The tummy area from the lower ribs to the pelvis

A test in which a thin needle is inserted into the uterus through the abdominal wall to take a sample of the fluid surrounding the baby. This can be carried out from 15 weeks to test for certain chromosomal and genetic conditions For more information visit

The watery liquid that surrounds and cushions the growing fetus in the uterus.

The pregnancy sac containing the the baby and amniotic fluid. Its sometimes called the membranes.

Medicines that reduce or take away pain. These can also be used to sedate or put someone to sleep during an operation.

Before birth

An anterior placenta simply means your placenta is attached to the front wall of your uterus, between the baby and your tummy. It’s a completely normal place for it to implant and develop.

The opening of the rectum to the outside of the body

Also known as breaking the waters or amniotomy is a procedure that is performed to break the water sac. This water sac or amniotic fluid is the liquid that protects and surrounds the baby in the uterus. This procedure may be performed to start or speed up labour.

An assessment unit usually provides access to a specialist obstetrician 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, immediate ultrasounds and results, blood tests and immediate hospital admission if required. May also be known as a Maternity Assessment Unit (MAU) or Pregnancy Assessment Unit (PAU).

When special instruments (ventouse or forceps) are used to help deliver the baby during the pushing part of labour. Also known as instrumental birth or operative/vaginal delivery.

The process of increasing the strength, length and frequency of your contractions and help your cervix to dilate.

Feeling sad or mildly depressed a few days after your baby is born. The baby   blues are very common – eight out of 10 new mothers feel like this. They can be caused by hormone changes, tiredness or discomfort and usually only last a week. More severe depression or anxiety that lasts longer than a week could be postnatal depression. For more information visit

The loss of a person. Coping with a bereavement can be particularly difficult if you are pregnant or have just had a baby, and even harder if it is your baby who has died.

A written record of what you would like to happen during pregnancy, labour and childbirth.

The point at which a pregnant woman first sees a midwife to book for maternity care. At the booking appointment the maternity records are completed and antenatal screening is offered.

Breast engorgement is when your breasts become overly full. They may feel hard, tight and painful. For more information visit

When baby is lying bottom first in the womb

An operation to deliver a baby by cutting through the mother’s tummy and uterus. This can be planned (elective)  or an emergency procedure. For more information visit

A machine used to display measure your contraction frequency and baby’s heartbeat before and during labour to assess the wellbeing of your baby

A small tube that can be passed through a part of the body, for example through the urethra, to empty the bladder.

When the baby is lying with their head pointing downwards. This is known as cephalic presentation

The entrance or neck of the womb, at the top of the vagina. It is normally almost closed, with just a small opening through which blood passes during monthly periods. During labour, your cervix will dilate (open up) to 10cm to let your baby move from your womb into your vagina.

A test to detect genetic conditions, particularly chromosomal conditions, such as Down’s syndrome, Edwards syndrome or Patau’s syndrome. It is usually carried out between 11-13 weeks. For more information visit

The genetic structures within cells which contain our DNA (the material that carries genetic information). A normal cell contains 46 chromosomes.

The milk that your breasts produce during the first few days after your baby is born. It is very concentrated and full of antibodies to protect your baby against infections. Colostrum has a rich, creamy appearance and is sometimes quite yellow in colour.

Colostrum is produced during pregnancy. Colostrum can be expressed and stored during the third trimester of pregnancy with the support of your midwife. This may be beneficia if your baby is likely to require special care following birth. For more information visit

Consistency in the midwife or clinical team that provides hands on care for a woman and her baby throughout the three phases of her maternity journey: pregnancy, labour, and the postnatal period.

The sudden and unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant during their sleep. Also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

At the time of the birth the baby is still attached to the mother via the umbilical cord, which is part of the placenta. The baby is usually separated from the placenta by clamping the umbilical cord. Delayed cord clamping means the umbilical cord isn’t clamped immediately after birth. Instead, it’s clamped and cut between one and three minutes after birth. Delayed cord clamping allows the blood from the placenta to continue being transferred to the baby even after they are born.

A genetic condition caused by an additional chromosome. People with Down’s syndrome have some degree of learning disability and an increased likelihood of some health conditions, which can generally be managed. People with Down syndrome can lead full and rewarding lives. -To understand the reality of living with Down syndrome, visit

A blood clot that forms in a deep vein. Also known as venous thrombosis.

