Now that you’re pregnant, you’re going to be hearing A LOT of terms you’ve never heard before. Use this handy guide to decipher your doctor’s “foreign” language.

Thanks to the March of Dimes for the infomation


afterbirth (AF-tur-burth) — The placenta that comes out of the vagina after a vaginal birth. The placenta grows in your uterus and supplies food and oxygen to your baby through the umbilical cord during pregnancy.

afterbirth pain (AF-tur-burth payn) — Belly cramps caused when your uterus goes back to its regular size after pregnancy.

allergy (AL-er-jee) — A reaction to something you touch, eat or breathe in that makes you sneeze, itch, get a rash or have trouble breathing.

amnio (AM-nee-oh) — See amniocentesis.

amniocentesis (am-nee-oh-sen-TEE-siss) — Also called amnio. A test that takes some amniotic fluid from around your baby in the uterus. The test checks for problems with the baby, like birth defects or genetic problems. You can get this test at 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

amniotic fluid (am-nee-AH-tik FLOO-id) — The fluid that surrounds the baby in your uterus.

amniotic sac (am-nee-AH-tik sak) — The sac (bag) inside the uterus that holds a growing baby. It is filled with amniotic fluid.

anemia (uh-NEE-mee-uh) — When the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells or the red blood cells are too small. Women get anemia when they don’t have enough iron in their bodies. It is common in pregnancy.

antepartum (an-tee-PAR-tuhm) — Before birth.

antibiotic (an-tee-bye-YAH-tik) — Medicine that kills infections caused by bacteria.

antibodies (an-tee-BAH-deez) — Cells in the body that fight off infections.

Apgar test (AP-gar test) — A test done on your baby right after birth. The test checks five things to make sure your baby is healthy: heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflexes and skin color.

areola (air-ee-OH-luh) — The dark area around the nipple on your breast. It may get darker or larger during pregnancy.

ART (ay-ar-tee or art) — See assisted reproductive technology.

aspirin (ASS-per-in) — A type of medicine to relieve pain and reduce fever.

assisted reproductive technology (uh-SISS-ted ree-pruh-DUHK-tiv tek-nollNAHL-uh-jee) — Also called ART. Any kind of fertility treatment where both the egg and sperm are handled in a lab.

Next: B



baby blues (BAY-bee blooz) — Feeling of sadness in the first few days after having a baby.

bacteria (bak-TEER-ee-uh) — Tiny organisms that live in and around your body. Some bacteria are good for your body, and others can make you sick.

bed rest (bed rest) — Reducing your activities while you’re pregnant. Bed rest may mean staying in bed all day or just resting a few times each day.

bikini cut (bi-KEE-nee kuht) — A cut used in surgery that goes across your belly, just above your pubic bone. It may be used in c-sections.

birth canal (burth kuh-NAL) — See vagina.

birth control (burth kuhn-TROHL) — Also called contraception or family planning. Things you can do to keep from getting pregnant. Using a condom and taking a birth control pill are examples of birth control.

birth defects (burth dee-FEKS) — Problems with a baby’s body that are present at birth.

bladder (BLAD-ur) — Where your body holds urine.

bleeding (BLEED-eeng) — Also called spotting. When blood comes out of your vagina during pregnancy. Call your provider if you have bleeding from your vagina during pregnancy.

blood clot (bluhd klaht) — A mass of blood and other body tissue that blocks blood flow.

blood test (bluhd test) — A test of your blood to check for sugar, infections and other possible problems. Blood tests are a regular part of prenatal care.

blood transfusion (bluhd tranz-FYOO-zhuhn) — Having new blood put into your body.

bloody show (BLUHD-ee shoh) — Bleeding from your vagina at the beginning of labor.

BMI (bee-em-EYE) — See body mass index.

body mass index (BAH-dee mass IN-deks) — Also called BMI. A measure of body fat based on your height and weight. It can help you find out if you need to gain or lose weight.

bowel movement (BOW-uhl MOOV-mint) — Solid waste that leaves the body through the rectum.

