Helpful Pregnancy Glossary

So you gonna have a baby…then it’s time to learn new vocab. This useful pregnancy glossary should explain it all.

Adverse effect:

A harmful result, which may be caused by medicine or by exposure to a chemical.


A diagnostic procedure in which a long needle is used to extract amniotic fluid from within the uterus. This fluid can be used for genetic and other tests. (Known commonly as an amnio.) Amniocentesis usually done between the 12th and 16th week of pregnancy.

Amniotic fluid:

The fluid that surrounds your baby in the uterus. It serves as a kind of shock absorber.

Bacterial vaginosis:

A condition characterised by an abnormal vaginal discharge due to an overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina.  Bacterial vaginosis can cause premature labour and delivery, as well as infection of the amniotic fluid and of the uterus after delivery. Therefore, screening and treatment for bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy is important.

Blood clot:

A mass of coagulated blood. A blood clot can block a major blood vessel, causing stroke or other problems.


Discolouration of the skin, often on the face, due to hormonal changes during pregnancy.


The union of sperm and ovum (fertilisation). Conception is the start of pregnancy and is marked by the implantation of the embryonic cells into the uterus.


The cellular structures that contain the genes.


A machine that uses ultrasound to detect the foetal heart.

Down’s syndrome:

A chromosomal condition in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of 46.


A serious complication of pregnancy, characterised by high blood pressure and oedema. It is the more severe form of pre-eclampsia.

Ectopic pregnancy:

A pregnancy in which the embryo begins to grow outside the uterus, often in one of the fallopian tubes.


The name given to the fertilised ovum until eight weeks after conception.


A medical condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in another area of the body such as the abdomen.


A type of local anaesthesia used to relieve pain during delivery.


An incision made in the tissue around the vagina to ease the final stage of delivery.

Fallopian tubes:

Tubes that extend from the ovaries to the uterus.


The name given to the baby in the womb from eight weeks until birth.


Folic acid, one of the B vitamins that is a key factor in the making of nucleic acid (DNA and RNA). Taking folic acid before and during pregnancy can reduce your baby’s risk of having birth defects such as spina bifida.


The upper part of the uterus.


The scientific study of heredity.

Genetic screening:

Testing to identify individuals who are at risk for a specific genetic disease or for transmitting a gene for a genetic disease.


The period of time from conception to birth.

Gestational age:

The duration of the pregnancy, measured from the first day of the last menstrual period.


A doctor who specialises in the female reproductive system.


Heavy bleeding.


A substance released by the glands to stimulate certain activity in the body.


A reduced ability to conceive. A couple is considered to be experiencing infertility if conception has not occurred after 12 months of sexual activity without the use of contraception.

Linea nigra:

A dark line that appears on the abdomen of some women during pregnancy.

Maternal age:

The age of the mother at the time of delivery. Advanced maternal age is usually defined as age 35 or older at delivery.


A trained person who assists women during childbirth. Many midwives also provide prenatal care for pregnant women, birth education for women and their partners, and care for mothers and newborn babies after the birth.


Inadvertent ending of the pregnancy before the foetus is viable. A considerable proportion of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Also known as spontaneous abortion.

Morning sickness:

Nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy. It often begins at six weeks and lasts until the end of the first trimester, but it can go on longer.


Stomach queasiness or the urge to vomit.

Neural tube defects:

Abnormalities in the spinal cord, such as spina bifida.


Referring to the back of the neck (nape). For example, the nuchal fold is measured during foetal assessment to search for chromosomal abnormality.


A doctor who specialises in the care of women during pregnancy, childbirth and immediately after birth.


Swelling, retention of fluid in body tissues.


A female steroid hormone that is produced mainly by the ovaries. Oestrogen helps control sexual development, ovulation, lactation after pregnancy and the ageing process.


Release of the egg from the ovary.

Pelvic floor:

The sling of muscles that holds the pelvic organs in place.


The region between the anus and genitals.


A condition in pregnancy characterised by a sharp rise in blood pressure, leakage of large amounts of the protein albumin into the urine and oedema (swelling) of the hands, feet, and face. Pre-eclampsia is the most common complication of pregnancy. It affects about 5% of pregnancies, usually occurring in the third trimester.

Pregnancy symptoms:

A symptom or sign of pregnancy. These symptoms and signs depend upon the time in pregnancy. In the first trimester of pregnancy, the first sign of pregnancy is most often a missed menstrual period.

Pregnancy ultrasound:

Creating an image of the developing foetus within the uterus by means of measuring the vibrations returned when a device emits high-frequency sound waves.

Prenatal care:

Healthcare that a pregnant woman receives from a gynaecologist, obstetrician or midwife. Services needed include dietary and lifestyle advice, weighing to ensure proper weight gain, and examination for problems of pregnancy such as oedema and pre-eclampsia.


Also called German measles. If contracted by a woman during pregnancy, it can result in birth defects.

Tubal pregnancy:

A pregnancy that is not in the usual place within the uterus but is located in the fallopian tube. Tubal pregnancies are caused by the inability of the fertilised egg to make its way through the fallopian tube into the uterus.

Toxemia of pregnancy:

A serious disorder of pregnancy in which poisonous compounds are present in the bloodstream.


A disease caused by a parasite carried by cat faeces and sometimes present in soil.


One-third of a pregnancy.


High-frequency sound waves. Ultrasound is often used to examine a foetus during pregnancy.

*As supplied by Discovery Health.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.