june 2018

A-Z of pregnancy terms and what they mean

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pregnancy terms and meaning

Who knew that pregnancy would mean you’d need to learn a whole new dictionary of terms and phrases? The last thing you need when you’re mid-contraction is to be worrying about what something means, and whether it’s serious or not. To make it simpler, we’ve gathered together an explanation of some of the most commonly used terms.

Confidential pregnancy notes

Amniotic Fluid/ Amniotic Sac

This is the fluid that surrounds your unborn baby in the amniotic sac

Apgar score

When your baby is born your midwife will do some checks and measurement which look at their appearance, pulse, reflex and breathing.

B/P - Blood Pressure

You blood pressure is the pressure in your heart as it pumps and at rest. It is checked regularly in pregnancy and during labour to make sure that it isn’t rising. Some women will develop pre-eclampsia and their body will increase their blood pressure to force blood through to the placenta in much the same way that a kinked garden hose requires greater pressure to flow. Any rise in blood pressure needs to be monitored and, if necessary, treated.

Braxton hicks

These are practise contractions which can occur at any time during pregnancy


The technical term that is used to describe baby’s bottom and means that your baby is bottom down.

Cephalic – Ceph

This term describes baby’s head and means that your baby is head down.


This is the first milk you produce and it is full of rich antibodies and nutrients to protect your baby.


When your baby’s head starts to emerge and remains visible between contractions


A form of pain relief anaesthetic injected into your spine to numb the area from your waist down.


This surgical cut of your perineum. Made to hasten the birth of your baby and, in rare cases, to protect from more severe tearing. Used routinely with forceps delivery of baby. The cut is made at an angle to reduce the chance of tears reaching your back passage (anus). The cut will be stitched afterwards and local anaesthetic is always used if there is still feeling in that area.


This relates to the top of your womb and is usually part of the abdominal measurements performed later in your pregnancy.


This is your baby’s first poo which is black/dark brown in colour and of a ‘tar’ consistency. As your unborn baby becomes more mature, especially after your due date, they have more chance of passing meconium into the waters surrounding them. In rare cases a baby may inhale this meconium so a close eye is kept on how your baby is coping in labour.

Mucous plug

Also known as the ‘show’, this is mucous discharge which comes away usually before labour begins.

Placenta Praevia

The placenta is your baby’s life support system and attaches to your womb. Is usually attaches at the top, towards either the front or the back. Very rarely the placenta attaches at the bottom of your womb, over your cervix. If the placenta remains low by your due date it means that baby has no way of being born safely vaginally and a caesarean section is recommended. Bleeding is also common with this condition but you and your baby will be closely monitored during pregnancy.

Presentation - Px

This is the part of your baby’s body that is closest to the cervix. This can be their head, bottom, and less commonly shoulder, arm, leg or thigh.

1st Stage of Labour - early/latent labour

Early labour (or ‘latent’ labour) is defined as being from your first contraction until you enter active labour. It may stop and start over a few days (or weeks) but you will usually have long periods of rest (sometimes days) in between. If this stage of labour is going on for days it’s important to rest when you can and avoid exercising/moving in attempt to progress your labour as you’ll just exhaust yourself.

1st Stage of Labour - active labour

This is the part of labour where it would be extremely unlikely that your labour will stop. Your cervix will be opening, thinning and moving forwards with your baby moving into position and dropping further into your pelvis. This is the point that midwives and obstetricians will define as ‘labour’.

2nd Stage of Labour

This is the stage of labour where your body is making you push, although with an epidural you may not have this sensation, so your midwife will determine when this stage has started. The cervix has now completely disappeared and your baby should be moving down through your pelvis. This stage ends when your baby has been born.

3rd Stage of Labour

This is delivery of your placenta and occurs after your baby is born. It can be completely natural or assisted with drugs.

Urine – NAD/protein +

This term means ‘nothing abnormal detected’ and is most commonly used to refer to your urine that is tested at each appointment. Routinely, your urine is tested for the presence of protein, another marker for pre-eclampsia. If you do have protein in your urine it will be denoted by plus signs. Finding protein in your urine doesn’t mean that you have pre-eclampsia, it’s just a marker and small amounts of protein are usually due to concentrated urine, discharge or, less commonly, a urine infection.


This is a way of assisting delivery using a suction device if labour is not progressing as it should.

Is there a term we’ve missed, or one that had you baffled during pregnancy or labour? Feel free to send us a message on Facebook or email hello@myexpertmidwife.com