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Birthspeak

We have developed the Birthspeak dictionary to explain the words you told us you wanted to know. If you would like to suggest a word to be added to Birthspeak please type the word below and click ‘submit’. You can suggest a word to be added on any page of Birthspeak. This page also contains Flash content allowing you to hear an audio pronunciation of the words in Birthpseak.


 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A abnormal pain >Listen Abnormal pain is pain from complications of birth, such as tearing
abnormality >Listen An abnormality is when a baby is not developing in the usual way
active third stage >Listen An active third stage is when a woman is given Syntocinon (a drug made to copy the hormone Oxytocin) to help her birth the placenta. A care provider then holds the umbilical cord and gently pulls down on it, while pushing on the uterus with their hand (outside your body). An active third stage differs to a physiological third stage, which is where a woman relies on her own production of oxytocin to birth her placenta
amniotic fluid >Listen Amniotic fluid is the liquid that surrounds your baby in the uterus (also called 'waters')
amniotic sac >Listen The amniotic sac is the sac around the baby inside the uterus
anaesthetic >Listen An anaesthetic is a drug that gives total or partial loss of sensation of the body
anaesthetist >Listen An anaesthetist is a doctor who specialises in giving anaesthetic
analgesia >Listen Analgesia is the absence of a feeling of pain. Analgesia can be brought on using drugs
antenatal >Listen Antenatal is a term that means 'before birth'. Other terms that refer to the time before birth include 'prenatal' and 'antepartum'
antepartum haemorrhage >Listen An antepartum haemorrhage is bleeding from the vagina during pregnancy
anterior trauma >Listen Anterior trauma is damage from a tear or cut to the labia, the front of the vagina, the urethra or the clitoris
APGAR score >Listen An APGAR score is a score to assess a baby's wellbeing after birth. A score lower than 7 means that the baby might need help breathing
artificial rupture of membranes >Listen An artificial rupture of membranes is when a care provider makes a small hole in the amniotic sac that holds the baby and the amniotic fluid around the baby. An artificial rupture of membranes is also called 'breaking your waters' or an 'amniotomy'
augmentation of labour >Listen Augmentation of labour is when a care provider tries to ‘speed up' a woman’s labour after it has started
B baby friendly health initiative (BFHI) >Listen The Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) is a program that promotes and supports breastfeeding. Hospitals and birth centres can be considered 'Baby Friendly' if they follow ten rules that support women who choose to breastfeed. The Baby Friendly Health Initiative used to be called the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative
birth canal >Listen The birth canal is the passage from the uterus to outside the vagina
birthplan >Listen A birthplan is a written document describing a woman's preferences for her labour and/or birth
blood transfusion >Listen A blood transfusion is a procedure where a woman is given blood
braxton hicks contractions >Listen Braxton hicks contractions refer to a tightening of the uterus (womb) that occurs throughout pregnancy. These contractions are not labour contractions, though they may feel like labour contractions
breech >Listen Breech is a term to describe when the baby is positioned bottom or foot first, instead of head first
C caesarean section >Listen A caesarean section is when an incision (cut) is made in a woman’s abdomen and uterus to deliver her baby
cardiotocograph >Listen

A cardiotocograph is a machine that connects to small plastic sensors on a belt around a woman's abdomen (stomach). The cardiotocograph records the baby's heart beat and any contractions of the uterus. A cardiotocograph is also called a 'CTG machine'

care provider >Listen

A care provider is a midwife, doctor and/or obstetrician

cerebral palsy >Listen

Cerebral palsy is a brain condition associated with lack of oxygen

cervical ripening >Listen

Cervical ripening refers to changes to the cervix towards the end of pregnancy to prepare for labour

child health nurse >Listen

A child health nurse is a trained registered nurse who has additional qualifications in infant and child health

chromosomal abnormality >Listen

A chromosomal abnormality is when there are problems with the baby's chromosomes (parts of the body that contain the baby's genes and influence how the baby develops). Down syndrome is one type of chromosomal abnormality

co-sleep >Listen

To co-sleep is when an adult and baby sleep together on the same sleep space (e.g., bed, couch, armchair).

