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Pregnancy & Childbirth Glossary | Common Terms used During Pregnancy
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Pregnancy Glossary



Pregnancy Glossary
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Unsure of what the medical term, in your check up report, pregnancy eBook, or other bulletins means; no need to worry because we have all the terms and their meaning right here.

A

Abdomen: This is the section of the body below the chest (cavity that holds the stomach, liver, intestines, and other organs). The uterus is positioned at the lowest section of the abdomen (the pelvis) and is pushed up to the chest as pregnancy expands.

Abortion: The loss of fetus or embryo through miscarriage (spontaneously) or on purpose (induced) up to the 20th week. After the twentieth week, miscarriage is called stillbirth.

Abruption: This is a situation when placenta starts separating from the uterus wall before the baby is born. The condition is characterized by sharp abdominal pain and bleeding.

Abscess: A pus filled sac in the breasts of a nursing woman. The problem results from breast infection or untreated mastitis. The main symptoms include fever, localized heat, tenderness, swelling, and throbbing pain. The problem is treated with antibiotics or surgery.

Active labor: Part of the 1st stage of labor when the pregnant woman’s cervix opens about 3-7 centimeters. It lasts about 2 to 4 hours. Contractions during this stage of labor last about 40-60 seconds and are very strong.

Acupressure: This is a type of alternative medicine with origin in Chinese traditional medicine. The process involves putting pressure from the fingers to soothe and heal pains during pregnancy. It can be used to address back pain, labor pain, and even morning sickness.

Afterbirth: This is the delivery of the placenta and uterus membrane after the baby is born. Afterbirth takes place in the third stage of delivery.

Afterpains: This is cramping that is triggered by contractions as uterus shrinks and starts moving back to its original position in the pelvis.

Alexander Technique: This is training on conscious control of movement and posture to help pregnant moms cope with labor pains.

Alpha-fetoproteins (AFP): This is a protein generated by the fetus and passes to the mother’s blood stream between the 15th and 18th weeks of pregnancy.

Alpha-fetoprotein test: This is a blood test done on expectant mothers between the 15th and 18th weeks to assess the risk of the baby having defects. If there is very high level of AFP, it is considered an indicator of neural tube deficiency while very low levels may point to the possibility of Down syndrome. Once the test is done, the doctor will decide whether additional invasive procedures such as amniocentesis are required.

Alveoli: These are small milk-producing sacs that fill the breast in special clusters. Each breast contains hundreds of alveoli that secret the milk into tube-shaped ducts connecting to the nipples.

Amenorrhea: This is Absence of menstruation.

Amniocentesis: This is a diagnostic test to establish whether the fetus has abnormalities. It is done from the 14th to the 20th weeks of pregnancy. The test involves drawing the fetus skin fluids that contains cells used to assess the possibility of abnormalities such as genetic and chromosomal abnormalities.

Amnioinfusion: This is an injection of a special sterile saline solution into a pregnant mother’s amniotic sac when the amniotic fluid to prevent the umbilical cord from getting squeezed during child delivery or when a thick meconium is noted. It is also done when the amniotic fluid is very low to support the baby appropriately.

Amniotic fluid: A clear fluid that fills the amniotic sac and surrounds the baby during the entire period of pregnancy. The fluid cushions the baby by protecting it from infections and helps to stabilize its temperature. The fluid is replenished throughout pregnancy but will start declining in quantity after the 35th week.

Amniotic sac: This is a thin but firm membrane that surrounds the fetus during the pregnancy. The sac raptures some moments before delivery.

Amniotomy: The Artificial process of rupturing of the amniotic sac membranes to speed up labor. It is done with a special sterile instrument that looks like a crotchet.

Anal fissures: Cracks in the anal canal next to the birth canal that can result to bleeding. Often, the anal fissures come together with hemorrhoids.

Analgesia: This is any intervention for helping to reduce pain.

Analgesic: Medication used to help reduce pain sensation during labor. The commonest medication is Demerol.

Anencephaly: A very rare birth defect when the baby is born with a malformed skull. In some cases, the baby might have little or no brain.

Anesthesia: A term used to denote methods of easing the pain. The main types of anesthesia applied during labor include analgesia, general anesthesia, and local anesthesia.

Antepartal: This means anything occurring before delivery (referring to the mother).

Anterior position: A situation when the baby faces the mother’s spine during labor. It is the commonest position for emerging babies.

Apgar score: It is the first test a newborn is exposed to. It is done the first minute of birth, after 5 minutes, and every other 5 additional minutes to assess appearance, pulse, reflex, activity, and respiration. The average scores are 5, 6, 7 or 9.

Areola: The round darkened sections of the breast around the nipple. The areola spread and darkens during pregnancy.

Arnold-Chiari Malformation: This term refers to a group of birth defects that affect the cerebellum section of the brain. This is the section at the lower part of the skull responsible for balance control.

Artificial insemination: An artificial method of inserting the sperms into the woman’s uterus when the natural method fails. A catheter is used to place the sperms into the woman’s uterus.

