Exploring the “Who” in Combining Forms Related to Childbirth

Combining Forms

Childbirth child

When studying obstetrics and neonatology, students often have questions about combining forms relating to childbirth.

Recently in class, we looked at the following combining forms and their definitions:

nat/o – birth
par/o, part/o – bear, give birth to, labor, childbirth
puerper/o – childbirth


How confusing! Okay, so let’s consider to whom the combining form refers as it relates to childbirth.

Combining Forms - Table 1

When looking at the combining forms grouped by mother and child, it occurs to me that all of the combining forms relating to mother begin with p’. A mother is a parent, so it helps me remember that when I see a term built from a combining form related to childbirth that starts with the letter p it will describe the parent or, more specifically, the mother.

If the term is built from a combining form starting with an n’, it will describe the child, or newborn.

Medical Terms

Let’s apply this new information to terms using combining forms related to childbirth and consider whom the term describes.

Term Definition
postpartum after childbirth
postnatal pertaining to after childbirth
para birth
peurperal pertaining to childbirth



So we have taken a step towards sorting out combining forms and terms related to childbirth. May your studies go well!

Until next time,


Reference List

Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 32e. Philadelphia: Saunders/Elsevier.

LaFleur Brooks, M., LaFleur Brooks, Dale Levinsky. Exploring Medical Language, 11Edition

St. Louis: Mosby/Elsevier.

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