co-sleeping >Listen

Co-sleeping is when an adult and baby sleep together on the same sleep space (e.g., bed, couch, armchair).

coached pushing >Listen

Coached pushing is when a woman pushes during labour when told to by her care provider ('spontaneous' pushing is when a woman pushes when she feels the urge to push)

collaboration >Listen We define collaboration in maternity care as maternity care professionals "working together" to produce a "common goal" of a healthy outcome for both women and infants. This definition is different to the legal definition of collaboration
continuity of care >Listen

Continuity of care is a term for when a woman is cared for by one care provider throughout pregnancy, labour and birth and sometimes after birth

contract >Listen

Contract is a word that means 'tighten' (e.g., muscle contraction)

controlled cord traction >Listen

Controlled cord traction is when a care provider gently pulls down on the umbilical cord to help birth the placenta

crown-rump length >Listen

The crown-rump length is a measure of the distance in centimetres from the baby's crown (the top of the head) to the baby's rump (the bottom of the buttocks). Care providers can estimate how many weeks pregnant a woman is by looking at the baby's crown-rump length

D deep vein thrombosis >Listen A deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in the legs or sometimes the pelvis or arms
delayed cord clamping >Listen

Delayed cord clamping is when a baby’s umbilical cord is left attached to the placenta and not clamped or cut for several minutes after birth. Delayed cord clamping is also called 'late cord clamping'

