a to z of expecting
Whether you’re a first time parent or you’ve been around the child birthing block a couple times, there are just SO many things to know in the world of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
When you’re spending lots of time reading pregnancy forums, googling your symptoms, and asking your doctor questions, you’re sure to run into words that are quite foreign. It can definitely seem like people in the pregnancy world are speaking an entirely different language. Here, we’ll help you understand the A-Z’s of babies just a little better. Read on to find definitions, context, and the stage in which you’re most likely to encounter these symptoms, conditions, and pieces of the babymaking puzzle.
Aftershock contractions are sort of what you’d expect; after going through nine months of slowly stretching out just to be suddenly emptied within a couple hours, your now empty uterus will have some serious contracting to do after childbirth. In the hours or days following the delivery of your baby, your body will experience these postpartum contractions. They help your uterus to shrink back to its regular size while also constricting your blood loss, so you don’t lose too much!
“My aftershock contractions are so strong while I breastfeed!’
This is the stuff your little one is swimming around in! Your uterus fills with amniotic fluid, which contains hormones, nutrients, and lots of your baby’s urine (lol). When you hear of someone’s water breaking, it means their sac has burst and the amniotic fluid came rushing out — usually baby is not far behind!
“My doctor said I need to drink more water because of my low amniotic fluid.”
An anatomy scan is a particular kind of ultrasound that is performed within weeks 18-22 of pregnancy. This is an abdominal ultrasound where your doctor will measure your little one’s main organs, check for blood flow in the umbilical cord, examine your lady parts, and the list goes on! This is when many parents-to-be find out their child’s sex. An anatomy scan can also be referred to as a “20-week scan.” Anatomy scans are known for being lengthier in time but it really depends on your ultrasound technician and how active your little one is during the scan. If the baby is sleeping, for example, your technician may not be able to get all the views of your baby’s organs, so you may be asked to do jumping jacks or drink some juice to get the little guy up and moving!
“I’m so nervous about my anatomy scan; I hope everything comes out normal!”
This is your little one’s very first solo test, but don’t worry, no studying is required! As soon as your babe is delivered, nurses will typically administer the APGAR test within one minute and again five minutes after the little one is born. The purpose is to tell how well the baby is doing after being delivered and how well they’re adjusting to performing normal body functions (like breathing!) in the outside world. It’s not super complicated and most babies pass with flying colors. The letters stand for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration.
“My baby was so purple when he came out, so I was glad we had his APGAR score to know he was doing okay.”
Think honeymoon: baby edition! Before your baby arrives, a mom-to-be and her partner or friends or just her solo will go on a fun trip to celebrate the baby that’s on the way and to do one last fun trip before all the responsibilities of new parenthood arrive.
“I’m going on my babymoon when I’m 25 weeks along, so that I’m still cleared to fly!”
A birth plan is a way to make sure your doctors are on the same page as you going into your labor and delivery journey. Many women will bring a printed out birth plan or their doula/midwife may help them create it themselves. Lots of women choose not to bring a birth plan with them when they give birth, but if you have specific preferences like keeping lights dim in your room or limiting your cervical checks, it’s a great idea to write out all your preferences so you don’t have to keep repeating yourself to your care providers.
“I decided to include that I’m planning to solely breastfeed on my birth plan; just so there are no mix ups!”
Read more: Create Your Birth Plan
Braxton Hicks contractions are a tightening or contracting of the abdomen. Think of them as your body’s way of preparing for labor as a sort of practice contraction. Many women worry that they won’t be able to tell the difference between real contractions and Braxton Hicks. The main difference is that Braxton Hicks will come and go with no real pattern, while real contractions will speed up with time and form a trackable pattern.
“I got my first Braxton Hicks at 30 weeks of pregnancy!”
This term refers to the position that your baby is in inside the womb. A breech baby has their head closest to their mom’s ribs and feet closest to their mom’s pelvis. Many babies will flip to be facing with their head down by the time of delivery. There are many ways to flip your baby from breech to head down position, from holistic body positioning to a doctor performing a pressure exercise on your abdomen. If your baby is still breech at birth, many doctors will work with you to come to a solution; whether it be to have a C-section or continue with a vaginal birth will be up to your specific situation.
“My baby is still breech at 32 weeks; let’s hope she flips!”
If your preference is to have a delivery with as little medical intervention as possible, many women worry about the possibility of a cascade of interventions. This is when one small intervention by a medical professional may lead to another and another, until your birth is completely different from what you initially hoped for.
“I’m going to do everything I can to avoid pitocin; it’s the beginning of the cascade of interventions!”
A cervical exam is when a healthcare professional checks a mother’s cervix to see how much it has opened. As your body prepares for labor, the cervix slowly opens up, therefore, if a doctor checks your cervix, they’re looking for signs that your body may be easing up to the idea of labor. Many doctors will want to perform cervical exams between weeks 36 and 40 of pregnancy, but some women will opt out of having the exam. This is up to your preference and definitely something to discuss with your medical provider!