Braxton-Hicks contractions (BRACKS-tuhn-hicks kuhn-TRAK-shuhnz) — Sometimes called false labor. Contractions that help prepare your body for labor. They are different from labor contractions because they don’t get stronger or happen faster over time. They also may stop when you move around.

breastfeed (BREST-feed) — Feeding your baby milk that comes from your breasts.

breastmilk (BREST-milk) — Milk that comes from your breasts. Breastmilk is the best food for a baby.

breast pump (brest puhmp) — A pump used to help remove breastmilk from your breasts.

breech position (breech puh-ZI-shuhn) — When the baby’s bottom or feet are facing down right before birth.



caffeine (ka-FEEN) — A drug that is found in things like coffee, tea, soda, chocolate and some medicines. During pregnancy, limit the caffeine you get each day to 200 milligrams. That’s about the amount in one 12-ounce cup of coffee.

catheter (KATH-uh-tur) — A tube used to drain urine from your bladder.

cerclage (sir-KLAHJ) — A stitch that your doctor puts in your cervix to help keep it closed so that the baby is not born too early.

certified nurse-midwife (SUR-ti-fyed nurs-MID-wyf) — Also called CNM. A health care provider. A CNM is a nurse who has special education and training to take care of pregnant women and deliver babies.

cervix (SUR-viks) — The opening to the uterus that sits at the top of the vagina.

cesarean birth (suh-SAIR-ee-uhn burth) — Also called c-section. Surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your doctor makes in your belly and uterus.

CF (see-EF) — See cystic fibrosis.

childbirth classes (CHILD-burth KLAS-is) — Classes for you and your partner to learn about what happens during the birth of a baby.

chloasma (kloh-AZ-muh) — Also called mask of pregnancy or melasma. When the skin around a woman’s eyes, nose or cheeks turns brown or gets darker during pregnancy. It usually goes away after pregnancy.

chorionic villus sampling (KOR-ee-ah-nik VIL-us SAM-pleeng) — Also called CVS. A test of tissue from the placenta that checks for birth defects and genetic problems, like Down syndrome. You can get CVS at 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

chronic health condition (KRAHN-ik helth kuhn-DI-shuhn) — A health condition that lasts for a long time or that happens again and again over a long period of time. Examples are diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and depression. Chronic health conditions need treatment from a health care provider.

circumcision (sur-kuhm-SI-zhuhn) — Removing the foreskin from the penis.

clomid (KLOH-mid) — See clomiphene citrate.

clomiphene (KLOH-muh-feen) — See clomiphene citrate.

clomiphene citrate (KLOH-muh-feen SYE-trayt) — Also called clomiphene. A medicine you take to help you ovulate and make healthier eggs.

CMV (see-em-VEE) — See cytomegalovirus.

CNM (see-en-EM) — See certified nurse-midwife

colostrum (kuh-LAH-struhm) — Clear, sticky liquid that comes out of your breasts right after you give birth before your breastmilk comes in. It feeds your baby and helps protect him from infection. Your body starts making it during the last few months of pregnancy.

conception (kuhn-SEP-shuhn) — Also called fertilization. When a man’s sperm gets inside of a woman’s egg. This is how a woman gets pregnant.

constipation (kahn-sti-PAY-shuhn) — When it’s hard to have a bowel movement.

contraception (kahn-truh-SEP-shuhn) — See birth control.

contraction (kuhn-TRAK-shuhn) — When the muscles of your uterus get tight and then relax. Contractions help push your baby out of your uterus.

cord blood (kord bluhd) — Also called umbilical cord blood. The blood in the umbilical cord and placenta after the baby is born and the cord is cut.

crib death (krib deth) — See sudden infant death syndrome.

c-section (SEE-sek-shuhn) — See cesarean birth.

CVS (see-vee-ESS) — See chorionic villus sampling.

cystic fibrosis(SIS-tik fye-BROH-siss) — Also called CF. A disease that parents can pass on to their children. It affects breathing and digestion.

cytomegalovirus (sye-toh-MEG-uh-loh-vye-ruhs) — Also called CMV. CMV is a common infection in young children. Most of the time it does not cause problems. But if a pregnant woman gets infected, she can pass it to her baby. If this happens, the baby could get very sick, have lifelong problems or even die.