dialate >Listen Dialate means 'open'
discharged >Listen Discharged is a term for when a woman leaves hospital or other health facility
doula >Listen A doula is a trained birth support person who provides emotional support to women during their pregnancy, labour and birth. A doula does not provide maternity care
dyspareunia >Listen Dyspareunia is pain during sex
E ectopic pregnancy >Listen An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants and grows outside of the uterus rather than inside the uterus. In most cases, an ectopic pregnancy is not viable
effaced cervix >Listen An effaced cervix is when, towards the end of pregnancy, the cervix changes from being long, closed and hard to being short, soft and thinned
endometritis >Listen Endometritis is a infection of the uterus
epidural >Listen An epidural is a type of pain management where drugs are used to numb the lower half of the body
episiotomy >Listen An episiotomy is when a care provider uses scissors to make a cut in the woman’s perineum to increase the size of the opening of the vagina
estimated due date (EDD) >Listen The estimated due date (EDD) is the date when it is thought that a woman will be 40 weeks pregnant. An estimate of how long a woman has been pregnant is used to work out her baby’s estimated due date (EDD)
F fast >Listen Fast means to not eat
fever >Listen A fever refers to increased body temperature
first degree tear >Listen A first degree tear is a tear involving skin only. About half the women who have a first degree to the vagina, labia or perineum during labour or birth tear have stitches to repair the tear
first trimester >Listen The first trimester is the first 14 weeks of pregnancy
first trimester ultrasound scan >Listen A first trimester ultrasound scan is an ultrasound scan done in a woman’s first trimester of pregnancy (the first 14 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy)
full term >Listen Full term is when a pregnancy is the normal length (37-42 weeks gestation)
G gas and air >Listen Gas and air are drugs that a woman breathes through a mask or mouthpiece to manage pain or discomfort during labour and birth
genital region >Listen The genital region is the part of the body that contains the external sex organs
gestation >Listen Gestation is the length of time (e.g., in number of days or weeks) that a baby is in the uterus
graze >Listen A graze is a scratch to the surface level of the skin. Very few women who have a graze to the vagina, labia or perineum during labour or birth have stitches to repair the graze
H haemorrhage >Listen Haemorrhage means excessive bleeding
healing complications >Listen Healing complications is when a tear or cut does not heal as well as expected 7 days after birth
high risk >Listen High risk is a term sometimes used to describe women’s pregnancies. High risk means that a woman is thought to have (or potentially have) major complications or difficulties in her pregnancy, during her birth or after birth. The information that is used to work out whether a woman is low risk, medium risk or high risk includes her general health and medical history, her age, her previous pregnancy or birth experiences (if she has had a baby before) and information about her current pregnancy (e.g., whether she is having twins or more, what position her baby is in)
I incision >Listen An incision is a cut
induced >Listen Induced is a term for when a care provider tries to artificially ‘start off’ a woman’s labour
informed decision >Listen We define an informed decision as when a woman is faced with a decision and (1) has the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons (benefits and risks) or her different options with her care provider(s) and (2) makes a decision herself, from all her available options. Informed decision-making means more than just giving informed consent
instrumental birth >Listen An instrumental birth is where forceps (tongs) and/or a vacuum cap (a suction cap) is used to help pull the baby out of the vagina. An instrumental birth is also called an 'instrumental delivery'
J jaundice >Listen Jaundice is a condition where a person's skin and whites of the eyes show a yellow colouring
L labia >Listen The labia are the flaps of skin around a woman's vagina
labour >Listen Labour is the process a woman's body goes through when her baby is born
lactation consultant >Listen A lactation consultant is a health professional who is trained to provide information and support about breastfeeding
last menstrual period (LMP) >Listen The last menstrual period (LMP) is the last period a woman had before pregnancy
late cord clamping >Listen Late cord clamping is when a baby’s umbilical cord is left attached to the placenta and not clamped or cut for several minutes after birth. Late cord clamping is also called 'delayed cord clamping'
local anaesthetic >Listen A local anaesthetic is when a drug is given to a certain area of the body to cause a total or partial loss of sensation (feeling) to that area of the body
lotus birth >Listen A lotus birth is when a woman chooses not to clamp or cut the umbilical cord but rather waits for the cord and placenta to detach by itself a few days after the birth
low birth weight >Listen Low birth weight is when a baby weighs less than 2500g at birth
low risk >Listen Low risk is a term sometimes used to describe women’s pregnancies. Low risk means that a woman is thought to have (or potentially have) no complications or difficulties, or only minor complications or difficulties, in her pregnancy, during her birth or after her birth. The information that is used to work out whether a woman is low risk, medium risk or high risk includes her general health and medical history, her age, her previous pregnancy or birth experiences (if she has had a baby before) and information about her current pregnancy (e.g., whether she is having twins or more, what position her baby is in)
M manual rotation >Listen Manual rotation is when a care provider uses his or her hands to rotate a baby in the womb during birth
meconium >Listen

Meconium is the first poo passed by the baby. Meconium is a tar-like substance that is usually passed by the baby within the first few days of birth. Sometimes a baby may pass meconium while in the uterus. Passing meconium before birth may be a sign of fetal distress