“At my last cervical exam I was only 5 cm dilated, then they checked again and I was at 10 cm and ready to push!”
Commonly known as a C-section, a cesarean is a form of delivery where a doctor cuts an incision through the mother’s abdomen and uterus to remove the baby by hand. Many women opt for a C-section for both medical and nonmedical reasons, while others plan for a vaginal delivery and end up having an emergency C-section.
“I have my scheduled cesarean section in two weeks; wish me luck!”
Read more: C-Section Births - An OB/GYN Weighs In
If you’re having a girl, don’t worry about this! If you have a little boy on the way, you need to decide whether you want the skin on the tip of his penis surgically removed. Many parents will make their decision based on religious, cultural, or health reasons. Doctors do not have an official stance on which route to go and call a circumcision a cosmetic procedure because it is not medically necessary.
“We couldn’t decide but decided to get the babe a circumcision because his father is also circumcised.”
This is when a baby wants to feed a bunch of times during a short time period. This can happen when they’re a newborn or just when they’re going through a developmental milestone. Most babies’ cluster feeding phases will only last a couple days at a time.
“This cluster feeding has to stop so I can take a nap.”
This is when a baby that is otherwise completely healthy, full, and clean will cry seemingly incessantly, for a couple hours or more. Colic can be super disheartening for new parents when it feels like nothing will solve their baby’s problem. Sometimes parents can troubleshoot until their baby’s colic subsides with things like taking them to a room with little to no stimulation, changing their formula or mother’s diet if breastfeeding. When it comes down to it, babies have intense needs and no way to communicate them except through crying. This miscommunication between the parent and baby is common and does not mean your baby is inherently angry, moody, or fussy. They may just be going through a phase of learning to adjust to their brand new environment.
“Our baby is so colicky, we haven’t slept all week!”
This is the first bit of milky liquid produced by a woman’s body. Colostrum is chock full of nutrients, vitamins and important ingredients for building your baby’s immune system. Some women’s colostrum supply may start leaking as early as 28 weeks of pregnancy. If you choose to breastfeed, once your baby has arrived and you start feeding them colostrum from your breast, it will only take a couple days for your body to start producing mature breast milk for babe to eat.
“I feel like my baby isn’t getting enough food; there’s no way this tiny bit of colostrum is filling him up!”
During labor, it just makes sense that a doctor would want to know your baby’s heart rate to make sure that little beat is still tapping away. Most women will need to talk to their healthcare professional about whether that heart rate check will be continuous or intermittent. Continuous monitoring of the heart rate is often recommended for higher risk situations or if you’d like the comfort of constantly knowing that your baby’s heartbeat is normal.
“I opted out of continuous fetal heart monitoring while I was in labor because I didn’t want a slight variation to send me into a c-section.”
Cord blood banking is the process of saving your baby’s umbilical cord blood. The blood in the umbilical cord contains stem cells which can be used to treat life-threatening conditions like sickle cell disease and some forms of cancer. You can choose to have your baby’s cord blood donated to a public blood bank or you can store it privately in the case that your child or another family member may need it at some point in their life.
“We decided to go with cord blood banking privately — just in case!”
This medical condition is when your abdomen separates during pregnancy as a result of being stretched out. For many women who experience diastasis recti, their abdomen will go back to normal within a few weeks but some mamas will need to go through physical therapy to regain their abdominal strength.
“I’ve been wearing my belly support band to try and prevent diastasis recti.”
As your body prepares for labor, your cervix will start to dilate or open up to slowly get ready for your baby to pass through. Many doctors will check your cervix for dilation in the weeks and hours leading up to your baby’s arrival.
“Okay mom, your dilation is 10 centimeters. Time to push!”
A doppler is used to detect blood flow. Many doctors will use a fetal doppler to listen to your baby’s heartbeat or a doppler ultrasound to check the blood flow in your uterus, umbilical cord, and placenta.
“According to the doppler, the blood is circulating in and out of your baby just right!”
A doula is a person trained to assist a mother through childbirth by providing emotional support, being an advocate for your birth preferences, and helping you to feel more physically comfortable. Their help may involve coaching you through breathing exercises during contractions or talking to your doctor about your options in the case of unexpected circumstances during delivery. Although they’re not medically qualified to deliver your baby on their own, many women choose to have a doula accompany them to their delivery room.
“Hiring a doula to support me through birth was the best decision.”
Your lil’ babe is called an embryo as soon as it’s fertilized until week 10 of pregnancy. Then it graduates to being a fetus!
“We got to see our tiny embryo in our first ultrasound today!”
When people ask if you're engaged, they’re not asking to see your left hand. In the final weeks or days before your baby’s delivery, their head will slowly start to wiggle down into your pelvis. Once the widest part of your baby’s head is positioned firmly into your pelvis, the baby is considered engaged. This usually means delivery is not very far away.
