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I am not a native speaker and yesterday someone told me that "She got her first child" would be misunderstood and "She had her first child" is correct. Now I wonder if this is a 'local' thing here in Wales or a general 'rule'.

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It's not local. "She had" is correct and "She got" is incorrect. –  Ste Apr 18 '13 at 13:25
    
The standard idiom is to have a baby, where other nouns may be substituted for baby, like boy, girl, child, heir, but only have can be used. It refers to pregnancy (she's having a baby), the birth event (She had her baby last week), and subsequent family relations (She has three boys and one girl). –  John Lawler Apr 18 '13 at 15:55
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"She had" implies she gave birth. To me at least, "she got" sounds like she adopted (or, y'know, went out and swiped a kid from somewhere, but people usually don't talk about doing that :-) ). –  Monica Cellio Apr 18 '13 at 18:35
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1 Answer

“She got her first child” sounds like she got that child at some shop or via mail-order. Just use had there: “She had her first child before she turned fourteen.”

Note also that “to get (someone) with child” has an old-timey kind of feel to it. Shakespeare in Measure for Measure I.ii.66 refers to the punishment “for getting Madame Julietta with child”.

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I agree. I have heard a nonnative speaker wonder whether his wife would "get another baby". In turn, I wondered where they would be going to pick one out. –  mikeY Apr 18 '13 at 15:15
    
@mikeY Presumably they would go to their local stork colony to pick out a new baby. –  tchrist Apr 18 '13 at 15:16
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I think the phrase "...for getting Madame Julietta with child" refers to getting Madame Julietta pregnant, but the phrase "Madame Julietta had a child" would suggest she (successfully) gave birth. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Apr 18 '13 at 15:33
    
@FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Aye. –  tchrist Apr 18 '13 at 15:33
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