10 words you'd probably never heard before having a baby

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A baby messes with your sleep, kills your social life and redefines your sense of self. But you never thought that scrumptious bundle would overhaul your vocabulary, too.

Here are 10 words and terms that never entered your mind before motherhood.

1. Perineum

You never knew it existed, but in the days after childbirth your perineum is a part of your anatomy you'll not soon forget. If you've had a natural delivery, this is your ground zero.

The perineum is the delicate area of skin between your vagina and anus. During childbirth, it's put through a medieval stretching rack, and will often have the battle scars to prove it (think tears or episiotomy). Not to worry, it's nothing a few stitches and ice packs can't fix.

(Read more about reducing your chances of perineal tearing here)

2. Meconium

Heavens, have you just given birth to a demon child? That frightful black goo she's excreting looks like something of the devil's making.

Yes, that sticky tar-like first poo is so ghastly it's hard to believe it came from such an angelic cherub. Greenish-black and viscous, meconium contains all the goodies your baby has ingested in utero – mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, water and lanugo (more about that next).


(Read more about baby bowel movements here)

3. Lanugo

You always imagined your seconds-old bubba would be silky smooth with skin like a pup's belly. It may come as a shock, then, to discover that she's Hairy Maclary.

Lanugo is the fine, downy hair babies grow in the womb, and is often concentrated around the ears, forehead and shoulders. If your newbie was premature, she will likely have lots of hair as it's generally shed in the last month of pregnancy.

4. Vernix

Okay, so your baby may be born hairy (check), leaking black goo (check), sporting a coating of mozzarella cheese ... what the?

When babies make their grand entrance in the world they are often covered in a thick, white cheesy film known as vernix. This natural coating protects their skin from 'pruning' in the womb and is usually washed off. Alternatively, rub it into baby's skin for a moisturiser money can't buy.

5. Rectus abdominis

Ever feel like your insides might split in half with all that pressure from carrying a baby inside your belly? They kind of do.

Often during pregnancy the tissue connecting the two strips of abdominal muscles splits, resulting in a separation, known as a diastasis of the rectus abdominus muscle. It sounds dire, but treatment from a physio and some gentle recovery exercises can help.

6. Fundus

Consider the fundus the roof of your baby's home for nine months. It's the very top part of the uterus, and the bit of your tummy the midwife will rub in the hours and days after birth to make sure your uterus is contracting to its pre-pregnancy size. When palpated it feels like a hard little ball.

7. Ventouse

In the movies, babies are born in a matter of minutes – from the first twinge of labour to the cutting of the cord, there's barely time to get the kettle on. In reality, birth isn't quite so quick, and rarely as easy.

If your baby gets stuck, your obstetrician or midwife may use a vacuum extraction cup, known as a ventouse (the kinder cousin of the forceps) to help ease the little fella out.

8. Lochia

The mother of all periods, lochia is the post-birth discharge your body expels as the lining of your uterus comes away. The flow is heavy and bright red to begin with and then tapers off to pink, brown and yellowish white.

You can expect to bleed for up to six weeks after birth, shedding menstrual blood, mucus and uterine tissue ... Now is a good time to invest in Libra shares.

9. Mucus plug

Yes, it's as disgusting as it sounds, but the arrival of the mucus plug also heralds the beginning of something truly magical. The mucus plug is the jelly-like glob that protects the opening of the cervix during pregnancy.

When it's almost show time, the plug dislodges, presenting as a gooey and often blood-tinged deposit in your knickers. It's not pleasant, but it is a sign labour may be imminent.

10. Pelvic floor

It's funny how you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone. You may well be berating yourself for not paying more attention to your pelvic floor now that it's eloped with your waistline.

Your pelvic floor is the trampoline-like sling of muscles and ligaments stretching from your water works to your back door that holds all your private bits in place. If you've had an epic labour and spent a long time pushing, the muscles could be spent ... hello bladder leakage!

Get cracking on your Kegel exercises pronto (think clench and squeeze).