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Dads-To-Be, The Pregnancy & Childbirth Terms You Need To Know!


When it comes to the beautiful world of pregnancy and birth, us Dads have a hard time keeping up with the terms that often get thrown around. Stay in-the-know with this guide to some of the terms associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

"Induction Using artificial means to start labor, such as puncturing the membranes or giving oxytocin (Pitocin)"

Amniotic Fluid - The fluid inside the amniotic sac (aka bag of water) that surrounds and protects the baby during pregnancy


Afterbirth - Placenta and membranes expelled by the uterus after the baby is delivered


Active Labor - Thinning and opening of the cervix, usually between 4–10 centimeters, with contractions typically 2–5 minutes apart


Alpha-Fetoprotein Test (AFP) - Blood test given between the 15th and 20th weeks of pregnancy to screen for abnormalities, including neural-tube defects and Down syndrome


Anterior Presentation - The most common position for babies during birth, with the face turned toward the mother's spine


Braxton-Hicks - Contractions False labor pains that occur throughout pregnancy


Breech Birth - When the baby's buttocks, knees or feet appear first during delivery; usually results in a Cesarean section


Cervical Ripening - Softening and thinning of the cervix in preparation for labor


Cervix - The narrow lower end of the uterus


Cesarean Section (C-section) - Surgical removal of the baby and placenta through an incision made in the mother's uterus


Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) - Removal of a small amount of tissue from the placenta to test for chromosomal or metabolic abnormalities; usually performed between weeks 10–12


Colostrum Fluid - produced by the breasts in the latter months of pregnancy (and soon after birth); transfers proteins and immunities to the baby


Contractions (labor pains) - Tightening of the uterus to expel the baby; contractions become stronger and more frequent as labor progresses


Cord Compression - Squeezing of the umbilical cord that leads to slowing or interruption of blood flow to the fetus


Crowning - When the baby's head has descended so far into the birth canal that it can be seen


Dilation Opening - of the cervix during labor to allow the baby to pass through; 10 centimeters is considered fully dilated


Ectopic Pregnancy - Implantation of the fertilized egg in a place other than the uterine wall, usually in a fallopian tube


Embryo - The developing fertilized egg until the eighth week of pregnancy


Epidural - A spinal injection that numbs the lower half of the body to decrease or eliminate pain during labor; the catheter that delivers the drugs is left in place


Episiotomy - A surgical incision in the perineal area to widen the vaginal opening for delivery; the procedure is increasingly considered unnecessary or even harmful


Fetal Distress (nonreassuring fetal status) - When the baby does not move for a time or has a slower-than-normal heartbeat; may indicate he is not receiving enough oxygen


Fetal Monitor Device - used to listen to and record the heartbeat of the fetus; normal range is 110–160 beats per minute


Fetus - The developing baby from the end of the eighth week of pregnancy until birth


Forceps Delivery - Placing spoon-like instruments around the baby's head to facilitate delivery


Foremilk - The breast milk the baby gets during the first few minutes of nursing; it has a high volume and low fat concentration


Gestational Age - The fetus's age measured from the first day of the mother's last menstrual period; an average pregnancy lasts 280 days, or about 40 weeks, from that day


Induction Using - artificial means to start labor, such as puncturing the membranes or giving oxytocin (Pitocin)


Latching On - When a baby takes the nipple and areola properly into his mouth to nurse


Letdown Reflex - The breasts' release of milk for the nursing baby


Membranes - The amnion and chorion, which make up the amniotic sac


Miscarriage - The spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the fetus can survive outside the uterus; most common in the first trimester


Morning Sickness - Nausea and vomiting, usually occurring during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy


Mucus Plug - A jelly like plug that seals off the cervix and is expelled before delivery


Oxytocin (Pitocin) - A drug used to help start or intensify labor contractions


Pelvic-Floor Muscles - Muscles that help support the vagina, uterus, bladder, urethra and rectum; can be strengthened by Kegel exercises


Perineum - The area between the vagina and anus; an incision here to facilitate delivery is called an episiotomy


Placenta Tissue - that connects the mother to her fetus and provides nourishment to and takes away waste from the baby


Placental Abruption - Premature separation of the placenta from the uterus prior to delivery, often causing bleeding or severe, premature contractions; requires an emergency C-section


Premature Baby - A baby born before 37 weeks


Preterm Labor - Labor that starts after 20 weeks but before the end of the 37th week


Rupture Of Membranes (breaking of waters) - Breaking of the membranes that make up the amniotic sac during or before labor


Transition Stage - The period during labor when the cervix dilates from 8–10 centimeters


Trimester 1: up to 14 weeks

Trimester 2: 14–27 weeks

Trimester 3: 28 weeks–delivery


Ultrasound (sonogram) - A device that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce a picture of the fetus in utero


Umbilical Cord - The structure that connects the baby's bloodstream to the mother's


Vacuum Extraction - The use of suction to help guide the baby's head out of the birth canal


VBAC - Vaginal birth after C-section

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