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Pregnancy Glossary

Compiled By Rachel Lower

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2ww - 2 Week Wait, see "Luteal Phase".


Abruptio Placenta - See "Placental Abruption".

ACOG - American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Adhesions - When bodily tissues that are normally separate are bound together, by scar tissue for example.

AF - Aunt Flo, nickname for menstruation.

Afterbirth - The delivery of the placenta and fetal membranes following birth.

AFP - See "Alpha-fetoprotein Test"

Aging Placenta - The placenta towards the end of pregnancy when it becomes less effective in supplying oxygen and nutrients to the baby.

Alpha-fetoprotein Test - A test done with mothers blood or amniotic fluid to check the amount of a certain protein made by the baby.

Alpha Thalassemias - Inherited anemias found mostly among persons of Southeast Asian descent.

Amniocentesis - Procedure in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is drawn from the uterus to detect genetic abnormalities or determine the sex of the baby.

Amniotic Fluid - Fluid that surrounds and protects the baby in the womb.

Amniotic Sac - Sac protecting the baby, providing a fluid environment around the baby in the womb.

Amniotomy - The intentional rupturing of the amniotic sac to induce labor.

Analgesic - Any medication that relieves pain.

Anemia - A condition in which a persons blood has too few red blood cells.

Anencephaly - Defect resulting in the absence of most of the brain and spinal cord.

Anesthesia - A medication that causes unconsciousness or a loss of general sensation.

Anesthesiologist - A specialist that administers anesthetic's to a patient.

Anesthetic - See "Anesthesia".

Anovulation - The absence of ovulation.

Anterior Position - When the babies face lies toward the back of the mother's pelvis.

Antibiotic - A medicine derivable from a mold or bacterium that kills microorganisms and cures infections.

Apgar Score - An assessment of the health of a newborn, determined after examination of respiration, heartbeat, muscle tone, skin color and reflexes. Total possible score is ten.

Apnea - Cessation of breathing.

Areola - The circular field of darker skin around the nipple.

Auscultation - Listening to sounds made my internal organs.


Bag Of Waters - See "Membranes".

Basal Body Temperature - Body temperature when first awakened in the morning. Measured with a basal thermometer.

BBT - See "Basal Body Temperature".

BCPS - Birth Control PillS.

BD - Baby Dance, intercourse.

Beta - A blood test to determine whether a woman is pregnant or not.

Beta Thalassemias - Inherited anemias found mostly among persons of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent.

BF - BreastFeed or BoyFriend.

BFN - Big Fat Negative, negative pregnancy test result.

BIL - Brother In Law.

Bilirubin - An orange-yellow pigment in bile that in excess causes jaundice.

Birth Defect - A congenital disorder present at birth.

Birthing Center - A facility designed and equipped for women giving birth.

Birthing Room - A room specifically used for labor and birth.

Blastocyst - The rapidly dividing fertilized egg in the uterus.

Blighted Ovum - A fertilized ovum whose development has stopped at an early stage.

Blood Glucose - The amount of sugar absorbed into the blood.

Blood Pressure - The force of blood against the walls of the artery.

Bloody Show - See "Show".

Bonding - Term for the process of parent to newborn interaction that develops attachment.

Bradycardia - Term for a very slow heartbeat.

Breech Position - Term for a baby positioned, at birth, with his or her feet or bottom towards the cervix.


Cafe-au-lait Spots - Term for brown birthmarks.

Candida - A yeast-like fungus.

Caput Succedaneum - The swelling of a baby's scalp during labor.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - A condition where there is a disturbance of median nerve function in the wrist.

CB - Cycle Buddy, friends on the same menstrual cycle day as each other.

CD - Cycle Day, which day of the menstrual cycle a woman is on counted from the first day of her last period.

Cephalopelvic Disproportion - Term for when the baby's head will not fit through the mother's pelvis.

Cervical Incompetence - Term for the condition in which the cervix begins to open before the baby is full term.

Cervical Mucus - The mucus lining of the cervix.

Cervix - The narrow outer end of the uterus.

