Glossary of Terms
Amniocentesis. Laboratory analysis of amniotic fluid. About two tablespoons worth of amniotic fluid is removed from the sac surrounding the baby, inside the mother’s womb, to determine if any genetic abnormalities exist. The test, typically performed during the second trimester, is extremely reliable and can also be used to determine the baby’s sex.
Certified Nurse Midwife, A Midwife who has completed a degree as a nurse as well as an advanced degree as a midwife. A CNM may provide women’s healthcare throughout the life span, and may assist women in birth in homes, birth centers or hospitals.
Cervical ectropion or eversion. Migration of cells from the lining of the endocervical canal (endocervix) to the outer portion of the cervix (ectocervix). Sometimes inaccurately called erosion or abrasion, which implies damage. Cervical ectropion is a normal condition and is common in young women and women taking birth control pills.
Estimated Date of Delivery (EDD). Also known as the due date. Calculated as 40 weeks—about nine months—from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP). Keep in mind, though, that any delivery within 37 to 42 weeks is considered normal.
Laparoscopy. Direct visualization of the peritoneal cavity, ovaries, and the outer surfaces of the fallopian tubes and uterus by using a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a slender instrument—essentially a miniature telescope—with a fiber optic system that can illuminate the inside of the abdomen.
Mucus, Cervical. Secretion of the cervical mucous glands; the quality and quantity of these secretions are influenced by estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen makes secretions abundant and clear, with spinnbarkeit and afernpattern on drying. Progesterone makes secretions scant, opaque and cellular, without a fern pattern on microscopic examination.
Preeclampsia. A dangerous condition unique to pregnancy, characterized by elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine and severe swelling (edema). Preeclampsia can occur anytime after 20 weeks of pregnancy and up to six weeks after birth. Approximately seven percent of pregnant women in the U.S. develop the condition. Eclampsia, which can be fatal, occurs when the above symptoms are followed by seizures. About one in 20 preeclampsia cases develops into eclampsia.
RhoGAM. Rh immunoglobulin (RhIg), also known as RhoGAM, is a special blood product that can prevent an Rh-negative mother’s antibodies from reacting to Rh-positive cells. Women diagnosed as Rh-negative receive an initial RhIg dose at about the 28th week of pregnancy and a second dose within 72 hours after delivery.
Risk factors. Individual attributes (such as age, gender and family history) and habits (such as sexual activity, smoking and drug abuse) that are more common among people who contract a particular disease than in people who do not contract the disease.
Sexually Transmitted Infection. A disease that spreads by sexual contact, including chlamydia infection, gonorrhea, genital warts, herpes, syphilis, and infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]).
Tubal ligation. Permanent sterilization by surgically cutting and tying the fallopian tubes. Commonly referred to as having one’s “tubes tied.” Can be performed at the same time as a cesarean section, which eliminates the need for a second surgery, or six weeks or more after a vaginal delivery. In the latter case, a small incision is made near the bellybutton.