What's the verb for helping someone give birth?

For example:

The doctor ____ the woman in the operating room.

  • 1
    "The doctor attended the woman giving birth.", maybe. If they're in an operating room for a caesarean, probably "operated on". May 31 '20 at 0:10
  • isn't there a verb for "performing the extraction of the baby"? May 31 '20 at 0:18
  • 1
    That's usually done by the contractions of the mother. And "extraction" doesn't fit as well as "expulsion", though I don't imagine that term is used. During a caesarean, the baby is delivered by the doctor through the incision. May 31 '20 at 1:15
  • anesthetize is the verb for what anesthesiologists do. (external cephalic) version is the "manual turning of a fetus in the uterus to make delivery easier" colloquially known as 'turning a (breach) baby'. - attended, +1. Not that I ever have watched one, but I'd assume if no medical procedure is necessary, like everyone else in the room, they stand there and watch.
    – Mazura
    May 31 '20 at 9:21

Generally speaking, the verb is deliver:

3 a(1) : to assist (a pregnant female) in giving birth
          // The doctor delivered several women.
3 a(2) : to aid in the birth of
          // delivered a baby
3 b : to give birth to
          // His wife delivered a healthy baby girl.

Based on this definition, the example sentence could be:

The doctor delivered the woman in the operating room.

However, I'll admit that I've never heard it used in this way before. My personal reaction, before providing this definition, would have been to say that it was wrong. But it seems as if it can be used in this sense.

More often than not, however, I'd say that this verb focuses on the baby, not the mother:

The doctor delivered the woman's baby in the operating room.

Were I to give a verb I thought more applicable to the mother than the baby, I would probably use midwife instead, which also has a verb form:


1 : a person who assists women in childbirth
2 : one that helps to produce or bring forth something

: to assist in producing, bringing forth, or bringing about

With this word, the example sentence in the question would be:

The doctor midwifed the mother in the operating room.

Although I think this works better with the focus on the mother, I would still normally put the focus on the baby with deliver.

However, with respect to midwife, I did find several examples of its use—some metaphorical and others more literal. Also, when referring to the actual act of childbirth, the word can be understood in context.

Some examples of the use of midwife follow (the emphasis is all my own):

From Birthing Autonomy: Women's Experiences of Planning Home Births by Nadine Edwards:

If pregnant and birthing women could be midwifed in the way that she has midwifed this project, many more women would feel genuinely empowered.

From The North Bay Narrative by Walter Staples:

Expectant mothers usually requested Lillian Riles, from the coast, who had midwifed more than three hundred births.

From The Last Changeling by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple:

Sometimes the noble thing is to do the lowest thing. Like helping Snail in the cave as she midwifed the troll baby into the world. Which led directly to Huldra the troll not eating anyone in Odd's troupe.

From Spiritual Truth in the Age of Fake News by Elizabeth Geitz:

The image of God as a midwife is a powerful metaphor. Throughout our lives, all of us need to be midwifed in various ways. We may not need assistance in the physical birth process, but we often need to be midwifed through one of life's many transitions. After the birth of a child, all parents need to be midwifed through the confusing process of parenthood. When we change careers, we need to be midwifed through the transition. When we retire, we need a different kind of midwife, one who can help us navigate the array of possibilities before us. And, in that final transition from life to death, we all need a trusty midwife by our side.

  • This thread reminds of CalebCity's new video. It is hilarious. 😂
    – user178049
    May 31 '20 at 4:52

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