Pregnancy Terms

The comprehension of pregnancy terminology is important to the health of you and your unborn child.  The following list of pregnancy terms will help you better understand what your doctor is talking about when she discusses your pregnancy with you.
Some of the terms will be familiar, some you will have heard before but not know the meaning, and some you may never have heard prior to being pregnant.

A
Afterpains – contractions of the uterus that happen the first few days after birth
Amniotic fluid – the liquid inside the amniotic sac which surrounds the fetus
Amniotic sac
– a thin-walled bag that holds the fetus and amniotic fluid
B
Bloody show – light bleeding from the vagina during labor, especially at the end of the first stage
Braxton-Hicks contractions – irregular tightening of the uterus; false labor
Breech position – instead of a normal head-down position, the fetus is in a head-up position with feet or buttocks ready to emerge first
C
Cervix – the opening to the uterus, located inside the vagina
Cesarean section (C-section) – a surgical procedure to deliver a baby through an incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus
Childbirth – the emergence of a child from its mother’s uterus
Circumcision – a surgical operation to remove the loose fold of skin covering the tip of the penis
Colostrum – the first milk, a clear yellowish fluid secreted by the breast during pregnancy and the first few days postpartum
Contraction – a rhythmic tightening of the muscles in the uterus which squeezes the fetus through the birth canal
D
Delivery – the birth of a baby
Dilation – the process of being expanded; getting larger or wider
Doppler machine – a machine that picks up the heartbeat of a fetus as early as 8 to 12 weeks of pregnancy
E
Ectopic pregnancy – when the fertilized ovum is implanted in any tissue other than the uterine wall
Effacement – a change in the cervix during labor which shortens and thins the walls of the cervix
Epidural anesthesia – pain medication given in the spinal area
Episiotomy – a surgical cut to enlarge the vagina and prevent tearing of tissue during delivery
F
Fetal monitor – a machine that allows tracking of the fetal heart rate and the contractions of the uterus
Fetoscope – a special stethoscope for hearing the fetal heartbeat through the mother’s abdomen
Fetus – the unborn baby from the 8th week after conception until birth
First trimester – from conception to 12 weeks
K
Kegels exercise – exercises done during pregnancy or postpartum to strengthen the muscles used while giving birth.
L
Labor – the time and process of giving birth
Latch on – a term for the proper position and sucking of a baby at the breast.

M
Miscarriage – spontaneous abortion, when a pregnancy ends on its own within the first 20 weeks.
N
Non-stress test – recording of the heartbeat and movement of the fetus through the mother’s abdomen by a special machine
O
Ovary
– female organ that produces the egg
Ovulate – to release an egg from the ovary
Oxytocin – a hormone that causes the uterus to contract
P
Placenta – organ inside the uterus which transfers nutrients between the mother and the fetus
Postpartum – after giving birth
Postpartum hemorrhage – the loss of more than a pint of blood within the first 24 hours after the baby is delivered
Pre-eclampsia – a condition which causes high blood pressure and protein leaks from the kidneys during pregnancy
Pregnancy – the period of time between conception and birth
Pregnancy test – a blood or urine test used to determine pregnancy
Pregnancy stages – three stages of three months each called trimesters
Pregnancy ultrasound – a method of imaging the fetus and the female pelvic organ during pregnancy
Premature birth – a birth occurring earlier than 37 weeks
Prenatal care – health care that a woman receives before her baby is born.
Prenatal diagnosis – the process of detecting and diagnosing fetal abnormalities before birth.
S
Second trimester 
– the fetus is recognizable but usually is not developed enough to be viable if born.
SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – the unexpected and sudden death of an apparently normal, healthy infant that occurs during sleep.
Sonogram – a picture which results from an ultrasound or ultrasonograph test
Stillbirth – the death of a baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy but before birth.
Stress test – recording of the fetal heartbeat and movement through the mother’s abdomen during the stress of a contraction
Stretch marks – streaking of the skin due to rapid expansion
T
Third trimester – from 29 weeks until the baby is born
Toxoplasmosis – infection with a parasite found in cat feces and undercooked meat; can cause brain deformities in the fetus
U
Ultrasound – a process which measures and records special sound waves reflected from body structures, such as the uterus
Uterus – the womb, the muscular organ in which the infant develops before birth
W
“Water breaks” – flow of amniotic fluid out of the vagina during labor

Stages of Pregnancy

During your pregnancy you will experience many changes, both emotionally and physically.  It is an exciting time and you may even want to keep a journal of the changes as they occur.

