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Now that you are pregnant, you may hear a lot of different medical words or phrases when you attend for clinic or doctor's visits. While you will always be encouraged to ask what something means, it can be easy enough to forget things later. Here are some more common terms you might hear or read during and after your pregnancy.
Anaemia: A condition a reduced amount of haemoglobin in your red blood cells. This can be caused by not eating enough of the iron- rich foods (Red meat, green leafy vegetables). The pregnancy also puts extra demand on your body for iron and if you have not got enough you may feel tired and look pale. An iron supplement may be needed. Please ask your doctor for advice.
Amniotic Fluid:This is the fluid that the surrounds the baby in the womb. This cushions the baby in the womb, maintains an even temperature and receives any substances that the baby passes in its urine.
Amniocentesis: Withdrawal of amniotic fluid, usually performed through the abdominal wall using a needle. Results show whether your baby could have Down's syndrome or other chromosome disorders.
Antenatal: Same as prenatal. During the pregnancy but before the baby is born.
Breech Position: A baby is usually born head first, the breech position if when the baby’s feet or bottom are pointing down instead of the head. It occurs in about 4% of full-term pregnancies.
Braxton Hicks Contractions: Irregular contractions of the womb in pregnancy, which can cause mild discomfort. These can begin during the first trimester and increasing in frequency as the pregnancy advances. They are quite normal
Cervix:The neck of the womb (uterus). This is what opens (dilates) to allow the baby to come out of womb. The cervix is fully dilated at 10cms.
Colostrum:This is a clear golden- yellow coloured fluid which comes from the breasts after birth. It is high in antibodies which helps the baby to fight infection and it helps to get your baby's digestive system working. If you are breastfeeding your baby after a few days the colostrum is replaced with breast milk.
Contraction: This is the rhythmic tightening of the womb, usually causing the cervix to dilate to allow the baby to be delivered. In labour contractions get stronger, closer together and longer.
Conception: When the sperm meets the egg and joins together (fertilizes) with it.
Caesarian Section:Surgery is performed to remove the baby from the womb. It may be done for emergencies or decided by your doctor in advance if he/she thinks a normal vaginal delivery would be difficult. Also called c-section, section.
Episiotomy: This is a cut that is made at the entrance to your vagina at the delivery stage to prevent a tear occurring as the baby's head comes out.
Epidural: This is a form of pain relief used in childbirth. This involves getting an injection of an anesthetic into the lower back. Sensation and feeling is lost in the lower part of your body during the labour and birth.
Expected/Estimated Date of Delivery (EDD):The average pregnancy is 280 days long counting from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). Your EDD can be worked out if you know the date of the first day of your last period. To calculate= Count from the first day of your last period, add 9 months and add seven days. This is your EDD if you have regular periods. A normal pregnancy is anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks.
False Labor: A period of contractions that does not lead to the changes in the cervix associated with the birth of your baby.
Foetus: Developing baby in the womb.
Folic Acid: Folic acid is important in reducing the risk of spinal cord abnormalities in the growing fetus in the womb. For those planning a pregnancy folic acid should be taken 3 months prior to conception. However for unplanned pregnancies it is important to start taking folic acid supplements straight away when you find out. Ask you GP or Pharmacist for details.
Gas and Air: Correct term for this is "entonox" which is a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen. This is used in labour for pain relief. The gas is inhaled by holding a face mask over your nose and mouth and inhaling, just before the peak of a contraction.
Hypertension: High Blood Pressure
Hypotension: Low Blood Pressure
Hyperemesis: Severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, usually to the point of dehydration. It requires medical treatment.
Incompetent Cervix: A cervix that is weak or has been damaged causing it to open prematurely
Induction: To artificially start labor for medical reasons.
IVF: (In Vitro Fertilization). Fertility procedure to fertilize eggs outside of the body and the replace them inside the uterus in hopes of achieving pregnancy.
Labour: The period of contractions that dilates the cervix and ends with the birth of your baby.
LMP: Last Menstrual Period- used for dating a pregnancy.
Linea Nigra: A dark line from your belly button to your pubic bone, caused by hormones. This will disappear after the birth.
Meconium:The dark green substance which forms in your baby’s intestine before birth. The baby will clear this out after birth. Baby’s first dirty nappies contain this meconium for a few days.
Morning Sickness: this can be a feeling of nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting which usually occurs at about six weeks. It is more common in the morning time but may continue throughout the day for some girls. It may last up to 3 months and normally eases afterwards. It is caused by an increase in the levels of hormones in the bloodstream.
Miscarriage: The loss of a baby prior to 20 weeks, usually in the first 8-12 weeks of pregnancy. Causes for most are not known. About 1 in 5 pregnancies ends this way.
Neural Tube Defects:Abnormalities in the development in brain and/or spine of a baby. Examples, Spina Bifida, Anencephaly.
Obstetrician: A medical doctor who specializes in the care of pregnant women.
Ovulation: When an ovary releases an egg for fertilization. This usually happens at day 14 of your Menstrual Cycle.
Perineum: The area between the vaginal opening and the anus.
Placenta: This is the organ which is in the womb, through which the fetus gets its nourishment. At full-term it averages one-sixth the weight of the fetus.
Placenta abruptio: This is where the placenta tears away from the wall of the prematurely. An emergency cesarean is needed to save the baby's life and prevent hemorrhage in the mother.
Placenta previa: Condition, in which the placenta is implanted in the lower part of the uterus, covering the cervix opening in some degree. The pregnant mother needs to stay in bed to stop bleeding and may require an emergency cesarean section.
Postnatal: Immediately or soon after the baby is born.
Show: This is when the mucous plug the seals the cervix comes away before labour begins, causing an amount of pinkish or brownish substance to stain your underwear or fall away into the toilet. It may even go unnoticed.
Stretch Marks: Areas where the skin has stretched to accommodate the pregnancy or weight gain. Most common on the abdomen, hips and breasts.
Umbilical cord: The cord that connects the placenta to the baby, it helps removes waste products and delivers oxygen and nutrients to the baby.
Uterus: Also known as the womb. This is a female reproductive organ that holds the baby inside you when you are pregnant. It weighs about 2-3 ounces and is about the size of a woman's fist, prior to pregnancy. During pregnancy this organ becomes 10 by 14 inches and weighs in at about 2-3 pounds.
Waters Breaking:The amniotic sac which surrounds your baby opens, releasing the amniotic fluid with either a gush or a trickle of water from the vagina. If this happens around the time the baby is due it is most likely that labour will start within 12-24 hours. If the waters break suddenly it is best to go to the hospital to be monitored. The fluid may leak slowly and you may not even be aware that your water has broken. Fluid should be clear. If you notice any leaking fluid which is greenish or brownish do contact your hospital so they can check it out for you.
Yeast Infection: An overgrowth of yeast in the vagina. This is not harmful but can cause itching in and around the vagina. There may also be a thickish white discharge. Yeast infections are quite common in pregnancy (also known as Candida). Your doctor may be able to prescribe something to clear it up.