D&C (dee and see) — See dilation and curettage.

decaffeinated (dee-KAF-uh-nay-tid) — Foods or drinks that have less caffeine in them. Many coffees, teas and sodas are decaffeinated.

dehydration (dee-hye-DRAY-shuhn) — Not having enough water in your body.

depression (di-PRESH-uhn) — A medical condition where strong feelings of sadness last for long periods of time and prevent a person from leading a normal life.

diabetes (dye-uh-BEE-teez) — Having too much sugar in your blood. Too much sugar in your blood can damage organs in your body, including blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys.

diagnostic test (dye-uhg-NAHS-tik test) — A medical test that tells you if you do or do not have a certain health condition. It is different from a screening test that tells you if you’re more likely than other people to have a certain health condition.

dilate (DYE-layt) — Open up. Your cervix dilates (opens up) to let the baby out.

dilation and curettage (dye-LAY-shuhn and KYUR-uh-tahj) — Also called D&C. When a doctor scrapes the lining of a woman’s uterus to collect tissue. Some women have a D&C after a miscarriage.

domestic violence (duh-MESS-tik VYE-lenss) — When your partner abuses or hurts you. It can be emotional abuse, like if your partner yells at you or calls you names. It also can be physical abuse, like hitting, kicking or punching.

Doppler (DAHP-lur) — A kind of ultrasound that can measure a baby’s blood flow in the umbilical cord and certain blood vessels.

douche (doosh) — Water or other liquid used to clean the vagina. Women should not douche during pregnancy.

doula (DOO-luh) — A person who has special training to help you handle labor.

Down syndrome (down SIN-drohm) — A genetic disorder that includes a combination of birth defects, such as mental retardation, heart defects, certain facial features, and hearing and vision problems.

due date (doo dayt) — The estimated date that you will have your baby. It is about 40 weeks from the first day of your last period.



ectopic pregnancy (ek-TAH-pik PREG-nuhn-see) — When a fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus and begins to grow. An ectopic pregnancy cannot result in the birth of a baby. It can cause serious, dangerous problems for the pregnant woman. Most of the time, ectopic pregnancies are removed by surgery.

edema (eh-DEE-muh) — Swelling. Many pregnant women have swelling in the legs, feet, ankles, hands and face.

efface (i-fayss) — Thin out. Your cervix effaces (thins out) to let the baby out.

egg (eg) — Also called ovum. During ovulation, a woman’s ovaries release an egg. When a woman’s egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm, the woman gets pregnant.

ejaculation (ee-jak-yoo-LAY-shuhn) — When sperm comes out of a man’s penis.

embryo (EM-bree-oh) — A fertilized egg that results when an egg and sperm combine. The embryo implants itself into the wall of the uterus and grows to become a fetus.

emergency (ee-MUR-juhn-see) — Needing medical care right away.

engorgement (en-GORJ-mint) — When your breasts become full of milk.

epidural (ep-uh-DUR-uhl) — Pain medicine you get through a needle in your lower back that helps numb your lower body during labor. It is the most common kind of pain relief used during labor.

episiotomy (eh-peez-ee-AH-tuh-mee) — A cut made at the opening of the vagina to help let the baby out.



fallopian tubes (fuh-LOH-pee-uhn toobz) — The tubes between your ovaries and your uterus. When your ovary releases an egg, it travels down these tubes to your uterus.

false negative (fahlss NEG-uh-tiv) — A negative test result (like from a blood test) that may not be correct. If you get a false-negative result, you may need to have the test again. Your provider can tell you if you need to repeat the test.

false positive (fahlss PAHS-uh-tiv) — A positive test result (like from a blood test) that may not be correct. If you get a false-positive result, you may need to have the test again. Your provider can tell you if you need to repeat the test.

family history (FAM-i-lee HISS-tuh-ree) — A list of questions a health care provider asks to find out about diseases and other health problems in your family.

family planning (FAM-i-lee PLAN-eeng) — See birth control.

FAS (eff-ay-ESS) — See fetal alcohol syndrome.

fertility specialist (fur-TIL-uh-tee SPESH-uh-list) — Also called a reproductive endocrinologist. A medical doctor who is an expert in helping women get pregnant.

fertility treatment (fur-TIL-uh-tee TREET-mint) — Special medical treatment to help women get pregnant.

fertilization (FUR-til-uh-zay-shuhn) — See conception.

fetal alcohol syndrome (FEE-tuhl AL-kuh-hol SIN-drohm) — Also called FAS. When a baby is born with physical and mental birth defects caused when the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy.

fetal fibronectin test (FEE-tuhl fye-broh-NEK-tin test) — Also called fFN test. A test you may get to see if you are in preterm labor. It checks to see how much fFN protein you have in your vagina. If the test shows that you don’t have any fFN, you probably won’t have your baby for at least another two weeks.

