Glossary

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Abnormal Lie
The baby lies transversely or in another abnormal position in the womb.
Abnormalities
The quality or state of not being normal.
Abo Incompatibility Jaundice
This is a unique form of jaundice. The condition can show up if a mother has type O blood and her baby has A, B, or AB type blood.
Abruptio Placenta (Placental abruption)
The separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus before childbirth, which causes severe bleeding that threatens the life of the mother and the fetus.
Acrocyanosis
Some infants are born with a bluish tint to their hands and feet. This condition is called “acrocyanosis” and occurs when a baby reacts to leaving its mother’s warm body, and entering the cooler air. It usually disappears when the baby warms up.
Afterbirth
The placenta and fetal membranes that are expelled after delivery.
Alpha Fetoprotein (AFP)
A substance secreted by the fetus and found in the amniotic fluid and the mother’s blood. A low level of AFP can be an indicator of Down syndrome.
Amniocentesis
A procedure that involves taking a sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby by inserting a needle into the amniotic sac through the mother’s abdomen. This tests for fetal abnormalities, lung maturity, enzyme defects, and other chemicals.
Amniotic Fluid
Water-like fluid contained in the membranous sac (bag of water) surrounding the baby. It serves to help support the baby, permit movement, prevent heat loss, and absorb shocks.
Analgesics
Drugs that relieve pain without causing unconsciousness.
Anemia
A decrease in red blood cells, which carry oxygen in the blood.
Anencephaly
A serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull.
Anesthesia
Partial or complete loss of pain, with or without loss of consciousness.
Aneuploidy
An abnormal number of chromosomes, and a type of chromosomal abnormality.
Anomalies (Chromosome)
A disorder whose ultimate cause involves a structural error in a chromosome or an atypical number of chromosomes.
Antepartum
The period of pregnancy from conception to delivery.
Anterior
The front of the body.
Antibiotic
A medication that kills or reduces the amount of bacteria.
Antibody
Proteins produced by the body that form the basis for immunity. Antibodies are produced in response to a specific foreign substance, called an antigen.
Antigen
A substance that stimulates the production of an antibody, such as proteins on the surface of viruses, bacteria or even certain types of cells in the body.
APGAR Scores
A system for evaluating the health of a newborn baby; this test is administered to a baby one minute after birth, and then again at five minutes after birth. APGAR tests your baby for breathing, heart rate, skin color, muscle tone, and reflexes. The results are rated on a scale of 0-10.
Arrest of Descent
When a fetus stops descending into the vagina.
Assisted Delivery
When childbirth is not progressing in the pushing stage of labor, a healthcare professional can use forceps or a special type of vacuum to help deliver the baby.
Augmentation
The addition of pitocin to strengthen or increase the number of contractions.
Autoimmune Disease
A disorder that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue.
BMI
Standard acronym for body mass index, calculated by dividing weight by height.
Baby Blues
A short-lived state of mild depression that may begin three to 14 days postpartum and affects up to 70 percent of new moms after childbirth.
Bilirubin
A substance produced by the breakdown of red blood cells.
Biopsy
The removal and examination of tissue, cells, or fluids from the living body.
Birth Canal
The channel formed by the cervix, vagina, and vulva through which the baby passes during birth.
Blastocyst
An embryo that has developed for five or six days and consists of a complex cellular structure formed by approximately 100 cells. The blastocyst phase is the development stage prior to implantation in the mother’s uterus.
Blood Pressure
A measurement of the work of the heart and the pressure of the blood against the walls of the blood vessels.
Blood Type
The specific class of blood based on the presence or absence of antigens on the red blood cells. The main groups are types A, B, AB, and O.
Bolus
A single dose of medication given at one time.
Braxton-Hicks Contractions
Irregular, intermittent contractions of the uterus that DO NOT cause dilation and effacement of the cervix.
Breast Milk Jaundice
A type of jaundice that is thought to occur because a mother’s breast milk may interfere with an enzyme in the baby’s liver that helps to break down bilirubin.
Breech
A fetal position where the buttocks or feet are closest to the cervical canal.
Brow Presentation
A position during delivery in which the brow, or face, of the baby is first to descend into the birth canal.

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Carbon Dioxide
A metabolic waste byproduct of the body. Carbon dioxide collects in the tissues, is cleared by the blood (via the veins) and removed from the body via the lungs when we exhale air.