Aspiration: This is drawing out the liquid that fills the air passages immediately the baby is born. The aspiration is done using a bulb syringe to prevent meconium from getting into the lungs and helping the inhalation process to start.

Augmented labor: This is an intervention to assist labor that has begins naturally but progresses rapidly. The process is done through injection of picotin that helps to rapture the membranes.

AZT: This is an antiretroviral drug used to treat women who are HIV positive.

B

Baby blues: Small-medium depression that many women experience after childbirth. It happens because of postpartum changes of hormones, and it is estimated to affect about 75% of all new mothers.

Black labor: Excruciating pain in the back when the baby is in a posterior position during labor. It occurs because of extra pressure on the mother’s spine.

Bacterial vaginosis: It is a type of STI that causes complications such as infections of the amniotic fluid and membranes rapture. It is treated with antibiotics.

Bag of waters: This is the membrane that surrounds the baby during pregnancy (amniotic sac). The sac ruptures during labor to allow the baby to move through the cervix and birth canal.

Basal body temperature (BBT): The body temperatures when one wakes up in the morning. This temperature goes up sharply during ovulation.

Belly sling: A special crisscross sling given to pregnant mothers to support their swelling baby bump and reduce pressure on the back. It is also a good option for helping to ease sciatic pain and general discomfort during pregnancy.

Biofeedback: A special method that assists patients to control biological responses to stress and pain by enhancing awareness of major processes such as breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. During pregnancy, it is very important to help reduce insomnia, headache, and morning sickness.

Biophysical profile: This is a common test during pregnancy to help establish how your baby is doing. It is done through ultrasound to establish the amniotic fluid volume, fetal tone, fetal movement, and fetal breathing.

Birth Assistant: A medical professional trained on childbirth. She/he helps mothers during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

Birth canal: The passage between the uterus and vulva. It is the passage that the baby goes through during delivery and comprises of the cervix, vagina, and vulva.

Birth defect: Any abnormality in a baby that is caused by error/s during fetal development. It may be genetic or not.

Birthing ball: A special air-filled rubber ball used by women to rock forward and back during labor to reduce discomfort, help with relaxation, and reduce back pain.

Birthing center: Any facility that has equipment and setting for childbirth. A birthing center is only recommended for pregnant moms with very low risk. Unlike the hospitals, birthing facilities have lax rules.

Birthing Chair: A birthing chair is a type of furniture made to help support pregnant women during labor and delivery. It is meant to help the mom squat and allow gravity to assist push the baby during delivery.

Birth plan: A written collection of directives by a pregnant mom indicating how she prefers everything to take place during labor. For example, the plan may include preferences for the use of medication to relieve pain during labor among other considerations.

Bishop score: This is the assessment of the readiness of the cervix for delivery. The assessment is done by calculating the level of cervix effacement and dilation. The position and texture of the cervix are also factored when calculating the score.

Blastocyst: The group of cells that form the embryo. They are highly differentiated and rapidly multiply as they enter the uterus before implantation.

Blood pressure: pressure exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries. The pressure rises significantly during the first trimester before dropping significantly in the second trimester and rising again after the 25th week. High blood pressure can also result from preeclampsia.

Bloody show: Release of the mucous plug with blood tinge as the cervix dilates and effaces during labor. It means that labor is about a day away.

Body Mass Index: This is the measure of an individual’s weight in relation to her height.

Bradley technique: A childbirth type of training that helps moms assume nighttime sleeping postures that characterize slow and deep breathing to reduce labor pain. During labor, the partner supports the pregnant moms in various positions.

Braxton Hicks Contractions: This is false labor. They are irregular contractions that start during the 8th month as the body of the pregnant mom’s body prepares for real labor. The contractions are not painful and last a short moment.

Breastfeeding: The process of suckling the baby (the baby draws milk from the mother’s breasts).

Breech position: When the baby’s legs as opposed to the head, face are facing the cervix during labor.

Brow presentations: A situation when the baby’s head is bending backward during the second stage of labor. In an ordinary situation, the chin should rest on the chest.

C

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: numbness and tingling of hands that is caused by pressure on nerves on the wrist. It is very common during pregnancy but goes away immediately after delivery.

Cephalic Presentation: This is the right baby’s position for normal delivery. The baby’s head faces downwards on the mom’s cervix.

Cephalopelvic disproportion: A situation when the baby’s head is too big to get through the mom’s pelvis. A cesarean section is used in such a situation.

Cerclage: A type of stitch done on the cervix to help keep the cervix closed and support the pregnancy to term.

Cerebral palsy: This is a disorder that results from prenatal defects on the baby’s brain. The problem often happens during delivery and affects the baby’s ability to move. Later in life, it can cause seizures and mental retardation.

Certified nurse midwife (CNM): This is a qualified nurse who has gone to graduate level in mid-wifely. Most CNM operates in collaboration with physicians.

Certified professional midwife (CPM): Any certified midwife allowed helping women during delivery. These types of nurses mainly help in home births.

Cervical cap: This is one of the main birth control methods that is fitted on a woman’s cervix and helps to prevent sperms from going through to the uterus.