“It feels like my bump dropped; so my babe’s head must be engaged.”
This form of pain medication is administered during labor to help a mother cope with labor pains. It is inserted into the space surrounding your spine with a needle. You can choose whether you’d like an epidural or not as soon as you get to the hospital or right before you’re fully dilated. Many doctors want you to wait until you’re 4 centimeters dilated to receive an epidural because otherwise it can slow down the progression of your labor too much.
“I wish I could’ve gotten an epidural but I got to the hospital too late!”
Your little one is considered a fetus from week 10 of pregnancy until they’re born. Then they graduate to being a newborn!
“I still can’t believe this fetus started at just the size of a poppyseed!”
This is the piece on a breast pump that attaches your pump to your nipple. A properly fitted flange should give your nipple enough space to not be completely touching it but also not be so big as to pull in your areola. Finding your perfect flange size can be tricky but is so important!
“I can’t quite get my flange to seal without hurting; I’m going to ask a lactation specialist about it.”
This is a vitamin that is essential in growing new and healthy cells. Folic acid is highly recommended for all pregnant women. It can be found in almost all prenatal vitamins, as its own vitamin called folate, or in lots of leafy greens, nuts and beans.
“I started taking folic acid supplements while we were trying to conceive, then I graduated to a prenatal once I got pregnant.”
This is a term to describe the 12-week period following your baby’s delivery. Although the first three trimesters are more widely recognized, referring to your postpartum period as a fourth trimester has helped mom’s to shift their narratives and realize the intense needs their bodies still have even though the baby has been delivered.
“How come no one told me how hard the fourth trimester would be?!”
This is simply an acronym that means “First time mom.” You may see it on social media or online pregnancy groups.
“FTMs: What are you most nervous about for delivery?”
This phrase for baby’s development can have many different interpretations. If you Google “when is full term?” you’ll find a myriad of answers ranging from 37-40 weeks pregnant, although at the moment the official answer is that babies are considered to be full term at 39 weeks. This means they’ve been in the womb long enough for their major bodily systems to be fully developed. Many people may ask if you carried your baby “to term,” which means the same thing.
“I just hit full term, so I’m really ready for this baby to get out!”
This is a measurement used to determine whether a baby is measuring on track for their gestational age based on the height of a mother’s uterus. Doctors will measure from the top of the mother’s pubic bone to the top of her uterus. Typically, a doctor is looking for a fundal height to roughly align with the week of the mother’s pregnancy, give or take 2 centimeters.
“I’m only 32 weeks but today my fundal height was 33 centimeters, so maybe my baby’s coming a week early!”
This (outdated) term refers to pregnant women over the age of 35 years old. We prefer the term “advanced maternal age.”
“Can you believe they referred to me as a geriatric pregnant woman? I’m still in my 30s!”
This form of diabetes refers to a heightened level of glucose in the body. During pregnancy, the placenta produces extra hormones that can make your body hold onto more glucose than your pancreas can deal with. Most women will be administered a glucose test during their second trimester to see whether they have gestational diabetes. If they do, most doctors will work with the mom to come up with a diet and exercise plan to ensure that the baby is not affected by the mother’s condition. Gestational diabetes can happen to anyone and it typically does not reflect your eating habits, weight, or lifestyle.
“Now that I have gestational diabetes, I have to ignore so many of my food cravings!”
This medical test measures the blood sugar in a pregnant woman’s body to see if she may be at risk of having gestational diabetes. Most doctors administer a glucose test by giving the patient a sugar-y drink (you may have flavor options and it may be served lukewarm or cold!). After an hour, they will draw your blood to see how your body has handled the spike of sugar you experienced from the drink. Some doctors will recommend fasting before the test and others will advise patients to eat normally before the test. The number they are looking for will be adjusted based on whether or not you fasted. If you do not pass the one-hour test, you will typically be moved on to a similar but longer three-hour test to solidify whether or not your blood sugar levels are too high, in which you may be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
“I was expecting the glucose test drink to be horrible, but it actually just tasted like oranges!”
This common infection often comes and goes in adults. Typically, a couple weeks before birth, your doctor will administer a group B strep test through either collecting a urine sample or by swabbing your vagina and rectum (sorry) to collect fluid and cells. If you are positive for group B strep, you will simply be administered antibiotics in the hours leading up to labor to prevent the bacteria from being transmitted to your babe.
“I have my Group B Strep test during my week 36 appointment; what about you?”
This position refers to when a baby shifts himself to be facing head down. This means the head is closest to the mom’s pelvis and his feet are closest to the mom’s chest. Most babies will move to a head down position sometime during the mom’s third trimester. If you’re not sure, you can ask your doctor during appointments whether the baby is in head down position.
“Ever since my baby turned head down, she’s been kicking me in the ribs all day!”
