Pregnancy Medical Terms to Know

The world of pregnancy has it’s own language so it’s important to know these pregnancy medical terms. Be sure to ask lots of questions when you’re unsure about anything your medical team is discussing.

Common Pregnancy Medical Terms

  • Amniotic Fluid: This is a liquid of mostly water that surrounds the baby and protects it while it is in the uterus. When a woman’s water breaks, it is the amniotic fluid that is released in preparation for the baby’s birth.
  • Blood Pregnancy Tests: Blood tests can be taken slightly earlier than urine tests, but they do take a lot longer to process. Like urine tests, blood tests detect hCG to confirm a pregnancy.
  • Braxton Hicks Contractions: False labor or practice contractions may happen throughout pregnancy. They do not dilate the cervix, therefore, they are not dangerous.
  • Cesarean: Commonly referred to as “C-section”. This is a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby. Epidural or a Spinal (pain medicine) is given, and an incision is made in the lower part of the woman’s abdomen.
  • Conception: When the egg is available for fertilization and 350 million sperm are released inside or near the woman’s vaginal area, about 200 sperm will reach the egg. Of those 200 sperms, only one will actually penetrate the egg, thus causing conception.
  • Contraction: The uterus tightens so that the cervix thins and dilates, making way for the baby to go through the birth canal.
  • Cramping: Early in pregnancy, some women feel repeated dull pains similar to those during a menstrual cycle. During the second trimester, women can also feel cramping due to the stretching of the abdominal muscles.
  • Endometrium: The embryo gets its nutrients from this lining of the uterus.
  • Electronic Fetal Monitor: An instrument used to record the heartbeat of the unborn baby as well as the mother’s contractions.
  • Fibroids: These tumors of the muscle wall in the uterus are non-cancerous, but can potentially cause miscarriages, trouble in the growth of the baby, and trouble in the delivery depending on their size and location. Fibroids are also sometimes painful.
  • Gestation: The age of the fetus, determined using the beginning date of the mother’s last menstrual period.
  • Miscarriage: When circumstances cause the mother’s body to react to a problem in the pregnancy, it may cause bleeding, cramping, and will ultimately cause the loss of the pregnancy.
  • Ovulation: An average of 14 days after the beginning of a woman’s period, she has a rise in her luteinizing hormone (LH) when the egg is available for fertilization. This is the most probable time frame to get pregnant.
  • Placenta: The tissue that connects the mother to the baby.
  • Preterm: Counting from the first day of the woman’s last period, preterm is considered before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.
  • Spotting: Not as heavy as a period, this brown or reddish tinted discharge occurs when the endometrium (the uterine lining) has started to pull away from the uterus, anticipating a monthly period before realizing that there is a pregnancy.
  • Trimester: The period of time denotes a particular stage of pregnancy. There are three trimesters in a pregnancy, each being three months.
  • Ultrasound: Sometimes referred to as a sonogram, this test uses sound waves to detect and watch the unborn baby.
  • Urine Pregnancy Tests: A pregnancy test that uses urine to find the hormone called human Chorionic Gonadotropin, or hCG. Urine pregnancy tests are taken two weeks after probable conception, or anytime after a woman misses a period. Most women can find these tests at their local drug stores.