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  • A first-time mom-to-be’s pregnancy glossary and what each term means.
    Alphafetoprotein (AFP) testing:  The mother’s blood is tested during 15 to 17 weeks of gestation to detect possible neural-tube defects and Down Syndrome in the fetus.
    Amenorrhea: Absence of menstrual period, which is one of the first indicators of pregnancy. After birth, the mother will also experience amenorrhea from 6 weeks to 3 months, and may last longer if she is breastfeeding.
    Amniocentesis: Remloval of a small amount of amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac using a needle to test for some fetal abnormalities, determine baby’s sex, or assess lung maturity and overall fetal well- being.
    Amniotic fluid: Protective liquid, consisting mostly of water, surrounding the baby inside the amniotic sac.
    Amniotic fluid sac (Amnion): Thin- walled membrane with in the uterus that surrounds the amniotic  fluid. Contains the baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid.
    Amniotomy (rupturing of the membranes): Artificial rupture of the water bag to induce labor, usually by insertion of an obstetrical hook- like tool through the cervix to amniotic sac. Virtually painless if mother is dilated, but painful if less than 1 cm dilated.
    Anencephaly: A neural-tube defect wherein the baby’s skull and brain do inside the uterus. The baby usually remains alive while growing inside the uterus, but dies soon after birth.
    APGAR score: A measurement of a newborn’s response to birth and life outside the womb. Ratings are based on the following factor’s: appearance, pulse, grimace (reflex), activity and respiration. Highest score is 10, lowest is 1.
    Back labor: Pain of labor felt in the lower back
    Blastocyst: A cluster of cells that will eventually form the fetus
    Blighted ovum: A fertilized egg that develops into a gestational sac, but no embryo is formed. May be due to the quality of the egg or fertilizing sperm itself or other chromosomal factors
    Bradley method (husband-coached childbirth): A 12-week course that teaches parents-to-be how to control the pain of childbirth using deep breathing and relaxation exercises. Includes nutrition, exercises for pregnant woman, and lessons on understanding the stages of labor and its effects on the woman’s body
    Braxton-Hicks contractions (false labor): Irregular and relatively painless contractions that can occur throughout pregnancy; does not affect dilation or effacement
    Breech presentation: Position of the fetus where the bottom or legs are directed toward the birth canal. A Complete Breech Presentation means the baby’s buttocks are presenting at the cervix, but the legs are crossed or folded “Indian style,” making vaginal delivery impossible. A Frank Breech Presentation means that the baby’s buttocks are presenting at the cervix and the baby’s legs are extended straight up to the baby’s head.
    Cephalic presentation: Position of the fetus where the head is directed toward the birth canal
    Cephalopelvic disproportion: When the body part of the baby that comes out fi rst from the uterus is too large for the mother’s pelvis and birth canal.
    Cervical dilation: A measure of how wide the cervix has opened up prior to or during labor; measured in centimeters. Full dilation is 10 cm; the mother is ready to push the baby out.
    Cervical effacement: Thinning out of the cervix before or during labor
    Caesarean (C-section) : Delivering the baby through an abdominal surgery rather than through the vagina
    Chloasma (mask of pregnancy/melasma): Extensive brown patches of irregular shape and size on the face or other parts of the body
    Colostrum: Thin, yellowish fluid, which is the first “milk” to come from the breast before breast milk; often comes out right after birth or towards the end of pregnancy
    Conception (fertilization): When the sperm penetrates the egg. At the moment of fertilization, your baby’s genetic make-up is complete
    Congenital defect: A defect that is present at birth, acquired during pregnancy but not necessarily hereditary
    Contraction: Painful, strong, and rhythmic squeezing of the uterus so that the cervix thins and dilates, making way for the baby to go through the birth canal
    Cord prolapse: When the umbilical cord drops out of the uterus into the vagina before the baby; this can lead to lack of oxygen for the baby
    Crown-to-rump length: Measurement from the top of the baby’s head to the buttocks of the baby
    Dilation and Curettage (D&C): Surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated and the liningof the uterus is scraped to clean the uterus after a miscarriage or pregnancy, and to diagnose or treat heavy or prolonged bleeding.
