A - Z Of Pregnancy Terms

Here is an A-Z list of some pregnancy terms you may hear while you are pregnant and some you will never hear of.

A-C | D-F | G-J | K-N | O-R | S-Z


Seizure: Sudden onset of a convulsion.

Sickle-cell anemia: Anemia caused by abnormal red blood cells shaped like a sickle or a cylinder.

Sickle-cell trait: Presence of the trait for sickle-cell anemia. Not sickle-cell disease itself.

Sickle crisis: Painful episode caused by sickle-cell disease.

Sodium: Element found in many foods, particularly salt. Ingestion of too much sodium may cause fluid retention.

Spina bifida: Congenital abnormality characterized by a defect in the vertebral column. Membranes of the spinal cord and the spinal cord protrude outside the protective bony canal of the spine.

Spinal anesthesia: Anesthesia given in the spinal canal.

Spontaneous abortion: Loss of pregnancy during the first 20 weeks of gestation.

Stasis: Decreased flow.

Station: Estimation of the descent of the baby. Ranges from -4 to +4. 0 = directly at pelvis.

Stigma: Area on the ovary where the egg has been released at the time of ovulation.

Stretch marks: Areas of the skin that have red marks where the skin has been over stretched. Often found on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks and legs.

Sulci: Groove or furrow on the surface of the brain.

Surfactant: Phospholipid present in the lungs. Controls surface tension of lungs. Premature babies often lack sufficient amounts of surfactant to breathe without assistance.

Syphilis: Sexually transmitted venereal infection caused by treponema pallidum.


Tay-Sachs disease: Inherited disease characterized by mental and physical retardation, convulsions, enlargement of the head and eventually death. Trait is usually carried by Ashkenazi Jews.

Telangiectasias: Dilatation or swelling of a small blood vessel. Sometimes called an angioma. During pregnancy, another common name is a spider angioma.

Teratogenic: Causes abnormal development.

Thalassemia: Group of inherited disorders of hemoglobin metabolism, which results in a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin formed.

Threatened abortion: Bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy without cramping or contractions.

Thrombosis: Formation of a blood clot (thrombus).

Thrush: Monilial or yeast infection occurring in the mouth or mucous membranes of a newborn infant.

Thyroid disease: Abnormality of the thyroid gland and its production of thyroid hormone.

Tocolysis: Stopping contractions during premature labour.

Toxoid: Poison.

Toxoplasmosis: Infection caused by toxoplasma gondii.

Transverse lie: Fetus is turned sideways in uterus.

Trichomonal vaginitis: Venereal infection caused by trichomonas.

Trimester: Method of dividing pregnancy into three equal time periods of about 13 weeks each.

Trophoblast: Cell layer important in early development of the embryo and fetus. It provides nourishment from the mother to the fetus and participates in the formation of the placenta.


Umbilical cord: Cord that connects the placenta to the developing baby. It removes waste products and carbon dioxide from the baby and brings oxygenated blood and nutrients from the mother through the placenta to the baby.

Ureters: Tubes from the kidneys to the bladder that drain urine.

Uterine atony: Lack of tone of uterus.

Uterus: Organ an embryo/fetus grows in. Also called a womb.


Vacuum extractor: Device used to provide traction on fetal head during delivery.

Varicose veins: Blood vessels (veins) that are dilated or enlarged.

Vernix: Fatty substance made up of epithelial cells that covers fetal skin inside the uterus.

Vertex: Head first.

Villi: Projection from a mucous membrane. Most important within the placenta in the exchange of nutrients from maternal blood to the placenta and fetus.


Womb: See fetus.


Yeast infection: See Monilial vulvovaginitis; Thrush.


Zygote: Cell that results from the union of a sperm and egg at fertilization


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