I may sometimes use words that you’re not aware of the definitions of. Today I want to share some of the definitions that will make sense to you (vs just some medicall-y stuff you don’t understand):
First off, in case you’re new here…
Hi, I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I have helped thousands if expecting families understand these terms — and I’m thrilled to be able to help you too!
Grab my free hospital packing list first:
We chat about all this in my recent podcast on labor supplies:
Birth Class I recommend every family take a birth class — meaning they prepare for what will happpen in their third trimester (as far as testing, and what symptoms would be worrisome), during labor and during their postpartum period.
Catheter In the hospital, this is the word for any tube. They would refer to the IV having a catheter (the tube that goes in your arm), the epidural has a catheter (again, a tube that delivers the medicine), and a urinary catheter (the most common use of this word) that drains the urine out of your bladder. Learn more on my post on catheters
Centimeters (CM) Most medical measuring is done in centimeters. This is house we measure cervix — and at 10 cm you are ready to push.
Cervical Exam When we use our hands to measure how much your cervix is open, how thick it is, where it is positioned, where the baby is in position to your pubic bone and how soft it is. Normally reported in 3 numbers 2/80%/-2 would mean your cervix is open 2 cm, it has thinned out 80% (so, fairly thin) and the baby is about 2 cm above the ischial spines in your birth canal.
Cervidil a small tampon-type device that delivers medication to your cervix for an induction of labor.
Fetal Monitoring Monitors placed by healthcare providers that show the baby’s heart rate and any contraction
Foley Catheter see “catheter” used to drain urine into a bag when the patient is unable to urinate on their own. See my full post on FOLEY CATHETERS in labor and delivery.
GBS (Group B Strep) A type of bacteria that can live in the birth canal. It is totally normal but studies have found that it can cause problems for babies after delivery. It is tested for around 36 weeks of pregnancy by a vagina/rectal swab and if found positive they will recommend antibiotics at delivery. This is not the same as strep throat.
Hemorrhage When you bleed a lot. This is a high risk during pregnancy.
Induction Starting contractions with medication or mechanical means (not your body just starting labor).
Informed Consent When your provider gives you 1) The Risks 2) The benefits 3) The alternatives of a procedure, so that you can make the best choice for you.
IUGR Intra Uterine Growth Restriction, also called SGA (small for gestational age) — baby is small for how many weeks they are.
IV/ Intra-Venous Fluids Fluids given through your veins to help with dehydration, or procedures such as the epidural.
LGA Large for Gestational Age — When the baby is measuring large for their age as measured by last menstrual period or ultrasound. I have a whole post on big babies.
Lithotomy Position Legs placed in the stirrups. Often used for pushing, for vaginal exams with a speculum or a perineal repair.
Midwife There are several types of midwives:
- Lay Midwife — training varies and is mostly done just as an internship
- Certified Midwife — more training and done through specific programs
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) — Most often have practiced labor and delivery as a nurse, and then went on for more education to be a midwife. This is usually a masters-level program, and also a PhD. Only these midwives are allowed to deliver in the hospital. In some places they can also deliver in the home.
Misoprostil (also called Cytotec) A induction of labor agent. May be given orally or vaginally to start contractions.
Nurse When you are in the hospital, most often the nurse will admit you and provide the majority of the care for you and your baby. They know to call a doctor/higher provider if anything looks unusual.
Prenatal This is referencing your pregnancy period (the time that you are pregnant). Often used in ways like prenatal visits, prenatal vitamins, prenatal labs, etc.
Prenatal Class A prenatal class is similar to a birth class. Most often these are more hospital-centric if you plan to deliver in a hospital these are best. The Online Prenatal Class for Couples is the one I recommend.
Speculum A “duck bill” device used during a cervical exam where the cervix must be visualized. Most often used for cervical testing (pap smears, and other cervical issues).
SVE (Sterile Vaginal Exam) See “cervical exam” — in labor they are the same thing. Because during labor we don’t want to push any “outside” germs to the baby we use sterile gloves for this procedure.
Supine Laying on your back.
Swelling When your tissues are enlarged due to fluid. Most often seen in the legs and hands in pregnant women, but can also be seen in the face (which is more of a cause for concern). SOME swelling is not too problematic.
Tocolytic This is meant to stop contractions. The one most often used is Terbutaline or Brethine. At home, people may use something like Nifedipine.
Got a word I didn’t define? Tell me in the comments so I can add it!