pregnancy and birth words

Here’s a quick guide to the words, terms and abbreviations that could be part of your pregnancy and birth.

Afterpains Cramping with discomfort or pain as the uterus contracts and shrinks
Anaesthetist The doctor who administers epidural, spinals and a general anaesthetic
Antenatal The period during pregnancy
AROM or Artificial rupture of membranes.Breaking the waters /rupturing the amniotic sac during labour or as part of the induction process to encourage strong contractions
Assisted Delivery Birth using ventouse or forceps
Augmentation of labour To increase and strengthen contractions after labour has started
Bear Down Pushing during the birth of your baby
BMI Body Mass Index – measuring your height and your weight to calculate your healthy weight
BPBlood pressure
Birth Canal The vagina
Birth Centre A midwifery-led maternity unit
Birth Pool A large pool of water used for pain relief so a labouring woman’s boobs, bump and back are submerged in the water.
Breech When a baby’s position in pregnancy is bum first
Caesarean When your baby is born through an incision in the abdomen
Catheter A thin tube which is usually used to empty the bladder
Cervix or Cx The neck of the uterus
Delivery Suite The room to labour and birth in at hospital
Diamorphine An opiate drug offered in labour
Dilation The opening of the cervix needs to dilate/open to about 10cm
Doula A professional birth partner
E, Eng or EngagedWhen a baby’s head moves into the pelvis during pregnancy & birth. Engaged – your baby’s head is engaged into your pelvis
0/5 or 1/5: deeply engaged in your pelvis
2/5: engaged with most of baby’s head in your pelvis
3/5: head is still above the brim of your pelvis
4/5: baby’s head is sitting on the brim of the your pelvis
5/5: your baby’s head is free, it has not engaged into the pelvis
ECVExternal cephalic version – a procedure which can be used to try to turn a breech baby at the end of pregnancy
EDDEstimated date of delivery/Estimated due date
EFMElectronic Fetal Monitoring – continuous monitoring of a baby during labour and birth
Emergency Caesarean A caesarean that takes place after labour has started
Entonox Also known as gas & air. It is 50/50 oxygen and nitrous oxide which can be used in labour as pain relief for contractions
Episiotomy When a cut is made in the perineum to aid the birth of a baby
Epidural Local anaesthetic in the spine to block the pain of the contractions
ECV External Cephalic Version – attempting to turn a breech baby
FBSFetal blood sampling – a blood test which can be used to measure the oxygen levels in a baby’s blood during labour
Fetal Growth How much a baby is growing during pregnancy
FHHFetal Heart Heard
FHHR Fetal Heart Heard and Regular
FMFFetal Movements Felt
Forceps A medical instrument that is used to aid the birth of the baby
GAGestational Age – the weeks & days of your pregnancy
Gas & Air This is entonox: 50/50 oxygen and nitrous oxide which can be used in labour as pain relief
Gestation Pregnancy
Gestational Diabetes Diabetes that occurs during pregnancy
Health Visitor A health professional who works with families with babies and
pre-school children
Homebirth When you labour and birth at home
Hypnobirthing A form of pain management for labour and birth
Induction When labour is started artificially
Instrumental Delivery A birth using forceps or ventouse
Latching How a baby attaches to the breast to feed
Let-down Reflex The Milk Ejection Reflex – when a baby starts to feed at the breast, hormones are released to enable the milk to flow
LMPLast menstrual period
Lochia Discharge from the uterus after birth. It is made up of blood, mucus and uterine tissue
Maternity Notes This is the medical record of pregnancy
Maternity Unit The hospital ward for labour and birth
Meconium A baby’s first poo, which is dark and tar-like
Membrane SweepAn internal examination, with a sweep around the cervix, to encourage labour to start
Midwife The health professional who provides care during pregnancy, labour and the early postnatal period
Midwife-led Unit A maternity unit for low-risk women – it is only staffed by midwives
MultigravidaThis is not your first pregnancy
NADNothing abnormal detected
Neonatal PeriodThe first 28 days of your baby’s life
Not Eng, NEng or NENot engaged – your baby’s head is not engaged into your pelvis
NICU Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – for babies who need intensive medical treatment
Normal Birth This is a birth that doesn’t involve any medical interventions
Obstetrician A doctor who specialises in childbirth
Obstetric Unit This is a maternity unit which is staffed by doctors and midwives
Oedema/OedSwelling due to water retention
Oxytocin DripArtificial oxytocin (syntocinon) is used in labour or as part of the induction process to create strong contractions
Para 0You haven’t had any pregnancies beyond 24 weeks.
Para 1You have had one pregnancy beyond 24 weeks.
(Para 2 is two pregnancies, Para 3 is three pregnancies, etc)
Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) A term to describe all pelvic and pubic pain
PerinatalThe period covering your pregnancy and up to a year with your baby
Perineum The tissue between the anus and the vulva which needs to stretch when a baby is being born
Pethidine An opiate drug which is used as pain relief and can be administered by injection
Placenta Babies are attached to this organ in pregnancy by the umbilical cord – it provides babies with oxygen and nutrients to grow and develop
Planned Caesarean This is a caesarean which takes place before labour as started
Postnatal The period after pregnancy and birth
Postnatal DepressionAlso referred to as PND. A depression which can happen within the first year with your baby
PostpartumThe first 6 weeks with your baby
PPH A Post-Partum Haemorrhage is a large bleed within the first 24 hours after giving birth
Pre-Eclampsia This is a condition which midwives check for during pregnancy. Symptoms include protein in urine, high blood pressure and swelling.
PrimagravidaThis is your first pregnancy
PROM Premature Rupture of Membranes – when amniotic fluid leaks before 37 weeks pregnant
Prostaglandin PessaryOr it can be a gel or tablet, used as part of an induction process to soften your cervix
Position of baby
OA: occiput anterior
LOA: left occiput anterior
ROA: right occiput anterior
OP: occiput posterior