Cervical os: This is the opening of the cervix.

Cervical ripening: It is the process that helps to prepare the cervix for labor and delivery. It means softening and thinning of the cervix and occurs naturally though it can be induced by medication such as misoprostol or cervidil.

Cervix: A narrow opening on the lower section of the uterus. It softens, thins, and opens during labor to help the baby pass through.

Cesarean section: This delivery of the baby through a surgical procedure. It involves making a surgical incision in the abdomen to open the uterus and deliver the baby when the mother cannot deliver the baby naturally.

Chadwick’s sign: This is one of the earliest pregnancy sign that is characterized by a change of vagina color to deep bluish purple color.

Charge syndrome: This is a congenital disorder that is manifested by symptoms such as retarded growth, choanal atresia, ear abnormalities, and genital abnormalities.

Chlamydia: This is one of the common STI that usually have no visible symptoms. If it is untreated, it can cause infertility or even bring about pneumonia, eye infection, and blindness to the baby. Your baby’s eyes should be treated with an antibiotic after delivery to prevent impacts from chlamydia.

Choriocarcinoma: This is a rare form of cancer that develops during pregnancy in the uterus.

Chorionic villus sampling: This is a special genetic diagnostic test done between the 10th and 13th weeks to test abnormalities and Down syndrome.

Chromosomal abnormality: A chromosome problem that is either caused by mutation or inheritance that causes issues such as Down syndrome.

Chromosome: This is part of a human cell in the nucleus that carries human genetic information.

Cleansing breath: This is undertaken as part of the Lamaze technique of delivery. It involves cleaning breaths during deep breaths during the second stage of labor/ delivery. The process helps to restore normal breathing and reduce stress.

Coccyx pain: Sharp pain in the coccyx (tail bone) after delivery because the muscles are injured. Colostrum: This is a very thin, yellow, and sticky fluid from the breast immediately after birth. The Colostrum is very rich in antibodies, proteins, and fats that the baby requires for early development and protection.

Conceive: Initiating pregnancy (what happens when the sperms meet and fertilize the egg).

Conception: This is what happens when the sperm meets the egg and joins it to form a single cell. It takes place in the fallopian tubes.

Contraception: Techniques used to help prevent a woman from getting pregnant.

Contraction stress test (CST): A test conducted to establish how the baby is responding to uterine contractions.

Cord Blood banking: This is collection and storage of the umbilical cord blood for later medical use. The umbilical cord has stem cells that are believed to have capabilities of treating many health conditions.

Cord compression: Squeezing of the umbilical cord during delivery that results in a limited flow of oxygen and blood to the baby.

Cord Knot: The knot is a tie done during delivery. It can also happen in the uterus as the baby moves around. As far as the knot is loose, it does not pose any threat to the baby.

Cord prolapse: This is a situation when umbilical cord slips into or through the cervix before the baby during delivery. If the cord is compressed, there is a risk of oxygen supply getting cut from the baby.

Corpus luteum: A collection of highly specialized cells that occupy the follicles that are used to house the eggs in the ovary. The cells are formed after ovulation and release estrogen and progesterone up to about 10 weeks when the placenta takes over.

Corpus luteum cyst: If the corpus luteum does not degenerate by the 10th week, it will form a cyst that does not present any problem. However, the medical expert might recommend close monitoring as a precautionary measure.

Cortisol: A common stress hormone during pregnancy.

Couvade syndrome: A situation when the baby’s father develops physical responses to the unborn baby such as weight gain, food cravings, and even mood swings.

Cradle hold: This is a breastfeeding position that involves placing the baby on the lap while supporting the head to reach and suckle. The method is very common after the first month.

Crossover hold: A breastfeeding position that involves holding the baby’s head with the hand opposite the breast she/he is feeding on.

Crowning: The time during delivery when the head of the baby has passed the vagina and can be seen.

Curettage: Scrapping of the uterine wall to clear residual products after a miscarriage.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV): A very contagious infection that leads to behavioral issues, hearing problem, and vision difficulties if contracted during pregnancy.

D

Depoprovera: A type of birth control that involves injection with progestin every three months.

DES: Synthetic estrogen injected to women to help prevent miscarriage.

Diastasis recti: This is a natural separation of muscles that run from the stomach to the lower section of the pubic bone during pregnancy. The muscles go back to their normal position during pregnancy.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): A special omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid that forms an important component of the retina and brain. It is very crucial to get food rich in DHA during pregnancy and even after delivery for good baby development.

Doppler: A special handheld ultrasound device to amplify the sound of an unborn baby’s heartbeat.

Dropping: When the baby descends to the pelvic cavity before the onset of labor.

Due date: The estimated time when the baby will be born. It is calculated based on the last menstruation period.

Dystocia: When labor starts but does not progress. Uterine dystocia is when the contractions do not intensify while shoulder dystocia is when shoulders of the baby get stuck during delivery.

E

Early term: When a baby is born between weeks 37 and 39 of pregnancy.

Eclampsia: A pregnancy problem that results if preeclampsia is not treated. It can develop during pregnancy or even labor and affects the central nervous system causing seizures.

