Pregnancy Terms: Explained

It is a well known fact that doctors have their own language. And sometimes when they are speaking to you they can forget who they are talking to and use big, confusing words that make little to no sense. If this has happened to you, don’t worry. It happens to us all. And when you throw pregnancy brain in the mix too it’s just impossible. To help, we’ve explained most of the commonly used pregnancy terms.

Your pregnancy cheat sheet. In order of when you will come across them (if at all).

Fetus: This is the Medical name for your baby before it’s born.

Fetal heart (FH): This is your little one’s heart rate. You’ll see it being written in your chart as your pregnancy progresses.

LMP: Last menstrual period. The first day of your last period is used to work out how many weeks pregnant you are.

Trimester 1: Weeks 1-12

Trimester 2: Weeks 13-27

Trimester 3: Week 28- Birth

Primigravida:   A woman pregnant for the first time.

Multigravida:   This is a name given to a woman who has been pregnant before.

BP Blood Pressure

Antenatal: This is the time before the birth. It is most commonly seen as ‘Antenatal Classes’.

Quickening: Your baby’s first movements.

FETAL MOVEMENT – FM You will see this being documented at every antenatal visit from 25 weeks. FMF or FM >10 in 12hrs will be written.

Amniotic Fluid: This is the water that surrounds and protects your baby in your womb or uterus.

EDD: Expected date of delivery .The expected date your little bundle of joy will enter the world.

NAD: Nothing abnormal detected. The doctor or midwife may write this on your notes when they find no problems.

Haemoglobin (Hb): This is the medical term for your Iron level. Ideally we would like it to be above 10.5 gdl in pregnancy.

Hypertension: This means you’re experiencing high blood pressure.

Hypotension: This means you’re experiencing low blood pressure.

PIH:  Stands for Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension, which means that your blood pressure is high.

Rhesus (Rh): The rhesus blood group system is a way of categorising your blood type. You will be either Positive or Negative.

VE: Vaginal examination.

Fundus: This is the top of the uterus. The ‘fundal’ height helps assess the growth of the baby and how many weeks pregnant you are. The midwife or Doctor palpates the fundus to assess if baby is growing as they expect. You will see F=D on your chart or Fundus = Dates.

Preterm:   When the baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Term: 40 Weeks

Oedema: This means swelling.

Palpation: When the Midwife or Doctor feels which way the baby is lying by moving their hands across your abdomen.

Waters Breaking:

Syntocinon:   This is a manmade version of the hormone we produce ourselves for labour Oxytocin. It is routinely given in the hospital for the third stage of labour. Or it can also be used to induce you into labour.

APH:  You may never hear this term but in case you do it stands for antepartum haemorrhage and means bleeding before the birth.

BREECH. This is when your baby is lying with their bum or feet down in the uterus.

Cephalic  This means your baby is head down in the uterus.

ENGAGED This means that the widest part of your baby’s head has moved down into the pelvis, getting ready for birth.

Perineum: The area of skin between your vagina and anus.

Episiotomy:   A cut that is made in the mother’s perineum (the area between the vagina and anus) to prevent you tearing badly. Only done if absolutely necessary.

Occipito Anterior:   When the back of your baby’s head is against the front of your pelvis. You may see LOA or ROA on your notes which means left (or right) occipito anterior and described whether the baby’s head is toward the left or the right. LOA is usually the best position for a shorter labour and an easier birth. You will see these terms on your labour notes.

Occipito Posterior: As above but the back of your baby’s head is against your back. It is also known as star gazing, your baby will be born looking up instead of down.

Placenta Praevia: This means the placenta is low down in your uterus. Sometimes it covers the cervix and blocks the baby’s exit, which would mean you need a caesarean section.

Ventouse:   Vacuum delivery. (Also called KIWI delivery!) Sometimes used to help deliver the baby’s head.

VERTEX (VX): ‘The Vertex is visible’ are words that you want to hear! It means the top of your baby’s head is visible.

Postnatal: After your baby is born.

Rooming in: Most maternity units practice a policy of rooming in. It is now recommend that babies stay with their mums 24 hours a day. This helps with feeding and bonding.

Skin-to-skin: Skin-to-skin contact with your baby after birth (your baby is dried and put straight onto your chest).