1. abdominal muscles
    the muscles in the abdominal wall surrounding the uterus and gut
  2. amniotic fluid
    fluid that surrounds the fetus in the amniotic sac during pregnancy. Acts as a shock absorber to prevent injury and allows the skeleton and lungs of the fetus to develop properly.
  3. anesthesiologist
    a doctor trained to administer pain medication.
  4. anesthetic
    a drug used to prevent pain during surgery or other procedures. A general anesthetic makes the person unconscious. A local anesthetic numbs the area where the surgery is to be performed. Local anesthetics may be combined with sedatives to make a person relaxed and sleepy but not unconscious.
  5. antacid
    a medication that reduces the acidity in the stomach; used to treat heartburn.
  6. antibody
    a molecule made by the immune system that recognizes and attacks a specific invading germ. The creation of antibodies can be stimulated when you are infected with a germ or if you are vaccinated against it. Antibodies can also be passed from mother to child during breastfeeding.
  7. antiseptic
    a substance used to clean surfaces (such as the skin), to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  8. areolas
    the area of pigmented (coloured) skin around your nipples.
  9. basal temperature
    the body's temperature at rest, measured first thing after awakening. Women can monitor their basal body temperature daily to identify when they are ovulating, if they wish to maximize their chances of conceiving or avoid pregnancy.
  10. birthing ball
    a large air-filled rubber ball (about two feet in diameter) that a woman can sit on during labour. A birthing ball allows the woman to rock back and forth while seated on a soft surface. A birthing ball may be especially useful during back labour. Not all hospitals and birthing facilities allow the use of a birthing ball; because the balls provide a somewhat unsteady seat, some hospitals are concerned about the risk of a woman falling. If hospital policy does allow for the use of a birthing ball, a labour support person can help steady the woman.
  11. birthing stool
    a specially shaped stool that supports a woman giving birth in a squatting position. It is about the same height as a toilet with an open front. Using a birthing stool allows the pelvic floor muscles to relax, while a squatting position uses gravity to aid the birth.
  12. Braxton-Hicks contractions
    rhythmic clenching of the muscles of the uterus, which last for 30 to 60 seconds, experienced by some women. These contractions usually begin around the middle of pregnancy and are typically not painful although they may become uncomfortable late in pregnancy. Braxton-Hicks contractions are different from labour contractions: labour contractions are longer, more regular, more frequent and more painful.
  13. chloasma
    dark splotches and pigmented areas on the forehead, cheeks and upper lips. This condition is most common among women with darker skins. Often called "the mask of pregnancy," chloasma is more pronounced during the summer months as a result of sun exposure. It usually fades a few months after birth. Repeated pregnancies can intensify the colour.
  14. chromosomal abnormalities
    an error (or mutation) in a person's genes. Genes are carried on chromosomes, structures within the cell that carry information about all of a person's inherited traits. A person's genes may be damaged prior to, or during, conception and abnormal genes may be passed down through a family.
  15. colostrum
    the first breast milk to appear after a baby is born, colostrum is thick and yellow, rich in proteins, minerals and antibodies.
  16. deficiency
    the absence of a necessary nutrient in a person's body.
  17. dehydrate
    to lose water from the tissues of the body. When babies have diarrhea or are vomiting, they can lose large amounts of water and salts. If these fluids are not replaced, a child becomes dehydrated. Signs of dehydration in a baby include a dry mouth and sticky saliva, dark yellow urine, less urine, a fast heartbeat and low energy. Severe dehydration can be dangerous, in some cases, even fatal.
  18. diaphragm
    a muscular membrane that separates the abdomen from the lungs and chest.
  19. dilated
    widening or stretching of an opening like the cervix.
  20. doula
    a professional labour support person who provides emotional support and information during labour. A doula does not deliver the baby or have a clinical role at the birth.
  21. Down syndrome
    a group of symptoms, including physical signs and developmental handicaps, which are caused by abnormalities in chromosome 21, most often an unnecessary third copy. This condition is also called trisomy 21 because of the location of the genetic mutation.
  22. dystocia
    the medical term for a slow or difficult labour or birth. This is one of the most common reasons for a cesarean section.
  23. eclampsia
    a rare condition that involves convulsions (or seizures) and sometimes coma. Eclampsia usually affects pregnant women after the 20th week of pregnancy, following pre-eclampsia, which is marked by high blood pressure and protein in the urine.
  24. electronic heart monitor
    a machine used to record a baby's heartbeat and the frequency of the mother's contractions.
  25. embryo
    a term used to describe an animal in the womb following the fertilization of the egg but before internal organs begin to develop, usually up until the eighth week of development.
  26. endometriosis
    a condition where tissue similar to the uterine lining is found outside of the uterus, usually in the pelvic area; can cause pelvic pain and infertility.
  27. engagement
    the last stage of pregnancy when the baby's head moves into the birth canal. Usually happens after 37 weeks. Also called lightening.
  28. episiotomy
    a short cut made during labour to enlarge the vaginal opening, to allow an infant to be born more easily. The cut, made to the skin and muscle between the vagina and anus, is stitched up after the birth. Most doctors no longer perform episiotomies routinely, but some still do.
  29. esophagus
    the passageway from the mouth to the stomach.
  30. fetal anatomy
    the structure of the body of the fetus.
  31. fetus
    the term describing an unborn offspring from the eighth week after conception, when organs begin to form, until birth.
  32. finger feeder
    a length of tubing that can be attached to the finger and supplied with breast milk from a syringe, bottle or specially designed reservoir. The end of the tube should be completely submerged in the milk.
