Definitions provided by:
Pregnancy Glossary

Terms used to explain Pregnancy can sometimes be confusing. To help you fully understand the articles and features related to this very important health topic, we have compiled a glossary of terms that can help.


Pronunciation: \ˈaf-tər-ˌbərth\

Function: noun
: the placenta and fetal membranes that are expelled after delivery —called also secundines

Braxton-Hicks Contractions

Brax*ton–Hicks contractions
Pronunciation: \ˌbrak-stən-ˈhiks-\

Function: noun plural
: relatively painless nonrhythmic contractions of the uterus that occur during pregnancy with increasing frequency over time but are not associated with labor

Cesarean Section

cesarean section
Function: noun
: surgical incision of the walls of the abdomen and uterus for delivery of offspring


Pronunciation: \dī-ˈlā-shən\

Function: noun

1: the state of being dilated : see: dilatation
2: the action of stretching or enlarging an organ or part of the body <cervical dilation> <dilation of the pupil with atropine>

Ectopic Pregnancy

ectopic pregnancy
Function: noun

: gestation elsewhere than in the uterus (as in a fallopian tube or in the peritoneal cavity) —called also ectopic gestation, extrauterine gestation, extrauterine pregnancy


Pronunciation: \ˌep-i-ˈd(y)ur-əl\

Function: adjective
: situated upon or administered or placed outside the dura mater <epidural[1] anesthesia> <an epidural[1] abscess>


Pronunciation: \lak-ˈtā-shən\

Function: noun

1: the secretion and yielding of milk by the mammary gland
2: one complete period of lactation extending from about the time of parturition to weaning


Pronunciation: \mis-ˈkar-ij\

Function: noun
: spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus before it is viable and esp. between the 12th and 28th weeks of gestation compare abortion 1a

Morning Sickness

morning sickness
Function: noun
: nausea and vomiting that occurs typically in the morning esp. during the earlier months of pregnancy


Pronunciation: \plə-ˈsent-ə\

Function: noun
pl -centas
or -cen*tae
Pronunciation: \-ˈsent-(ˌ)ē\

: the vascular organ in mammals except monotremes and marsupials that unites the fetus to the maternal uterus and mediates its metabolic exchanges through a more or less intimate association of uterine mucosal with chorionic and usu. allantoic tissues permitting exchange of material by diffusion between the maternal and fetal vascular systems but without direct contact between maternal and fetal blood and typically involving the interlocking of fingerlike vascular chorionic villi with corresponding modified areas of the uterine mucosa see abruptio placentae


Pronunciation: \-ˈtərm\

Function: adjective
: of, relating to, being, or born by premature birth <preterm infants> <a preterm delivery> <preterm labor>

Spinal Anesthesia

spinal anesthesia
Function: noun
: anesthesia produced by injection of an anesthetic into the subarachnoid space of the spine


Pronunciation: \ˈəl-trə-ˌsaund\

Function: noun

1: vibrations of the same physical nature as sound but with frequencies above the range of human hearing compare infrasound
2: the diagnostic or therapeutic use of ultrasound and esp. a noninvasive technique involving the formation of a two-dimensional image used for the examination and measurement of internal body structures and the detection of bodily abnormalities —called also echography, sonography, ultrasonography
3: a diagnostic examination using ultrasound

Audio pronunciation for hear it again
Having trouble hearing a pronunciation?
Click here to listen with your default audio player.
© 2011 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Take a Personalized Health Test

Did You Know?

View Source

Talk about crazy cravings: Some pregnant women have the urge to eat clay, laundry starch, or cornstarch — a condition called pica.