Carbon Monoxide
An organic byproduct of combustion. A tasteless, odorless gas that competes with oxygen binding sites on the hemoglobin molecule. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure include headache and nausea. Advanced exposure results in coma, cardiovascular collapse and death.
Carriers (Chromosome)
An individual who possesses a specified gene and is capable of transmitting it to his or her offspring.
Catheterization
Emptying the bladder by insertion of a small pliable tube through the urethra.
Cephalopelvic Disproportion
When the head of the fetus is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis.
Cervicitis
Inflammation of the cervix.
Cervix
The neck shaped opening of the uterus which dilates and thins out during labor to allow the baby’s head to descend into the vagina (birth canal).
Cesarean Section
An operation performed to remove a baby by cutting into the uterus, usually through the abdominal wall.
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)
A test used to detect birth defects in which a small amount of placental tissue is removed from the uterus.
Choroid Plexus Cyst
A cyst that occurs within the spongy layer of cells and blood vessels in the middle of the brain.
Chromosome
Genetic material that determines our physical characteristics. Each of us has 46 chromosomes that pass the genetic code from cell to cell.
Circumcision
Removal of the foreskin from the penis.
Clogged Milk Duct
A small lump in your breast that may be red, and can be warm and painful to touch. This usually signals a clogged duct.
CMV
Cytomegalovirus, a virus that can cause birth defects in the fetus if acquired by the mother during pregnancy.
Colic
The name given to long, unexplained bouts of crying in an infant — usually beginning between the second and third weeks of life and disappearing by about the 12th week. About 20 percent of babies are colicky.
Colostrum
The protein-rich fluid that precedes the production of true milk. A substance that is secreted from a mother’s breasts during the first two to four days after delivery. It has more protein and minerals, and less fat and carbohydrates than true breast milk. Colostrum is easily digested by the infant and has a mild laxative effect to promote the passage of meconium. It is also high in calories and contains maternal antibodies.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
A blood test that includes separate counts for red and white blood cells.
Compound Presentation
When a baby’s hand or leg is presented next to the baby’s head or bottom, just before the baby is born.
Contraction
Tightening and shortening of the uterine muscles during labor. This causes effacement and dilation of the cervix by contributing to the downward descent of the baby.
Contraction Stress Test (CST)
A test of the fetus’s response to contractions.
Convulsion
A seizure.
Corpus Luteum
The part of the human egg cell that most resembles the yoke of a chicken egg. It secretes estrogen and progesterone and alerts the uterus that ovulation has occurred, which will in turn help the uterus to sustain a pregnancy if fertilization occurs.
Couvade Syndrome
A phenomenon in which men show the symptoms of pregnancy.
Cradle Hold
Support the baby with the arm on the same side as the nursing breast. Sit up straight, preferably in a chair with armrests. Cradle your baby and rest his head in the crook of your elbow while he faces your breast. For extra support, place a pillow on your lap.
Cross-Cradle Hold
Ideal for early breastfeeding. Sit up straight in a comfortable chair with armrests. Hold your baby crosswise in the crook of the arm opposite the breast you're feeding from. Use your left arm when feeding from the right breast, and your right arm when feeding from the left breast. Support the baby's body and head with your forearm and the palm of your hand. Place your other hand beneath your breast in a U-shaped hold and guide the baby's mouth to your breast. Don't bend over or lean forward. Instead, cradle your baby close to your breast.
Crowning
When the baby’s head is seen at the opening of the mother’s vagina.
Cyanosis
A physical sign causing bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes, which is caused by lack of oxygen in the blood.
Cyst
A closed sac that has a distinct membrane and develops abnormally in a body cavity or structure.
Cystic Fibrosis
A hereditary disease that usually appears in early childhood and causes difficulty in breathing, due to mucus accumulation in airways.
DEERS
Acronym for Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. If you or your spouse is active duty, your baby will automatically be enrolled for 60 days.
Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA)
A nucleic acid, or biological molecules, that contain the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms.
Des
A synthetic estrogen once used to prevent miscarriages. It is no longer used because it caused structural abnormalities in the babies of the mothers who took the drug.
Descent
The second stage of labor where the baby’s head descends through the birth canal.
Deyhydration
Excessive loss of body fluid.
Diabetes
Disease characterized by high blood sugar levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin.
Diagnostic Test
Any kind of medical test performed to aid in the diagnosis or detection of disease.
Dilation
Gradual opening of the cervix to permit passage of the baby. Dilation is measured in centimeters (1 to 10 cm).
