Pregnancy Glossary

  • spotting in pregnancy - refers to vaginal bleeding in pregnancy, most commonly seen in the first trimester. Can be related to cervical trauma from sex, cervical polyps, infections, or rarely precancers and cancers of the cervix. Can also be the beginning of a miscarraige, or can represent a low lying placenta or placenta previa (placenta located over the cervix). In second trimester can represent premature cervical shortening or dilation. Should be evaluated promptly by your obstetrician with pelvic examination and ultrasound.

  • trimester - Division of the 40 week pregnancy into 3 trimesters- the first being a time of organ development up to about 12 weeks, the second being a time of growth and development up to about 24 weeks, and the last or third trimester 24-40 weeks- a time when all of the organs have formed, but they are continuing to grow.

  • ultrasound - also known as sonogram- sound waves that are used to view the baby, as well as the maternal organs (is also used outside the context of pregnancy to evaluate noninvasively and without radiation different organs of the body- both male and female). Is totally safe in pregnancy and has been studied extensively.

  • umbilical cord - the lifeline of the baby. Attaches to the umbilicus or belly button of the baby and the other end is attached to the placenta, which is attached to the maternal uterus. The umbilical cord has 2 arteries and a vein in it, and these vital blood vessels are cushioned by a material called wharton's jelly that protects it. The cord delivers oxygen and vital nutrients to the baby from the mother, and gets rid of waste.

  • vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC) - In a patient who has had a prior c-section, this refers to attempting to have a vaginal birth with the next pregnancy. The success rate is about 60-80%. It is higher when there is a nonrecurrent cause (like a breech or placenta previa the first time, or an emergency delivery because the baby was having a fetal heart rate tracing issue). The success rate is lower in those patients that tried to push it out but couldn't. There is a 0.5% chance of having a uterine rupture during a VBAC trial, and this can be catastrophic for mother and baby, and is hard to predict. In house obstetrician and anesthesiologist should be available, as well as the ability to do an emergent c-seciton if the need arises, for any one attempting a VBAC.

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.