Updated: Jul 22
There's a complete vocabulary used by midwives and doctors in pregnancy - but it can be really confusing if you've never heard it before. Do you ever hear medical jargon being used and wish that they would speak just plain old English! Here's a breakdown on common terminology and acronyms:
Artificial Rupture of Membranes
Part of the induction process, where a doctor or midwife artificially breaks your waters using a small plastic hook.
Baby is bottom down.
Baby is bottom down, with both legs straight upwards by their head
Baby is bottom down, with one or both feet below their bottom
Baby is bottom down with their legs bent at the knees
Beats Per Minute
Relating to the baby's heart rate
Top of your pelvis.
Baby is head down
Crown Rump Length
The length of a fetus from head to bottom, this length is used to 'date' a pregnancy
The machine used to monitor your contractions and baby's heart rate
Date of birth
External Cephalic Version
A procedure offered to women with a breech baby, where they will try to turn baby around
Estimated Date of Delivery
Baby's head is within the pelvis
The amount of baby's head that can be felt above the pelvis- measured in 5ths. 0/5 palpable would be fully engaged.
Fetal Heart Rate
Baby's heart rate (in utero)
Fetal Heart Heard
You may see this if they have not timed the baby's heart rate
Full Blood Count
A blood test offered in pregnancy
Fetal Scalp Electrode
A way of monitoring the baby's heart during birth where a small electrode is attached to baby's scalp after your waters have broken.
Women who have given birth more than five times (to babies over 24 weeks gestation)
Number of pregnancies
Number of births to babies over 24 weeks gestation
Gravida 3, Para 1 + 1
This would be a woman who is currently pregnant and has given birth once before and has a miscarriage or termination before 24 weeks.
Group B Strep
Glucose Tolerance Test
Test for Gestational Diabetes
A low Hb in pregnancy may be an indication of anaemia
Baby's head is not engaged at all
Induction of Labour
Intrauterine growth restriction
When a baby's growth slows down or is below the expected level in pregnancy
Which way is the baby lying in the uterus
Last Menstrual Period
Used to date a pregnancy until a scan is used
Left Occipital Posterior
Baby is head down, with their back facing diagonally backwards to the left
Left Occipital Transverse
Baby is head down, with their back facing directly to the left.
Lower Segment Caesarean Section
Midstream Specimen Urine
Where your urine is dipped with a dipstick or sent to a lab for testing- this can help indicate possible urine infections, thrush, diabetes, pre-eclampsia and other medical conditions.
Women who have given birth more than once (to babies over 24 weeks gestation)
Newborn Blood Spot
A test given to newborn babies to check for genetic conditions. Baby's heel is pricked and 5 spots of blood are sampled. Also known as the 'heel prick test'.
Baby is head down, with their back facing directly forwards
Baby is lying diagonally across the uterus (can be breech or cephalic)
Baby is head down, with their back facing directly backwards.
Bleeding of over 500ml after birth
Which part of the baby's body is presenting at the pelvis/vagina.
Women who have not given birth before
Premature Rupture of Membranes. When your waters have broken but you have not gone into labour or your baby has not been born in the UK this is currently within 24 hours.
Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Right Occipital Anterior
Baby is head down, with their back facing diagonally forwards to the right
Right Occipital Posterior
Baby is head down, with their back facing diagonally backwards to the right
Right Occipital Transverse
Baby is head down, with their back facing directly to the right
A blood test done on babies with symptoms of jaundice, to measure the level of bilirubin in their blood
Spontaneous Rupture of Membranes
When your waters have broken spontaneously
Spontaneous Vaginal Delivery
A vaginal birth that was not induced or assisted with forceps or ventouse
Termination of Pregnancy
Baby is lying sideways across the uterus
To Take Out (Medicine)
Medicine that you take home from the hospital
Urinary Tract Infection
Vaginal Birth After Caesarean
This list is not exhaustive, there will be other acronyms and terminology out there. It will also differ from country to country. If a doctor or midwife uses language that you don't understand, please stop them and ask them to explain. They won't be using the language to confuse you, its a language that comes naturally when working and sometimes we forget we are using it .
I hope you find this list helpful