Cesarean Birth - Delivery by surgical incision through the abdominal wall and uterus.

CF - Cervical Fluid. See "Cervical Mucus".

Chloasma - Brown discoloration of the face caused by hormonal changes.

Chorionic Villus Sampling - A procedure that takes a small sample of the tissue where the placenta joins the uterus to test for chromosome abnormalities.

Chromosome - A threadlike body in the cell nucleus that carries the genes.

CL - See "Corpus Luteum".

CM - See "Cervical Mucus".

Colostrum - The first milk secreted after delivery.

Conceive - To become pregnant.

Congenital Disorder - A birth defect.

Contraception - Any method used to prevent pregnancy.

Contraction - The tightening of the uterine muscles.

Contraction Stress Test - A test that measures the fetal heart rate in response to contractions.

Cord - The structure that connects the placenta to the baby's umbilicus, providing oxygen, nutrients, and waste removal.

Cord Compression - A condition that prevents proper blood flow through the umbilical cord.

Cord Prolapse - Term for when the umbilical cord comes through the cervix before the baby.

Corona Radiata - The layer of cells surrounding the egg, in which the sperm have to penetrate.

Corpus Luteum - A progesterone producing structure that grows in the ovary where the egg had been.

CP - See "Cervical Position".

Crowning - Stage of labor where a large part of the babies scalp is visible at the vaginal orifice.

Cystic Fibrosis - A genetic disorder effecting the respiratory and digestive systems. Most common among persons of Northern European descent.


D&C - See "Dilatation and Curettage".

DD - Dear Daughter.

Delivery - The act of delivering a child.

Deoxyribonucleic Acid - A structure that makes up the genetic information that allows cells to duplicate themselves.

DF - Dear Fiancee.

DH - Dear Husband.

Diastolic Pressure - The lowest blood pressure which you reach when you are at rest.

Dilatation and Curettage - Dilating the cervix and scraping the lining of the uterus.

Dilation - The diameter of the cervix.

Dizygotic Twins - See "Fraternal Twins".

Dominant Disorders - Genetic disorders transmitted from parent to child in which a single abnormal gene overrides the normally functioning gene.

Doppler Ultrasound - A listening device that a fetal heartbeat can be heard with.

Down Syndrome - A chromosome abnormality caused by an extra number twenty one chromosome that causes varying degrees of birth defects and mental retardation.

DP - Dancing Partner. See "BD".

DPO - Days Past Ovulation.

DS - Dear Son.

DSD - Dear StepDaughter.

DSS - Dear StepSon.

DTD - Doing The Dance. See "BD".

DW - Dear Wife.

Ductus Arteriosus - An artery that allows blood in the fetus to bypass the lungs until the lungs expand at birth.

Dystocia - A difficult labor due to the abnormal position or size of the baby.


Eclampsia - The convulsions and coma occurring in a pregnant woman with advanced preeclampsia.

Ectopic Pregnancy - A pregnancy that is not in the uterus, usually occurring in the fallopian tube.

EDD - Estimated Due Date or Expected Date of Delivery. See "Due Date".

Edema - A swelling due to excess fluid in body tissue.

Effacement - The gradual thinning, shortening and drawing up of the cervix.

Egg - See "Ovum".

Electronic Fetal Monitor - A machine that records fetal heartbeat and maternal contractions.

Embryo - The fertilized ovum from shortly after fertilization until eight weeks gestation.

Endometriosis - The presence of the mucous membrane lining of the uterus in abnormal places.

Epidural Anesthesia - A procedure used to minimize or eliminate pain in childbirth.

Episiotomy - A surgical procedure to enlarge the vaginal opening.

Estrogen - A hormone important in the regulation of menstruation.

EWCM - Egg White Cervical Mucus. See "Cervical Mucus".

External Version - A doctors attempt to move a baby into a better birthing position.


Failure to Progress - The delay or halt of labor.

Fallopian Tubes - Structures that connect the ovaries to the uterus.

Fertility - Ability to produce offspring.