Distal Airways
Air passages that are embedded in the connective tissue network of the lung.
Diuretic
A medication used to treat hypertension that reduces the body’s fluid volume.
Doppler
A non-invasive sound device used to listen to the fetal heartbeat.
Doula
A person hired as a mother’s helper in labor and postpartum.
Down Syndrome
A genetic abnormality caused by an extra chromosome 21, which causes mental and physical handicaps.
Down Syndrome Risk (DSR)
Chances of your baby carrying Down syndrome increase as you get older. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that about one of every 691 babies born in the United States each year is born with Down syndrome.
Dropping
Dropping, or lightening, is when your baby’s head settles into your pelvic cavity.

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Echogenic Intracardiac Focus (EIF)
A small, bright spot seen in the baby’s heart on an ultrasound exam. This is thought to represent mineralization, or small deposits of calcium, in the muscle of the heart. EIFs are found in about three to five percent of normal pregnancies and cause no health problems.
Eclampsia
A severe form of preeclampsia in which coma and convulsions can occur.
Ectopic Pregnancy
Implantation and development of a fertilized ovum outside the uterus.
Edema
A condition where a person’s body retains fluid, which causes swelling due to excess fluid build-up.
Effacement
Thinning of the cervix. Effacement is measured by a percentage (0 to 100 percent) with a 100 percent being completely thinned out.
Engagement
The presenting part of the baby descends into the pelvis. Also referred to as the baby having “dropped.”
Engorgement
When a woman’s breasts are filled to capacity with milk. This usually begins between two days to a week after childbirth when mom’s milk comes in. Once nursing has been well-established, symptoms typically disappear after a few days. However, breasts can re-engorge during weaning, a sudden nursing strike, a bout of mastitis, or if the baby is sick. Engorgement may be very uncomfortable as the breasts may be especially tender during this time.
Epidural Anesthesia
Anesthesia produced by the injection of local anesthetic into the epidural space of the spine.
Episiotomy
An incision made into the perineum (from the vagina towards the rectum) prior to delivery of the baby’s head. This widens the opening to facilitate birth when the vaginal opening is too small to allow the baby to pass without tearing.
Epstein’s Pearls
Small whitish spots along the baby’s gum or on the roof of his/her mouth.
Essential Hypertension
Hypertension without apparent cause.
Estriol
One of the three main estrogens produced by the human body. It’s only produced in significant amounts during pregnancy and made by the placenta.
Estrogen
A hormone produced by the ovaries that contributes to the monthly preparation of the uterus for pregnancy, and promotes the development and maintenance of female sex characteristics.
Expressing (Milk)
A way of pumping or taking milk from the breast, without your baby suckling.
Expulsion
The second stage of labor, lasting from the full dilation of the cervix until the baby is completely out of the birth canal.
Extension
The step during delivery when contractions exert downward pressure and pelvic muscles exert upward pressure, and baby’s head changes position. Her head, which was curled forward against her chest, is now extended backward as if she’s trying to look up at the sky.
External Rotation
The step when the baby’s head turns in order to line it up with her shoulders during delivery.
Face Presentation
A position during delivery in which the face, or brow, of the baby is first to descend into the birth canal.
Fallopian Tube
Either of two long, slender ducts connecting a woman’s uterus to her ovaries, where eggs are transported from the ovaries to the uterus and sperm may fertilize an egg.
False Negative
A test result that’s incorrectly classified as negative.
False Positive
A test result that is incorrectly classified as positive.
Fetal Heart Tones
The baby’s heartbeat as heard through the abdominal wall. Also called the Fetal Heart Rate (FHR), it is normally 120 to 160 beats per minute.
Fetal Monitor
An instrument for continuous monitoring of the baby’s heart before or during labor.
Fetal Ultrasound
Test done during pregnancy that uses reflected sound waves to produce a picture of the baby, the placenta, and the amniotic fluid. Fetal ultrasound is the safest way to check for problems and get information about your baby, such as its size and position.
Fetus
The name given to the baby from the eighth week of pregnancy to delivery.
Fibroid
A benign, non-cancerous, ball-shaped growth of excess muscle fiber that can occur in the uterus.
Flexion
Occurs as the baby’s head descends and comes into contact with the soft tissues of the pelvis, the muscles of the pelvic floor, and the cervix.
Folic Acid
A B vitamin that is essential to grow a healthy baby.