Knowing what these changes are and what to expect will help eliminate the worry and anxiety that may arise.

FIRST TRIMESTER Conception to 12 weeks

» More changes occur during this trimester, both to the mother and the baby, than any other time during the pregnancy.

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The baby is more susceptible to harm from alcohol, drugs, and illnesses.

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The mother may experience nausea, heartburn/indigestion, tender breasts, headaches, or faintness.

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At the end of the first trimester, the baby will weigh approximately 1⁄2 to 1 ounce and will be 3 to 4 inches long.

SECOND TRIMESTER – 13 to 28 weeks


» This trimester is usually the most enjoyable for the mother because nausea, extreme fatigue, and breast tenderness usually subside.

» Physical changes for the mother may include: nipples getting darker; pressure on blood vessels resulting in hemorrhoids or varicose veins; and skin changes (dark splotches) occurring on the face.

» The baby’s heart and kidneys continue to develop, fingernails form, body hair develops, and periods of activity occur when the baby kicks or moves.

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 The placenta and umbilical cord fully develop during this period

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At the end of the sixth month, the baby weighs approximately 1 1⁄2 pounds and is 11-14 inches long.

THIRD TRIMESTER – 29 to 40 weeks 

» The mother may feel more uncomfortable as she continues to gain weight and the baby continues growing and taking up more room in the abdominal cavity.

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 The baby continues developing and maturing.

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 Between the 37 and 40th week the head will settle into the pelvic canal.

»
 During the last month the baby weighs 6-8 pounds and is 18-21 inches long.

Planning to Conceive

You can maximize your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and labor by making sure you are physically fit and healthy before getting pregnant. Start getting your body in shape by exercising and eating properly both before and during your pregnancy.

Most women do not conceive right away. Relax and do not worry if it takes longer than you anticipated. If you have not conceived after trying for a year, you may want to consult with your doctor.

Planning to Conceive

If you and your partner are trying to conceive then we can provide tips, advice and will support you every step of the way from baby’s conception to detecting early signs of pregnancy!

When you are trying to conceive it might feel like a lonely struggle, rest assured however that you are not alone. You can listen to what other men and women say about their infertility, talk about help if you are having trouble trying to conceive and get conception tips from others in our “Members Tips” section.

Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy

There are several things you can do to increase your chances of conceiving and to prepare your body for pregnancy.

» Wait approximately six weeks to three months after discontinuing birth control pills to give your uterus time to sufficiently rebuild its lining.

» Have a complete physical to check your overall health. Review your medical history with a doctor to determine if you have any medical conditions or if you are using any medications that may adversely affect your chances of getting pregnant or the well-being of you or your baby.

» Discuss with your doctor how to determine when you are ovulating so your chance of fertilization is at its maximum.

» Begin taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid as soon as you stop contraception and continue until the 12th week of pregnancy. Folic acid helps in the development of the baby’s spine.

» Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and protein-rich food such as fish, poultry, and whole grains.

» Exercise regularly before and during your pregnancy. Walking, swimming, and water aerobics are exercises that can be performed throughout your pregnancy. Drink plenty of water and listen to your body – if you are breathing too fast or feel too tired then slow down or stop.

» Stop smoking. When you smoke, unsafe chemicals get into your baby’s bloodstream which makes it more difficult for oxygen to reach your baby. Babies of mothers who smoke tend to be smaller, are at risk of being born premature, may develop respiratory distress syndrome, and are more likely to succumb to sudden infant death syndrome.

» Eliminate drinking alcoholic beverages. Alcohol affects fertility in both men and women. It can cause your baby to be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or other birth defects.

» Check with your doctor before taking any medications including over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, antacids, or cold remedies. All street drugs should be avoided. Mothers addicted to drugs such as heroin or cocaine, may deliver babies who are also addicted.