    Doppler: A handheld device that uses ultrasound technology to monitor fetal heartbeat
    Eclampsia: Severe form of pre-eclampsia; both conditions with symptoms such as hypertension, swelling of the hands and feet, and protein in the urine (See Proteinuria). When near term, an emergency delivery may be necessary
    Ectopic pregnancy: Pregnancy that develops somewhere other than the uterus. A Tubal Pregnancy is a kind of ectopic pregnancy wherein the pregnancy occurs in the fallopian tube
    Edema: Swelling and retention of fluid in body tissues
    Embryo: Term used to describe the early stages of fetal growth, usually from the time of conception to 10 weeks of gestation
    Endometrial cycle: Regular periods where the endometrial lining builds up during the normal menstrual cycle and is broken down and shed during menstruation
    Endometrium: Mucus membrane lining the uterus
    Engagement: When the baby’s presenting part (usually the head) settles into the pelvic cavity
    Epidural: Type of anesthesia injected around the spinal cord during labor
    Episiotomy: A vertical cut made in the perineum (the skin between the vagina and the anus) to expedite delivery. This is often done to avoid jagged tearing or laceration of the vaginal opening and rectum
    Face presentation: Position of the fetus where the baby’s head is down but its neck is extended and its face seems to be looking down through the birth canal
    Fallopian tubes: Long narrow tubes through which eggs travel from the ovaries to the uterus
    Fetal Distress: Condition when the baby is not receiving enough oxygen or is experiencing some other complication
    Fetal Monitor: Device used before or during labor to monitor fetal heartbeat and mother’s contractions. Can be done externally (through maternal abdomen) or internally (through maternal vagina)
    Fetus: Medical term for unborn baby from 10 weeks of gestation until birth
    Folate (folic acid): A Bcomplex vitamin shown to reduce the possibilities of neural-tube defects
    Forceps: A tong-like surgical instrument that may be placed around the baby’s head to guide it out of the birth canal during delivery
    Fundal height: The length from the top of the uterus (fundus) to the pubic bone; helps date the pregnancy and assess the growth of the baby
    Gestation period: Period of development of the embryo/fetus from the time of conception until birth
    Gestational age: Refers to how far along the fetus is, determined by the beginning of the mother’s last menstrual period
    Gestational sac: A fluid-filled structure that develops within the uterus early in pregnancy
    Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTN): Abnormal pregnancy with cystic growth of the placenta; symptoms include bleeding during early and middle pregnancy
    Gravida: Medical term for pregnant woman
    Heartburn: Discomfort or pain in the chest (often after eating) during the last trimester; due to the pregnancy hormone progesterone which can relax digestive muscles
    Home Pregnancy Test (HPT): A pregnancy test detecting the presence of Human Chorionic Gonadatropin (HCG) in your urine. HCG is at its highest levels between 8 and 11 weeks of pregnancy, then slowly decreases from 17 weeks of pregnancy until several weeks after the birth of the baby
    Hydramnios or polyhydraminos: Increased amniotic fluid which may be due to diabetes, twin or multiple pregnancy, fetal anemia, or other fetal abnormalities
    Hyperemesis gravidarum: Severe nausea, dehydration, and vomiting during pregnancy; occurs most frequently during the fi rst trimester
    Implantation: When an embryo attaches itself to the thick uterine lining. Happens 5 to 9 days after conception. Some women may have “implantation bleeding” (small amount of dark brown or dark red spotting of blood) 7 to 10 days after implantation
    Induced labor: Labor is initiated or accelerated through intervention, such as applying prostaglandin gel on the cervix, using an intravenous drip of the hormone oxytocin, or by rupturing the water bag
    Internal version: Ob-gyne’s manual adjustment of baby’s position in the uterus by placing one hand in the mother’s vagina and the other on her abdomen
    Incomplete abortion: Miscarriage in which part, and not all, of the uterine contents are expelled
    Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR): When fetal growth and development fall short of the typical growth range expected at a particular gestational age
    Jaundice (newborn jaundice): Characterized by yellowing of baby’s skin, eyes, and deeper tissues of the body. Typically develops on the second or third day after birth and lasts until the baby is 7 to 10 days old; corrected by special light treatment
    Kegels: Exercises that consist of tightening and relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor, includingthose of the urethra, vagina, and rectum
    Labor: The process of childbirth, including dilation of the cervix, until the delivery of the baby and the placenta
    Lamaze: Childbirth method that uses deep breathing exercises, various “distraction” techniques (e.g. concentrating on pleasant memories), position changes during labor, as well as hot and cold packs to ease pain during childbirth
    Laparoscopy: Visual examination of the ovaries, exterior of the fallopian tubes, and uterus by inserting a small fiber-optic instrument through an incision made below the navel while patient is under general anesthesia
    Leukorrhea: A common whitish vaginal discharge that often increases during pregnancy
    Linea negra: The dark line running from navel to pubic area that may develop during pregnancy; caused by increased pigmentation