Fontanelles
The soft spots on the baby’s head between the developing skull plates.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
An agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, that is responsible for protecting and promoting public health.
Football Hold
This breastfeeding position consists of tucking your baby under your arm like a football with his or her head resting on your hand. Support your baby’s body with your forearm. This may be a good position if you’re recovering from a Cesarean section or if your baby is very small.
Forceps
Tong-like device used to assist in delivery.
Foreskin
The loose tissue that covers the head of the penis.
Formula
A liquid food for babies, containing most of the nutrients found in breast milk.
Fundus
The top of the uterus.
Gene
The basic unit of DNA, which is responsible for passing genetic information; each gene contains the instructions for the production of a certain protein.
Gestation
The time period between conception and delivery.
Gestational Diabetes
A form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy due to the body making excess insulin that isn’t converted into sugar and that causes the baby’s pancreas to make more insulin.
Glucose
The principal circulating sugar in the blood and major energy source of the body.
Grasping Reflex
The flexing or clenching of the baby’s fingers or toes when stimulated on the palm or soles.
Gravity
A number referring to how many pregnancies a woman has had.

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HCG
See human chorionic gonadotropin.
Head Bump
A lump confined to one side of the top of the baby’s head due to pressure of the baby’s head against the mother’s pelvic bones during the birth process.
Hematocrit
The volume of red blood cells in the blood.
Hematoma
A large bruise or swollen area on the skin that is filled with blood. This blood collection is outside of the blood vessels.
Hemoglobin
The iron-containing pigment in red blood cells that assists in carrying oxygen throughout the body.
Hemorrhage
Excessive loss of blood.
Hemorrhoid
A bulging vein either at the opening of the anus or just inside the anus, often caused by childbirth or straining during bowel movements.
Herpes
A viral infection that causes blisters on the skin or the mucus membranes.
Hormone
A substance produced by one tissue and conveyed by the blood to another tissue to stimulate activity in that tissue.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)
A substance produced by the placenta that maintains the corpus luteum, causing it to produce progesterone during pregnancy.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
A condition in humans in which the immune system fails and allows life-threatening infections and cancers to thrive.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
A DNA virus that causes various human warts, including some associated with the production of cervical cancer.
Hyperbilirubinemia
A condition that affects newborns when there is too much bilirubin in the blood and other tissues of the body. Yellowing of the skin is a common sign.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Excessive vomiting in pregnancy.
Hyperglycemia
Excessive, abnormal amounts of glucose in the blood.
Hypertension
High blood pressure.
Hypoglycemia
An abnormally low level of glucose in the blood.
Implantation
Nesting of the fertilized egg into the uterine lining.
In Utero
Referring to inside the uterus.
Incision
A surgical cut.
Indication
A valid reason to use a certain test, medication, procedure, or surgery.
Induction/Induced
The initiation of labor by medical means.
Infertility
The failure to get pregnant after more than one year of unprotected intercourse.
Inherit
To receive a characteristic from one’s parents by genetic transmission on the genes of the chromosome.
Inhibin
A protein complex that is secreted by the pituitary gland and inhibits the secretion of the follicle-stimulating hormone.
Insulin
A substance that controls the body’s use of glucose.
Involution of the Uterus
A decrease in the size of the uterus down to normal size following childbirth.
Jaundice
A yellow coloring of the skin and whites of the eyes caused by excessive bilirubin in the blood.
Karyotype
The chromosomal characteristics of a cell.
Kegel
Pelvic floor exercises that help tone and strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and bowels.
Ketones
A byproduct of the body metabolizing fat. An overabundance of ketones in the bloodstream can indicate a severe metabolic condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis.

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Laceration
A tear.
Lactation
The term used for breastfeeding. It also specifically refers to the production and secretion of milk.
Lanugo
A covering of soft, fine hair on the newborn.
Latching On
During breastfeeding, this is when your baby’s mouth covers your nipple and a good portion of the areola, or dark, circular area surrounding your nipple, so that she has a good hold on your breast.
Left-Lateral Position
During labor, lie on your left side with your coach supporting your upper, or right, leg. This position is not best for expansion of your pelvis, but it does provide the most oxygen for your baby.
Let Down
A reflex that means your milk is ready to flow and makes breastfeeding easier for your baby.
Lightening (also known as Engagement or Dropping)
This refers to when a baby’s head settles into the mother’s pelvic cavity. This can happen from two to four weeks before labor starts, especially for first time mothers.