  33. gastrointestinal infection
    an infection in the intestines usually caused by the overgrowth of some bacteria or yeast; usually causes diarrhea.
  34. gynecological
    having to do with the female reproductive organs.
  35. hirsutism
    a condition where a woman grows excess hair, often on areas of the body where hair is more typical for men, such as the face or chest.
  36. hormones
    chemical messengers that the body uses to send instructions from one part of the body to another. Hormones affect many bodily processes, such as growth and development, metabolism, sex drive, reproduction and mood.
  37. hypertension
    high blood pressure.
  38. immune system
    the integrated working of a number of the body's cells, proteins, tissues and organs, to defend against infection. The immune system helps keep a person healthy.
  39. incision
    a cut made during surgery.
  40. jaundice
    a condition where the skin and the eyes turn yellowish. In newborns, this occurs because the liver is not mature enough to break down billirubin, a waste by-product produced when red blood cells are destroyed. More than 50 percent of full-term babies and approximately 80 percent of premature babies develop jaundice in the first days after being born. Jaundice in infants usually goes away on its own but should be monitored to avoid complications.
  41. labour nurse
    a specially trained nurse who is with a woman during the birth of her child.
  42. lactating
    producing milk for breastfeeding.
  43. lactation consultant
    a health-care professional who provides support and information about breastfeeding and can help resolve breastfeeding difficulties.
  44. lanugo
    downy hair that covers the fetus beginning in the fourth month and usually disappears before the birth or shortly afterwards.
  45. ligaments
    bands of fibrous tissue that connect two or more bones.
  46. lightening
    the last stage of pregnancy when the baby's head moves into the birth canal. Usually happens after 37 weeks. Also called engagement.
  47. linea nigra
    literally means dark line. A line that runs vertically down from the belly button, and usually appears in the late stages of pregnancy. Women with darker skin are most likely to experience this. Staying out of the sun may reduce the likelihood that this line will appear. This line does not necessarily go away after the baby is born, but it does get a bit lighter.
  48. lochia
    normal vaginal discharge that lasts for several weeks after the birth of a child; the body�s way of discharging the lining of the womb following the birth. Lochia is initially bright red, then becomes pinkish, and eventually yellowish or white.
  49. mastitis
    swelling and tenderness in the breast of a breastfeeding woman that may be cause by a blocked milk duct or an infection.
  50. morning sickness
    nausea and vomiting caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy.
  51. neural tube defects
    the neural tube is a structure that forms in the first few weeks of pregnancy and eventually becomes the child's spine and spinal cord. Birth defects that occur because this early structure did not close properly are called neural tube defects. The most common neural tube defect is spinal bifida.
  52. ovulation
    the release of an egg from the ovary.
  53. peri bottle
    a spray bottle used to clean the perineum.
  54. perineum
    the area of skin between the vagina and anus.
  55. physiotherapist
    a health professional who specializes in physical therapy, such as exercise and massage.
  56. PKU (hyperphenylalaninemia)
    a genetic illness, which a child inherits from both parents, that leaves the child unable to digest particular proteins. Treatment in the form of a special diet must be started in the first few weeks of life to prevent developmental disabilities.
  57. placenta
    an organ, which develops with the fetus, that facilitates the exchange of oxygen and nutrients between mother and child.
  58. postpartum hemorrhage
    severe bleeding after childbirth.
  59. preeclampsia
    a condition that can occur after the 20th week of pregnancy, which includes high blood pressure, swelling of the hands and feet, and protein in the urine. This condition is accompanied by metabolic disturbances that can threaten the health of the pregnancy.
  60. prenatal
    before birth. Prenatal care is the care a woman receives during pregnancy.
  61. privileges (admitting)
    the ability of a doctor or midwife to admit or treat patients at a particular hospital. Each hospital has a list of health-care providers that have 'privileges' at that hospital. Midwives have admitting privileges in most, but not all, parts of the country. Every doctor is affiliated with a hospital.
  62. prostate
    a small chestnut-shaped gland at the base of a man's bladder.
  63. pubic bone
    the bone that supports the pelvis.

    • rubella
    • German measles.
  64. rupture of membranes
    when the membranes of the amniotic sac break, releasing amniotic fluid. This is often called "having your water break." Although this usually happens naturally, in some cases, a care provider breaks the membranes to induce birth.
  65. sepsis
    a serious infection that can occur after a partial miscarriage or incomplete abortion. This is extremely rare in Canada and other countries where pre-natal care and legal abortion are available, but it is still a major cause of death in the developing world.
  66. spina bifida
    condition in which the spine does not develop properly before birth; can cause varying degrees of disability. A diet with sufficient levels of folic acid taken in the months before and during pregnancy can help prevent spina bifida.
  67. SSRIs (serotonin selective re-uptake inhibitors)
    a class of anti-depressant drugs; Prozac is an example.
  68. steroid cream
    synthetic hormones that can be applied to the skin to reduce swelling and inflammation; long-term use is not advised.
  69. stress incontinence
    loss of bladder control that occurs when a person sneezes or laughs.
  70. trimester
    a period of three months; pregnancy is usually broken into three trimesters.
  71. umbilical cord
    a flexible cord that connects the fetus to the placenta and carries blood and nutrients between the two.
  72. uterus
    the female reproductive organ that holds a developing fetus.
  73. vernix
    a fatty, milky looking substance that covers the fetus beginning around the end of the second trimester.
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