An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg begins to grow outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes The fallopian tubes are the tubes connecting the ovaries to the womb. The egg cannot develop properly and must be removed using medicine or an operation. For more information visit

A caesarean section which is planned for a specific date (usually after 39 weeks of pregnancy).

The term used for the developing baby in very early pregnancy.

A caesarean section that is not planned for that date but is needed because you have complications either before or during labour or the labour has started before a planned elective caesarean.

A form of pain relief offered during labour breathed in through a mask or mouthpiece. Entonox is a mixture of oxygen and another gas called nitrous oxide. Also known as gas and air.

An injection of anaesthetic in your back that numbs the lower half of the body to stop you feeling pain. It can be very helpful for women who are having a long or particularly painful labour, or who are becoming very distressed. A thin catheter is placed between the vertebrae so that medicine can be delivered to the nerves in the spinal cord. For more information visit

A cut made in the area between the vagina and anus (perineum). This is done during the last stages of labour and birth to expand the opening of the vagina in order to make more space to deliver the baby.

Established labour is when your cervix has dilated to about 4cm and regular contractions are opening your cervix.

Expressing milk means squeezing milk out of your breast so you can store it and feed it to your baby later. For more information visit

Manual pressure applied to the tummy, if the baby is breech, by the obstetrician towards the end of pregnancy to help the baby turn in the uterus so it lays headfirst.

The partial or total removal of a woman’s external genitals or other deliberate injury to her genital organs. It is illegal in the UK.

A small skin-deep tear of the perineum during childbirth which usually heals naturally.

Occurs when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy, which causes harm to the baby. This can result in physical or mental problems in the baby. The baby cannot process alcohol, which means it can damage cells in their brain, spinal cord and other parts of their body, and disrupt their development in the womb. For more information visit

The term used for the unborn baby from week eight of pregnancy onwards.

One of the B group of vitamins found naturally in foods, such as green leafy vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals and brown rice. Folic acid can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, you should take a 400-microgram folic acid tablet every day until you are 12 weeks pregnant.

A diamond-shaped soft spot on the front and top of a baby’s head where the skull bones have not yet fused together. During birth, the fontanelle allows the bony plates of the skull to flex, so that the baby’s head can pass through the birth canal. The bones usually fuse together and close over by the second birthday.

Smooth metal instruments like spoons or tongs which are used to assist delivery of the baby.

Cows’ milk that has been processed and treated so that babies can digest it. Can also be known as infant formula or baby formula.

The top of the uterus.

Medicines are used to send you to sleep, so you’re unaware of surgery and do not move or feel pain while it’s carried out. For more information visit

The time between conception and birth, when the fetus grows and develops inside the mother’s womb.

A form of diabetes triggered during pregnancy.

Is sometimes also called ‘strep B’ or ‘Group B strep’. It is one of many germs (bacteria) that live in our bodies and usually causes no harm. In women GBS is most often found in the vagina and rectum. This means that there’s a small risk that GBS can pass from a pregnant woman to the unborn baby during labour and make them ill. Most babies with a group B strep infection make a full recovery if treated. For more information visit

Haemoglobin is found in red blood cells and carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Pregnant women need to produce more haemoglobin because they produce more blood. If you do not produce enough, you can become anaemic, which will make you feel very tired. Your haemoglobin levels are tested during antenatal check-ups.

Very heavy bleeding. In pregnancy it is called different names depending on the stage of pregnancy. It can happen:

  • Before 24 weeks of pregnancy (threatened miscarriage or miscarriage if the pregnancy is lost)
  • After 24 weeks of pregnancy (antepartum haemorrhage)
  • Immediately after birth (postpartum haemorrhage)

Giving birth at home, with care provided by a midwife. This is usually planned.

Some pregnant women experience very bad nausea and vomiting. They might be sick many times a day and be unable to keep food or drink down, which can impact on their daily life. This excessive nausea and vomiting is known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), and often needs hospital treatment. For more information please visit

Raised blood pressure.

Low blood pressure.

Not having full control over the bladder and/or bowel. Problems with incontinence can range from slight to severe. See also stress incontinence.

Having your labour artificially started either with a vaginal pessary (containing a drug called prostaglandin) or by a midwife or doctor breaking your waters followed by an intravenous drip (containing a drug called oxytocin). For more information

During birth

Fluids put into vein

One of several techniques available to help people with fertility problems have a baby. During IVF, an egg is removed from the woman’s ovaries and fertilised with sperm outside the body. The fertilised egg, called an embryo, is then returned to the woman’s womb. If the embryo implants successfully, the woman becomes pregnant.