This condition is often a symptom of acid reflux experienced by many women during pregnancy. Heartburn feels like a burning or stinging in the chest. It can often be at its worst after eating a large meal, when lying down, or after eating foods that activate your acid reflux, such as fried, spicy, or acidic foods.
“Quick get me a TUMS, my heartburn is out of control!”
This condition refers to swollen varicose veins found (sorry) by or in your butt hole. During pregnancy, women experience extra blood flow to the pelvic area. This extra circulation paired with pressure from the ever-growing uterus can result in varicose veins in the butt area. If you have hemorrhoids, you may find blood in your stool or when you go to the bathroom. It can also be super hard to poop with hemorrhoids. Don’t worry, there are lots of helpful products out there, like this one.
“My hemorrhoids feel so much better when I take a warm bath.”
This term refers to the health of a mom-to-be or baby being at risk due to underlying conditions. A high-risk pregnancy ranges broadly from a mother simply carrying twins to unusual findings during an ultrasound. A high-risk pregnancy can result in a low maintenance and “regular” birth just as easily as a low-risk pregnancy would.
“The good part of being labeled as a high-risk pregnancy is that I get to see my babe all the time in ultrasounds!”
This is a fancy word for taking a bath or shower during labor. This practice can help to distract, soothe, or relax mothers during their labor progression. Some women will choose hydrotherapy just during some of their contractions or they can opt for a complete water birth where the baby will be delivered underwater.
“I honestly couldn’t have gotten through my final contractions without that hydrotherapy.”
This birthing style refers to using self-led techniques and exercises to manage your pain during childbirth. Hypnobirthing is typically practiced without the use of any medication. Despite its out-there name, hypnobirthing is really for anyone interested in having a birth with minimal medical intervention.
“I’m not into the whole hypnobirthing thing, but a couple of the breathing exercises I learned were really helpful in labor!”
This form of bleeding occurs when the freshly fertilized embryo implants itself into the uterus. This bleeding typically happens before a mom has even gotten a positive pregnancy test, so implantation bleeding can sometimes be mistaken for a light period. It’s always worth it to go ahead and pee on the stick if you have suspicions.
“I can’t tell if this is my period or implantation bleeding; I’ll take a test to be sure!”
This term simply refers to any time that the baby is literally in your uterus.
“I can’t wait to tell my baby about all the kicking he did in utero.”
This medical procedure is when a woman’s uterus is induced into contractions before they begin naturally or when labor has slowed down. There are many different ways to be induced, including two common ways of breaking the mother’s water and giving the hormone oxytocin. If induction proves to be necessary, you can talk to your doctor about your options and come up with a plan that is best for you.
“I wasn’t planning on an induction, but it actually helped move things along so well!”
This common liver condition for newborns occurs when a baby’s skin and the whites of their eyes turn a subtle yellow color. Your doctor may advise more time in the sunlight, no treatment (jaundice often clears up on its own after a week or two) or babies sometimes need to go to the NICU for personal care.
“My baby was put under a jaundice light while she was in the NICU.”
This exercise consists of squeezing or tensing up your pelvic muscles. Kegels are usually recommended to strengthen your pelvic floor for delivery and have been linked to more controlled pushing and less tearing (yay!). You can also start doing kegels after delivery to regain strength in your pelvic muscles once your doctor approves them.
“I’ve been trying to do at least 3 sets of kegels everyday since getting pregnant.”
This exercise is the process of counting your fetus’s kicks. At some point in the third trimester, many healthcare professionals will advise mothers to start performing kick counts every once in a while. Most recommend that you should feel at least 10 movements during the time period of two hours. If you get one hour in and aren’t feeling much action from your lil’ guy, you can lie down, drink a glass of cold water, or have something sweet.
“Kick counts are so fun because you get to just sit still and feel your babe!”
This person is simply a medical professional who can help mothers during their breastfeeding journey. You may see a lactation specialist in the hospital if you choose to breastfeed right after the baby arrives or if you’re having trouble nursing your babe at home.
“We may need to call the lactation specialist again if we can’t get a good latch.”
This birthing technique aims to empower women during their delivery by giving them tools, breathing techniques, and some partner-led ways to cope with labor pains. Lamaze is one of the most common methods taught in birthing classes. Fun fact: it’s named after a French OB named Fernand Lamaze.
“Where can I sign up for a Lamaze class?”
This breastfeeding term refers to when a baby is attached to the mother’s breast. A good latch means the babe is holding on tightly and comfortable. A bad latch may lead to pain for the mother or frustration for the baby if they can not get their milk. Lactation specialists are latch pros so always contact one if you’re concerned about your latch.
“I felt such a sense of accomplishment when my baby finally latched!”
This is a reflex that allows your body to release its breastmilk. The letdown reflex is typically triggered when a baby starts sucking on the nipple but it can also happen when your nipple is stimulated, or when using a breast pump.
