Labor & Birth Terms to Know
- Abruptio Placenta (Placental
- The placenta has started to separate from the uterine wall before
the baby is born.
- Amniotic Fluid:
- This protective liquid, consisting mostly of fetal urine and
water, fills the sac surrounding the fetus.
- A measurement of the newborn’s response to birth and life outside
the womb. The ratings, APGAR, are based on Appearance (color), Pulse
(heartbeat), Grimace (reflex), Activity (muscle tone), and Respiration
(breathing). The scores, which are taken at 1 and 5 minutes following
birth, range from 10 to 1, with 10 being the highest and 1 being
- When the fetus is positioned head up to be born buttocks first
or with one or both feet first.
- Cephalopelvic Disproportion(CPD):
- The baby is too large to safely pass through the mother’s pelvis.
- A medication used to ripen the cervix before induction.
- An incision through the abdominal and uterine walls for extraction
of the fetus; it may be vertical or more commonly, horizontal. Also
called abdominal delivery; commonly called C-Section.
- This is a thin, white fluid discharged from the breasts in the
early stage of milk production, and usually noticeable during the
last couple weeks of pregnancy.
- The baby’s buttocks are presenting at the cervix, but the legs
are folded “Indian style,” making vaginal delivery difficult
- The regular tightening of the uterus, working to push the baby
down the birth canal.
- When the baby’s head has passed through the birth canal and the
top or “crown” stays visible at the vaginal opening.
- The extent to which the cervix has opened in preparation for childbirth.
It is measured in centimeters, with full dilation being 10 centimeters.
- This refers to the thinning of the cervix in preparation for
birth and is expressed in percentages. You will be 100% effaced
when you begin pushing.
- The baby’s presenting part (usually the head) has settled into
the pelvic cavity, which usually happens during the last month of
- A common method of anesthesia used during labor. It is inserted
through a catheter which is threaded through a needle, into the
dura space near the spinal cord.
- An incision made to the perineum to widen the vaginal opening
- Fetal Distress:
- Condition when the baby is not receiving enough oxygen or is
experiencing some other complication.
- Soft spots between the unfused sections of the baby’s skull.
These allow the baby’s head to compress slightly during passage
through the birth canal.
- Tong shaped instrument that may be used to help guide the baby’s
head out of the birth canal during delivery.
- The baby’s buttocks are presenting at the cervix and the baby’s
legs are extended straight up to the baby’s head.
- Inability to control excretions. Urinary incontinence can occur
as the baby places heavy pressure on the bladder.
- Labor is started or accelerated through intervention, such as
placing prostaglandin gel on the cervix, using an IV drip of the
hormone oxytocin (Pitocin), or by rupturing the membranes.
- Condition in newborn babies, reflected in yellowing of the skin,
caused by the immature liver’s inability to process excess red blood
- Regular contractions of the uterus that result in dilation and
effacement of the cervix.
- When the baby drops in preparation for delivery (Engagement).
- This is the greenish substance that builds up in the bowels of
a growing fetus and is normally discharged shortly after birth.
- A specialist who cares for newborns.
- Acronym standing for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
- Synthetic narcotic pain reliever commonly used in labor and delivery.
- Hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that stimulates contractions
and the milk-eject reflex. Pitocin is the synthetic form of this
- The muscle and tissue between the vagina and the rectum.
- A sedative administered that also controls nausea and vomiting.
- The tissue that connects the mother and fetus to transport nourishment
and take away waste.
- When the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix.
- The baby is in a face-up position during delivery. Normal presentation
is anterior, which is face-down.
- Post Partum:
- The period after childbirth.
- Pregnancy lasting more than 42 weeks.
- Babies born earlier than 37 weeks.
- Prostaglandin Cream:
- Medication used to ripen the cervix before induction.
- Ruptured Membranes:
- Usually refers to the breaking of the fluid filled sac surrounding
the baby. The fluid may come as a gush of water or as a slow leak.
Slow leaks are sometimes mistaken as incontinence.
- An instrument used to open the vagina slightly wider so that the
cervix can be seen more easily.
- Timing Contractions:
- Contractions are measured from the beginning of one contraction
until the beginning of the next contraction.
- Baby’s body length is horizontal in the uterus. If the baby cannot
be moved, it will have to be delivered by cesarean .
- Umbilical Cord:
- The cord that transports blood, oxygen and nutrients to the baby
from the placenta.
- Vacuum Extractor:
- Instrument that attaches to the baby’s head and helps guide it
out of the birth canal during delivery.
Last Updated: 01/2013