NORMAL AND EMERGENCY CHILDBIRTH
Section I. GENERAL INFORMATION
Assisting at the delivery of a baby may well be one of the most exciting things
you have a chance to do. Notice the word used is "assisting" at the delivery rather than
"delivering" a baby. The reason is that the mother does the delivering; birth is a natural,
normal process. It is even more a natural, normal process in some less developed
countries where you may serve. However, your assistance may make the process
more comfortable for the mother and safer for both the mother and baby. There are few
rewards greater than hearing a baby's first cry and seeing the smile on a new mother's
DEFINITIONS -- COMMON OBSTETRIC TERMS
a. Abortion -- the termination of pregnancy before the fetus reaches the stage of
viability which is usually less than 21 to 22 weeks gestation (or less than 600 gm in
b. Afterbirth -- placenta, membrane, and umbilical cord which are expelled after
the infant is delivered.
c. After pains -- pain due to contractions of the uterus after the placenta has
been expelled following childbirth.
d. Amniotic fluid -- approximately one liter of fluid in a sac which surrounds the
fetus. This fluid protects and cushions the fetus during its development.
e. Amniotic sac (bag of waters) -- thin bag that totally encloses the fetus during
development in the uterus.
f. Amniotomy -- artificial rupture of the amniotic sac membranes; also, a method
of inducing contractions.
g. Analgesic -- medication which lessens the normal perception of pain.
h. Anesthesia -- medication that causes partial or total loss of sensation with or
without loss of consciousness.
i. APGAR scoring -- rating system for newborn babies, measuring the baby's
general condition on a scale from 1 to 10.