Pregnancy Glossary

  • HCG - human chorionic gonadotropin - Is produced not when the sperm meet the egg, but when the embryo implants- then this substance is produced and can be detected in both maternal blood and urine. Levels may be followed to rule out an ectopic pregnancy, or to reassure a patient that things are likely progressing well. Levels of HCG in the first trimester of pregnancy should double approximately every 48 hours. If they don't, it could represent a pregnancy failure (miscarraige) or an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in an abnormal location outside of the uterus), and HCG levels are monitored in addition to progesterone levels and pelvic ultrasound.

  • Induction - Induction of labor brings on labor. It can be accomplished by using a variety of agents (cytotec, prostaglandin, cervidil, or pitocin or by breaking the water in a patient who is already dilated). It is done for either maternal or fetal indications, and is most often done if a patient has significantly passed her due date.

  • lochia - the vaginal discharge one gets after they deliver. First it is very bloody and red (lochia rubra), then it gets yellow and then white. It is normal and should not be confused with an infection (where you may also have fever, severe pain, and foul odor).

  • miscarriage - A pregancy loss. Usually refers to loss of the pregnancy early on, in the first trimester. These early pregnancy losses are very common and 15-20% of recognized pregnancies end in miscarraige. Later pregnancy loss (second trimester) is less common, and when a pregnancy is lost in the third trimester, it is no longer considered a miscarraige, but is considered a fetal loss. The most common cause of miscarraige is chromosomal abnormality in the fetus because of a random bad sperm or egg that should not happen again.

  • morning sickness - a feeling of nausea often accompanied by vomiting that happens most commonly starting at 6-8 weeks of pregnancy, and often continuing to 10-12 weeks (once the HCG level plateaus). It is caused by rapidly rising HCG levels in the first trimester. It is not only in the morning, and this is a misnomer. Many patient experience morning sickness all day, and a minority will continue to have it even after 12 weeks. Many interventions including ginger, dill, acupressure wrist bands, red hots, and medicines such as reglan and zofran are safe and effective. Some patients are severely ill and get dehydrated and require hospitalization with IV hydration. This is called hyperemesis gravidarum.

Disclaimer: All information provided in this glossary is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice and is not intended as a substitute for advice provided by a medical doctor or qualified healthcare provider. You should not use this information for self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. If you have any questions whatsoever about your medical health or believe you have a medical problem or disease, you should contact your medical doctor or healthcare provider. You should never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical advice or treatment because of something you have read in this glossary.