Ectopic pregnancy: A situation when a fertilized egg implants elsewhere (especially in the fallopian tubes) apart from the uterus. It must be surgically removed to avoid damage to the fallopian tubes.

Edward’s syndrome (trisomy): This is one of the rare disorders that happen when the preborn baby has a set of 3 chromosomes as opposed to the normal 2. The impact of this is the development of very many birth defects. Only a very small proportion of babies with Edward Syndrome survive.

Ejaculation: When a man expels semen from the penis during sexual intercourse.

Elective induction: Use of drugs to stimulate labor as opposed to waiting for it to commence naturally.

Electronic fetal monitor: A special hand-held device used to check the progress of the fetus. It is mainly used during labor and delivery to help identify when the baby is in stress.

Embryo: This is a fertilized egg from the moment it implants in the uterus up to the 8th week. After that, it is referred as a fetus.

Embryo transfer: The commonest form or assisted reproductive technology that involves fertilizing the egg of the women outside the body and introducing it to the uterus for the woman to get pregnant.

Endometrium: The uterus lining in which the embryo implants.

Engorgement: This means swollen and tender breasts when colostrum comes out about 2 days to 7 days of birth. The systems will fizzle out within days.

Epidural: Anesthesia given to pregnant moms during labor by injection into the epidural space to numb lower section of the body.

Episiotomy: This is a special incision done on the perineum to enlarge the vaginal opening for the baby to pass through easily.

Erythema infection (Parvovirus infection): This is commonly referred as the fifth disease that is caused by parvovirus B19. When a pregnant mother is infected by this virus, it can be passed to the unborn child resulting to severe anemia and congestive heart failure. The infection is also associated with enlarged fetal brain and bigger ventricles.

Estriol: This is a hormone released by the fetus during the second trimester, and that can be detected in the mother’s blood. If the level is very high, it means that the baby might be at risk of developing Down syndrome.

Estrogen: A hormone released by ovaries to work together with progesterone to regulate menstruation.

Exclusive Breastfeeding: Feeding the baby only on breast milk without supplementing with formula.

Expressing breast milk: Removing the milk from the breast using a pump and storing it for later use by the baby.

External cephalic version (ECV): The method of turning the baby in breech position so that the head can face down before delivery.

F

Fallopian tubes: These are ducts that carry the egg from ovaries to the uterus. It is also in the tubes that fertilization takes place.

False labor: These are contractions that do not result in labor. They are irregular and only last for a short moment. They start during the second half of the third trimester.

Fertility: This is the ability to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term.

Fertilization age: The actual age of the developing fetus based on conception date as opposed to the last date of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Fetal alcohol effect (FAE): This is a syndrome that is characterized by many behavioral and developmental issues. Though the problems are subtle in early stages, they become elaborate later in life especially during school years.

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS): If a pregnant mother drinks heavily, it can cause numerous mental and physical defects for the baby.

Fetal blood sampling: A test to establish whether there are any genetic issues. It is done on blood drawn from the baby’s umbilical cord.

Fetal distress: A situation when the fetus is not receiving ample oxygen. It can be noted by reduced heart beat or lack of fetal movement.

Fetal fibronectin (FFN): A type of protein in the vagina that can indicate that labor is about to start. It is done on women at a higher risk of preterm labor.

Fetal heart rate: The rate at which the baby’s heart is beating. It is usually between 120-160 beats/minute.

Fetal-maternal exchange: Transfer of nutrients and oxygen to the baby from the mother via the umbilical cord. Also, the wastes are transported from the baby to the mother for removal.

Fetal movement count: By the 17th week, a pregnant woman is required to follow periodic counts of the fetus. The counts should be more than 10 per hour when the baby is awake.

Folic acid: This is vitamin B that is strongly recommended for mothers preparing to conceive. It is very important for the formation of spine and brain in the early stages of pregnancy. If you lack ample folic acid during early periods of pregnancy, the baby is at a great risk of suffering spina bifida.

Fontanels: These are soft spots on the head of a baby that allow it to compress and go through the birth canal. A baby has a total of 6 fontanels that close slowly and fuse completely by the second year.

Fraternal twins: These are twins that result from fertilization of two different eggs.

Full-term: It means a baby born between the 39th and 41st weeks.

Fundal Height: Distance from the top section of the uterus to the pubic bone. It is used to determine the age of the baby.

Fundus: The rounded upper section of the uterus.

G

Gamete intra-fallopian transfer: A type of fertility treatment technology that involves introducing a sperm and eggs into the fallopian tubes so that fertilization can take place. The fertilized egg then moves down and implants into the uterus.

Genetic disorder: A condition or disease that results from abnormal genes. The disorders are detected through genetic screening.

Genetic counseling: This is an assessment of parents who are at risk of delivering a baby with birth defects. The counseling includes advising on the requisite testing and treatments.

Gestation: The period between conception and birth (pregnancy).

Gestational age: The fetus age when in the uterus.

Gestational diabetes: A condition during pregnancy when blood sugar is too high because the mother cannot produce ample insulin.