mediolateral episiotomy >Listen A mediolateral episiotomy is when an episiotomy is cut on an angle away from the anus, towards the left or right hand side
medium risk >Listen Medium risk is a term sometimes used to describe women’s pregnancies. Medium risk means that a woman is thought to have (or potentially have) moderate complications or difficulties in her pregnancy, during her birth or after birth. The information that is used to work out whether a woman is low risk, medium risk or high risk includes her general health and medical history, her age, her previous pregnancy or birth experiences (if she has had a baby before) and information about her current pregnancy (e.g., whether she is having twins or more, what position her baby is in)
membrane sweep >Listen A membrane sweep (also called a stretch and sweep or a strip and stretch) is a procedure that can be done during a vaginal examination (internal examination) to help a woman go into labour before 42 weeks. A membrane sweep is when a care provider makes circular movements around the cervix with his or her finger to try and separate the amniotic sac (the sac around the baby) from the cervix. A membrane sweep is not done to make a hole in the amniotic sac (break your waters)
midline episiotomy >Listen A midline episiotomy is when an episiotomy is cut in a straight line from the vagina towards the anus
midwife >Listen A midwife is a person who has been educated to care for women during pregnancy, labour and birth and the post birth period. Midwives are registered to provide care to a woman and her baby in a normal pregnancy. Midwives are also registered to provide care for women with more complicated pregnancies by working together with doctors and other health care providers
model of care / model of maternity care >Listen A model of care or model of maternity care means the way maternity care is organised, who is providing care and how they are providing it
monitoring >Listen Monitoring a baby is when a care provider checks the physical condition of a baby
multiple pregnancy >Listen A multiple pregnancy is when a woman is carrying twins, triplets or more babies
N neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) >Listen A Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a unit in the hospital for babies who need a high level of special medical care
neonatologist >Listen A neonatologist is a doctor who is a newborn specialist
NICU >Listen A NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) is a unit in the hospital for babies who need a high level of special medical care
nursery >Listen A nursery is a room in the hospital where babies can stay during the day or overnight
O obstetrician >Listen An obstetrician is a medical doctor who has been educated in obstetric care, including surgery like caesarean sections, after they finish a medical degree. Obstetricians are specialists in caring for women with complicated pregnancies or special circumstances
occipito-posterior position >Listen An occipito-posterior position is when a baby is in a head down position, but is facing the front of the woman, rather than facing the back
opioids >Listen Opioids are drugs such as morphine or pethidine that are used to manage pain during labour
oxytocin >Listen Oxytocin is a substance produced naturally in the body that is involved in labour starting. Oxytocin is thought to help ripen the cervix and start contractions in the uterus
P paediatrician >Listen A paediatrician is a doctor who is a child specialist
patient controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) >Listen Patient Controlled Epidural Analgesia (PCEA) is where a woman is able to control the dose of drugs given to her while having an epidural. The woman controls the dose with a programmed pump
pelvic floor exercises >Listen Pelvic floor exercises are exercises a woman can do to strengthen the muscles in and around her vagina
perineal haematoma >Listen A perineal haematoma is a collection of blood, like a bruise, in the area between the vagina and the anus
perineal massage >Listen Perineal massage is when a woman uses her fingers or thumbs, inserted into her vagina, to massage and stretch her perineum during pregnancy. Doing perineal massage during pregnancy can reduce the chance of having stitches in the vagina or perineum after birth for women having their first vaginal birth. Perineal massage can also reduce the chance of having an episiotomy for women having their first vaginal birth
perineal trauma >Listen Perineal trauma is damage (from a tear or cut) to the vagina, anus, or perineum (the area between the vagina and anus)
perineum >Listen The perineum is the area between the vagina and anus. The perineum is made of both flesh and muscle
persistent pulmonary hypertension >Listen Persistent pulmonary hypertension is when the baby’s circulation system doesn’t adapt to breathing outside the uterus
pessary >Listen A pessary is a small object (like a tampon) that is inserted into the vagina and slowly releases synthetic prostaglandin (a drug to help the woman go into spontaneous labour)
physiological pain >Listen Physiological pain is pain from the natural effects of birth, as a result of the muscles in the body moving and working to deliver the baby
physiological third stage >Listen A physiological third stage is when a woman relies on her own production of oxytocin to birth her placenta
pinard’s stethoscope >Listen A Pinard’s stethoscope is an instrument that is used to listen to a baby’s heart beat directly through the woman's abdomen. A Pinard’s stethoscope looks like a tiny trumpet
placenta >Listen The placenta is an organ that connects to the wall of the uterus and is also connected to the baby by the umbilical cord
placenta accreta >Listen Placenta accreta is when the placenta is attached too deeply into the wall of the uterus. The treatment for placenta accreta is a hysterectomy (when the woman's uterus and sometimes her ovaries are surgically removed)
placenta praevia >Listen Placenta praevia is when the placenta attaches close to or covering the cervix. When a woman has placenta praevia, the placenta can block the baby coming out of the vagina during birth
placental abruption >Listen Placental abruption is when the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus too early
placental membranes >Listen Placental membranes are parts of the placenta. After the placenta has been birthed, care providers will usually check a woman's uterus to see that there are no placental membranes still in her uterus
planned caesarean section >Listen A planned caesarean section is when a woman arranges in advance to birth her baby by caesarean section. A planned caesarean section is also called an 'elective caesarean section'
planned repeat caesarean section >Listen