Linea Nigra
A darkened line that appears on the abdomen during pregnancy.
Lochia
The vaginal discharge present after delivery.
Longitudinal Lie
A birthing position where the baby’s head enters the pelvis first and his spine is up and down, or longitudinal.
Macrosomia
Excessive size.
Malpresentation
Malpresentation is the term health professionals use when a baby is in the wrong position for birth.
Mammogram
A diagnostic photograph of the breasts made by using low-energy x-rays.
Mastitis
Inflammation of the breast, which is usually caused by a bacterial infection.
Maternal Serum Screening
Group of blood tests, also known as a quad screen, that checks for substances linked with certain birth defects, such as Down syndrome (Trisomy 21), neural tube defects, Edwards syndrome (Trisomy 18), and other related birth defects. The test is done during the fifteenth to twenty-first week of your pregnancy.
Meconium
The dark green, sticky bowel contents of the baby at birth.
Meconium Aspiration
The breathing of meconium-contaminated fluid by the baby at birth.
Melanocyte
A hormone that coordinates pigmentation of the skin, eyes, and hair.
Menopause
The natural ending of menstruation. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with a mean age in Western cultures of approximately 51.
Milia
Little white spots on baby’s face, generally concentrated across the nose, and caused by blocked sebaceuous glands.
Miscarriage
The spontaneous end of a pregnancy at a stage where the embryo or fetus is not capable of surviving independently.
Molding
The shaping of the baby’s head to adjust itself to the size and shape of the birth canal.
Morning Sickness
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
MSAFP (also known as Triple Screen, Triple Panel, or Maternal Serum Screen)
A blood test that is usually offered to a mother between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy to screen for an increased risk of particular birth defects (neural tube defects, Down syndrome).
Mucous Plug
A plug of thick mucous, which closes the cervical canal during pregnancy.
Multiple Gestations
Multiple births occur when more than one fetus is carried to term in a single pregnancy, such as with twins or triplets.
Neural Tube Defects (NTD)
An abnormality of the spinal cord or brain.
Non-Cancerous Fibrocystic Breast Change
A condition of breast tissues characterized by lumps in the breast, which can sometimes cause discomfort. They’re often related to hormonal influences from the menstrual cycle.
Non-Disjunction
Failure of chromosome pairs to separate properly. The result is a cell with an imbalance of chromosomes called an aneuploid.
Non-Stress Test (NST)
A test of fetal well-being in which the effect of movement on the heart rate is assessed.
Nuchal Transluency
A measurement of the size of the transparent space behind the neck of the fetus, using ultrasound. The measurement is usually done between 10 and 14 weeks of pregnancy and reflects the amount of fluid that has accumulated under the skin of the fetus.
Occiput
The back part of the baby’s head that is used for a reference point in determining the position of the baby in utero.
Ovary
The female reproductive organ that produces the ovum, progesterone, and estrogen.
Ovulate
The release of an egg, or ovum from the ovary.
Oxytocin
A substance produced in the brain that causes contractions of the uterus for labor, and causes the breasts to release milk.

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Parity
Referring to the number of children previously borne by a woman. For example, if a woman has been pregnant three times, but only delivered two children successfully, she would be referred to as being G3/P2 – or gravida three/para two.
Paternity Leave
Type of parental leave offered to the father of a newborn child so he can share childcare and bonding.
Pelvis
The bony ring that joins the spine and legs. The infant must pass through the central opening to be born vaginally.
Penta Screen
A prenatal risk assessment for neural tube defects (NTDs), Down syndrome, and Trisomy 18.
Perinatologist
A medical specialist who cares for women around the time of birth.
Perineum
The area between the vagina and the rectum.
Phototherapy
Baby’s skin is exposed to special therapeutic lights.
Pigmentation
The coloring of the tissues.
Pitocin
A synthetic oxytocin.
Placenta
The vascular structure developed in pregnancy through which oxygen, nutrients, and waste products pass between mother and baby. After delivery, the placenta is sometimes referred to as the “afterbirth.”
Placenta Previa
A somewhat risky condition in which the placenta develops at the lower section of the uterus (close to or covering the cervix); varies in severity, from no effect on a pregnancy to vaginal bleeding and danger to the mother and the baby.
Polyhydramnios
Excessive amount of amniotic fluid.
Postpartum
The time from delivery until six weeks after birth.
Postpartum Depression
A serious illness that can affect women in the first few months after childbirth. Sadness, anxiety, tiredness, and crying are possible symptoms.
