“Meconium Falcon” and understanding pregnancy language
Not only do women bear the burden of carrying and birthing the human race, but we have to learn a whole new language to do so. Labor and delivery medical terms are either outdated, repulsive, or downright confusing. Here is a guide that I hope will ease pregnant women’s bewilderment and will inspire the labor and delivery medical community to eradicate the words “bloody” and “cheese.”
1. Meconium. This is the dark green, thick stool that a newborn passes in utero or soon after birth. “Meconium” is so aggressive and militant sounding that George Lucas was originally going to call the ship the Meconium Falcon before his editor’s due diligence revealed that it means baby poop.
2. Bag of Waters. Really? Can we please just call it the amniotic sac? We say “placenta” instead of “satchel of nutrients.” “Uterus” instead of “container of baby.” There is no need to string descriptive words together like cave people creating language for the first time.
3. Lanugo. When the nurses talked about lanugo, I thought they were recalling an island retreat. At nine months pregnant, Club Lanugo sounded good to me. It’s actually fine, downy hair found on the body of a fetus or newborn. I think calling it “baby fur” would be much cuter, and it wouldn’t get women’s hopes up that they’re going somewhere tropical after labor.
4. Fontanel. A fontanel is the space between the bones in an infant’s skull. Everyone tells you not to push on these soft spots. No one tells you that The Fontanelles were a doo-wop group who enjoyed moderate fame in the 1950s.
5. Vernix. Vernix is the cheese-like white substance that covers the skin of newborns. It provides the baby’s skin with a protective, waterproof barrier, like nature’s Armor All. The term “vernix” sounds like a space phenomenon not baby cream cheese. When a new mom in Delaware saw “vernix” on the labor nurse’s chart notes, she thought her son’s birth date had coincided with an intersection of the celestial equator. That child endured the name “Vernix Worthington” for the rest of his life.
6. Pueperium. This refers to the six-week period after labor. The term “pueperium” was also the inspiration for the refrain in the beloved carol “The Little Drummer Boy.”
7. Mucus Plug and Bloody Show. These are the granddaddies of repulsive, outdated labor terms. The mucus plug is a gloppy stopper that blocks the opening of the cervix. Before labor, it is expelled. Bloody show refers to pink-tinged gelatinous goo that passes through the vagina when your body is gearing up for labor.
It’s normal for women to see a plug or bloody show and also normal for them not to see it. The secretions serve no foreshadowing purpose. They just drive full-term women bonkers trying to read their underwear like some enchanted oracle: Is it mucus? Is it a plug? Is it bloody show? Am I going into labor now? What does this MEAN?!
Let’s say increased discharge and call it a day.