BABY GLOSSARY

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I

J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R

S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z


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A

Alpha-Fetoprotein Test

A blood test which screens for neural tube defects and Down’s syndrome. It can also detect twins.

Apgar Score

Achieved by a series of basic health tests on baby at birth

Anaemia

An iron deficiency caused by your baby’s increasing need for iron. Symptoms include low energy, pale appearance. Can be controlled by diet and/or supplements.

Amniocentesis

A test for Down’s syndrome, other chromosomal disorders, cystic fibrosis and genetic disorders. Amniotic fluid is taken from around the foetus for testing.

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B

Bart’s Triple Test

A blood test that assesses the risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome or spina bifida.

Braxton Hicks Contractions

A tightening sensation often called “practise contractions”, named after the doctor who first referred to them.

Breech Birth

When a baby fails to turn to the head first position before birth. Breech babies are either born feet or bottom first.

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C

Caesarean Section

An incision is made along the lower abdomen through which the baby is lifted. Either done under general anaesthetic or with an epidural.

Cervix

The neck of the womb.

Chromosomal Abnormality

Depending on which chromosomes are affected, the severity of the problem can vary. Can cause mental and/or physical problems.

Chronic Villus Sampling (CVS)

Carried out after 11 weeks to test for Down’s and genetic disorders. A small amount of tissue is taken from the placenta.

Colostrum

Watery milk filled with your immunities that the baby will feed on during the first few days.

Contractions

These are pains experienced during labour. Caused by the cervix thinning and dilating, to allow the baby to pass through.

Cot Death

The sudden and unexplainable death of a baby. Also called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)

Assists baby’s breathing using a tube placed in the nostrils.

Cystic Fibrosis

A genetic disorder where mucus builds up in the lungs, causing infections in the chest. Also affects the digestive system and can lead to malnutrition.

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D

Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

A minor operation to clear the womb, carried out under general anaesthetic. Is sometimes done following a miscarriage.

Doula

A professional birth partner.

Down’s Syndrome

A condition caused by an extra chromosome appearing in a fertilized egg.

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E

Ectopic Pregnancy

Occurs when an embryo develops outside the womb.

Egg Donor

A woman who has eggs collected, to be used during IVF treatment for women unable to produce eggs.

Embryo

The term used for a baby during the early stages of pregnancy.

Endometriosis

When cells from the lining of the uterus spread, causing periods to be heavy and painful. It can lead to infertility or miscarriage.

Epidural

An anaesthetic injected into the spine for a pain free labour.

Episiotomy

A cut made to the perineum to aid delivery of the baby rather than being left to tear. It is done before a forceps or ventouse delivery.

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F

Fallopian Tubes

Carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus.

Fibroids

These are growths that can affect conception, by either blocking the eggs journey to the uterus, or misshaping the uterus.

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

This can affect babies who are born to mothers who drink excessively during pregnancy. Both physical and mental abnormalities can follow.

Folic Acid

A water soluble B vitamin found in foods such as leafy green veg, beans and pulses, wholemeal bread or breakfast cereal. Can be taken in supplement form. Helps to prevent neural tube defects.

Fontanelle

A soft spot on a baby’s head, where the skull has yet to fuse together.

Forceps

Used to help delivery of the baby. They fit either side of the baby’s head and are used to ease the baby down the birth canal.

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G

Gas and Air

Also known as entonox. Inhaled through a mask or a mouthpiece during contractions, to make you relax and ease the pain slightly.

General Anaesthetic

Used during operations to block pain completely, during which time you are unconscious.

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H

Hepatitis B

Inflammation of the liver, spread by blood and body fluids. Can be passed from mum to baby.

HIV (Human Immunedefiency Virus)

It attacks the body’s immune system and can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immune Defiency Syndrome). Low risk of passing from mum to baby if pregnancy properly monitored and appropriate treatment given.

Human Chronic Gonadotrophin (HCG)

Hormone that occurs in pregnant women, which gives the positive result when detected in a pregnancy test.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

A condition which results in severe sickness during pregnancy. It can last throughout the whole nine months, in some cases leading to malnutrition and dehydration.

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I

Immunisation

Vaccinations are given to prevent certain diseases, by strengthening the immune system.

Incubator

Used in SCBU to regulate baby’s body temperature. It controls the temperature, humidity and oxygen level around the baby.

Induced Birth

When labour is started artificially. Methods include prostaglandin pessary, breaking the waters and oxytocin drip.

IVF (Intro-Vitro Fertilization)

This is a process of assisted conception that includes taking fertility drugs, collecting the eggs and mixing them with sperm. Embryos are placed in the womb or frozen.

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L

Lochia

The bleeding that occurs after birth.

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M

Meconium

Baby’s first bowel movement, green in colour.

Miscarriage

When a baby is lost in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Mucus Plug

Jelly like plug that sealed the cervix during pregnancy. Read More

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N

Neural Tube Disorder

Such as spina bifida when the bones surrounding the spinal cord fail to close or anencephaly which is incomplete formation of the cranium.

Nuchal Fold Scan

Measurement of the fluid at the back of the baby’s neck, to assess the risk of Down’s syndrome and other chromosomal conditions.

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P

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

An infection in the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. It can lead to infertility or ectopic pregnancy.

Perineum

The area between the vagina and anus.

Pessary

Drugs such as prostaglandin are given in suppository form and inserted into the vagina. Used to induce labour.

Pethidine

Painkiller with sedative effect. It can be injected every 2-3 hours during labour.

Placenta

Otherwise known as the afterbirth. It provides the baby with nutrients, oxygen and antibodies. It also removes the baby’s waste products.

Placenta Praevia

When the placenta covers the cervix.

Pre-Eclampsia

A potentially dangerous condition that can occur during pregnancy. Symptoms can include high blood pressure, protein in the urine, swelling, headaches and problems with vision.

Premature Baby

A baby born before the 37th week of pregnancy.

Prostaglandin

Ripens the cervix to induce labour.

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R

Rhesus Positive and Negative

You will be tested to see whether your blood type is + or -. If you are negative it may pose a problem to your baby during birth, in second or subsequent pregnancies. You can be given an injection during labour to combat this which has a very good success rate.

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S

SCBU

Special Care Baby Unit.

Show

When the mucus plug that blocks the cervix comes away. This usually means labour is imminent.

Sperm Donor

Someone who provides semen to be used during fertility treatment, when the male partner is infertile.

Spina Bifida

Means the bones of the spine are not fully formed around the nerves. The severity of the condition varies from person to person. Damage to the nerves affects movement.

Stillbirth

When a baby has died after the 24th week of the pregnancy.

Surrogate Mother

Carries a child for another couple, either using the man’s sperm and her own egg or an embryo produced during IVF. She hands the baby over after birth.

Synotocin drip

This is an artificial form of the hormone oxytocin, which causes contractions, given intravenously.

Syphilis

A sexually transmitted disease which you are tested for during pregnancy. It can cause complications for the baby.

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T

TENS Machine

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is used as a form of pain relief during labour. It uses a mild electrical current to stimulate the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers).

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U

Ultrasound Scan

Routine scans carried out at 12 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. They show images of the baby in the womb, which are produced using high frequency sound waves.

Umbilical Cord

Carries nutrients and oxygen from the placenta to the baby.  It removes waste products from the baby. It is cut at birth.

Uterus

The uterus (womb) is where the baby grows during pregnancy. Baby is protected by its muscular walls.

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V

Ventouse

A suction cap that is attached to the top of the baby’s head to assist delivery.

Ventilator

Used in SCBU to aid baby’s breathing by supplying them with air.

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Z