A planned repeat caesarean section is when a woman who has had one or more previous caesarean sections plans to have another caesarean section to birth her baby

posterior fetal position >Listen The posterior fetal position is when the baby’s back is lying against the woman’s spine
posterior perineal trauma >Listen Posterior perineal trauma is damage from a tear or cut to the back of the vagina, the perineum or the anus
postnatal >Listen Postnatal is a term that means 'after birth'. Other terms that refer to the period after birth include 'post-birth' and 'postpartum'
postnatal care >Listen postnatal care is care received after birth
postnatal ward >Listen The postnatal ward is the group of rooms where women stay after birth
postpartum haemorrhage >Listen A postpartum haemorrhage is when a woman loses more than 500ml of blood after birth
precipitate labour >Listen A precipitate labour is a labour that is unusually short and intense
prelabour rupture of membranes >Listen Prelabour rupture of membranes is when a woman’s waters break and she doesn’t go into labour
premature >Listen Premature is the term for when a baby is born before 37 weeks gestation
prenatal >Listen Prenatal is a term that means 'before birth'. Other terms that refer to the time before birth are 'antenatal' and 'antepartum'
prenatal care >Listen Prenatal care is care received during pregnancy
private practice midwife >Listen A private practice midwife is a midwife who is self employed, rather than being employed by a hospital or other health facility
private practice obstetrician >Listen A private practice obstetrician is an obstetrician who is self employed, rather than being employed by a hospital or other health facility
prolonged pregnancy >Listen A prolonged pregnancy is a pregnancy when a woman has not had her baby by the time she is 42 weeks pregnant. A prolonged pregnancy is also sometimes called being ‘post-dates’ or ‘post-term’
prostaglandin >Listen Prostaglandin is a substance produced naturally in the body that is involved in labour starting. Prostaglandin is thought to help ripen the cervix and start contractions in the uterus
R radiologist >Listen A radiologist is a specialist doctor who examines ultrasound and other scans
rectal examination >Listen A rectal examination is when a care provider does an internal examination of a woman's back passage with his or her finger. A rectal examination is sometimes done to check if a woman has had a tear involving her anus
respiratory distress syndrome >Listen Respiratory distress syndrome is when a baby’s lungs don’t work properly because the lungs lack a wetting agent
resuscitated >Listen Resuscitated means helped to breathe
ripe cervix >Listen A ripe cervix is a cervix that is ready for labour
rump >Listen The rump is the bottom of the baby's buttocks
S screen >Listen Screen means to 'check'
second degree tear >Listen A second degree tear is a tear involving both skin and muscles, but not involving the anus. Most women who have a second degree tear to the vagina, labia or perineum have stitches to repair the tear
second stage labour >Listen Second stage labour is from the complete dilation of the cervix (10cm) to the birth of your baby
second trimester >Listen The second trimester is from 14 weeks to 26 weeks of pregnancy
seizure >Listen A seizure is like a fit, sometimes caused by lack of oxygen to the brain
sepsis >Listen Sepsis refers to whole body infection
severe perineal tear >Listen A severe perineal tear is a 3rd or 4th degree tear, or a tear involving the skin and muscles around the vagina and the anus
shoulder dystocia >Listen Shoulder dystocia is when a baby’s shoulder gets stuck while travelling down through the vagina
skin to skin contact >Listen Skin to skin contact is having your baby against your chest, without any clothing in between
sonographer >Listen A sonographer is a person trained to do ultrasound scans
special care nursery (SCN) >Listen A special care nursery (SCN) is a unit in the hospital for babies who need special medical care
spontaneous labour >Listen Spontaneous labour is when labour starts by itself
spontaneous pushing >Listen Spontaneous pushing is when a woman pushes when she feels the urge to push during labour ('coached' pushing is when a woman pushes when told to by her care provider)