Preeclampsia
An illness of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, swelling or edema, and proteinuria.
Pregnancy Termination
Ending a pregnancy by removing the fetus from the uterus, prior to viability.
Prenatal
Existing or occurring during pregnancy.
Presentation
The position of the baby inside the uterus.
Presenting Part
The part of the baby that is downward against the cervix.
Pre-Term Delivery
The birth of a baby of less than 37 weeks gestational age.
Pre-Term Labor
Regular contractions that cause your cervix to begin to open, or thin, before you reach 37 weeks. Also called premature labor.
Progesterone
A hormone produced by the corpus luteum and placenta that prepares the uterus for pregnancy, maintains the pregnancy, and promotes the development of the breast.
Prolapsed Cord
In approximately one in 300 births, the umbilical cord slips out through the cervix ahead of the baby, which is dangerous because uterine contractions block blood flow to the baby. Unless the cervix is already dilated and birth is imminent, cesarean delivery is the usual solution.
Prostaglandin
A hormone-like substance.
Proteinuria
The presence of protein in the urine.
Quad Screen
A maternal blood-screening test that looks for four specific substances: alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), human chorionic gonadoropin (hCG), Estriol and Inhibin-A.
Quickening
The first fetal movement felt by the mother, often described as “flutters.”
Rectum
A short tube located at the end of the large intestine, which connects the intestine to the anus.
Relaxin
A hormone produced during pregnancy, which makes your joints more pliable than normal.
Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS)
Respiratory difficulties in newborns, especially common in premature babies, and often associated with immature or fluid-filled lungs.
Rh Factor
A substance found on the blood cells of Rh-positive individuals.
Rhogam
A substance that prevents antibodies against Rh factor from forming.
Ripe
Word used to describe the softened condition of the cervix when ready for the onset of labor.
Rooting
One of the most well-known of all the newborn reflexes, that happens when a newborn’s cheek area is brushed with a finger or other object. The baby opens its mouth to find food or immediately start to suck, hoping to receive food.
Round Ligament Pain
Pain or discomfort in mom’s lower abdomen caused by stretching of the ligaments on either side of the uterus. This isn’t harmful to the baby but may be very uncomfortable for mom.

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Screening Test
A strategy used to detect a disease in individuals who don't show signs or symptoms of that disease.
Sedative
A drug that calms and may induce sleep.
Seizure
A convulsion.
Self-Directed Pushing
A steady, but gentle, pushing and breathing effort during contractions. Begin your contraction with two cleansing breaths. Take a third breath in and push while slowly exhaling the air. Take two more cleansing breaths at the end of your contraction.
Semi-Sitting Position
A childbirth position in a birthing chair or bed that allows you to rest between contractions. Be sure not to lay flat while you’re pushing because this works against gravity. This position is probably the most frequently used pushing position.
Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)
A disease contracted through sexual contact.
Shaken Baby Syndrome
When a baby is shaken and it causes brain trauma.
Shoulder Dystocia
The situation when a baby’s shoulders get wedged in mom’s birth canal after baby’s head has emerged.
Show (also known as Bloody Show)
Reddish colored mucous which may be discharged during the later stages of pregnancy and labor.
Sickle Cell Anemia
A genetic blood disorder characterized by red blood cells that take on an abnormal, rigid sickle shape.
Side-Lying Hold
Breastfeeding position where you lie on your side and face your baby toward your breast, supporting him with the hand of the arm you’re resting on. With your other hand, grasp your breast and then touch your nipple to your baby’s lips. Once your baby latches on, use the bottom arm to support your own head and your top hand and arm to help support the baby.
Sonogram
See ultrasound.
Sperm
The white or grey liquid, ejaculated from the penis.
Spider Veins
Thin veins at the surface of the skin.
Spina Bifida
A developmental congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic spinal cord. Some vertebrae overlying the spinal cord are not fully formed and remain unfused and open.
Spinal Anesthesia
Anesthesia injected into the spinal fluid.
Squatting Position
A birthing position that can be used easily by lowering the bottom of the birthing bed, or a squatting bar may be attached to the bed. This allows you to hold the bar just like the handles of a motorcycle. As your contraction starts, lean forward with your feet on the lowered portion of the bed. Lean into a squatting position, supported under your arms by your partner and another member of your healthcare team. Sit back and rest on the upper part of the bed between contractions. This position opens the pelvis to its maximum dimensions and allows gravity to help move the baby into and through the birth canal.