Fertility Medications - Medications used to aid in conception.

Fetal Blood Sampling - See "Percutaneous Umbilical Blood Sampling".

Fetal Distress - Term referring to when something indicates the baby inside the mother may be in danger.

Fetus - An unborn baby after the first eight weeks of gestation.

Fibroid - Non-malignant tumor in the uterus.

FIL - Father In Law.

Follicles - The sacs in which eggs develop.

Follicle-stimulating Hormone - The hormone that spurs the development of an egg to be released.

Fontanelle - The soft spots on a newborn's head.

Forceps - An instrument resembling a pair tongs used to aid in the delivery of a baby.

Formula - A supplement, replacement to breast milk.

Fraternal Twins - Term referring to twins who are not identical, having developed from two separate eggs.

Fundal Height - The length from the top of the uterus to the pubic bone.

Fundus - The upper portion of the uterus.


General Anesthesia - A procedure to put you asleep for an operation.

Genes - Located in the nucleus of the cell, genes contain hereditary information.

Genetic - Affected or determined by genes.

Genetic Marker - An easily identified bit of DNA.

Genitals - Reproductive organs, usually referring to the external.

Genitalia - See "Genitals"

Gestation - The entire duration of pregnancy, from conception until birth.

Gestational Age - Age of the unborn baby counting from the first day of the last menstrual period.

Gestational Diabetes - Form of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy.

Glucose - A form of sugar used by the body for energy.

Gravida - The number of pregnancies a woman has had.


hCG - See "Human Chorionic Gonadotropin".

Hemophilia - A genetic disorder in which the process of blood clotting is disrupted.

Hemorrhage - The loss of blood or bleeding.

Hemorrhoids - Term for swollen blood vessels in the anus that may cause bleeding.

Hormone - A chemical secretion produced in the body that stimulates or slows down the function of various organs or body systems.

HPT - Home Pregnancy Test.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin - Hormone produced by the placenta.

Human Genome - Term for a persons entire collection of genes.

Hydatidiform Mole - An abnormal growth, instead of a normal embryo, that grows inside the uterus after fertilization.

Hydramnios - Term for an excess of amniotic fluid.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum - Term for excessive vomiting in pregnancy.

Hypertension - Term for high blood pressure or the condition that causes it.


Identical Twins - Term for twins formed from the same egg.

Immune System - The body system that fights foreign invaders such as bacteria.

Incision - The opening a surgeon makes into the body with a scalpel.

Induced - Artificially started labor.

Induction - See "Induced".

Insulin - A hormone produced by the pancreas that enables the body to use glucose properly.

Intestinal Motility - Term for the speed of digestion.

Intraocular Pressure - Term for the pressure of fluid within the eyeball.

Intrauterine Growth Retardation - Term for less that optimal fetal growth due to unfavorable conditions in the uterus.

Intravenous Catheter - A small needle inserted into a vein.

In Vitro Fertilization - The procedure in which an egg and sperm are combined outside the body and then transferred into the mother's womb.

IVF - See "In Vitro Fertilization".



Kegel Exercises - Exercises done to strengthen the muscles that cause urination.


Labor - Term for the periodic contractions which open the cervix and allow birth.

Lactation - The production of breast milk.

Lactation Consultant - A specialist who aids in breastfeeding.

La Leche League - An organization for education and support of breastfeeding mothers.

Lamaze Method - A method of preparation for labor for the reduction of pain and use of medications during birth.

Lanugo - The hair that grows on an unborn baby from about week twenty six.

Laparoscopy - Examination of the inside of the abdomen using a laparoscope.

L&D - Labor and Delivery. See "Labor", "Delivery".

LH - See "Luteinizing Hormone".

Lightening - The repositioning of the baby lower in the pelvis.

Linea Nigra - A line running from the navel to the pubic hair that darkens during pregnancy.

LP - See "Luteal Phase".

Luteal Phase - The time after ovulation before the next menstrual period begins.

Luteinizing Hormone - The hormone that causes an egg to be released from the ovary.