fetal monitor (FEE-tuhl MAHN-i-tur) — A device placed on your belly during labor to check contractions and the baby’s heartbeat.

fetus (FEE-tuhs) — What a growing baby is called from 8 weeks of pregnancy until he is born.

fFN test (ef-ef-EN test) — See fetal fibronectin test.

first trimester screening (furst TRY-mes-tur SKREE-neeng) — Tests to see if your baby is more likely than other babies to have some birth defects, like heart problems or Down syndrome. It’s usually done at 11 to 13 weeks of pregnancy. It includes a blood test and an ultrasound.

folic acid (FOH-lik ASS-id) — A vitamin that can help protect your baby from some birth defects. Take a vitamin pill with 400 micrograms of folic acid in it each day before pregnancy and during the first few weeks of pregnancy.

forceps (FOR-sepss) — A tool that can be used to help deliver a baby. Forceps look like big tongs.

formula (FOR-myoo-luh) — A milk product that you can feed your baby instead of breastmilk.

full term(FUHL turm) — A pregnancy that lasts between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. It’s best for your baby if you stay pregnant until you’re full term.



gene (jeen) — A part of your body’s cells that stores instructions for the way your body grows and works. Genes are passed from parents to children.

genetic (juh-NET-ik) — Having to do with things that run in families, like eye or hair color or certain diseases.

genetic counselor (juh-NET-ik KOWN-si-lur) — A person who is trained to know about genetics, birth defects and other medical problems that run in families.

genetic disorder (juh-NET-ik dis-OR-dur) — A condition caused by a gene that’s changed from its regular form. A person’s gene can change on its own, or the changed gene can be passed from parents to children.

genetic test (juh-NET-ik test) — A medical test that looks for changes in genes that can cause birth defects or other medical problems.

gestational age (jes-TAY-shuhn-uhl ayj) — The number of weeks a baby has been in the womb.

gestational diabetes (jes-TAY-shuhn-uhl dye-uh-BEE-teez) — A form of diabetes that some women get during pregnancy.

gingivitis (jin-ji-VYE-tiss) — Red, swollen or sore gums. Some women get gingivitis during pregnancy. See your dentist if you have this problem.

glucose screening test (GLOO-kohss SKREE-neeng test) — A test to see if you have diabetes.

Group B strep test (groop bee strep test) — A prenatal test for Group B strep, an infection that can hurt your baby. The test is like the test you get for your pap smear.


hCG (h-see-JEE) — See human chorionic gonadotropin.

health care provider (helth kair pruh-VYE-dur) — Also called provider. The person who gives you medical care. Your provider could be a doctor, a nurse, a certified nurse-midwife, a nurse practitioner or another trained medical professional.

health insurance (helth in-SHOOR-uhnss) — Helps you pay for medical care. You may get health insurance from where you work. Or you may get it from the government or buy it on your own.

heartburn (HART-burn) — A burning feeling in your chest caused by stomach acid.

hemorrhoids (HEM-uh-roidz) — Swollen veins in and around the anus that may hurt or bleed. Hemorrhoids are common during and after pregnancy.

hepatitis B (HEP-uh-tye-tis bee) — A disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. Pregnant women get tested to see if they have it. Most babies get a vaccination before they leave the hospital so they won’t get the disease.

herb (urb) — A plant used in cooking and medicine. Do not use herbs as medicine during pregnancy. Examples of herbs used as medicine are mint, chamomile and Ginko biloba. Check with your health care provider if you have questions about herbs.

high blood pressure (hye bluhd PRESH-ur) — Also called hypertension. When the force of blood against the walls of the blood vessels is too high. High blood pressure can cause problems during pregnancy.

high-risk pregnancy (HYE-risk PREG-nuhn-see) — A pregnancy that is more likely than other pregnancies to have problems. Things that can make a pregnancy high-risk for a woman include being older than 35, having a medical problem like diabetes or high blood pressure, and being over- or underweight.

hormones (HOR-mohnz) — Chemicals made by the body.

human chorionic gonadotropin (HYOO-muhn KOR-ee-ah-nik goh-nad-uh-TROH-pin) — Also called hCG. A hormone that a woman’s body makes during pregnancy.

