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Pregnancy Glossary

Whether this is your first pregnancy or you’re a veteran to the delivery room, here are some terms y...MORE

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Pregnancy Glossary

Whether this is your first pregnancy or you’re a veteran to the delivery room, here are some terms you may hear from your doctor or nurse during your pregnancy.

 

  • Afterbirth: the placenta and other tissues associated with fetal development that are expelled after the birth of your baby
  • Albumin: a protein found in the urine of a pregnant woman that could be a sign of preeclampsia
  • Alpha-fetoprotein: this protein is produced by the fetus and when found in high levels in a mother’s blood can indicate multiple pregnancies or a neural tube defect
  • Amniocentesis: a prenatal test where a small amount of amniotic fluid is removed for analysis
  • Amniotic fluid: the fluid that surrounds the developing fetus
  • Amniotic sac: the sac in which the fetus and amniotic fluid are contained during pregnancy
  • Anesthesia: medically induced loss of sensation; general anesthesia involves the entire body; local anesthesia is applied to one area of the body
  • Antibiotic: a drug prescribed to fight infection
  • Antibody: a protein produced by the body’s immune system to destroy foreign substances
  • Apgar scoring system: a method of evaluating your baby’s health immediately after birth
  • Areola: the pink or brown area of skin around the nipple of the breast
  • Bilirubin: pigment in the urine, blood, and bile that is caused by the normal breakdown of hemoglobin in the red blood cells
  • Breech presentation: when the fetus is positioned with their feet or buttocks towards the mother’s cervix when labor begins
  • Cervix: the lower portion of the uterus which extends into the vagina
  • Cesarean section: also known as a C-section; the delivery of an infant through an incision in the abdominal and uterine walls
  • Chorionic villi sampling: a prenatal test that scans for genetic abnormalities
  • Chromosomes: the cellular structures that contain genes and their traits
  • Circumcision: surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis
  • Colostrum: the milk secreted from a mother shortly before and for a few days after childbirth
  • Congenital: a trait present at birth
  • Crowning: the point in labor when the head of the baby can be seen at the vagina
  • Doppler: a machine that uses ultrasound to detect the fetal heart
  • Down syndrome: a congenital birth defect that results in mental handicap
  • Eclampsia: a serious complication of pregnancy, characterized by high blood pressure and edema. It is the more severe form of preeclampsia
  • Ectopic pregnancy: a pregnancy in which the embryo begins to grow outside the uterus, often in one of the fallopian tubes
  • Edema: swelling, retention of fluid in body tissues
  • Embryo: the name given to the fertilized ovum until it reaches eight weeks after conception
  • Endometriosis: a medical condition where tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in another area of the body such as the abdomen
  • Epidural: a type of local anesthesia used to relieve pain during delivery
  • Episiotomy: an incision made in the tissue connecting the vagina and anus in order to ease the final stage of delivery
  • Erythroblastosis fetalis: a form of anemia that develops in the Rh-positive infants of Rh-negative women
  • Fallopian tubes: the tubes that extend from the ovaries to the uterus
  • Fetoscopy: a technique used to examine a developing fetus directly for abnormalities
  • Fetus: the name given to the baby in the womb from eight weeks until birth
  • Fontanels: the soft spots on a baby’s skull, present at birth
  • Fundus: the upper part of the uterus
  • Gestational age: the duration of the pregnancy, measured from the first day of the last menstrual period
  • Gynecologist: a physician who specializes in the female reproductive system
  • Hemorrhage: heavy bleeding
  • Hormone: a substance released by glands to stimulate certain activity in the body
  • Hydrocephalus: a congenital birth defect in which excessive fluid gathers in a baby’s skull
  • Induction: artificial starting of labor
  • Jaundice: inability of the body to break down excess red blood cells; often results in yellowing of the skin
  • Labia: the skin folds at the opening of the vagina
  • Lactation: production of milk by the breasts
  • Lanugo: fine hairs present on the body of a fetus
  • Lightening: the time when the baby descends into the pelvic cavity in preparation for birth; Also known as engagement
  • Linea nigra: a dark line that appears on the abdomen during pregnancy
  • Lochia: the discharge of blood, mucus, and other fluids from the vagina after childbirth
  • Meconium: the bowel contents of a baby at birth
  • Miscarriage: spontaneous ending of the pregnancy prior to 24 weeks’ gestation
  • Mucus: a sticky substance produced by glands
  • Neonatal: pertaining to a newborn infant
  • Neural tube defects: abnormalities in the spinal cord
  • Obstetrician: a doctor who specializes in care of women during pregnancy and childbirth
  • Ovulation: release of the egg from the ovary
  • Oxytocin: a hormone secreted during labor to stimulate contractions and milk production; it can be administered in synthetic form to begin or speed labor
  • Pediatrician: a doctor who specializes in the care of children
  • Pelvic floor: the sling of muscles that holds the pelvic organs in place
  • Perineum: the region between the anus and genitals
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU): an inherited congenital disorder that can lead to mental retardation
  • Pitocin: the synthetic form of oxytocin
  • Placenta: the structure through which the fetus receives nourishment and oxygen during gestation
  • Placental abruption: premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall
  • Placenta previa: a condition in which the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix, hindering vaginal delivery
  • Polyhydramnios: an excessive amount of amniotic fluid
  • Postpartum: term describes occurrences after birth
  • Pre-eclampsia: a disorder of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, edema, and kidney malfunction
  • Presentation: the position of the fetus in relation to the cervix before labor begins
  • Prolapse of the cord: a situation during or before labor in which the umbilical cord passes through the cervix before the fetus
  • Pyelonephritis: an infection of the kidneys
  • Quickening: the first fetal movements felt by the mother
  • Rh factor: a group of antigens in the blood
  • Rubella: also called German measles; if contracted by woman during pregnancy, it can result in birth defects
  • Show: the blood-stained mucus from the vagina, indicating that labor is about to begin.
  • Sonography: the use of ultrasound to reveal an image of the fetus
  • Stillbirth: delivery of a dead fetus after 28 weeks’ gestation
  • Striae: streaks or “stretch marks” seen on the abdomen of a pregnant woman
  • Toxemia of pregnancy: a serious disorder of pregnancy in which poisonous compounds are present in the bloodstream
  • Toxoplasmosis: a disease caused by a parasite; it is carried by cat feces
  • Transverse presentation: position in which the fetus is lying at right angles to the cervix when labor begins
  • Trimester: one-third of a pregnancy
  • Tubal pregnancy: the most common form of ectopic pregnancy, in which a fertilized egg begins to develop in the fallopian tube
  • Umbilical cord: the structure through which the fetus draws blood from the placenta
  • Vernix: a white, waxy substance that covers and protects the fetus in the uterus

 

These terms are shared for the sole-purpose of information. They are in no way considered to be medical advice. If you have a question about your pregnancy, please contact your healthcare provider.


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