The development of a yellow colour on a baby’s skin and whites of their eyes. It is caused by an excess of the pigment bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice is common in newborn babies and usually occurs approximately three days after birth. It can last for up to two weeks after birth or up to three weeks in premature babies. Severe jaundice can be treated by phototherapy, where a baby is placed under a very bright light. Babies who are jaundiced for longer than two weeks should be seen by a doctor as they may need urgent treatment. For more information-

The skin folds on the sides of the opening of the vagina.

The stages of childbirth. Labour is divided into three stages; first, second and third. For more information visit

The start of labour is called the latent phase. This is when your cervix becomes soft and thin, and starts opening for your baby to be born. This can take hours or, for some women, days. For more information visit

The discharge of blood, mucus, and other fluids from the vagina after childbirth.

Inflammation sometimes with infection in the breasts caused by blocked milk ducts. Symptoms include hot and tender breasts and flu-like symptoms.

The first poo that your baby passes. Meconium is made up of what a baby has ingested during their time in the uterus, including mucus and bile. It is sticky like tar and has no smell.

Before inducing labour, you’ll be offered a “membrane sweep”, also known as a “cervical sweep”, to bring on labour. To carry out a membrane sweep, your midwife or doctor sweeps their finger around your cervix during an internal examination. This action should separate the membranes of the amniotic sac surrounding your baby from your cervix. This separation releases hormones (prostaglandins), which may kick-start your labour.

Care for pregnant women where the midwife is the lead professional. Midwifery care is suitable for ‘low risk’ women with an uncomplicated pregnancy.

A midwifery led unit is a location offering maternity care to healthy women with straightforward pregnancies, in which midwives take primary professional responsibility for care. Midwifery units may be located away from (Freestanding) or adjacent to (Alongside) an obstetric service.

When a woman is carrying more than one baby, e.g. twins or triplets.

The care given to sick or premature babies. It takes place in the special care baby unit, which is designed and equipped to care for them.

An ultrasound scan to help identify whether you have an increased chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome. Carried out at 11 to 13 weeks it measures the amount of the fluid at the back of the baby’s neck (nuchal translucency). When combined with a blood test it is used to calculate the chance of the baby having Down’s syndrome.

A potentially dangerous liver condition. Symptoms include severe itching without a rash particularly in the last four months of pregnancy. For more information visit

Another word for swelling in any part of the body, most often of the feet and hands. It is usually nothing to worry about, but if it gets worse suddenly it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

Another word for swelling in any part of the body, most often of the feet and hands. It is usually nothing to worry about, but if it gets worse suddenly it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

A hormone secreted during labour to stimulate contractions and milk production. It is sometimes administered as a drug called syntocinon to make your contractions stronger.

Layers of muscle which support the bladder and other organs in the pelvis.

The bony structure at the lower part of your abdomen.

The time shortly before and after the birth of a baby.

Mental health problems that develop during pregnancy and that can last for up to one year after childbirth. For more information visit

When the perineum (area between your vaginal opening and anus) tears during childbirth.

The area of skin between the vagina and the anus.

Every woman and family is different with individual needs. Therefore, it is important to be involved in the choices and decisions for your care throughout each stage of your maternity journey. A personalised care plan helps you to explore, discuss and record your individual choices for pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks of parenthood.

Special exercises and physical activities to improve body function and strength.

An organ which develops in the womb linking the baby with the mother’s system. Waste passes out and oxygen and food into your baby’s bloodstream through the placenta and along the umbilical cord. It is delivered after the baby, when it is known as the afterbirth.

When the placenta starts to come away from the wall of the womb.

A placenta that is attached more deeply to the uterus and may be difficult to remove.

A placenta that is low lying in the uterus.

Too much fluid (amniotic fluid) surrounding the baby in the uterus.

The first 6 weeks from the birth of a baby.

The professional care provided to you and your baby, from the birth until your baby is about six to eight weeks old. It usually involves home visits by midwives to check that both mother and baby are well.

Feelings of depression and hopelessness after the birth of a baby. These feelings are more severe than the ‘baby blues’. Postnatal depression affects one in every 10 women and can be serious if left untreated.

Simply means when the placenta is attached to the back wall of the uterus, between your baby and spine. This is a completely normal place for your placenta to implant and develop.

