Labor and Birth Terms to Know

Induced Labor: Labor is started or accelerated through intervention, such as placing prostaglandin gel on the cervix, using an IV drip of the hormone oxytocin (Pitocin), or by rupturing the membranes.

Jaundice: Condition in newborn babies, reflected in yellowing of the skin, caused by the immature liver's inability to process excess red blood cells.

Labor: Regular contractions of the uterus that result in dilation and effacement of the cervix.

Lightening: When the baby drops in preparation for delivery (Engagement).

Meconium: Baby's first bowel movement, this is the greenish substance that builds up in the bowels of a growing fetus and is normally discharged shortly after birth.

Neonatalogist: A specialist who cares for newborns.

NICU: Acronym standing for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Nubain: Synthetic narcotic pain reliever commonly used in labor and delivery.

Oxytocin: Hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that stimulates contractions and the milk-eject reflex. Pitocin is the synthetic form of this hormone.

Perineum: The muscle and tissue between the vagina and the rectum.

Perineal Massage: The gentle stretching and massaging of the skin between the anus and vagina (perineum) during the last few weeks of pregnancy to reduce the incidence of episiotomy and perineal tears during birth.

Phenergan: A sedative administered which also controls nausea and vomiting.

Placenta: The tissue which connects the mother and fetus that transports nourishment and takes away waste.

Placenta Previa: When the placenta partially covers the opening of the uterus.

Posterior: The baby is in a face-up position during delivery. Normal presentation is anterior which is face down.

Postpartum: The period after childbirth

Post-Term: Pregnancy lasts beyond 42 weeks.

Preterm: Babies born earlier than 37 weeks.

Prepidil Gel: PREPIDIL Gel (dinoprostone) administered endocervically may stimulate the myometrium of the gravid uterus to contract in a manner similar to contractions seen in the term uterus during labor. Whether or not this action results from a direct effect of dinoprostone on the myometrium has not been determined. Dinoprostone is also capable of stimulating smoothe muscle of the gastrointestinal tract in humans. This activity may be responsible for the vomiting and/or diarrhea that is occasionally seen when dinoprostone is used for preinduction cervical ripening.

Prostaglandin Cream: Medication used to ripen the cervix before induction.

Ruptured Membranes: Usually refers to the breaking of the fluid filled sac surrounding the baby. The fluid may come as a gush of water or as a slow leak. Slow leaks are sometimes mistaken as incontinence.

Speculum: An instrument used to open the vagina slightly wider so that the cervix can be seen more easily.

Timing Contractions: Contractions are measured from the beginning of one until the beginning of the next.

Transverse: Baby's body length is horizontal in the uterus. If the baby cannot be moved, it will have to be delivered by cesarean section.

Umbilical Cord: The cord that carries blood, oxygen and nutrients to the baby from the placenta during pregnancy.