The hospital environment can be quite intimidating and seem a little sterile at times and just like anything new, it can make some people feel overwhelmed. Totally normal!. Prior to your due date, two great ways to reduce potential angst regarding the hospital element of birth, is to (1) tour your hospital to familiarise yourself with the layout, the rooms, the equipment, the sounds and lights and (2) get to know some of terms you are likely to hear or see written during both pregnancy and birth. Having a general knowledge of what particular terms and phrases mean will counteract any uninvited surprise or nervousness on the day. Below are a few terms that are commonly associated with and mentioned during labour.


An episiotomy is a deliberate incision (cut) during a vaginal delivery, allowing more space for the baby to be born. The cut is made in the perineum which is the tissue between the vagina and the anus. Both the size and the angle of the incision can be controlled and your birth team will stitch you up after the baby is born. Pending the circumstances, some women will not require stitches.


Forceps are smooth, spoon-shaped instruments that hold, support and protect your baby’s head as your obstetrician or midwife gently ‘pulls' to help your baby through the birth canal and out of the vagina. They are not required in all deliveries. Forceps are used in what’s referred to as an assisted delivery or a delivery with intervention.


Occasionally it will be recommended by your midwife or obstetrician, that a series of artificial methods (for example synthetic hormones or the insertion of a 'balloon' to allow your cervix to believe the baby's head is pushing downwards) be adopted to kickstart your labour. These 'artificial methods' are known as induction. Some examples of occasions where an induction may be recommended or required include (but are not limited to):

  • If your pregnancy is at 41+ weeks gestation.
  • If your waters have broken but your labour has not begun after some time.
  • If there are concerns for your babies movements, growth or amniotic fluid.
  • If you have Gestational Diabetes.
  • If you have high blood pressure.

Methods of an induction will differ from hospital to hospital and pregnancy to pregnancy however rest assured you're in safe hands and throughout the induction your baby’s heart rate will be monitored using continuous monitoring (i.e. CTG).


A ventouse, also known as a vacuum, is a soft flat cup that is inserted and placed on top of your baby’s head. Your obstetrician or midwife will then use a hand held pump, attached to the cup, which will result in a suction (hence the term vacuum). This suction allows the obstetrician or midwife to gently pull, helping the baby through the birth canal and out of the vagina. Similar to forceps, the ventouse is another variation of an ‘assisted delivery’ or invention.

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