Terms To Know

Adipose tissue: Another term for fat tissue.
Amniocentesis: An invasive procedure performed by a physician to collect a sample of amniotic fluid from a developing pregnancy to check for fetal genetic abnormalities. Ideally performed between 15 and 18 weeks.
Amniotic fluid: The liquid that surrounds a baby in utero. At first, this liquid is mostly water. At 10 weeks, the amniotic fluid contains other nutrients that help the baby develop. Amniotic fluid also acts as a cushion to protect the developing baby from any external force on the mother’s abdomen.
Anterior fontanel: The gaps where the bones come together on the skull of an unborn baby (which can be observed on a newborn) are called the fontanels. The largest, the anterior fontanel, is a soft spot that looks almost like a diamond shape under the skin on your baby’s forehead. The bones in the cranium will eventually fuse together sometime during the first 12 — 18 months of your baby’s life.
Arm and leg buds: In human development, the first, rudimentary beginnings of an embryo’s arms and legs.
Artery: A vessel that most often carries oxygenated blood away from the heart in a human’s circulatory system. Differs from veins in that vessel walls are often thicker and more muscular.
Bilirubin: A yellowish pigment that is left over from the production of red blood cells in the body. The liver disposes of bilirubin through bile that passes through the intestines and then is excreted in urine or stools.
Biophysical profile (BPP): An in-depth evaluation of a fetus’ well-being using ultrasound imaging and a non-stress test to look for indications of fetal distress or difficulties in a woman’s pregnancy.
Blink-startle response: In fetal development, when the unborn baby responds to loud noises with movement.
BPD (biparietal diameter): A measurement of the fetus’ head. Used to determine the width of the head, the sonographer will measure from just above one ear to the other.
Braxton Hicks contractions: A tightening and softening of the uterus, usually sporadic but sometimes at regular intervals. An expectant mother may experience these contractions throughout pregnancy; they do not lead to active labor.
Brown fat: A specialized form of adipose tissue that forms around the unborn baby’s neck, behind the sternum, and around the kidneys. This fat helps produce heat and keep the baby warm during the newborn period.
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS): An invasive procedure performed by a physician to collect a sample of placental tissue from a developing pregnancy to look for fetal genetic abnormalities. Can be performed as early as 10 weeks.
Ectopic pregnancy: A fertilized egg growing outside the uterus. Most often ectopic pregnancies develop in the Fallopian tube, where the egg travels from the ovary to the uterus. This condition poses a serious health risk to the mother, requiring the health care provider to remove the fertilized egg and end the pregnancy
Erythropoiesis: The production of red blood cells.
External cephalic version: Also called a version, in this procedure a health care provider tries to manually move a baby in utero into the proper position for birth. Most often performed at 36-37 weeks’ gestation, the provider attempts to shift the baby’s position from side-lying or bottom facing downward, into the headfirst placement.
Fetus: In human development, the term used to identify a developing baby, after the embryonic stage and before birth.
Footling breech: A rare breech presentation, in which the baby’s feet are in the expectant woman’s pelvis in the weeks before birth.
Frank breech: When the unborn baby’s bottom is positioned in the mother’s pelvis with his legs going toward his shoulders in the weeks before birth. The proper birthing position is with the head facing downward.
Genital tubercle: In fetal development, the earliest genital tissue that will either become a clitoris in girls or a penis in boys
Incompetent cervix: An incomplete or weakened cervix may occur as the baby grows and gets heavier, pressing against the cervix. This pressure may cause the cervix to begin opening before Baby is ready to be born. This condition may lead to a miscarriage or premature delivery (however, this complication occurs in only about 1 out of 100 pregnancies).
Jaundice: A common condition among newborns where the liver does not remove all the bilirubin from the bloodstream, leading to a yellowing of the skin and eyes. In mild cases, jaundice is often treated with phototherapy, or time in direct sunlight. Signs of jaundice do not usually occur for one to two days after birth
Kick counts: For expectant mothers observing the number of times an unborn baby moves in utero to evaluate fetal well-being. Generally, the baby should move at least 10 times during a two-hour period.
Lanugo: Soft, thin hair that grows all over a fetus during gestation. This hair aids in fetal development and is shed before birth. Premature infants might still have lanugo covering their bodies.