“It took so long for me to let down when I first started breastfeeding, I was afraid my baby would give up.”
This glamorous phrase refers to an intense feeling of pain in the vaginal or pelvic area some women experience during pregnancy. The pain is usually described as shooting and intense, almost like your lady bits were just struck by lightning. Lightning crotch is no reason to panic although the feeling is quite intense.
“Anyone else get lightning crotch every day lately?”
This is a line that appears vertically down the center of your belly that can pop up anywhere between the second trimester until birth due to the excess hormones in your body. Whether or not you develop a linea nigra typically depends on the pigmentation of your skin and darkness of your hair. A linea nigra will usually go away within a couple months of giving birth.
“My linea nigra just popped up the other day and I think it’s so cute!”
This bacteria is a dangerous germ that pregnant women are advised to avoid because of the possible harm it can do to babe. You know all those foods you’re told to avoid like raw fish, deli meat, and unpasteurized cheese? It’s because there’s a small chance they could be carrying listeria. Buzzkill, we know.
“I’m nervous about getting listeria, so I’m being extra careful with my food.”
This acronym simply means “Last Menstrual Period” and refers to the starting date of your last period before getting pregnant. The LMP is often used by doctors to calculate your estimated due date. During an ultrasound, they may let you know your estimated due date based on your LMP and also based on your baby’s growth and size.
“Based on my LMP, the baby’s due this November!”
This acronym simply means “Little One” and is used on social media and lots of online pregnancy forums to talk about their new little babe.
"Which bassinet did you pick for your LO?”
This breastfeeding term refers to when the breast becomes engorged due to a myriad of factors. Sometimes it’s caused by not emptying the breasts fully, having clogged milk ducts, or even wearing clothes that are too tight. Mastitis is painful but super common so don’t feel alone if you’re suffering! You definitely want to consult your doc though since some cases involve an infection that requires antibiotics.
“My mastitis was so bad that I couldn’t even put a bra on.”
This is basically the first poop your baby ever has. Meconium is thick and dark, lining the babe’s intestines throughout pregnancy until released after they’re born. Sometimes, a baby will have their very first poop during delivery, which can result in Meconium Aspiration Syndrome, wherein they breathe in the meconium.
“My baby’s first diaper change must have been all meconium; it was so dark!”
This medical procedure is when a doctor literally uses their hand to sweep your amniotic sac and loosen things up. This is meant to get labor started and most women will go into labor within 48 hours of their membrane sweep.
“After my membrane sweep, my baby was here 24 hours later!”
This is literally a plug of mucus that forms in your cervical canal to prevent any unwanted outside factors like bacteria from affecting your baby throughout pregnancy. The mucus plug is formed early in pregnancy and will typically fall out at some point either weeks or hours before labor as your cervix prepares for delivery by widening.
“I had no clue my mucus plug was going to look like THAT.”
Simply put, this phrase refers to women who are carrying more than one baby at a time. Think twins, triplets, and quadruplets!
“Any other multiple pregnancy moms worried about their belly skin going back to normal?”
This phrase is often used to refer to women who are choosing to go through their labor unmedicated. It’s a bit of an oxymoron, because birthing a baby is an inherently natural thing to do, regardless of how the baby is delivered.
“I had an epidural with my last delivery but want to try for a natural birth this time.”
This phrase refers to the burst of energy and motivation a pregnant woman may experience in her final trimester which leads her to clean her home, get a nursery ready, and exert a ton of energy into preparing for the arrival of her little one. Nesting looks different for everyone, so no mom-shame if you don’t ever get the urge to disinfect your entire home! Your maternal instincts could come in the form of making special DIY crafts for your babe, planning their coming home outfit, or pedaling to the medal to finish work tasks before maternity leave. Whatever preparing and providing for your baby means to you, you’re going to get the urge to do just that.
“Is my nesting kicking in or is my house just a mess?”
This hospital wing acronym stands for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Babies who need specialized care after birth are sent to the NICU to get the help they need.
“The NICU nurses were so helpful and sweet during my babe’s stay.”
This testing stands for Non Invasive Prenatal Testing and involves taking some of the mother’s blood and testing it to see whether the baby is at a risk of being born with any chromosomal abnormalities. A NIPT is usually performed during the first trimester and can usually tell the baby’s sex as well!
“My NIPT said I’m having a girl but my anatomy scan said it was a boy.”
This type of test measures how well your baby is doing and whether or not they need further medical attention. It typically involves monitoring the baby’s heart rate as the baby moves around the uterus.
“My doctor recommended NSTs during my next few visits because of my high blood pressure.”
This title refers to a physician who specializes pregnancy, childbirth, and the woman's reproductive system. They are trained to perform surgeries, like C sections, and deal with the highest-risk cases of pregnancy as well as low-risk pregnancies.
“The same OB delivered both of my babies; he’s the best!”