    Lochia : Discharge of blood, mucus, and tissue from the uterus following childbirth; heaviest right after delivery, may contain large clots, and can last up to six weeks or longer
    Meconium: First intestinal discharge of the newborn; green or yellow in color discharged before or during labor, or soon after birth. A baby who passes meconium before birth can experience distress, so make sure you alert your doctor if you notice greenish discharge from your vagina
    Miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) : Adverse reaction of the mother’s body to a problem in the pregnancy. May cause bleeding, cramping, and ultimately, termination of the pregnancy
    Missed abortion: Failed pregnancy without bleeding or cramping, often diagnosed via ultrasound weeks or months after a pregnancy fails. Pregnancy signs (tender breasts, nausea, fatigue) may disappear, but you may continue to “feel pregnant”
    Mucus plug: Soft yet protective tissue that blocks the opening of the cervix to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus. Before labor, this is expelled to allow the cervix to open and the baby to pass through. When expelled it is sticky and clear or slightly blood-tinged, and is otherwise known as “the bloody show”
    Neural-tube defects: Abnormalities in the development of the spinal cord and brain in a fetus, which may be prevented by intake of adequate folic acid. See spinal bifida and anencephaly
    Occipito anterior: The back of the baby’s head is toward your front. “LOA” or “ROA” may mean “left” or “right occipito anterior,” indicating whether the back of the head is toward the left or the right. LOA is usually the best position for a shorter labor and an easier birth
    Occipito posterior: The back of the baby’s head is toward your back. “LOP” and “ROP” describe the position as left or right
    Oligohydramnios: Decrease in amniotic fluid which may be due to a small tear or leak in the amniotic sac, placental abruption, chronic high blood pressure, preeclampsia, diabetes, twin or multiple pregnancy, or fetal abnormalities
    Ovarian cycle: Regular production of hormones from the ovary in response to hormonal messages from the brain; governs the endometrial cycle
    Ovulation: Process in which a mature ovum (egg) ruptures from its follicle and travels to the fallopian tube to the uterus; happens approximately two weeks before menstruation
    Oxytocin: A hormone secreted during labor to stimulate contractions and milk production; sometimes administered in synthetic form to begin or speed up labor
    Palpation: When the midwife or doctor moves their hands over your abdomen to determine baby’s size and position in the uterus
    Placenta: Organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy, which provides nutrients for the fetus and eliminates its waste products
    Placenta previa (low lying placenta): A complication of pregnancy when the placenta covers part or all of the cervix
    Placental abruption (abruptio placenta): Premature separation of the placenta from the inner wall of the uterus, possibly due to high blood pressure, injury, smoking, or an unhealthy diet. Symptoms include moderate to severe constant abdominal or back pain with or without vaginal bleeding
    Placentamegaly: Abnormally large growth of the placenta possibly due to syphilis infection or when the mother produces antibodies that attack the developing baby’s red blood cells
    Post-mature baby (post-term baby): Baby born after 42 completed weeks of gestation (typical or ideal delivery is at 40 weeks gestation)
    Postnatal blues (baby blues): Mild depression after delivery
    Postpartum depression : Clinical depression after delivery; usually characterized by long-term sadness, impatience, restlessness, and/or inability to care for baby
    Postpartum hemorrhage: Bleeding greater than 450 ml at time of vaginal delivery or 1,000 ml during C section delivery
    Pregnancy-induced hypertension: When blood pressure is elevated during pregnancy; usuallystabilizes after delivery
    Premature delivery: Delivery before 37 completed weeks of gestation
    Proteinuria: Protein in the urine, often considered a sign of preeclampsia. Protein found in the urine very early in pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth
    Pruritis gravidarum: Itching during pregnancy
    Retained placenta: Failure of the placenta to come out on its own within 30 minutes after the baby; this can cause excessive bleeding. Doctor may have to manually remove the placenta while the mom is under anesthesia
    Retroverted uterus: A retroverted (“tipped”) uterus is one that is tilted either up toward the bladder or toward the small of the back. Retroversion occurs in 15% to 20% of women and should not cause problems in conceiving or carrying a baby to term
    Sonogram (ultrasound): A device using sound waves to produce a visual representation of the unborn baby and monitor its development; can more accurately determine gestational age of baby
    Spotting: Brown or reddish vaginal discharge; should not be as heavy as a full period. Usually, though not necessarily, signals pending labor
    Stretch marks (striae gravidarum): Red/ dark/silvery marks where the skin has been overstretched; often found on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks, and legs. No topical solution has been proven to eliminate stretch marks
    Check out part 2 of our Pregnancy Glossary  
    The Mother of All Parenting Books by Ann Douglas What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, andSandee HathawayWebsites:

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