stress urinary incontinence >Listen Stress urinary incontinence is losing control of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising
synthetic prostaglandin >Listen Prostaglandin is a natural hormone that helps women go into spontaneous labour. Synthetic prostaglandin is not prostaglandin, but is a drug made to copy prostaglandin as closely as possible. Synthetic prostaglandin can be given in a gel, tablet or pessary (like a tampon), which is put into your vagina and releases the drug slowly
syntocinon >Listen Syntocinon is a drug that has been made to copy oxytocin as closely as possible. Oxytocin is a natural hormone that helps a woman's uterus to contract. Women can be given syntocinon for a number of reasons including artificial rupture of membranes or amniotomy (where a woman's waters are broken by a care provider), active management of the third stage of labour, or to help stop a postpartum haemorrhage
T TENS machine >Listen A TENS machine is a transcutaneous nerve-stimulation machine used for pain management
theatre >Listen A theatre is an operating room in a hospital or other health facility
third or fourth degree tear >Listen A third or fourth degree tear is a tear that involves the skin, muscles and anus. All women who have a third or fourth degree tear to the vagina, labia or perineum during labour or birth have stitches to repair the tear. A third or fourth degree tear is also called a severe tear
third stage labour >Listen Third stage labour is from the birth of the baby to the birth of the placenta
third trimester >Listen The third trimester is from 26 weeks of pregnancy onwards
transabdominal ultrasound scan >Listen A transabdominal ultrasound scan is when a transducer (a hand held device) is moved across a woman’s abdomen (stomach) to send out soundwaves to create a picture of her uterus and baby on a computer screen
transvaginal ultrasound scan >Listen A transvaginal ultrasound scan is when a midwife, a doctor or a sonographer inserts a long and narrow transducer (a hand held device) into a woman’s vagina to do an ultrasound scan
U ultrasound scan >Listen An ultrasound scan is when a small handheld device is used to create a picture of a woman’s uterus (womb) and baby during pregnancy
umbilical cord >Listen The umbilical cord connects the baby to the placenta. The umbilical cord allows nutrients (e.g., vitamins and minerals) and oxygen from the woman to be carried to her baby
unripe cervix >Listen An unripe cervix is a cervix that is not ready for labour
urethra >Listen The urethra is an organ that leads urine from the bladder to outside the body
urge incontinence >Listen Urge incontinence is when a woman has an intense urge to urinate and an uncontrollable leakage of urine before reaching a toilet
uterine rupture >Listen A uterine rupture is a tear through the wall of the uterus. This tear could be small or large in size
uterus >Listen The uterus is a woman's womb
V vacuum cap >Listen A vacuum cap is a suction cap that is used during an instrumental birth to help to pull the baby out
vaginal birth after caesarean >Listen A vaginal birth after caesarean ('VBAC' or ‘trial of labour’) is when a woman has a vaginal birth, after having one or more previous caesarean sections
vaginal examination >Listen A vaginal examination is an internal examination of the vagina. A vaginal examination is sometimes called an internal examination (IE)
VBAC >Listen A VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) or ‘trial of labour’ is when a woman has a vaginal birth, after having one or more previous caesarean sections
viable pregnancy >Listen A viable pregnancy is a pregnancy that is likely to continue
W walking epidural >Listen A walking epidural is an epidural that may still enable the woman to walk
water birth >Listen Water birth is where a baby is born fully submerged in water
water immersion >Listen Water immersion is where a pregnant woman is immersed in water up to and including at least the abdomen during any stage of labour (i.e., first, second, or third)
waters >Listen Waters refers to the amniotic fluid that surrounds an unborn baby inside the uterus (see 'amniotic fluid')
wound dehiscence >Listen Wound dehiscence is when a tear or cut has opened back up 7 days after birth
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