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Helpful Terms



Amniotic Sac

This is also known as the “Bag of Waters” which is the thin membrane around the baby and the amniotic fluid inside the Uterus. When you are full term there is about a quart of amniotic fluid in the sac surrounding the baby. When your water breaks this is what helps the baby descend further into the birth canal making labor quicker.

Braxton Hicks Contractions

These are usually painless uterine contractions that present from the beginning of pregnancy but usually do not make themselves known until later in pregnancy as the body prepares for the big day. As real labor approaches they can occur more often and can actually cause some discomfort which usually can be misleading for real labor. Timing contractions even if you feel that they are braxton hicks will help determine if there is a pattern or not.

Contractions

This is the rhythmic tightening and relaxation of the uterus as the baby begins to try to be born. Contractions cause effacement and dilation of the cervix and begin to push the baby out of the uterus. True labor contractions have a very distinctive pattern which get closer and closer and increase in intensity as labor progresses.

Cervix

The cervix is the lowest part of the uterus which opens into the birth canal [Vagina] to allow the baby to pass through.


Cord Blood

Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth.

Dilation

This is the opening of the cervix so that the baby can pass from the uterus to the birth canal. This is always measured in centimeters from 0-10. 10 is fully dilated.

Effacement

This is the thinning and shortening of the cervix and it is measured in percentages from 0-100 and effacement goes hand in hand with dilation.

Engagement

This is the entrance of the baby’s presenting part into the upper oval of the mother’s pelvis. Engagement often takes place about two weeks before your due date and this is baby getting itself comfortable into the birth canal.


Episiotomy

This is a small surgical incision of the perineum made to enlarge the vaginal opening. This is usually only done if babies head is having a hard time and the vagina needs a little encouragement with helping the baby pass through.

Hemorrhoids

These are enlarged veins in the anus or rectum that can cause discomfort and is usually caused by constipation or straining while trying to pass a bowel movement. This is very common during pregnancy and after delivery.

Implantation

This is when the embryo attaches itself to the uterus.

Kegel Exercises

These are exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor during delivery and help recover from childbirth, done by contracting and holding the muscles used to stop the flow of urine. These exercises are usually recommended throughout pregnancy and after you deliver.


Lightening

This is the sensation the mother feels as the baby “drops down or settles” into the pelvis which can cause a lightning jab sensation as you walk or as the baby adjusts itself.

Mucous plug

This is a mucous discharge usually resembling “Snot” as a lot of women have reported. This isn’t always a “For sure sign” that labor is happening soon as the plug can regenerate. But it is a sign that the cervix is starting to thin even if it is just a little bit.

Preeclampsia

This is a condition involving high blood pressure, swelling due to fluid retention, and abnormal kidney function. This condition can be dangerous to the mother and the baby and usually occurs weeks before expected labor but can happen as your due date approaches. Watching your body and symptoms and reporting to your doctor is important.

Quickening

These are the little flutters that the mom feels as the baby gets bigger and she is able to feel it. Some have said it feels like a “Butterfly” in their uterus.


Toxemia

Pregnancy-induced hypertension this is a dangerous condition that may occur during pregnancy. Symptoms may include elevated maternal blood pressure, swelling of ankles and hands, sudden weight gain, and protein in the urine.

Ultrasound

This test uses sound waves to help visualize the baby in the womb. This test helps get an idea of what is going on with your baby during pregnancy and checks for abnormalities, amniotic fluid levels and more.

Water Birth

This is a birth type that is usually done at home or in a birth center and the birth takes place in a pool.

Yeast Infection

This is an inflammation of the vagina and can cause vaginal itchiness, irritation and discharge. This is common during pregnancy and can be easily treated by a doctor.