Left Occiput Anterior (LOA): As with ROA, this common fetal body position makes it easier for the baby to go through the birth canal versus other positions. With LOA, the baby’s head is turned diagonally toward the mother’s right thigh and buttocks; from the health care provider’s perspective, then, the baby’s head is facing left and downward.
Longitudinal: In delivery, the unborn baby’s body position is straight.
Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS): This condition describes when a baby ingests some meconium while in utero or during the birth process. Meconium is a baby’s first bowel movement, which is normally passed in the days after delivery. Babies who ingest some of the meconium either through their mouths or into their lungs in utero might be at risk of developing MAS, which can pose a health risk to your baby but often does not lead to any serious problems.
Meconium: The earliest stool produced by a fetus and expelled after birth. In some instances, the unborn baby will release some meconium before or during birth, which will taint the color of the amniotic fluid. Meconium is thick and tarlike but gives off no odor.
Mucus plug: The thick, phlegmlike substance that forms a plug in the cervical opening. This cork keeps germs from entering the uterus and harming your unborn baby. In the days or weeks before delivery you might notice a mucuslike discharge, indicating that you are losing your mucus plug. The loss does not mean that delivery is imminent, but that your body is readying for birth. Some expectant mothers never notice the loss of their mucus plug.
Neural tube defects (NTD): Abnormalities of the spine, such as spina bifida, and related abnormalities of the fetal brain.
Oblique: In delivery, the unborn baby’s body position is slightly angled.
Oligohydramnios: When an unborn baby does not have enough amniotic fluid in the womb. This condition may indicate that the baby is not producing and expelling a normal amount of urine
Ossification: The hardening of fibrous tissue into bone.
Placenta previa: Implantation of the placenta in the lower portion of the uterus, covering part of the cervix. Placenta previa can result in bleeding during pregnancy and could affect the method of delivering the baby.
Polyhydramnios: When the womb is filled with too much amniotic fluid. This condition might be a result of the baby not digesting sufficient amounts of amniotic fluid.
Preterm birth: Any baby born before 37 weeks’ gestation is considered premature. Premature babies often suffer from complications, both physical and developmental.
Quadruple screen: A prenatal blood screening that tests for the levels of certain substances in the bloodstream that might indicate genetic abnormalities in the fetus. In addition to detecting levels of AFP, hCG, and estriol, as with the triple screen, the quadruple screen also tests for another hormone, inhibin-A. The quadruple screen is som
Right Occiput Anterior (ROA): In this common fetal body placement before birth, the baby’s head faces to the mother’s left thigh (to the health care provider’s right if he’s facing the birthing baby), and the baby’s face is more toward the mother’s buttocks. This position is one of the easier positions for the baby to be in to navigate the birth canal.
Sonogram: An image produced by an ultrasound examination. Most often performed by a sonographer; sometimes performed by your health care provider.
Sonographer: The person who performs your ultrasound examination. These specialists receive advanced training at reading sonograms.
Surfactant: A fluid produced by the alveoli and bronchioles of the lungs to aid in oxygen passage into and out of the body.
Tooth bud: Also called a tooth germ, these are the collections of cells that come together in utero and eventually form a baby-to-be’s teeth.
Transabdominal ultrasound: An external examination to create a sonogram image of the uterus’s interior by placing the imaging device, or transducer, on the lower abdomen.
Transvaginal ultrasound: An internal examination to create a sonogram image of the uterus’s interior by placing the imaging device, or transducer, into the vagina.
Triple screen: A prenatal blood screening that test for the levels of certain substances in the bloodstream that might indicate genetic abnormalities in the fetus. In particular, the test looks at levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a protein produced by the fetus’s liver and two hormones: human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estriol. Also called triple marker or second trimester screening test.
Umbilical cord: A cord that connects the developing baby to the mother in utero. The umbilical cord attaches to the baby at the abdomen and to the mother at the placenta. The cord forms during the fifth week of gestation (seventh week of pregnancy).
Vein: A vessel that most often carries deoxygenated blood to the heart in a human’s circulatory system. The blood is then oxygenated and sent throughout the body through arteries.
Vertex position: In the weeks before birth, the typical position for your unborn baby is head facing down toward the pelvic bone, or the vertex position.
Yolk sac: A membrane-lined sac that provides nourishment in the early stages of a baby’s development in utero. It also acts as a rudimentary circulatory system before the embryo is able to circulate blood internally.