Exploring the “Who” in Combining Forms Related to Childbirth

Exploring the “Who” in Combining Forms Related to Childbirth

cildbirth-word parts

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.

par/o, part/o, puerper/o
Mother: par/o, part/o, puerper/o
Mother Child
par/o nat/o

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. (2012). Philadelphia: Saunders/Elsevier.

LaFleur Brooks, M., LaFleur Brooks, D. (2014). Exploring Medical Language, 9E  St. Louis: Mosby/Elsevier.

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