Just pregnant - the essentials
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ThinkBaby glossary

Commonly used terms and abbreviations on the site and what they mean

Posted: 19 August 2005
by ThinkBaby

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Abortion – Termination of a pregnancy before the fetus is viable, either naturally or by intervention. Natural or spontaneous abortion is otherwise known as miscarriage.

Acid indigestion – See heartburn.

AF – Aunt Flo, or your period.

AFAIK - [forum] As far as I know.

AI – Artificial insemination. Where sperm from the partner or donor is injected in or near a woman's cervix.

Amenorrhea – Absence of menstruation for a prolonged period caused by stress, exhaustion, travel, illness, extremes of weight, dieting or hormonal contraceptives.

Amniocentesis – An optional prenatal test to check on the health and development of your baby, particularly to detect chromosomal and genetic abnormalities such as Downs Syndrome and spina bifida. Find out more...

Anaemia – A drop in the concentration of oxygen-carrying red blood cells and haemoglobin that is relatively common during pregnancy. Symptoms include paleness, shortage of breath and tiredness. Can be treated by increasing the intake of iron with supplements iron-rich foods. Find out more...

Apnoea – Irregular breathing in babies with pauses of 20 seconds or more between breaths which is more common among premature babies. Extended apnoea will lead to ALTE, when the falling oxygen levels in the baby's brain cause him to faint, thus relaxing the body and allowing breathing to restart. Babies who have ALTE will need to be taken for hospital care and monitoring and any irregular breathing should be reported to your doctor.

Anovulation – Absence of ovulation, whether with or without a period, caused by medical conditions, stress, exhaustion, travel, illness, extremes of weight, dieting or hormonal contraceptives. Find out more...

Anovulatory cycle – Cycle without ovulation. Find out more...


Baby blues – A very common complaint usually suffered by mothers in the first few days after giving birth. The mother may feel weepy, tired, anxious, inadequate and disappointed with the experience of being a parent. The baby blues are thought to be partly related to hormonal changes and the physical and emotional impact of becoming a parent and do not require medical treatment, although there are steps you can take to limit the impact (see article below). If the baby blues do not clear up in a couple of weeks, they could deepen into a case of Post Natal Depression, which does require treatment. Find out more about the baby blues...

Basal body temperature – The temperature of your body at rest. Best taken upon waking after at least three hours' sleep and before any activity at all. Find out more about charting temperatures.

BBT – Basal body temperature. The temperature of your body at rest. Best taken upon waking after at least three hours' sleep and before any activity at all. Find out more about charting temperatures.

BD - [Forum] Baby dancing, dancing on the mattress: having sex.

Billings Method - A natural method of contraception using observation of changes in the cervical mucus or fluid to determine fertile periods. Find out more about the Billings method.

BFN – Big Fat Negative in a pregnancy test.

BFP – Big Fat Positive in a pregnancy test - usually a cause for celebration!

Blastocyst - The name given to the cluster of cells created from the fertilized egg before implantation in the uterus.

Blighted ovum - Where a pregnancy sac develops but holds no fetus. A woman may experience pregnancy symptoms and get a positive pregnancy test but a miscarriage is inevitable as there is no true pregnancy.

Blog - Short for weblog, blog is the name for an online diary. On ThinkBaby you can write your own blog to record your pregnancy, birth experiences, life as a parent with your developing baby, or your journey to conception. If you like you can share your blog link with family or friends so they can keep up to date. You can find the blogs here.

Breastfeeding - Not a term that needs explaining, but we have all sorts of advice and information on breastfeeding available here.

Breastpads - Disposable or reusable pads to absorb breastmilk / prevent leakage between feeds and avoid irritation and infection to the nipple area. Find out more about breastpads.


Caesarian section / C-section - A now common procedure where a baby is delivered by an operation to open up the womb, rather than vaginally. Caesarians may be: planned - due to medical necessity apparent during pregnancy, emergency - due to complications arising during labour, or elective - when the mother chooses not to have a vaginal birth. Although common a C-section is still a major operation which may lead to complications and from which it takes several weeks to recover. Find out more...