Gravida: The medical term used to refer to a pregnant woman.

Group B Streptococcus: A bacteria that can easily be pass to the baby during delivery. Testing for GBS is done on the 35th-37th week.

H

Habitual miscarriage (or abortion): 3 or more consecutive miscarriages.

HELLP syndrome: abbr for Elevated liver enzymes and low platelets. Though rare, it is associated with preeclampsia. The problem is characterized by vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and full body itching in the third trimester.

Hemorrhoids: These are varicose veins that affect the rectum. The main cause is elevated blood pressure from the uterus veins. About 20-50% of pregnant mothers suffer from the problem. The symptoms include veins on the rectum looking like piles of grapes, getting very itchy, and even bleeding at times.

Hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN): This is anemia in newborn babies that results from destruction of their red blood cells. In some situations, the problem may be accompanied by pallor, jaundice and an enlarged spleen.

Hepatitis B: A type of liver infection caused by a virus transmitted through sexual intercourse. The virus can be passed from the mom to child during pregnancy.

High-risk pregnancy: This is a pregnancy where the mother is at a greater risk of developing complications. The problem can be associated with age, twins, gestational diabetes and RH incompatibility.

Home pregnancy test: A test to help diagnose pregnancy (testing HCG on urine) right at home. It is important to seek a more comprehensive test after testing positive with the home pregnancy test.

Human chorionic gonadotropin: Abbreviated as hCG. This is the hormone produced by a pregnant woman and is used to test pregnancy. It is usually present in the urine.
Hydatidiform mode: This is an abnormal pregnancy where there is no fetus formed but an abnormal mass of growth.

Hydramnios: When there is a lot of amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac.

Hydrocephalus: This is a very rare condition where an abnormal amount of fluid accumulates in the brain. It is in many cases used as the first sign of spina bifida.

Hyperemesis gravidarum: This is a severe type of morning sickness that results in excess dehydration and even need for hospitalization.

Hyperglycemia: When a pregnant woman has excess glucose in the blood. It is an indicator of gestational diabetes.

Hyperventilation: This mainly occurs during labor and means breathing too fast and causing tingling and dizziness.

Hypnobirthing: This a unique method of controlling pain during labor that involves relaxation through controlling the mind.

Hypoxia: This lack of ample oxygen to the baby because the umbilical cord is pressed.

I

Identical twins: These are types of twins formed when an egg is fertilized by one sperm subdivides to form two babies. Resulting babies are genetically identical.

Implantation: The attachment of a fertilized egg (zygote) on the walls of the uterus.

Incision: This is a cut made in the abdomen to open the uterus and deliver the baby through cesarean section.

Incompetent cervix: A condition when the cervix opens too soon because of pressure from the uterus. The problem can cause miscarriage if it happens in the second trimester or preterm delivery if it happens late in the third trimester.

Insomnia: Difficulty in falling and staying asleep.

Intrauterine device (IUD): A metallic or plastic device placed in the uterus to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.

Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR): This means that the fetus is developing slower than normal.

In utero: In the uterus.

Inverted nipples: A condition where the nipples retract into the breasts as opposed to being exposed for the baby to suckle. You need to try various breastfeeding positions to draw them out for breastfeeding.

Involution: The postpartum process of the mother’s uterus returning to its normal size.

K

Kegel exercises: These are special exercises that help to tone the perineal and vaginal muscles as the mother prepares for delivery. It involves learning to tense the muscles of the anus and vagina area as long as possible and releasing them slowly.

L

Labia: Two sets of skins at the opening of the vagina that helps to protect the genitals.

Labor: The childbirth process starting with rhythmic contractions, opening of the cervix muscles, and ending with the expulsion of the baby and placenta.

Labor, delivery, recovery room (LDR): A special room with special equipment used for labor delivery and recovery after birth.

Laceration: A tear in the perineal region that happens during childbirth.

Lanugo: The temporary hair on the fetus body starting from the 26th week to some moment before birth. It might also be present at birth.

Last Menstrual Period (LMP): This is the 1st day of the previous menstrual period. It is considered the first day of the 40 weeks of pregnancy and, therefore, used to calculate the due date.

Latent labor: This is the first phase of labor when the cervix opens about 3 centimeters. It is the longest compared to other two stages.

Late term pregnancy: This is the pregnancy that goes beyond the 40th week. If the baby is born between the 41-42 weeks, it is considered late but not post-term.

Layette: Supplies including clothing for a newborn baby.

Leg cramps: These are painful spasms on the legs that happen during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.

Leopold maneuvers: Methods used by physicians to establish the position of the baby in the uterus.

Letdown: An involuntary reflex during breastfeeding that releases the milk for the baby to suckle.

Leukorrhea: A thick and milky vaginal discharge released during pregnancy. It starts light and can get very heavy at times.

Lightening: When the fetus descends into the pelvis in preparation for delivery.

Linea nigra: A dark line that runs via the center of the abdomen down to the pubic bone during pregnancy. It fades away after delivery.

Lochia: Vaginal discharge resembling heavy period during pregnancy. It many continue to about 6 weeks after giving birth.