Magnesium Sulfate - A medication used to stop labor.

Malpresentation of the Head - Term for when the unborn baby enters into a position that will not allow the smallest part of the head to come out first.

Maternal Serum Alpha-Fetoprotein - See "Alpha-fetoprotein".

MC - Miscarriage.

M/C - Miscarriage.

Meatus - The outer opening of the urethra.

Medical Geneticist - A physician who specializes in genetic disorders.

Membranes - A sac of thin membranes containing amniotic fluid and the unborn baby.

Menstrual Cycle - The monthly changes in a woman's reproductive organs.

Metabolism - The chemical process taking place in cells.

MIL - Mother In Law.

Miscarriage - The spontaneous termination of a pregnancy.

ML - Maternity Leave.

Molding - The temporary reshaping of a baby's skull during a vaginal birth.

Mongolian Spots - Term for grey-blue birthmarks.

Monozygotic Twins - See "Identical Twins".

Morning Sickness - See "Nausea".

Morula - A cluster of thirteen to thirty two cells formed from a fertilized egg about three days after conception on its was to the uterus.

Mucus Plug - A thick plug of mucus that blocks the cervical canal during pregnancy.

Multiple Gestation - Term for more than one baby developing in the womb.

Mutation - A non-inherited genetic disorder resulting from spontaneous alterations of eggs, sperm or embryos.


Nausea - Upset stomach sometimes resulting in vomiting.

Neural Tube - A groove in the unborn baby that develops into the brain, spinal cord, spinal nerves and backbone.

Neural Tube Defect - A birth defect caused by the improper development of the brain or spinal cord.

Non-stress Test - A test to examine the condition of an unborn baby by measuring the heart rate in response to movements in the womb made by the doctor.


O - See "Ovulation".

Obstetrician - A physician who specializes in the care of pregnant women.

O'd - Ovulated. See "Ovulation".

OPK - Ovulation Predictor Kit.

OV - See "Ovulation".

Ovaries - The female reproductive organs that produce eggs and hormones.

Ovulation - The release of an egg from an ovary.

Ovum - An egg.

Oxytocin - A hormone that contributes to the start of labor.


Pap Smear - A test to detect cancer of the cervix.

Patient-controlled Analgesia Pump - A small IV pump used by the patient to inject pain medication as needed.

Pelvic Floor Muscles - A group of muscles at the base of the pelvis.

Percutaneous Umbilical Blood Sampling - A procedure in which blood is drawn from the cord while the baby is still in the womb to test for blood disorders or for rapid chromosome analysis.

Perinatal - The time before, during and immediately after birth.

Perinatologist - An obstetrician that specializes in diagnosis and treatment of problems in pregnancy.

Perineum - The area between the vaginal and anal opening.

PG - Pregnancy or Pregnant.

pH - A measure of the acid or alkaline content of a solution.

Pica - Term for cravings of non-food items during pregnancy.

Pituitary Gland - Gland that produces the hormone that induces milk production.

Placenta - The circular, flat organ that connects the umbilical cord to the uterus.

Placental Abruption - Term for the separation of the placenta from the uterus before labor begins.

Placenta Previa - Term for the abnormal location of the placenta, such as over the cervix.

PNV - Prenatal Vitamin.

Postconception Age - The age of the unborn baby based on the date of conception.

Posterior Position - Term for when the back of the baby's head it faced towards the back of the mother's pelvis.

Post-term Pregnancy - A pregnancy that lasts more that fourty-two weeks.

Preeclampsia - A disease that can occur in pregnancy that causes symptoms like hypertension and swelling.

Pregnancy-induced Hypertension - A condition in pregnancy that causes high blood pressure.

Premature Labor - Term referring to when contractions start before the thirty seventh week of pregnancy.

Premature Rupture of the Membranes - Term referring to the breaking of the amniotic sac before the thirty seventh week of pregnancy.

Prenatal - The time before birth.

Presentation - The part of the baby laying nearest to the cervix.

Preterm Labor - See "Premature Labor".

