Click Here
Menu

Pregnancy Terms

The following list includes the definitions of terms related to pregnancy, fetal development, pregnancy complications, and pregnancy testing along with various medical terms related to pregnancy.


Abortion: The termination of a pregnancy through the expulsion of the fetus from the uterus.

Abortion, spontaneous: Miscarriage that has not been induced artificially.

Afterbirth: The placenta and other tissues associated with fetal development that are expelled after the birth of an infant.

Albumin: A protein which if found in the urine of a pregnant woman can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

Alpha fetoprotein: A substance produced by the fetus. High levels in a mother's blood can indicate a neural tube defect or multiple pregnancy.

Amino acid: A building block of protein which is used by the body to build muscle and other tissue.

Amniocentesis: A prenatal test in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is removed for analysis.

Amniotic fluid: The fluid that surrounds a developing fetus.

Amniotic sac: The bag in which the fetus and amniotic fluid are contained during pregnancy.

Anencephaly: A severe congenital defect in which the fetus has no brain.

Anesthesia: Medically induced loss of sensation. General anesthesia involves the entire body; local anesthesia involves only a particular area.

Anomaly: Malformation or abnormality of a body part.

Antibiotic: A drug used to combat infection.

Antibody: A protein produced by the immune system to destroy foreign substances.

Apgar scoring system: A method of evaluating a baby's health immediately after birth.

Apnea: A temporary involuntary cessation of breathing.

Areola: The pink or brown area of skin around the nipple of the breast.

Aspirate: To inhale liquid into the lungs, or to remove liquid from the lungs with a suction device.

Bilirubin: Pigment in the blood, urine, and bile that results from the normal breakdown of hemoglobin in the red blood cells.

Breech presentation: Fetal position in which the feet or buttocks of the baby are closest to the mother's cervix when labor begins.

Cervix: The lower portion of the uterus which extends into the vagina.

Cesarean section: Delivery of an infant through an incision in the abdominal and uterine walls.

Chloasma: Discoloration of the skin, often on the face.

Chorionic villi sampling: A prenatal test that scans for genetic abnormalities.

Chromosomes: The cellular structures that contain the genes.

Circumcision: Surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis.

Colostrum: The milk secreted shortly before and for a few days after childbirth.

Congenital: Present at birth.

Crowning: The point in labor when the head of the baby can be seen at the vagina.

Doppler: A machine that uses ultrasound to detect the fetal heart.

Down syndrome: A congenital birth defect that results in mental handicap.

Eclampsia: A serious complication of pregnancy, characterized by high blood pressure and edema. It is the more severe form of pre-eclampsia.

Ectopic pregnancy: Pregnancy in which the embryo begins to grow outside the uterus, often in one of the fallopian tubes.

Edema: Swelling, retention of fluid in body tissues.

Embryo: The name given to the fertilized ovum until eight weeks after conception.

Endometriosis: A medical condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in another area of the body such as the abdomen.

Epidural: A type of local anesthesia used to relieve pain during delivery.

Episiotomy: An incision made in the tissue around the vagina in order to ease the final stage of delivery.

Erythroblastosis fetalis: A form of anemia that develops in the Rh-positive infants of Rh-negative women.

Fallopian tubes: Tubes that extend from the ovaries to the uterus.

Fetoscopy: A technique by which a developing fetus can be examined directly for abnormalities.

Fetus: The name given to the baby in the womb from eight weeks until birth.

Fontanels: The soft spots on a baby's skull, present at birth.

Fundus: The upper part of the uterus.

Gestational age: The duration of the pregnancy, measured from the first day of the last menstrual period.

Gynecologist: A physician who specializes in the female reproductive system.

Hemorrhage: Heavy bleeding.

Hormone: A substance released by glands to stimulate certain activity in the body.

Hydrocephalus: A congenital birth defect in which excessive fluid gathers in the baby's skull.

Induction: Artificial starting of labor.

Jaundice: Inability of the body to break down excess red blood cells.

Labia: The skin folds at the opening of the vagina.

Lactation: Production of milk by the breasts.

Lanugo: Fine hairs present on the body of a fetus.

Lightening: The time when the baby descends into the pelvic cavity in preparation for birth. Also known as engagement.

Linea nigra: A dark line that appears on the abdomen during pregnancy.

Lochia: The discharge of blood, mucus, and other fluids from the vagina after childbirth.

Meconium: The bowel contents of a baby at birth.

Miscarriage: Spontaneous ending of the pregnancy prior to 24 weeks' gestation.

Mucus: A sticky substance produced by glands.

Neonatal: Pertaining to a newborn infant.

Neural tube defects: Abnormalities in the spinal cord.

Obstetrician: A doctor who specializes in care of women during pregnancy and childbirth.

Ovulation: Release of the egg from the ovary.

Oxytocin: A hormone secreted during labor to stimulate contractions and milk production. It is sometimes administered in synthetic form to begin or speed labor.

Pediatrician: A doctor who specializes in the care of children.

Pelvic floor: The sling of muscles that holds the pelvic organs in place.

Perineum: The region between the anus and genitals.

Phenylketonuria (PKU) : An inherited congenital disorder that can lead to mental retardation.

Pitocin: The synthetic form of oxytocin.

Placenta: The structure through which the fetus receives nourishment and oxygen during gestation.

Placental abruption: Premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall.

Placenta previa: A condition in which the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix, hindering vaginal delivery.

Polyhydramnios: An excessive amount of amniotic fluid.

Postpartum: After birth.

Pre-eclampsia: A disorder of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, edema, and kidney malfunction.

Presentation: The position of the fetus in relation to the cervix before labor begins.

Prolapse of the cord: A situation during or before labor in which the umbilical cord passes through the cervix before the fetus.

Pyelonephritis: An infection of the kidneys.

Quickening: The first fetal movements felt by the mother.

Rh factor: A group of antigens in the blood.

Rubella: Also called German measles. If contracted by woman during pregnancy, it can result in birth defects.

Show: The blood-stained mucus from the vagina, indicating that labor is about to begin.

Sonography: The use of ultrasound to form an image of the fetus.

Stillbirth: Delivery of a dead fetus after 28 weeks' gestation.

Striae: Streaks or "stretch marks" seen on the abdomen of a pregnant woman.

Toxemia of pregnancy: A serious disorder of pregnancy in which poisonous compounds are present in the bloodstream.

Toxoplasmosis: A disease caused by a parasite. It is carried by cat feces.

Transverse presentation: Position in which the fetus is lying at right angles to the cervix when labor begins.

Trimester: One-third of a pregnancy.

Tubal pregnancy: The most common form of ectopic pregnancy, in which a fertilized egg begins to develop in the fallopian tube.

Umbilical cord: The structure through which the fetus draws blood from the placenta.

Vernix: A white, waxy substance that covers the fetus in the uterus.

Most Popular Pregnancy Links:

Ovulation Calculator and Calendar

Pregnancy Complications

Pregnancy Week by Week

Pregnancy Questions and Answers

Baby Names