hypertension (hye-pur-TEN-shuhn) — See high blood pressure.



immune (i-MYOON) — Being protected from an infection. If you’re immune to an infection, it means you can’t get the infection.

implantation (im-plan-TAY-shuhn) — When a fertilized egg (embryo) attaches to the lining of the uterus and begins to grow.

incision (in-SI-zhuhn) — A cut made by a surgeon or other doctor. For example, a surgeon makes an incision in your belly and uterus to deliver your baby during a c-section.

incompetent cervix (in-KAHM-pi-tent SUR-viks) — When the cervix opens too early, before the baby is full term.

incontinence (in-KAHN-ti-nuhnts) — When you can’t control when you urinate.

induce labor (in-DOOS LAY-bur) — When your provider gives you medicine to make you start labor.

infection (in-FEK-shuhn) — A sickness you get from bad germs. Some common infections are the flu, chickenpox, HIV and vaginal infections. Infections can cause problems during pregnancy.

infertility (in-fur-TIL-i-tee) — Not being able to get pregnant.

intravenous (in-truh-VEE-nuhs) — Also called IV. When medicine is given through a needle into a vein. During labor, most women have an IV put into their arm so they can get liquids and medicine as needed.

in vitro fertilization (in VEE-troh fur-til-uh-ZAY-shuhn) — Also called IVF. A method used to help women get pregnant. A doctor takes eggs from a woman’s body and combines them with a man’s sperm in a lab to form an embryo. The embryo is then put into the woman’s uterus.

IV (eye-VEE) — See intravenous.

IVF(eye-vee-EF) — See in vitro fertilization.

back to top

jaundice (JAWN-diss) — When a baby’s eyes and skin look yellow. A baby has jaundice when his liver isn’t fully developed or isn’t working well.

Kegel exercise (KEE-guhl EK-sur-syze) — An exercise that strengthens pelvic muscles. They can help prepare the muscles for labor and delivery.


lactation (lak-TAY-shuhn) — See breastfeed.

lactation consultant (lak-TAY-shuhn kuhn-SUHL-tuhnt) — Someone who has special training in helping women breastfeed.

limb buds (lim buhdz) — The parts of a developing baby that become the arms and legs.

linea nigra (LIN-ee-uh NYE-gruh) — A dark line on the belly that some women get during pregnancy. It goes from the belly button down to the pubic area.

lochia (LOW-kee-uh) — See vaginal discharge.



March of Dimes (march uhv dymz) — An organization that wants all babies to be born healthy.

mask of pregnancy (mask uhv PREG-nuhn-see) — See chloasma.

maternal blood screening (muh-TUR-nuhl bluhd SKREE-neeng) — A blood test to see if your baby is more likely than other babies to have some birth defects.

maternity (muh-TUR-nuh-tee) — Having to do with being pregnant or being a mother. For example, pregnant women wear maternity clothes.

meconium (me-KOH-nee-uhm) — A baby’s first bowel movement. It can be green, brown or black in color.

Medicaid (MED-uh-kayd) — A government program that pays for medical care for people with very low incomes.

melasma (mel-AZ-muh) — See chloasma.

membrane (MEM-brayn) — Tissue that connects the amniotic sac to the uterus.

menstrual cycle (MEN-struhl SYE-kuhl) — The process of the ovaries releasing an egg every month. The egg moves through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. If the egg is not fertilized by sperm, it passes through the vagina along with blood and tissue from the uterus. This is called your period.

menstrual diary (MEN-struhl DYE-uh-ree) — A monthly diary of your periods. You write down when your period starts and how long it lasts.

menstruation (men-stroo-AY-shuhn) — Also called your period. The bleeding you have at the end of your menstrual cycle. If you get your period each month, you’re not pregnant.

mercury (MUR-kyur-ee) — A metal that is often found in water. You can get mercury from eating fish. Swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish all have a lot of mercury. Don’t eat these kinds of fish when you’re pregnant. You can eat up to 12 ounces a week of fish with less mercury in them, like shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish and canned light tuna. Don’t eat more than 6 ounces a week of albacore (white) tuna.

metabolism (me-TAB-uh-liz-uhm) — How well and fast your body processes what you eat and drink.

mineral (MIN-ur-uhl) — Minerals, like iron and calcium, help your body work and stay healthy. You get minerals from foods or from a vitamin pill.