This term refers to the time in which an egg drops from a mother’s ovary. Although the sperm does not actually meet the egg until ovulation happens, it is hard to pinpoint exactly when conception takes place. Therefore, due dates are measured based on your last menstrual period, not when you ovulate or conceive. Usually in an early ultrasound, a doctor can tell you which ovary your little one ovulated from.
“According to my period tracker, my ovulation should happen this week!”
These are exercises performed by many moms during pregnancy and postpartum to gain/regain strength in their pelvic floor muscles. The most common type of pelvic floor exercise is the kegel!
“Did you know you can do a pelvic floor exercise every time you pee?”
This refers to massaging and stretching the perineum area leading up to labor to try to relax and strengthen the perineum. This can help to prepare for labor and decrease the amount of tearing or episiotomy risk for the mother.
“My doula gave me perineal massages while I was going through contractions.”
This refers to when a mother’s perineum gets a tear during labor. The tear is measured in different levels of degree and often heals up within a month or two.
“I didn’t even feel my perineal tear because I was just so happy to have the baby finally coming out.”
This term refers to the skin around a woman’s vagina. It does a LOT of stretching and is usually the thing that tears during labor.
“I’m so worried about tearing my perineum tearing during labor.
This is the life source for your baby in utero! The placenta is a bag-like organ that gives your baby all the oxygen and nutrients it needs for the duration of the pregnancy. After your baby is born, the placenta is also delivered. Some women have their placenta turned into pills to take during their postpartum period while others just let the docs dispose of it. Totally up to you, mama!
“My placenta is in the front of my uterus, so I haven’t felt my baby kicking much yet.”
This condition is when a woman experiences depression as a result of the postpartum hormonal changes, lifestyle change, and lack of getting to prioritize their own mental health needs during the postpartum period.
“I’m not sure if it’s just the “baby blues” or full-blown postpartum depression but I’m definitely going to visit my therapist this week.”
Read more: 5 PMADS New Moms Should Be Aware Of
This is a condition that usually involves a mother having high blood pressure, protein found in her urine, and water retention that causes swelling in her hands and feet, although the exact cause of this condition is unknown. Most women with preeclampsia will deliver a healthy baby and make a full recovery.
“Any other preeclampsia mamas worried about getting put on bed rest?”
Also commonly referred to as preterm labor, this means a woman’s body goes into labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy. If your baby is born at this point, they’ll be considered a premature baby (or preemie!).
“I thought I was going into premature labor but they were just Braxton Hicks.”
During your months of pregnancy, chances are you’ll get very well acquainted with your doctors’ office because of all the prenatal appointments you’ll be attending. You typically go to your first prenatal appointment a couple of weeks into your first trimester. This is where your healthcare provider will go into detail about your health history and what you need to know about pregnancy. Most low-risk women have prenatal appointments once a month for most of their pregnancy, until the final trimester. Typically around week 28 your doctor will start seeing you every other week, then beginning on week 36 you may see the doc weekly. Prenatal appointments are where any testing will be done to monitor your and baby’s health, as well as being your time to ask the doctor any burning questions you may have. Always come with a list of questions, so you don’t forget!
“My prenatal appointments were so fun at first but now that they’re every week. It’s kind of a lot.”
Read more: All You Need to Know About Your Prenatal Appointments
These vitamins are recommended by doctors to be taken during the entirety of a woman’s pregnancy. Prenatals include many vital nutrients and vitamins for a baby’s healthy development, such as folic acid and iron. There are tons of different prenatal vitamins out there, so if you find that one triggers your gag reflex or just tastes horrible to you, go shopping for a different one to fit your needs!
“How am I supposed to get down this prenatal vitamin that’s the size of a horse pill?!”
Read more: The Low-Down on Prenatal Vitamins
This is another word for early movements in the uterus from the baby. It’s not quite a kick from your tiny sprout, just a bit of flutter-y quickening. Some pregnant women feel quickening as early as 16 weeks and some may feel the little one swimming around later on, depending on their weight and the placenta’s position.
“Have you felt any quickening yet?”
This term refers to babies who are born to a mother after she has experienced a prior loss of a pregnancy, like a miscarriage or stillbirth.
“I’m so excited to finally meet my rainbow baby!”
This common pregnancy symptom is when stomach acid is able to creep back up through your esophagus because your hormones or the size of your baby is pushing it up out of your stomach. Reflux can be eased by eating smaller meals, avoiding foods that make you flare up (can be dairy, acidic, oily or spicy foods — depends on the person!) and staying upright after eating meals. Reflux typically clears right up after your baby is delivered.
“I’ve been sleeping propped up on pillows because my reflux is so bad.”
This hormone does just what it sounds like — it relaxes the ligaments in your body so that they’re ready to stretch out for that baby. Because of the added relaxin into the body, pregnant women are more at risk for injury due to the looseness of their joints. Be careful out there!
