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Pregnancy Glossary

A 

Albumin (Alb)

Protein substance found in most tissues (checked for in urine tests).

Allergy

Reaction produced by sensitivity to a 'foreign' substance.

Anaesthetics

Drugs used to cause local numbness or general unconsciousness.

Analgesics

Pain-relieving drugs which don't cause unconsciousness.

Antibody

Protective substance formed in body against a specific infection.

Apgar score

System used to assess well-being of newborn babies.

B

Bearing down

Pushing movement by mother during second stage of labour.

Blood groups

The ABO classification system depends on whether red cells have A or B antigens (proteins). Your group may be A or B or AB (with both antigens) or O (with neither antigen present). Your Rhesus group relates to the presence or absence of the Rhesus factor (D antigen). About 85 per cent of British people have the factor and are Rh-positive; the remainder are Rh-negative. (Rh-negative mothers may need extra care in pregnancy.)

Blood pressure (BP)

Tension of blood in arteries. Hypertension means that pressure is raised.

Breech presentation

Buttocks or feet (instead of head) are due to be delivered first.

C

Cervix

Neck of womb which opens gradually during labour for delivery of baby.

Contractions

Regular tightening of womb muscles in preparation for delivery.

Crowning

When baby's head can be seen at the vaginal opening.

Cystitis

Inflammation of bladder, usually due to infection.

D

Diabetes (gestational)

Pregnancy condition in which there is temporary increase in blood-sugar level.

Dilation

Gradual opening of cervix in response to womb contractions.

Drip (intravenous)

System for injecting fluid (which may contain medication) very slowly into a vein.

E

EDD

Expected date of delivery.

Embryo

Name for developing baby in first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Enema

Fluid inserted through back passage to flush out bowel contents.

Engagement (Eng)

Baby's head settles in rim of mother's pelvis in preparation for birth.

F

Fallopian tubes

Two tubes linking ovaries with womb, through which egg is released during ovulation.

Foetal distress

A condition in which the baby's heart rate reduces or increases and is a sign that the baby should be delivered quickly.

Foetus

Name for developing baby from about 11th week of pregnancy.

Fontanelles

Two 'soft spots' on newborn baby's head where skull bones have not yet united.

Fundal height

Level in mother's abdomen reached by enlarging womb.

G

Genetic

Relates to feature or condition inherited from one or both parents.

Gestation period

Length of time between conception and birth.

Gynaecologist

Doctor specialising in female reproductive system.

H

Haemoglobin (Hb)

Iron-rich colouring matter of red blood cells which carries oxygen.

Haemorrhage

Bleeding (usually denotes severe or internal bleeding).

Hepatitis

Inflammation of liver due to infection or toxic effects.

I

Immunity

Protection against disease. May be natural, or acquired through contact with a disease or vaccination.

Induction

Artificial methods of starting or accelerating labour.

Inherited conditions

Common examples are cystic fibrosis (Northern Europeans); sickle cell disease (people of African origin); thalassaemia (people of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern origin); Tay Sachs disease (people of Ashkenazi Jewish origin). (See spina bifida prevention and detection in chapters A healthy lifestyle and Understanding scans and tests.)

J
Jaundice

Yellow discolouration of skin and white part of eyes. May be symptom of liver infection or disease.

L

Lie

Position of foetus in the womb.

Lightening

Relief from pressure experienced by mother if womb descends lower into pelvis late in pregnancy (see Engagement).

LMP

Last menstrual period. First day of LMP is needed to estimate EDD.

M
Moulding Shaping of baby
N
NAD Nothing abnormal detected (eg in urine test).
O
Ovaries Two reproductive glands which produce eggs.
P
Pelvic floor Protective

Perinatal period

Stage of newborn baby

Perineum

Area between vagina and anus (back passage).

Placenta

Fleshy organ through which foetus receives oxygen and nutrients in the womb.

Pre-eclampsia

Potentially serious pregnancy problem. Symptoms can include rise in blood pressure, protein in urine, sudden weight gain, and oedema (swelling of tissues due to fluid retention).

Q
Quickening First movements of baby felt by mother.
U
Ultrasound scan Screening system using sound waves from womb to build up images of unborn baby on computer screen.
Uterus Medical term for womb, a hollow organ in which unborn baby develops.

V

Vagina

Canal leading from external genital organs to womb, through which baby passes during delivery. Separated from womb at inner end by cervix (neck of womb).

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Page updated 21st Nov 2013, 10:40
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