Pregnancy Glossary

  • placenta- see afterbirth - The product of the third stage of labor. Comes out after the baby and is attached both to the mother's uterus and also to the umbilical cord. It is the organ that is the interface between the mother and baby, and delivers oxygen and nutrients, and removes waste products.

  • postpartum - the 6 week time frame after delivery of the baby, where the uterus is going back to normal, as are the hormones and the rest of the body.

  • postterm pregnancy - A pregnancy that goes past the due date. The due date that we calculate, even if you had in vitro fertilization, is plus or minus 2 weeks in either direction. With good fetal testing (monitor strips and ultrasounds) pregnancies that have reassuring fetal testing can be taken 2 weeks past the due date (postterm). Some physicians are not comfortable waiting a full 2 weeks past the due date, and induce once 7 or 10 days have passed, and certainly, once the due date has been reached, if there is any nonreassuring testing in the mother or baby, the baby should be delivered.

  • Preterm - A preterm baby is one that is born prior to 37 weeks. Having said that, there is a big difference in the outcome of prematurity when a baby is born at 36 weeks as opposed to 26 weeks. Babies less than 24 weeks are not only preterm or premature, but they are most often previable (they cannot live outside the mother except in rare circumstances, and in those cases the outcome is usually not good). At 24 weeks, the baby can live outside the mother, but being very small (usually around one pound), and very premature, there is a high incidence of death, as well as severe problems with the brain (neurologic), the lungs (respiratory), and with many organ systems. At 28 weeks the baby is still significantly premature, but better survival rates are anticipated, and more of the survivors are in better condition neurologically. At 32 weeks, you see better intact survival, with much fewer brain bleeds and problems (because the germinal matrix of the baby's brain is already formed), and 34 weeks is a major milestone. You would expect excellent neurologically intact babies in most cases, but many of these babies still require respiratory support. At 35 weeks, babies are mildly premature but do very well in all areas, and most go to the regular nursery if they weigh enough (usually 4 and 1/2 to 5 pounds), and go home with the mother.

  • quickening - the first time fetal movement is felt or perceived by the mother. Occurs most commonly between 15 and 22 weeks. Is on the later side with a first baby or an anterior placenta (acts as a cushion that buffers perception of movement in the early second trimester when the baby is quite small), and is much earlier in patients who have had prior babies (some perceive it as early as 14 weeks).

  • rooting - when a newborn baby naturally brings its mouth to the side and opens it in anticipation of breastfeeding.

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.