“Ever since my relaxin kicked in, my ankles have been popping constantly.
This is the feeling that you want or need to move your legs but they just can’t get comfortable. Many pregnant women experience restless leg syndrome at night, which can really make sleeping difficult. It’s believed that RLS can be caused by low folic acid and high estrogen in the body; two things that can frequently happen to pregnant women.
“How do I get to sleep when my restless leg syndrome won’t calm down?”
This takes place when a newborn baby is instinctively looking for a breast to suck. The reflex can happen when they're hungry, the corner of their mouth has been touched by something, they’re gassy and sometimes a tiny babe will root for seemingly no reason. Weird but cute!
“During our golden hour, I was so proud when my baby started rooting around for my nipple!”
This term refers to a sudden jolt of pain usually felt in the lower belly or groin area during pregnancy. The round ligaments are part of a structure in the pelvis that supports your growing uterus, so as the uterus gets heavier, these ligaments are forced to stretch in a way they’ve never wanted to stretch before, thus causing the shooting pain as they soften and stretch to accommodate your bump.
“This round ligament pain is making it impossible for me to exercise.”
This term means a woman is carrying only one baby in the uterus, as opposed to having twins or multiples.
“This singleton pregnancy is so different from my last pregnancy with the twins.”
This is a bath meant specifically for healing and soaking your nether region. It can help your hemorrhoids or help you to feel better after a vaginal delivery. You can buy a sitz bath online, which is a tiny tub so that only your private area is getting wet or just have one in your regular bathtub. Pro tip: add these herbs for extra help healing!
“My sitz bath felt so good with some herbs in it!”
This term is typically used interchangeably with the word “ultrasound” although they’re technically different. An ultrasound uses waves to see your baby in utero while a sonogram is the image that is gathered from those ultrasound waves. Whichever word you use, they both mean you’re getting to see that precious babe!
“Have you had your 20-week sonogram yet?”
A spinal block is very similar to an epidural in that it is the injecting of pain relief medication into a mother’s spinal area to reduce labor pains. The main difference is that a spinal block is injected into a slightly different area of the back, making the pain relief almost instant whereas an epidural can take 20-30 minutes to kick in.
“I definitely want medication for my labor pain but a spinal block just sounds so scary!”
This is when you have light bleeding out of your vagina. A bit of spotting is normal in pregnancy and usually no sign for concern. You will definitely experience bleeding after a vaginal delivery which will typically taper down to spotting after a bit of time. Just talk to your doc about your spotting if you have any concerns.
“I had some spotting in my second trimester and my doctor said it was fine!”
This acronym simply means “Second-time mom” and is often used on social media or online pregnancy forums to mean that this is not your first pregnancy.
“Any STMs have advice about what to pack in your hospital bag?”
Btw we got your ultimate hosptial bag checklist here.
This is when your skin develops scarring from the intense stretching it undergoes during pregnancy. Stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body but are most common on the stomach, hips, thighs and, breasts. It’s thought to be genetic whether or not you’ll have stretch marks, but you can always moisturize as much as possible to reduce stretch marks and alleviate discomfort as your skin stretches out. The Oil helps with this a lot!
“My mom has tons of stretch marks from pregnancy so I'll probably get them too!"
This is a person who carries a baby that will not be theirs after delivery, but instead will be given to a set of parents that are not undergoing pregnancy. A surrogate can be carrying a baby that is half genetically hers, if they undergo artificial insemination wherein one of the parents,’ or a sperm donor’s, sperm is injected into the surrogate to fertilize her egg. A surrogate can also carry a baby that is not genetically hers at all, if in vitro fertilization is used to place an already fertilized embryo into the surrogate’s uterus.
“We’re so glad we could have a child that was biologically ours through our amazing surrogate!”
Many doctors will recommend a TDAP vaccine during the second or third trimesters of pregnancy so that the baby can be born with antibodies built up against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (commonly known as whooping cough!).
“Getting the TDAP vaccine gave me a huge sense of peace about my baby’s health”
This is a phrase that means a mother has opted out of learning her baby’s sex before giving birth. She’s not team blue, not team pink. Team green!
“Just because we’re team green doesn’t mean we’re missing out on all the cute clothes; there are so many great gender neutral options out there!”
This is a form of medication that can be used if you begin labor prematurely. It can slow down labor for up to 48 hours and will often be recommended to mothers who begin labor contractions before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
“Any moms experience tocolytic meds before?”
This phase of labor is when the cervix completes its dilation and the baby’s head starts moving downward to be birthed. This is the final stage right before a mother starts pushing and, basically, it’s when things get real.
“We knew she was in transition when she started asking for the epidural, but she pushed through and did it!”
These are the three stages of the full pregnancy period — just split up into three parts.
“My second trimester was by far the easiest phase of pregnancy!”
