Get quick definitions of many of the most common pregnancy terms here! From fertility treatment terminology to common pregnancy conditions to the stages of labor, find out more about the hundreds of new words you will be hearing.
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Abruptio placenta
Category: High risk/Complications
The premature separation of a normally implanted placenta from the uterus. Severity of this condition varies. Symptoms of placental abruption include bleeding, cramping, and abdominal/uterine tenderness.
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ACOG
Category: General pregnancy
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a private, voluntary, nonprofit professional organization for Ob/Gyn physicians.
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Acupuncture
Category: Pregnancy/Birth/Other
An ancient Chinese health practice that involves puncturing the skin with hair-thin needles at particular locations, called acupuncture points, on the patient's body. Acupuncture is believed to help reduce pain or change a body function. Sometimes the needles are twirled, given a slight electric charge (electroacupuncture), or warmed (moxibustion).
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Adactyly
Category: Birth defects
The congenital absence of fingers and/or toes.
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Afterpains
Category: Postpartum
Mild contractions or cramping which serve to return the uterus returning to its non-pregnant size and state. Afterpains are often more painful after the birth of a second or later baby. They are triggered by the release of oxytocin when nursing, although pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) may be administered to help the uterus "clamp down" (cease bleeding). Afterpains grow milder each day following delivery.
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Alcohol-related Birth defects
Category: Birth defects
Also known as ARBD. Children who had prenatal alcohol exposure, but do not manifest the full symptoms of FAS may exhibit alcohol-related birth defects. ARBD is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure and refers to alcohol induced physical anomalies.
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Alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder
Category: Birth defects
Also known as ARND. Children who had prenatal alcohol exposure but do not manifest the full symptoms of FAS may exhibit alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder. ARND is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure and refers to alcohol-induced cognitive and behavioral problems without the characteristic facial or growth abnormalities seen among children with FAS.
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Amenorrhea
Category: General pregnancy
The absence of a menstrual period (menses), which is one of the first indicators of pregnancy. After birth, you will also experience amenorrhea for anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months, and may last much longer if you are breastfeeding.
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Amniotic fluid
Category: General pregnancy
A colorless liquid that surrounds and cushions the fetus in its mother's womb, protecting the baby from outside pressure and providing a clean environment for growth.
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Amniotic sac
Category: General pregnancy
Also called the "bag of waters" or "membranes," the amniotic sac the membrane surrounding the baby, and is otherwise filled with amniotic fluid.
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Analgesia
Category: Labor and birth
One of various medications that alleviates pain, but does not offer a total loss of sensation. (See also Analgesia)
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Anemia
Category: Mom's health
Low blood iron; hemoglobin level of less than 10.0 g/dL during pregnancy or a hematocrit of less than 30 percent during pregnancy.
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Anencephaly
Category: Birth defects
Anencephaly is a neural tube defect: a disorder involving incomplete development of the brain, spinal cord, and/or their protective coverings. The neural tube is a narrow sheath that folds and closes between the 3rd and 4th weeks of pregnancy to form the brain and spinal cord of the embryo. Anencephaly occurs when the "cephalic" or head end of the neural tube fails to close, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp. Infants with this disorder are born without both a forebrain (the front part of the brain) and a cerebrum (the thinking and coordinating area of the brain). The remaining brain tissue is often exposed -- not covered by bone or skin.
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Anesthesia
Category: Labor and birth
One of various medications that provide a total loss of sensation to a particular area of the body, or renders a patient unconscious, in order to alleviate pain. (See also Analgesia)
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Antibiotic
Category: Pregnancy/Birth/Other
Type of antimicrobial agent made from a mold or a bacterium that kills, or slows the growth of other microbes, specifically bacteria. Examples include penicillin and streptomycin.
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Antibody
Category: Pregnancy/Birth/Other
A protein found in the blood that is produced in response to foreign substances (e.g. bacteria or viruses) invading the body. Antibodies protect the body from disease by binding to these organisms and destroying them.
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APGAR score
Category: Baby's health
The APGAR score is a measurement of a newborn's response to birth and life outside the womb. Ratings are based on the following factors: Appearance (color); Pulse, Grimace (reflex), Activity and Respiration. A high score is 10 and the low end is 1.
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ART cycle
Category: Conception and fertility
A process in which (1) an ART procedure is carried out, (2) a woman has undergone ovarian stimulation or monitoring with the intent of having an ART procedure, or (3) in the case of frozen embryos, embryos have been thawed with the intent of transferring them to a woman. A cycle starts when a woman begins taking fertility drugs or starts ovarian monitoring.
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Assisted reproductive technology
Category: Conception and fertility
Also known as ART. All treatments or procedures that involve the handling of human eggs and sperm for the purpose of establishing a pregnancy. Types of ART include IVF, GIFT, ZIFT, embryo cryopreservation, egg or embryo donation, and surrogate birth.
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Assisted ventilation
Category: Baby's health
A mechanical method of assisting respiration for newborns with respiratory failure.
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Atrophy
Category: Mom's health
Decrease in size or wasting away of a body part or tissue. When muscles are not used, they atrophy (get smaller and weaker). This can happen to women on bed rest.
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Febrile
Category: Labor and birth
A fever greater than 100 degrees F. or 38 C. occurring during labor and/or delivery.
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Placental abruption
Category: High risk/Complications
The premature separation of a normally implanted placenta from the uterus. Severity of this condition varies.

Symptoms of placental abruption include bleeding, cramping, and abdominal/uterine tenderness.
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Tags: acog acupuncture adactyly afterpains alpha-fetoprotein am amenorrhea amniocentesis


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