Cephalic/Ceph: head down
BR: breech

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH) This is high blood pressure during pregnancy
Retained Placenta When all or part of the placenta stays in the womb – drugs can be used to create contractions and deliver the placenta or it may need to be manually removed by an obstetrician
Scan Ultrasound scans are used to check the health and position of a baby
Skin-to-Skin Cuddles with a new baby when you and your baby are undressed
SFHSymphysis fundal height – a measurement of your bump
Sonographer This is a health professional who performs the ultrasound scans during pregnancy
SROM Spontaneous Rupture of Membranes – when the amniotic fluid/waters break at full term
TENS Machine A form of pain relief for labour using electric pulses which are administered by 4 pads placed on the back
Tear – 1st degree A small tear in the skin of the perineum which often doesn’t need stitches
Tear – 2nd degree A deeper tear which has gone into the muscle – this will probably need stitching
Tear – 3rd degree A more severe tear which goes into the muscles that surround the anal sphincter
Tear – 4th degree This is a rare type of tear that goes through the anal sphincter
TrimesterA period of three months
1st Trimester: the first three months of pregnancy
2nd Trimester: the middle three months of pregnancy
3rd Trimester: the final three months of pregnancy
4th Trimester: The first 12 weeks with your baby
Ultrasound ScanAlso called a sonogram. Usually completed by a sonographer, this procedure uses high​-frequency sound waves to create an image of your baby and womb.
Scan measurements can include:
AC: abdominal circumference
BPD: biparietal diameter (skull measurement)
CRL: crown rump length (head to bum measurement)
FL: femur length (thigh bone)
HC: head circumference
TD: trunk diameter
Umbilical Cord This connects your baby to the placenta during pregnancy
Unplanned Caesarean This is a caesarean which takes place after labour has started, so it was not planned in advance
Uterus The womb
VBAC Vaginal Birth After Caesarean – giving birth vaginally after a previous caesarean
VEVaginal examination
Ventouse A medical instrument used to aid the birth a baby
Waterbirth Birth in a birthing pool
Womb The uterus
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