A
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A prenatal on-line program for the mom to be, her partner and her family

Lexicon

Click one of the letters above to advance the page to terms beginning with that letter.

A

Amniocentesis

Amniocentesis is a screening technique used between the 15th and 16th week of pregnancy. A very fine needle is inserted into the uterus through the mother's belly. The doctor uses the ultrasound to make sure that the needle in inserted in the right place and draws a small quantity of amniotic liquid to analyze it in order to detect genetic abnormalities.

Artificial rupture of membranes

If labour has not yet begun and the water has not yet broken, the doctor may rupture them. This procedure is similar to an internal examination and is not painful. For most women, labour will begin within the next 12 hours on condition that the cervix is ready.

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C

Cervical ripening

If the cervix has opened completely and labour must be induced, the health care provider may try to stimulate the cervix. To do this, a jelly or tablet containing hormones is placed inside the cervix in the vagina. There are also other methods. It is very important that the cervix be ready and soft before inducing labour.

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D

Doula

A doula is a supportive companion who accompanies to provide emotional, physical, and informational support and acts as an advocate for the woman in her family. This Greek term means "a woman who helps other women". A doula is a specially trained woman who gives a psychological support to women during their pregnancy. She accompanies the woman to the hospital for delivery and can facilitate communication with the doctors and nurses. She is not a midwife.

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E

Epidural anesthesia

After the skin has been numbed with a needle, a needle containing an anesthetic is injected between the vertebrae and maintained in place with a plaster. At regular intervals, small doses of anesthetics are injected. The anesthetic react as rapidly as at the dentist. In less than 10 minutes, the pain disappears. For certain women, the pain does not completely go away but is greatly alleviated.

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F

Foreskin

Foreskin is the skin that covers the penis.

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G

General anesthesia

A general anesthesia is used when a spinal or epidural anesthesia is not possible or is not suitable due to medical reasons. It can be performed rapidly and causes a complete loss of consciousness. This procedure is frequently used when an emergency cesarean is required. The general anesthesia is very safe for your baby.

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I

Induced contractions

If labour does not begin spontaneously and the cervix is ready, an artificial hormone is injected by intravenous. This hormone stimulates the uterus causing it to contract. The contractions will increase in intensity and get closer together as the dose is increased.

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L

Local anesthesia

Local anesthesia is used before performing an episiotomy which is a small incision to enlarge the vaginal opening, or if the extraction must be done using forceps or vacuum extractor. Anesthetics are injected in the area surrounding the vagina (perineum) to create numbness. You might feel a light prick when the needle is injected until it takes effect.

Lochia

Lochia is the vaginal discharge that resembles a period. Lochia can last several weeks after childbirth. In the beginning, lochia is bright red, then it is pinkish or brownish, and finally it becomes clear.

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R

Reactive Nonstress Test

This test produces a strip showing the fetal heart rate while it is still in the uterus. The frequency is measured during 20 to 30 minutes. If the baby is healthy, the strip will show heartbeat accelerations as the baby moves.

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S

Spinal anesthesia

A spinal anesthesia is given with a very small needle inserted in your lower back between two vertebrae. The main difference with an epidural is that the liquid is inserted directly in the spinal column, that the reaction is almost immediate, and that the necessary dose is very small. The medication for the spinal anesthesia is usually injected only once. Occasionally headaches may occur after a spinal anesthesia . If these headaches persist, they can be treated effectively.

Stripping the membranes

This technique involves detaching the membrane of the amniotic liquid bag that is attached to the cervix. In doing this, the doctor inserts a finger against the interior wall of the cervix to free the attached membrane. Following this intervention, most women feel a few cramps accompanied by pinkish or reddish vaginal discharge.

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U

Ultrasound scan

This test is used to view the infant on a computer screen by means of sound waves. Ultrasound scan to find the baby's position, to see if the baby is developing normally, is used to identify the position of the placenta in the uterus. We can also count the baby's heartbeats, check if there is more than one baby, and verify for certain abnormalities. Ultrasound is also used to determine the due date.

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