When news broke of Meghan Markle's pregnancy in early October, you could hear gasps of excitement from the United Kingdon to the United States. That's not only because Americans love royal baby news—the future child of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could have citizenship in the United States. That depends, however, if the California-born mom-to-be decides to hold onto her own US citizenship after becoming a British citizen.
Now living in Kensington Palace with Prince Harry, Markle will begin to navigate a whole new set of protocols and procedures concerned with bringing a potential heir to the throne into the world. But managing the incessant press coverage, public interest, and stuffy palace rules won't be the only obstacles she will face.
As an American expecting a baby in the UK, she will also have to learn a whole dictionary of British pregnancy, birth, and parenting terms. Pregnancy and birth may seem like universal human experiences but there are differences in how this very natural life event is handled in different countries across the world, including the sort of care pregnant women can expect to receive. For starters, if Meghan follows in her sister-in-law's footsteps, she will likely give birth in the exclusive Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in London with a senior gynecologist in attendance. Across the country, although prenatal appointments are predominantly with a midwife, the health professional laboring moms can expect to see is evenly divided between OBGYN's and midwives.
As a Brit who got pregnant and gave birth in North America, I really needed a dictionary of transatlantic baby terms during those first few confusing months, so, Meghan, here is my gift to you.
Firstly, in the UK, any health appointments a pregnant woman attends are known as "antenatal" instead of "prenatal" and will likely take place with a midwife instead of a doctor. No doubt Meghan will receive the very best care money can buy but for the ordinary pregnant British woman antenatal care is covered by the National Health Service (NHS) and doesn't incur any out-of-pocket expenses. It's also comprehensive and incredibly safe with a maternal mortality rate three times lower than the US thanks to standardization of care.
Because of her familiarity with American traditions, Meghan will probably hold a baby shower for her friends and family to welcome the impending arrival. But these celebrations are not commonplace in the UK although they have been increasing in popularity over the last few years. They are actually often considered to be bad luck in Britain with many parents opting to celebrate after the birth instead.
As she makes her baby shower registry (or hires someone else to do it), Meghan will likely notice that many common baby items have completely different names in the UK, including:
Pram = Stroller. In the UK, a baby carriage is often referred to as a "pram" which is short for perambulator—although nobody says that! As children get older they move to an umbrella stroller or a "buggy" or "pushchair" as they are known in Britain.
Dummy = Pacifier: Both Brits and Americans give soothers a descriptive name which lets you know its intended use. In the UK though we get a little more forthright calling a pacifier a "dummy" as it helps to keep little ones quiet!
Nappy = Diaper: Whatever you call them, most parents will end up changing hundreds of them by the time their child is potty trained, whether or not Duchess Meghan actually has to change them herself remains to be seen but if she does it in England, she'll need to call it a "nappy."
Cot = Crib: Bassinets used for napping when a baby is first born are referred to as "Moses baskets" in the UK. When the new royal baby is a little older and lays down to rest in one of the palace's or royal residences it will be sleeping in a "cot" instead of a crib.
Babygro = Onesie: This baby will likely have a wardrobe to rival most fashionistas but if the Duke and Duchess do decide to keep it simple in a onesie, they'll be calling it a "babygro." If the royal baby gets chilly and Harry asks Meghan to pass him a "jumper," she'll need to know he is asking for a sweater.
Wobbly = Tantrum: Do royal babies have meltdowns like everyone else' kids? Of course they do. When they happen in the UK they could be said to be "throwing a wobbly" which means having a tantrum, and as they get older they will more than likely whine when they want something or "whinge" as Brits say.
Whatever words you use and however you say it, a new baby is a reason to celebrate—congratulations Meghan and Harry!