Low birth weight baby: When a full term baby is born with a weight of fewer than 5 lbs and 8 ounces.

Luteinizing hormone: The hormone from pituitary glands that helps to stimulate other hormones that make the mature egg to be released during ovulation.

M

Macrosomia: A condition where a newborn baby has more than 10 lbs. It is mainly caused by diabetes.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A special diagnostic tool that gives better info of the fetus compared to ultrasound.

Mask of pregnancy: A common appearance during pregnancy where women appear darker and smoother especially on the face, nose, and chicks. It fades immediately after delivery.

Mastitis: It is a breast infection of the ducts. The main symptoms include fever, redness, swelling, and tenderness. The problem can be treated using a warm compress to remove all the affected milk and use of antibiotics.

Maternity leave: This is the time off work allowed for moms to deliver and take care of the baby. Depending on the policy of the company or institution you are working for, the off might be paid id or not.

Meconium: A brownish substance that occupies the baby’s digestive system and passed as the first stool. It is part of the amniotic fluid consumed when the baby was in the uterus.

Mongolian spot: This is a bluish-gray mark on the lower back as well as the ramp of the baby at birth. The mark is often mistaken to be a bruise. These spots are common in infants of Asian, Hispanic, African, and Native American descent. They are harmless and will fade by the 5th birthday.

Morning sickness: This is a condition that is mainly manifested during the first trimester. However, it is also evident in other trimesters and comes with symptoms such as vomiting, moodiness, food aversions, and nausea. Over 70% of all women are affected by morning sickness.

Mucous plug: This is a gelatinous cover (cork) of mucus with an impression of tint. It seals the lower part of the uterus that opens to the cervix. At the beginning of labor, the plug is dislodged and passes through the vagina.

Multigravida: A mother who has been pregnant in the past.

Multiple birth: When a pregnant mom delivers more than one baby.

Multiple pregnancy: When a woman is pregnant with more than one fetus (twins, triplets or more).

Mutation: This is a spontaneous change of the chromosomes that happens in the sperm, egg, or embryo resulting to disorders baby disorders.

N

Naegele’s rule: This is the common method used to calculate the due date starting from day one of the last menstrual period.

Natural childbirth: This term is used to indicate the common process of labor and delivery without the assistance of medication.

Nausea: A feeling of queasiness in the tummy that often leads to vomiting. It is commonest in the first trimester though it can also occur in other trimesters.

Neonatal: This term refers to anything regarding a new-born infant.

Neonatal death: Death of a live baby between birth and 4 weeks.

Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU): This is special care nursery designed babies born prematurely.

Neonatologist: An expert physician specializing in the care of newborns.

Nesting Instinct: This is an innate urge to prepare for the baby before birth depicted by most mothers. Most are seen organizing and reorganizing the house for the baby.

Nuchal cord: A condition when the umbilical cord wraps around the fetus neck in the uterus.

Nuchal fold thickness: This is the thickness of the fetus behind the neck. If it is extra thickened, it might suggest a high risk of Down syndrome.

O

Ob-gyn: Obstetrician-gynecologist (expert physician in women reproductive health).

Operative vaginal delivery: A type of vaginal birth where forceps extraction is used.

Oral contraceptives: These are also known as birth control pills that have hormones to prevent ovaries from releasing an egg.

Orofacial cleft: This is a birth defect characterized by a gap on the palate and lip when two muscles fail to close between the 4th and 7th weeks. The problem can be corrected through surgery.

Oxytocin: A hormone that causes uterine contractions. It is secreted by the pituitary gland but can also be administered synthetically.

Oxytocin challenge test (OCT): A test used to check the status of the baby in utero. It is particularly used to test the baby’s response to stress.

P

Palpation: The process of feeling the pregnant mother’s abdomen to know the position of the baby.

Parturition: Giving birth.

Patient-controlled analgesia: A pain control method where medication is administered by application of a small palp.

Peak day: The best time in the menstrual cycle to conceive. The women may look for temperatures and vaginal discharge.

Pediatrician: A doctor/expert who specializes in medical care of children.

Pelvic adhesions: These are scars that result from C-section, pelvic inflammation, or other related surgery.

Pelvic floor muscles: The muscles located at the base of the pelvis. They support the bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. You can strengthen these muscles using Kegel exercises.

Pelvimetry: Measuring the birth canal dimensions to establish determine whether a vaginal birth is possible.

Pelvis: The bowl-shaped lower section of the abdomen which the baby passes through during childbirth.

Perineal tear: Ripping of the muscles between rectum and vagina. When there is a serious risk of a perinear tear, the doctor will perform an episiotomy.

Phenylketonuria (PKU): It is one of the inherited congenital disorders. It is mainly associated with mental retardation.

Pica: A unique urge by some women to take nonfood items such as rocks, clay, and dirt. It is believed to be associated with a deficiency in iron.

Placenta: The pancake-like organ that attaches to the uterus wall. It supplies all the nutrients that a baby requires and takes away the waste products from the baby. It is delivered immediately after the baby is born.

Placenta Accreta: A condition when the placenta invades uterus muscles and makes it difficult for the baby to move.