miscarriage (MIS-kair-ij) — When a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

morning sickness (MOR-neeng SIK-niss) — Feeling sick to your stomach during the first few months of pregnancy. Even though it is called morning sickness, it can last all day.

mucus (MYOO-kuhs) — A thick fluid that coats and protects parts of the body.

mucus plug (MYOO-kuhs pluhg) — A mass of mucus that blocks the opening of the cervix. It helps keep the baby safe from infection.

multiples (MUHL-ti-puhlz) — Being pregnant with more than one baby, like twins, triplets or more.

multivitamin (muhl-tee-VYE-tuh-min) — A pill that contains many vitamins (like vitamins B and C) and minerals (like iron and calcium) that help the body work and stay healthy.


narcotic (nar-KAH-tik) — A drug that relieves pain.

nausea (NAH-zhuh; NAU-zee-uh) — Feeling sick to your stomach.

neonatal intensive care unit (nee-oh-NAY-tuhl in-TEN-siv kair YOO-nit) — Also called NICU. A section of a hospital that takes care of sick newborns.

neonate (NEE-oh-nayt) — A newborn baby up to 4 weeks old.

neural tube (NOOR-uhl toob) — The part of a developing baby that becomes the brain and spinal cord.

newborn screening (NOO-born SKREE-neeng) — Blood and hearing tests your baby has before he leaves the hospital to check for certain treatable problems that may occur during infancy.

nicotine (NIK-uh-teen) — A drug that is found in cigarettes. Nicotine can be harmful to a developing baby.

NICU (NIK-yoo) — See neonatal intensive care unit.

NP (en-pee) — See nurse practitioner.

nuchal fold (NOO-kuhl fohld) — The tissue at the back of an unborn baby’s neck. An ultrasound can measure this tissue to help find out if the baby has certain birth defects, like Down syndrome.

nurse practitioner (nurs prak-TI-shuh-nur) — Also called NP. A health care provider. An NP is a registered nurse with advanced medical education and training.

nutrient (NU-tree-ent) — Nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, help your body work and stay healthy.


obese (oh-BEESS) — Being extremely overweight.

OB-GYN (OH-bee jee-wye-EN) — See obstetrician-gynecologist.

obstetrician-gynecologist (ahb-stuh-TRI-shuhn gye-nuh-KAHL-uh-jist) — Also called OB-GYN. A doctor who has special training to care for all women, including pregnant women.

online community (AHN-line kuh-MYOO-nuh-tee) — A Web site where you can talk with other people who have the same kinds of concerns. For example, the March of Dimes online community Share Your Story is for parents who have had a child in the NICU.

operating room (AH-pur-ay-teeng room) — A room in a hospital where you have surgery.

ovaries (OH-vuh-reez) — Where eggs are stored in your body. Women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus.

over-the-counter medicine (OH-vur-thuh-KOWN-tur MED-i-sin) — Medicine, like aspirin or cough syrup, you can buy without a prescription.

overweight (OH-vur-wayt) — Weighing too much. Being overweight can cause health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

ovulate (AHV-yoo-layt) — To release an egg into the fallopian tubes.

ovum (OH-vuhm) — See egg.



Pap smear (pap smeer) — Also called Pap test. A medical test in which a provider collects cells from a woman’s cervix. The cells are looked at under a microscope to check for signs of cancer.

Pap test (pap test) — See Pap smear.

pasteurized (PASS-chur-eyezd) — A food or drink that’s been heated to kill bad germs. Milk and juice often are pasteurized.

paternity (puh-TUR-nuh-tee) — Having to do with a baby’s biological father.

pediatrician (pee-dee-uh-TRI-shuhn) — A doctor who has special training in taking care of babies and children.

pelvic area (PEL-vik AIR-ee-uh) — The part of the body between the stomach and the legs.

pelvic exam (PEL-vik eg-ZAM) — An exam of the pelvic organs to make sure they are healthy.

pelvic organs (PEL-vik OR-guhnz) — Organs in the pelvic area, including the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and bladder.

pelvic pressure (PEL-vik PRESH-ur) — The feeling that your baby is pushing down inside you. Pelvic pressure is a sign of preterm labor.

penis (PEE-niss) — A man’s sex organ.

perinatal (pair-ee-NAY-tuhl) — The period of time before and after a baby is born, from the 20th week of gestation to the 28th day after birth.

