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A brief discourse on medical terminology, and social inductions

There are several UBC Midwifery students on far-flung adventures this summer, and their blogs are absolutely riveting to read. You can hear from the students in Uganda here and The Netherlands (departure quickly forthcoming) here.

Meantime, I’m continuing to adjust to Alberta. After the rush of the first day it’s been quiet, and I’ve had a lot of time on my hands. So: I’ve gone for 2 runs. (And in doing so discovered horses & donkeys three blocks away, where the edge of town gives way to fields. “It’s like a kibbutz,” I told Jordan. Pretty sure I am the first visitor to compare Stony Plain, AB to a kibbutz, but there you go.)

I’ve also begun researching for my midwifery thesis paper (actually, I find it appalling that in addition to full-time clinical work & weekly research assignments a thesis is also expected. Far be it from me to normally whine about writing & research, because I tend to get all nerdy-excited about such stuff, but WHINE) and working on developing pharmocology note cards–something that’s been on my to-do list since February.

And the next novel. Starting to think through that.

Which somehow all still leaves time to relax with wine in the back yard after dinner, talking till late because the sun stays in the sky so long it’s easy to lose track of time.

This is what happens when you leave your kids behind. The days grow looooong.

Long enough too to worry that I misled y’all with my multip vs primip comments the other day. See, here’s how it works:

Gravida = Number of pregnancies

Para= Number of births after 20 weeks

So a woman might be G4P2, which means she’s had four pregnancies and two births.

A more detailed description might be G4T1P1A1L2, which means 4 pregnancies, 1 Term birth, 1 Preterm birth, 1 Abortion (spontaneous or terminated–there’s no clear distinction drawn), and 2 living children.

So back to this gravida/para thing.

A Primigravida does mean first pregnancy. But Primiparous actually means one birth. See the difference?

So we say “primip” for first-time moms, but really it should be “primig.” Or Nullip, for nulliparous. Other than that, you can say multiparous or multigravida, Grand Multipara or Grand Multigravida. It starts sounding like a Starbucks drink, doesn’t it?

“I’ll have an iced Grand Multipara with caramel, please.”

 Meantime: got paged today while on a run. (Not the horse/donkey run, the other run). A woman had come in hoping for an induction. Only she didn’t have any medical indictation for an induction, she just was sick & tired of being pregnant.

There’s a distinction drawn between medical inductions (for a clinical reason) and social inductions (no clinical indictation), and this one would be termed social.

And in Canada, we don’t do social. Or at least otuside the major urban centres. Or at least with midwives. Or–you get the idea.

(Far as I can tell, in the US a woman can have an induction anytime she wants for any purpose. And if she doesn’t want one, she’s likely to get one anyway. But I digress.)

I examined her and broke the news, and she was not pleased. But I also gave her verbena, an essential oil from Germany that has long been used to hasten labour but has never been studied in a clinical trial. Okay, so a typical midwifery move, albeit not one I’d ever done before.  What was interesting here, however, was that the nurses guard the verbena at the hospital, and keep along with it a recipe for the verbena cocktail (almond butter & apricot juice….not for the weak of stomach) and a form to fill out if she goes into labour, so that data can be collected.

In the hospital.

In the maternity ward.


I’ll let you know if it works.

Related posts:

  1. More reflections from semi-rural Alberta


  1. shannon says:

    I was google-ing away trying to find more information on the elusive ‘verbena’…and ended up at! Remind me to get in touch with SP–they might have the only data out there on the efficacy of the labour cocktail…

  2. Gisele says:

    I would love to get more information on verbena for induction or augmentation if you have any as well as which hospital is using it in Calgary. As midwives in Manitoba, we have been using it since early this year and have had excellent success with it. We would love to know more aboout it though.

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