Placenta abruption: A condition when the placenta begins separating from uterus wall before the baby gets born.

Placenta previa: When the placenta attaches too low in the uterus covering the cervix. At times it could make natural delivery impossible.

Plasma protein A: A fetus generated hormone that passes to the mother’s blood stream. When in very high levels, it indicates a high risk of Down syndrome.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome: A condition in a woman when hormonal imbalances prevent the follicles with eggs from maturing and ultimately releasing eggs. Instead of allowing the egg to be released, ovarian cysts are formed.

Polyhydramnios: Presence of excess amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac.

Postmature pregnancy: A situation when a baby is born on or after the 42nd week.

Postpartum depression: This is a type of depression after delivery that is characterized by crying, sleep problems, irritability and hopelessness. It usually requires professional treatment.

Postpartum hemorrhage: A lot of bleeding after delivery.

Postpartum psychosis: This is a more serious problem compared to postpartum depression. It is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and loss of reality. It requires prompt medical assistance.

Postpartum thyroiditis: This is the fluctuation of thyroid functionality after delivery. The main symptoms include insomnia, sweating, fatigue, muscle aches, hair loss, and poor memory.

Precipitous birth: Fast labor and delivery (within 3 hours).

Preeclampsia: A pregnancy complication manifested through high blood pressure and a lot of proteins in the urine after the 20th weeks. If not treated immediately, the problem can cause eclampsia.

Pregnancy test: A blood or urine test used to determine whether a lady is pregnant. It detects the presence of hCG hormone.

Premature labor: Labor occurring after the 20th week but not later than the 36th week.

Prenatal: Before a baby is born.

Prenatal care: Health care during pregnancy.

Presentation: The position of the baby when other parts (legs and sideways) are facing the cervix at term.

Preterm labor: Labor that commences between the 20th and end of 36th week. There are medical treatments that can be used to halt preterm labor.

Progesterone: This is a hormone released by ovaries to regulate the reproductive cycle. The hormone also helps to prevent contraction of the uterus during pregnancy.

Prolactin: The milk production hormone. It is released immediately after delivery or placenta.

Prolonged labor: Labor that lasts more than 18 hours.

Pruritis gravidarum: Sense of itchiness during pregnancy.

Pubic symphysis: The front section of a pregnant mother’s pelvis.

Pubic symphysis dysfunction: Sharp pain on pubic symphysis caused by adjustment and misalignment of surrounding bones during pregnancy.

Pyogenic granuloma of pregnancy: Lesions that develop on the gums during pregnancy. Though they bleed at times, they are harmless and disappear soon after delivery.

Q

Quad screen: A type of blood test done between the 16th and 18th weeks to establish the levels of inhibin-A and AFP to determine the risk of chromosomal abnormalities.

Quickening: This is the first feral movement that a pregnant mom gets. It mainly happens between the 17th and 22nd weeks.

R

Rectus Abdominous: Central muscle running down the front part of the abdomen to support the back. It might separate during delivery but get back to position after delivery.

Regional anesthesia: The procedure of numbing any section of the body. During delivery, it numbs only the lower section of the body.

Relaxin: It is a hormone that helps ligaments and joints to become stretchy to accommodate the baby and make delivery easy. It also causes changes in the mothers’ foot size.

Restless Leg Syndrome: A condition during pregnancy that is characterized by creeping, restlessness, tingling, and crawling. It affects 1 in every 4 pregnant women.

Retained placenta: A situation when the placenta is not delivered within 30 minutes of delivery. A manual removal might be necessary if the placenta fails to come out.

Retroverted uterus: This is a situation when the top section of the uterus tilts towards the back. By the end of the first trimester, the placenta adjusts itself to the right position.

RH factor: A protein present in the some people’s red blood cells. When the protein is present, a person is considered RH+. If an RH- woman is carrying an RH+ fetus, it might be attacked by the mother’s antibodies.

Rh incompatibility: This is a condition when the baby’s blood is incompatible with mothers RH factor.

Rhogam (RhIg): It is commonly called Rh immunoglobulin. It is a treatment that helps to address RH incompatibility by preventing the mother’s system from releasing antibodies that can attack the baby’s blood. The injection is given in the 28th week.

Rooming-in: A situation when the premature baby is allowed to stay in the same room of mother as opposed to the hospital nursery.

Rooting: A common reflex action at birth when the baby responds by opening the mouth when stroked.

Rubella: This condition is also called the Herman measles. It is a viral contagious disease that can cause serious birth defects. It is very important to get immunized before conception.

S

Saddle block: A type of regional anesthetic injected directly into the fluids surrounding the spinal cord to reduce pain associated with vacuum extraction.

Secondary infertility: When a woman who has already had a baby is unable to get pregnant again.

Shoulder dystocia: A situation when the baby’s shoulders get stuck in the birth canal when the head has already been delivered.

SID: Sudden infant death syndrome

Sitz bath: A shallow warm bath for soothing the body especially after undergoing an episiotomy.