perineum (per-I-nee-uhm) — The area between the vagina and the rectum.

period (PEER-ee-uhd) — See menstruation.

placenta (pluh-SEN-tuh) — The placenta grows in your uterus and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.

postpartum (pohst-PAR-tuhm) — Having to do with the time after a baby’s birth.

postpartum depression (pohst-PAR-tuhm dee-PRESH-shuhn) — A medical condition where a woman has strong feelings of sadness that last for a long period of time after her baby is born.

preconception checkup (PREE-kuhn-sep-shuhn CHEK-uhp) — A medical checkup to help make sure you are healthy before you get pregnant.

preconception health (PREE-kuhn-sep-shuhn helth) — A woman’s health before she gets pregnant.

preeclampsia (pree-ee-KLAMP-see-uh) — A certain kind of high blood pressure that only pregnant women can get.

pregnancy history (PREG-nuhn-see HISS-tuh-ree) — A list of questions a health care provider asks to find out if you’ve been pregnant before, how your baby was born (vaginal birth or c-section), and if you had any problems during pregnancy or after the baby’s birth.

premature baby (pree-muh-CHOOR BAY-bee) — A baby born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.

premature birth (pree-muh-CHOOR burth) — Birth that happens too early, before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.

prenatal care (PREE-nay-tuhl kair) — Medical care you get during pregnancy.

prenatal tests (PREE-nay-tuhl testz) — Tests that you and your baby get during pregnancy. They help your provider find out how you and your baby are doing.

prenatal vitamin (PREE-nay-tuhl VYE-tuh-min) — A vitamin made for pregnant women.

prescription (pri-SKRIP-shuhn) — An order for medicine written by a health care provider.

preterm labor (PREE-turm LAY-bur) — Labor that happens too early, before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.

progesterone (proh-JES-tur-ohn) — Also called 17P. 17P is a hormone that can help prevent preterm labor. If you’ve had preterm labor in the past, you may get 17P in a shot once a week, starting at about 16 weeks of pregnancy.

provider (pruh-VYE-dur) — See health care provider.


quickening (KWIK-uh-neeng) — The time during pregnancy when you can begin to feel your baby move. It usually happens near the end of the fourth month of pregnancy.



rectum (REK-tuhm) — Where bowel movements leave the body.

reproductive endocrinologist (ree-pruh-DUHK-tiv en-doh-kruh-NOL-uh-jist) — Also called a fertility specialist. A doctor who has special training in helping women who have trouble getting pregnant.

Rh disease (ar-h duh-ZEEZ) — See Rh factor. A disease caused only when a baby who is Rh-positive is born to a mother who is Rh-negative.

Rh factor (ar-h FAK-tur) — A protein found on red blood cells. If you have the protein, you are Rh-positive. If you don’t have it, you are Rh-negative. Most people are Rh-positive. If a woman is Rh-negative and her baby is Rh-positive, her baby may be born with a disease called Rh disease. A woman can be tested and treated during pregnancy to make sure her baby isn’t born with Rh disease.

risk factor (risk FAK-tur) — A known reason why something could go wrong. For example, smoking is a risk factor for having a premature baby. If you smoke, you’re more likely than women who don’t smoke to have a premature baby.



safe sex (sayf seks) — Using a condom if you have sex with more than one partner to help make sure you don’t get a sexually transmitted infection, like HIV or herpes.

screening (SKREE-neeng) — A medical test, usually a blood test, to see if you are more likely than other people to have a certain health condition. It is different from a diagnostic test that tells you if you do or do not have a certain health condition.

secondhand smoke (SEK-uhnd-hand smohk) — Smoke you breathe in from someone else’s cigarette, cigar or pipe.

sexually transmitted infection (SEK-shoo-uhl-lee tranz-MI-ted in-FEK-shuhn) — Also called STI. An infection you can get from having sex with someone who has the infection. Examples of STIs are HIV and herpes.

side effect (syed ee-FEKT) — The effect of a drug or medicine that is not the intended result. For example, a side effect of some cold medicines is that they make you sleepy.

SIDS (sidz) — See sudden infant death syndrome.

speculum (SPEK-yoo-luhm) — A tool that a health care provider uses to hold the vagina open during a pelvic exam.

sperm (spurm) — During ejaculation, a man releases sperm. When a woman’s egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm, the woman gets pregnant.

spinal block (SPYE-nuhl blahk) — A shot you get in your lower back that numbs your lower body.

spotting (SPAH-teeng) — See bleeding.