Stage 1 Labor
The first stage of labor, ending with complete dilation (to 10 centimeters) and 100 percent effacement of the cervix. This stage consists of three separate phases: 1) Early Labor, 2) Active Labor, and 3) Transition.
Stage 2 Labor
The pushing stage. Stage 2 begins once the cervix is totally dilated and effaced. Mom begins to push and Stage 2 ends with the birth of your baby.
Stage 3 Labor
Delivery of the placenta.
Standing Position
This birthing position makes the most of gravity. Stand up supported by your coach or by leaning against the wall, bed, or back of a sturdy chair. Continue your breathing and pushing techniques.
Station
A term used to describe the location of the baby’s presenting part in relation to the upper portion of the pelvis.
Stepping Reflex
Hold your baby upright with her feet touching a table or flat surface and she “steps” or “walks.” This reflex normally disappears by the time your baby is a month old, and it won’t return until your baby is getting ready to walk.
Structural Ultrasound
The use of ultrasonic waves for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes to capture an image of an internal body structure, monitor a developing fetus, or generate localized deep heat to the tissues.
Sucking
Drawing liquid into the mouth through a suction force produced by movements of the lips and tongue.
Sunny Side Up
A baby who is “sunny side up” is facing the wrong direction, with his or her nose and chin facing upward instead of down. Often the force of contractions will turn the baby to the correct position during labor.
Symptom
A sign or indication of a disorder or disease.
Testes
The reproductive organ of the male that produces sperm and testosterone.
Titer
The concentration of a substance in a solution.
Tocolytic
A medication that stops or slows contractions.
Tolac
Trial of labor after cesarean. This is the term used to describe allowing a woman who has had a previous C-section to have labor contractions, in an attempt to have a vaginal birth. If a TOLAC is successful, it is called a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).
Toxemia
See pre-eclampsia.
Toxoplasmosis
A disease carried in cat feces that can be passed to humans and can cause birth defects in the fetus if the mother contracts the disease during pregnancy.
Transducer
A device that converts one form of energy to another.
Transfuse
To give blood or blood products by intravenous routes.
Transition
The last part of active labor where the cervix begins to dilate more rapidly, and contractions are longer, stronger, and closer together.
Transverse Lie
Position where your baby is lying sideways in the uterus.
Trimester
A period or term of three months. A pregnancy is divided into three trimesters of 12 to 13 weeks each.
Triple Screen (also known as MSAFP, Triple Panel, or Maternal Serum Screen)
A blood test that is usually offered to a mother between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy to screen for an increased risk of particular birth defects (neural tube defects, Down syndrome).
Trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome)
Patau syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality in which a patient has an additional chromosome 13.
Trisomy 18 (Edwards Syndrome)
Edwards syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 18th chromosome.
Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome)
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra chromosome and characterized by mental retardation, abnormal features of the face, and medical problems, such as heart defects.

U-Z Return to top

Ultrasound (also known as Sonogram)
A test that uses sound waves that bounce off of an unborn baby, providing a visual “picture” of how the baby is developing.
Umbilical Cord
The cord-like structure connecting the fetus to the placenta.
Unconjugated Estriol
A metabolite of estradiol and usually the predominant estrogenic metabolite in urine. During pregnancy, large amounts of estriol are produced by the placenta.
Urinalysis
Test of the urine for bacteria, protein, and glucose.
Uterus
The muscular, pear-shaped organ of female reproduction that consists of the fundus, the body, and a narrow lower portion called the cervix.
VA/DoD Pregnancy Passport
Your VA/DoD Pregnancy Passport contains most of the information that’s essential for good prenatal care. Use it to help keep track of your key pregnancy information.
Vaccum
A plastic suction cup that is placed on the baby’s head during delivery. While the mother pushes, the provider will gently pull on the suction cup handle to help with the birth.
Vagina
The curved, very elastic canal from the cervix to the vulva. Also called the birth canal.
Valsalva
This is a pushing technique sometimes used during labor. Valsalva pushing is a steady pushing effort through each contraction.
VBAC
Vaginal birth after cesarean. This refers to a vaginal delivery after previously having had a cesarean section.
Vernix
The waxy, protective coating covering the skin of the fetus.
Vertex
The top of the head.
Vulva
The outer, visible portion of the female genitals.
Zygote
The single cell that is formed when the sperm cell fertilizes the egg cell.