Progesterone - A hormone that inhibits the uterus from contracting and promotes the growth of blood vessels in the uterine wall.

Prolapsed Cord - See "Cord prolapse".

Prolonged Labor - A labor that lasts over twenty four hours.

Prostaglandin - A hormone involved in the onset of labor.

PUBS - See "Percutaneous Umbilical Blood Sampling".

Pudendal Block - A local anesthetic injected into the vaginal wall.


Quickening - The first time an expectant mother feels fetal movements.


RE - See "Reproductive Endocronolgist".

Recessive Disorders - Genetic disorders transmitted to a child when both parents contribute an altered gene.

Retained Placenta - Term for the failure of the placenta to be delivered within thirty minutes after birth.

Rh Immunoglobulin - A substance that prevents your body from making Rh antibodies so that your baby is not attacked as a foreign invader.

Ripening of the Cervix - The changes of the cervix right before labor begins.

Risk Factor - A term for something that increases the chance of developing a condition or making it worse.

Ruptured Bag Of Water - The breaking of the amniotic sac.


SA - Semen Analysis.

SAHD - Stay At Home Dad.

SAHM - Stay At Home Mom.

SAHP - Stay At Home Parent.

SD - Sperm Donor.

Semen - The white fluid containing sperm.

Show - Blood-tinged mucus discharge from the vagina before and during labor.

Sickle Cell Disease - A genetic disorder mostly occuring in persons of African descent.

SIL - Sister In Law.

Sonogram - See "Ultrasound".

Speculum - An instrument used to aid in the examination of the vagina.

Sperm - The male reproductive cell that joins with an egg to cause pregnancy.

Spina Bifida - A defect in the spine that results in the failure of vertebrae to fuse.

Spinal Block - A procedure in which an anesthetic is injected into the space below the spinal cord.

Spontaneous Abortion - See "Miscarriage".

Station - Indicates the position of the unborn baby by describing how far the head has moved through the pelvis.

Stillbirth - Term for when a baby dies before birth.

Suture - Surgical stitching.

Syringe - Instrument for injecting or withdrawing liquids from the body.

Systolic Pressure - The highest blood pressure produced by the contraction of the heart.


Tachycardia - Term for an excessively fast heartbeat.

Tay-Sachs Disease - A genetic disorder mostly found among persons of Ashkenazi Jews descent.

TCOYF - “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”by Toni Weschler

Teratogens - Term for agents that cause physical defects in a developing unborn baby.

Terbutaline - A medication used to stop contractions.

Tocolytic Medications - Term for medications used to stop labor.

Toxoplasmosis - A disease caused by a parasite found in undercooked meat and in an infected cat's feces.

TR - Tubal Reversal.

Transducer - The device that transmits the sound waves in an ultrasound.

Transient Tachypnea - Term for temporary fast breathing.

Transverse Lie - Term for when an unborn baby lies crossways in the womb before birth.

Trimester - One of the three periods of pregnancy.

TTC - Trying To Conceive.

Tubal Pregnancy - See "Ectopic Pregnancy".


Ultrasound - A procedure using sound waves to see inside the womb.

Umbilical Cord - See "Cord".

Ureters - The pair of tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

Urethra - The tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body.

Uterine Rupture - A tearing of the uterus during pregnancy or labor.

Uterus - The female organ in which an unborn baby develops.


Vacuum-assisted Birth - Term for the use of a vacuum extractor to help deliver the baby.

Vagina - The birth canal.

Vaginal Birth - The delivery of a baby through the birth canal.

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean - The birth of a baby through the birth canal when a cesarean has been done in the past.

Vaginitis - A vaginal infection.

Varicose Veins - Term for protruding, enlarged, blue veins.

VBAC - See "Vaginal Birth After Cesarean".

Vernix Caseosa - A white substance covering the skin of an unborn baby.


WAH - Work At Home.

WOH - Work Out of the Home.

Womb - See "Uterus".



YI - Yeast Infection.


Zygote - The fertilized egg before it begins to divide and grow.

© Rachel


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