STI (ess-tee-EYE) — See sexually transmitted infection.

stillbirth (STIL-burth) — When a baby dies in the womb before birth, but after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

stretch marks (strech marks) — Lines you get on your skin when it stretches. During pregnancy, you may get stretch marks on your belly, thighs, breasts and bottom.

sudden infant death syndrome (SUH-duhn IN-fuhnt deth SIN-druhm) — Also called SIDS. The unexplained death of a baby while sleeping.

supplement (SUH-pluh-ment) — Something you take in addition to what you eat that helps your body work and stay healthy. Examples include vitamins, like vitamins B and C, and minerals like iron and calcium.

support group (suh-PORT groop) — A group of people who have the same kind of concerns. They meet together to try to help each other.



teratogen (tuh-RAT-oh-jin) — A drug or chemical a pregnant woman takes or is exposed to that can cause her baby to have a birth defect.

thyroid (THY-royd) — A gland in your neck that makes hormones that affect your heart rate, your metabolism and other aspects of your health.

toxoplasmosis (tahks-oh-plaz-MOH-siss) — An infection you can get from eating undercooked meat or touching cat poop.

transverse position (tranz-VURS puh-ZI-shuhn) — When the baby’s shoulder is facing down right before birth.

trimester (TRY-mes-tur; try-MES-tur) — A time period of 3 months. Pregnancy is divided into 3 trimesters: first, second and third trimesters.


ultrasound (UHL-truh-sound) — Uses sound waves and a computer screen to make a picture of a baby in the womb.

umbilical cord (uhm-BIL-uh-kuhl kord) — The cord that connects the baby to the placenta. It carries food and oxygen from the placenta to the baby.

umbilical cord blood (uhm-BIL-uh-kuhl kord bluhd) — See cord blood.

umbilical cord prolapse (uhm-BIL-uh-kuhl kord PROH-laps) — When the umbilical cord slips into the vagina where it could be squeezed or flattened during vaginal delivery.

underweight (UHN-dur-wayt) — Not weighing enough. For women, being underweight can cause health problems, including missed periods, bone loss and miscarriage.

urinary problems (YUR-i-nair-ee PRAH-bluhmz) — Feeling pain or burning when you urinate, or not being able to urinate.

urinate (YUR-i-nayt) — When urine leaves the body.

uterus (YOO-tur-uhss) — Also called the womb. The place inside you where your baby grows.


vaccination (VAK-suh-nay-shuhn) — A shot that contains a vaccine.

vaccine (vak-SEEN) — Medicine you or your baby gets that protects against certain diseases.

vagina (vuh-JYE-nuh) — Also called the birth canal. The baby comes out of your vagina during a vaginal birth.

vaginal birth (VAJ-uh-nuhl burth) — The way most babies are born. During vaginal birth, the uterus contracts to help push the baby out through the vagina.

vaginal birth after cesarean (VAJ-uh-nuhl burth AF-tur suh-SAIR-ee-uhn) — Also called VBAC. When you have a vaginal birth after already having a cesarean birth in an earlier pregnancy.

vaginal discharge (VAJ-uh-nuhl DIS-charj) — Bodily fluid that comes out of your vagina. Vaginal discharge may increase during and after pregnancy.

varicose veins (VAIR-i-kohs vaynz) — Swollen veins.

VBAC (VEE-bak) — See vaginal birth after cesarean.

virus (VYE-ruhs) — A tiny organism that can make you sick. Viruses cause diseases such as measles, colds, the flu and AIDS.

vitamin (VYE-tuh-min) — Vitamins, like vitamins B and C, help the body work and stay healthy. You get vitamins from the foods you eat or from vitamin pills you take.


WIC (wik) — Stands for Women, Infants and Children. It is a program run by the U.S. government that helps provide food to women and children with low income, including pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children up to 5 years old.

womb (woom) — See uterus


An A-Z guide of the terms you should know.

Previous Post
The Best Summer Movies for Kids
Next Post
Swing Sets Recalled

All Information Found on NewParent.com is Intended for Informational and Educational Purposes Only. The Information Provided on This Website is Not Intended to Be a Replacement or Substitute for Professional Medical Advice

Related posts: