall we?

Come on Pregnancy Vernacular Committee. You can do better.

1. Geriatric pregnancy

First off the mark is the old school term for anyone over the age of 35 who falls pregnant. This number will vary depending on where you are, but when I was pregnant at 33, I was classified as geriatric, and wow, what a nice feeling THAT WAS!

Grab the cane! Geriatric mum on the loose. 

2. Advanced maternal age

This is another term I got called a lot. It’s a step up from the ol’ geriatric mum, but not much. Apparently, once you reach a certain age, you become advanced at motherhood. I’m not a regular mum. I’m an advanced mum. 

This is actually a plus because it means people don’t attempt to give you stupid advice. 

“Oh, you’re pregnant. Oh but you’re also old and decrepit and already have two children hanging from your withered body. You don’t need my outdated advice. You’ve got this.”

3. Incomplete or incompetent cervix

What the actual eff is this supposed to mean? The official meaning is: “If you have an incomplete or incompetent cervix, your cervix might begin to open too soon — causing you to give birth too early.”

In other words – your cervix isn’t incomplete. It’s not half there or missing a head or a limb. 

It’s simply opening too soon. “Open cervix” would have sufficed, don’t you think? Hell, if you wanna make up a term for it, how about “Overexcited Blossoming Cervix. Early rising Cervix also fits. 

4. Miscarriage

I hate this word. Miscarriage. Mis translates to “wrongly” or “badly” which isn’t the greatest thing to have attached to you after you’ve just lost a baby. 

Can we just call it what it is – pregnancy loss?

5. Failure to progress

Okay. So adding the term “failure” to anything isn’t really PC anymore, is it? A failure is just a form of learning, right? Isn’t that what we’re teaching our kids these days? 

But when it’s added to a mum’s condition as she attempts to squeeze a beach ball out her ya-ya? Seriously? Take your “failure to progress” and find a better term.

Failure to Progress.
Successful in throwing a birthing ball at the head of any midwife who uses this outdated pregnancy term.  

6. Crowning

Sorry, nope. Don’t like it. It’s royal, sure, but it’s also a bit too masculine. Us Birthing Queens need a better name – one that doesn’t suggest our vaginas are heads and our babies are pointy gold headpieces. 

7. Hostile cervical mucus

Another fun one. When cervical mucus problems stand in the way of getting pregnant, it’s medically referred to as hostile cervical mucus. Mean, conniving, stubborn mucus. You bitch. 

Except, it’s MUCUS. It’s not a human thing that could possibly possess the capability to be purposely malicious. 

8. Inhospitable uterus

Dark, dingy, full of rats. Yep, this uterus is an utter dump. Who would want to live here? Except, it’s not a rental property, it’s a womb. Calling any female organ “inhospitable” is asking for trouble.

What they mean when they say inhospitable is that there would be medical issues such as scar tissue or endometriosis, which makes it tricky for an embryo to implant. Medical complications? Yes. Inhospitable? Try again. 

9. Morning sickness

“Oh, do you have morning sickness? Poor thing. Hope it clears up for you by 12pm.” 

In what utopic pregnancy society is morning sickness ONLY in the morning? Surely pregnant women in the 1700’s didn’t stop throwing up their churned butter and freshly picked wheat at noon? 

Who decided this? Definitely not my kids. Oh no. They kept me spewing all day long. Morning sickness my arse. 

10.  Anesthesiologist

Okay, so technically there’s nothing wrong with this term. I am changing this one purely because it’s bloody impossible to say at the best of times. And when you’re writhing in pain and need someone to come and help you, trying to sound out this title in between contractions is hell in a hospital bed. 

So let’s keep it simple. The person with the needle will now be known as What Took You So F-ing Long, Drug Lord.

Does everyone agree? Can we ditch the outdated pregnancy terms? All in favour, say aye!

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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