This medical technique is when a specialist uses sound waves to detect where your fetus, placenta, ovaries, and all other body parts are. Think of ultrasounds as a little window into what your babe is doing. Most medical ultrasounds are two dimensional but there has been a recent wave of independent ultrasound offices which offer 3D and 4D ultrasounds.
“I can’t wait to see my baby this week on the ultrasound!”
This magic cord connects the placenta to the baby, delivering all necessary nutrients and food to your little one while simultaneously taking away all their waste. After the baby and placenta are delivered, the umbilical cord needs to be manually severed which is usually a big event for a partner or mother to do the cutting.
“My girlfriend’s hands were shaking when she cut the umbilical cord; it was so cute!”
This female organ is where all the growing, development, and fun happens. The uterus starts out around the size of a closed fist and grows to be the size of a watermelon when carrying your babe. Contractions are performed by the uterus as the organ tries to squeeze that baby out of you.
“I had no clue my uterus was going to take weeks to get back to its normal size after delivery.”
This procedure is when a doctor uses a soft and gentle vacuum to guide a baby out of the vaginal canal. The vacuum is usually only used if labor has stalled, slowed, or the baby is in distress and they believe they need to come out ASAP.
“I’m going to put in my birth plan that I prefer to avoid a vacuum extraction unless the baby really needs it.”
This condition is when veins become large and poke out from the skin due to pressure being put on them. Many pregnant women experience varicose veins, typically in their legs, and they will usually disappear right after birth.
“These varicose veins make me look like my grandma!”
This acronym stands for “Vaginal Birth after Cesarean” and refers to a mother who gives birth vaginally after her body has already undergone a C-section. VBACs used to be considered impossible but more and more doctors have been willing to perform them in recent years.
“I’m going to try for a VBAC this time but as long as the baby comes out healthy, I’ll be proud of my body.”
This term refers to the white layer of creamy film that covers a baby during the final trimester to protect them. When a babe is born, if they aren’t immediately washed or wiped off, they’ll be covered in the vernix pretty much all over. Some studies have shown that leaving vernix on your baby for up to a week after childbirth can help them to adjust better to life outside of the uterus and breastfeed better. Most doctors will still wipe most of the baby’s vernix off after delivery so as not to plop a sticky baby onto you, but if you’d prefer them to leave the goop, just speak up!
“I totally was not prepared for my baby to come out covered in vernix.”
This term refers to the 24th week of pregnancy where the baby officially has a good chance of surviving outside of the mother’s body. Usually mothers-to-be like to have some sort of little celebration or just a little sigh of relief when they hit this week.
“I’m so happy we made it to his viability week!”
This is a term for an epidural that is administered in very light doses so that the laboring mother can still slightly feel her contractions and move her legs. It just takes the edge off! Contrary to what the name says, though, mothers-to-be usually are not able to walk around after receiving a walking epidural.
“I loved my walking epidural because I didn’t feel totally numb for my ten hours of labor.”
This birthing practice is when a woman labors, delivers, or does both in a tub or pool of water. Many women who give birth at home will opt for a water birth but hospitals and birthing centers often have tubs available for laboring or birthing as well. Many believe that water births can help to reduce tearing and help a laboring woman with her pain management.
“I wasn’t planning on a water birth but my delivery room had a bathtub so…”
Read about one mom's water birth experiences here.
This is the process of ending your breastfeeding time with a baby. It takes some time for a breastfed baby to adjust to normal food and it takes some time for your body to gradually stop making the milk. Weaning can take a couple of weeks or even months, so take it easy and go at a schedule that works for you and babe.
“I read that peppermint tea can help to stop milk production once you’re starting to wean.”
When your uterus has a baby in it, it’s also called a womb. Womb is not a medical term.
“I’m carrying your child in my womb, the least you can do is empty the dishwasher.”
Before the placenta is developed, your baby will get its nutrients from a yolk sac. This tiny organ attaches to the outside of the embryo and will be absorbed by your baby near the end of the first trimester.
“We thought we could see her head during our eight week ultrasound but it turned out to be her yolk sac.”
This virus is specifically advised for pregnant women to avoid because it can cause birth defects. Zika is not an issue in most countries, but it’s always best to check with your doctor before traveling to see what kind of precautions you can take to avoid Zika.
“I’m going on a babymoon to Costa Rica, so my doc said I should wear long pants and shirts at night to avoid mosquitos that could be carrying Zika virus.”
This is a term for a double-celled organism that is formed immediately when sperm fertilizes an egg. This tiny little bundle of cells already has all the DNA necessary to become your tiny human!
“Can you believe it — there could be a tiny zygote inside of me right now! I can’t wait to take a test in two weeks.”
That’s all we’ve got for you! We think you’ll want to bookmark this page for later as a reference guide when people ask you things like “Are you Team Green?” or “When will you start weaning?” Plus, browse through our must-haves below to treat some of the the not-so-fun symptoms that can pop up.