A rare but serious mental health illness that can affect someone soon after having a baby. It is very different from the “baby blues”. It’s a serious mental illness and should be treated as a medical emergency. It’s sometimes called puerperal psychosis or postnatal psychosis. For more information visit

A condition of high blood pressure and protein in the urine that only occurs during pregnancy. Symptoms include bad headaches, vision problems and the sudden swelling of the face, hands and feet. It usually develops after the 20th week of pregnancy, it can be serious for both mother and baby.

The birth of a baby before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.

When labour starts before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.

Labour that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

When a pregnant woman’s waters break before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

The hormone that makes the womb contract during labour. Synthetic prostaglandins can be used to induce labour.

Protein in the urine.

The part of the large intestine which stores solid waste until it leaves the body through the anus.

A condition where antibodies in a pregnant woman’s blood destroy her baby’s blood cells. It’s also known as haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN) Rhesus disease only happens when the mother has rhesus negative blood (RhD negative) and the baby in her womb has rhesus positive blood (RhD positive). Rhesus disease doesn’t harm the mother, but it can cause the baby to become anaemic and develop jaundice. Rhesus disease is uncommon these days because it can usually be prevented using injections of a medication called anti-D immunoglobulin. For more information visit

People with a certain blood type are known as rhesus negative. It means that they do not have a substance known as D antigen on the surface of their red blood cells. This can cause problems in second or later pregnancies (see above).

People with a certain blood type are known as rhesus positive. This means that they have a substance known as D antigen on the surface of their red blood cells.

A virus that can seriously affect unborn babies if the mother gets it during the early weeks of pregnancy. Most women have been immunised against rubella, so they are not at risk.

A tear during childbirth which affects the muscle of the perineum as well as the skin, and usually requiring stitches.

The period when the cervix is fully dilated until the birth. This is the time when the woman will start pushing.

Having your baby on you with their naked skin next to yours. This helps with temperature control, establishing breast feeding and bonding with your new baby.

An anaesthetic injection into the lower back that numbs the lower body so surgery can be carried out in this area without you feeling any pain.

A condition which affects the unborn baby in the early stages of pregnancy. Spina bifida causes damage to the spinal cord and nerves.

The natural breaking of the waters also known as the amniotic sac.

The natural birth of a baby through the vaginal canal without assistance.

Leaking urine during everyday activities like coughing, laughing or exercising. This usually happens because the muscles that support the bladder are too weak.

A measure of the size of the uterus used to monitor a baby’s growth and development during pregnancy.

A tear during childbirth which extends downwards from the vaginal wall and perineum to the anal sphincter, the muscle that controls the anus.

The 3rd stage of labour happens after your baby is born, when your womb contracts and the placenta comes out through your vagina. There are 2 ways to manage this stage of labour:

  • active  – when you have treatment to make it happen faster
  • physiological  – when you have no treatment and this stage happens naturally

For more information visit

A little machine that delivers small amounts of electrical currents through pads on your back. It’s believed to encourage the body to produce more of its own natural painkillers (endorphins) and is useful in the early stages of labour.

A three-month period of time. Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters:

  • First trimester – up to around 13 weeks
  • Second trimester – to around 13 to 26 weeks
  • Third trimester – around 27 to 40 weeks

When the baby is lying sideways in the womb.

An image produced with high- frequency sound waves. It shows your baby’s body and organs as well as the surrounding tissues. Also called a scan or sonography, this test is widely used to estimate due dates and check that your developing baby is healthy and growing normally.

The cord that attaches the baby to the placenta, linking the baby and mother. Blood circulates through the cord, carrying oxygen and food to the baby and carrying waste away.

The tube through which urine empties out of the bladder.

Also known as the womb, is the organ that houses and protects the fetus during pregnancy. The uterus grows and expands with your baby’s growth. The organ where a baby develops during pregnancy.

The canal leading from the vulva to the cervix.

Vaginal Birth After Caesarean section

A soft suction cap placed on the baby’s head to assist the birth of the baby.

A sticky white coating that covers a baby in the uterus. It mostly disappears before birth but there may be some left on your baby when they are born.

Your spine is made up of 33 irregularly shaped bones called vertebrae. Each vertebra has a hole in the middle through which the spinal cord runs.

Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to summer sunlight. Vitamin D is also in some foods, including oily fish, eggs and red meat. Because vitamin D is only found in a small number of foods, whether naturally or added, it is difficult to get enough from foods alone. All adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, need 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day and should consider taking a supplement containing this amount between September and March.

The area surrounding the opening of the vagina. It includes the inner and outer vaginal lips (the labia) and clitoris.

Birth of the baby that occurs in water, usually in a birthing pool.