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.
Also see: Pregnancy Terms Can Make You Hide Under a Tarp
Latin and Greek origins can make having a bun in the oven sound awful.
Also see: Sex Terms Can Be a Total Turnoff
Sex-related terms can often be a choice between clinical and pornographic.
It’s a boy! Not really, just Instructional Diagrams.
It’s a girl! Still lying, just more Notebook posts.
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