A - Z Of Pregnancy Terms

Here are a list of a-z 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


Abortion: Termination or end of pregnancy. Giving birth to an embryo or fetus before it can live outside the womb, usually defined as before 20 weeks of gestation. Abortion may be spontaneous, often called a miscarriage, or induced as in a medical or therapeutic abortion performed to terminate a pregnancy.

Alphafetoprotein (AFP): Substance produced by the unborn baby as it grows inside the uterus. Large amounts of AFP are found in the amniotic fluid. Larger-than normal amounts are found in the maternal bloodstream if neural-tube defects are present in the fetus.

Amino acids: Substances that act as building blocks in the developing embryo and fetus.

Amniocentesis: Removal of amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac. Fluid is tested for some genetic defects.

Amnion: Membrane around the fetus. It surrounds the amniotic cavity.

Amniotic fluid: Liquid surrounding the baby inside the amniotic sac.

Amniotic sac: Sac that surrounds baby inside the uterus. It contains the baby, the placenta and the amniotic fluid.

Anemia: Any condition in which the number of red blood cells is less than normal. Term usually applies to the concentration of the oxygen-transporting material in the blood, which is the red blood cell.

Anencephaly: Defective development of the brain combined with the absence of the bones normally surrounding the brain.

Angioma: Tumor, usually benign, or swelling composed of lymph and blood vessels.

Anovulatory: Lack of or cessation of ovulation.

Areola: Pigmented or colored ring surrounding the nipple of the breast.

Arrhythmia: Irregular or missed heartbeat.

Aspiration: Swallowing or sucking a foreign body or fluid, such as vomit, into an airway.

Atonic uterus: Flaccid; relaxed; lack of tone.

Autoantibodies: Antibodies that attack parts of your body or your own tissues.


Back labour: Pain of labour felt in lower back.

Bilirubin: Breakdown product of pigment formed in the liver from hemoglobin during the destruction of red blood cells.

Biophysical profile: Method of evaluating a fetus before birth.

Biopsy: Removal of a small piece of tissue for microscopic study.

Blastomere: One of the cells egg divides into after it has been fertilized.

Bloody show: Small amount of vaginal bleeding late in pregnancy; often precedes labour.

Braxton-Hicks contractions: Irregular, painless tightening of uterus during pregnancy.

Breech presentation: Abnormal position of the fetus. Buttocks or legs come into the birth canal ahead of the head.


Cataract, congenital: Cloudiness of the eye lens present at birth.

Cesarean section (delivery): Delivery of a baby through an abdominal incision rather than through the vagina.

Chadwick's sign: Dark-blue or purple discoloration of the mucosa of the vagina and cervix during pregnancy.

Chloasma: Extensive brown patches of irregular shape and size on the face or other parts of the body.

Choriocarcinoma: Highly malignant cancer that grows in the uterus during pregnancy or at the site of an ectopic pregnancy.

Chorion: Outermost fetal membrane found around the amnion.

Chorionic villus sampling: Diagnostic test done early in pregnancy. A biopsy of tissue is taken from inside the uterus through the cervical opening to determine abnormalities of pregnancy.

Colostrum: Thin, yellow fluid, which is the first milk to come from the breast. Most often seen toward the end of pregnancy. It is different in content from milk produced later during nursing.

Congenital problem: Problem present at birth.

Conization of the cervix: Surgical procedure performed on premalignant and malignant conditions of the cervix. A large biopsy of the cervix is taken in the shape of a cone.

Conjoined twins: Twins connected at the body; they may share vital organs. Also called Siamese twins.

Constipation: Bowel movements are infrequent or incomplete.

Contraction stress test: Response of fetus to uterine contractions to evaluate fetal well-being.

Corpus luteum: Area in the ovary where the egg is released at ovulation. A cyst may form in this area after ovulation. Called a corpus luteum cyst.

Crown-to-rump length: Measurement from the top of the baby's head to the buttocks of the baby.

Cystitis: Inflammation of the bladder.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection: Group of viruses from the herpesvirus family.

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