Sonogram: This an ultrasound image of the unborn baby taken with an ultrasound machine. You will always get a copy of the image to take home.

Spermicides: Chemicals used to kill sperms and used as forms of birth control.

Sperm motility: Sperm’s ability to swim through the birth canal.

Spinal Bifida: This is a spinal neural defect caused by improper closer of the spine. The main cause is the lack of enough folic acid during the early weeks of pregnancy when the spine is formed. It is important to take ample dosage of folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy.

Squat Bar: A special bar with a U-shape that attaches to the birthing bed to help laboring women squat when it is time to push the baby during delivery.

Stages of labor: Labor is divided into 3 stages:

  • Stage 1 is the onset of contractions and ends when the cervix is completely open and ready for delivery.
  • Stage two is actual delivery when the baby passes through the cervix and gets delivered.
  • Stage three involves delivering the after birth.

Station: This is a term used to demote the extent that the head has moved from the uterus on the birth canal. Station -4 and -5 denotes when the baby has just begun descending while station 0 is the time when the baby is at the bony landmarks of the pelvis. Once the head passes the pelvis bone, it is considered to be at station +1 and +2. When the head gets visible (crowning) at the end of the vagina, the baby is in stage +5.

Stillborn: A situation when a baby does not have signs of life after delivery.

Striae: Also called streaks/stretch marks that appear on the abdomen of a pregnant woman.

Sudden infant death syndrome: This is the sudden death of a baby within 2-4 months. The main causes of the deaths are unknown.

T

Teratogen: This is anything including infection, chemical, or drug that can cause birth defect during pregnancy.

Terbutaline: One of the medications used to stop contractions in preterm labor.

Thalassemia: One of the inherited genetic disorders of the red blood cells hemoglobin.

Threatened miscarriage: This means any moment when vaginal bleeding is manifested during pregnancy. The pregnant mother should seek urgent medical help when bleeding is noted.

Toxoplasmosis: It is a parasitic infection spread by taking poorly cooked meat. It is a great risk to the unborn baby if the mother gets infected.

Trial of labor: Attempting to have a baby through the natural process after previously delivery through c-section.

Trimester: A term used to denote three stages of pregnancy of 3 months. Every trimester comes with different fetal developments.

Triple screen: A blood test done on the 15th and 18th weeks to establish whether the baby has any birth defects. If very high levels of AFP are detected in the mother’s blood, there is a risk of the baby suffering defects such as neural tube, while too low levels are associated with Down syndrome.

Tubal ligation: A birth control that involves tying or cutting the fallopian tubes of the woman to prevent her from falling pregnant.

U

Ultrasound: A procedure that utilizes high-frequency sound waves to detect moving parts of an unborn baby. It is used to regularly monitor the baby’s health and development.

Umbilical cord: This is a flexible cord of specialized tissues that help to transport oxygen and nutrients to the baby and waste to the mother. The umbilical cord has two veins and one very large artery.

Undescended testicles: When the testicles of a baby boy fail to move to the scrotum by the time it is born. Though the problem often corrects itself, a surgical procedure might be required in some situations.

Urinalysis: Test done on urine to establish its content.

Urinary tract infection (UTI): This term refers to any for, of infection on the urinary system. The main symptoms include burning sensation when passing urine, need to urinate regularly and fever. It is important to have all the tests during pregnancy to identify any UTI and have it treated with an appropriate antibiotic.

Uterine inversion: Once the baby is delivered, the placenta fails to detach from the uterus and comes with it out. Often, it can be pushed back without any issue though there are instances when surgery might be necessary.

Uterus: This is a muscular, pear-shaped hollow organ where the baby grows.

V

Vacuum extraction: A process used as an alternative to forceps method when a baby is stuck in the birth canal. The process involves placing a plastic cup on the baby’s head and sucking it out from the birth canal.

Vaginal birth: This is the normal delivery of a baby through the birth canal. If you cannot deliver the baby through the birth canal, the alternative is the surgical procedure called the C-section.

Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC): This is the delivery of a baby through the vagina after previously delivery/s as done via c-section. In many cases, women are unable to deliver naturally if prior births were through C-section.

Varicose veins: These are swollen veins that affect legs in pregnant women. The main cause of the problem is elevated blood pressure on the veins. They disappear on their own after delivery.

Venus thrombosis: A blood clot that develops on a vein especially in the leg. Pregnant women are at a greater risk of venus thrombosis.

Vernix: A special thick substance that covers the baby in the uterus. It helps to add more protection from the amniotic fluid and makes the baby slippery to pass through the birth canal.

Very low birth weight baby: This is a baby that is delivered at less than 3 lbs at birth.

W

Walking epidural: This is a unique epidural that helps to maintain sensation in the legs assisting a woman in labor to walk.

Water birth: This is a type of childbirth where a woman delivers in a sterile birthing tub.

Y

Yeast infection: This is a common infection during pregnancy and has symptoms such as smelly discharge and itching.

Z

Zidovudine (ZDV): A special antiretroviral drug for treating HIV-positive pregnant mothers.

Zygote: The fertilized egg before it starts to divide and multiply forming the embryo.

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