Calcium – An important mineral for pregnancy, and for women in general, that helps build and strengthen bones and teeth. Consuming insufficient calcium increases the chance of developing osteoporosis in later life. Find out more...

Cervical incompetence - Towards the end of pregnancy the cervix naturally softens and 'ripens' so that it can open up in preparation for birth, this is known as effacement. During the rest of pregnancy the cervix should remain closed and sealed with a mucus plug to protect the embryo. When the cervix softens and opens early the cervix is said to be incompetent and when undetected will lead to a miscarriage or premature birth. Incompetent cervix is thought to be responsible for between 20 and 25% or second term miscarriages. When detected early, the cervix can be supported for the rest of the pregnancy through a simple procedure.

Cervical position - The position and condition of your cervix changes during your cycle and cervical height, firmness and openness is a primary indicator of fertility.

Cervix - The part of the uterus where it meets the vagina.

Chicken pox - A virus that adults seldom get, but that can be dangerous for the fetuses carried by pregnant women who are unlucky enough to get it. You will be immune from chicken pox if you ever had it as a child, but if you're not sure then you should preferably make sure of your immune status before conception. Newborn babies are protected from the virus if their mother was immune by transferred imunity which lasts then for the first six months.

Clomid - A fertility drug commonly prescribed to prompt ovulation.

CM – [forum] Cervical mucus / fluid - the fluid women excrete from the vaginal during their menstrual cycle. Find out more...

Colic - Describes the recurring inconsolable crying and apparent gastric pain from which many babies suffer at some point in the first six months. The causes of colic remain unclear, though feeding technique, different kinds of formula and a reaction to some foods consumed by the mother during breastfeeding may bring on attacks.


D&C – Dilation and curettage is a procedure that may be necessary after a miscarriage to clean out any remaining tissue from the uterus. The lining of the uterus is effectively scraped. Find out more...

D&E – Dilation and evacuation. A procedure used to perform an abortion or to clean the uterus following a missed miscarriage at a certain stage of gestation where allowing the miscarriage to complete naturally may be painful.

DP - Depo-Provera. Hormonal contraceptive usually delivered by an injection and effective for three months.

DPO- [forum] Days Past Ovulation, used to describe a point in the second half of the menstrual cycle.

Diaphragm - Barrier method of contraception that works by covering the cervix in tandem with a spermicide.


Ectopic pregnancy - When a fertilized egg implants and begins to develop outside the womb, most commonly in one of the fallopian tubes: The pregnancy is unsustainable.

Endometriosis - Where the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus itself, often into the fallopian tubes or ovaries. The condition may be accompanied by symptoms such as abdominal pain and pain during intercourse, but a woman who has the condition may also display no symptoms. It may cause infertility but does not necessarily do so.

Endometrium- The lining of the uterus, or womb.

Episiotomy - When a small cut is made in the perineum during birth to widen the vaginal opening and help the baby pass out. Find out more here.

EWCM / EWCF – Egg white cerical mucus/fluid. The colour and texture of the cervical mucus women excrete changes throughout the cycle. Shortly before ovulation the mucus becomes transparent, slippery and stretchy similar to the white of an egg, hence the commonly used term. You can test the consistency of the mucus on loo paper or between your fingers.

ERPC - Evacuation of retained products of conception. Procedure to clean the uterus when some of the pregnancy tissue remains in the womb after a miscarriage.


FAS – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. A fetus exposed to excessive alcohol consumption in the womb is at risk from developing several complications known together as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, these could be: premature birth and low birth weight, facial deformity, problems with hearing and/or vision, slow growth rates, motor skills problems, mental retardation and poor performance at school, hyperactivity and language difficulties.

Fertile period or fertile phase– The part of your cycle leading up to and following ovulation when you are considered to be most fertile and where sex is most likely to result in pregnancy.

Fetal age - The age of a fetus determined from the date of conception, rather than from the first day of the last menstrual period.

Fibroids - Growth on the walls or the uterus consisting of muscular tissue.

FWIW - [forum] For what it's worth.


GA /Gestational Age - The age of the fetus as dated from the first day of the last menstrual period, rather than from the time of conception. This is the age used by most doctors to refer to the development of your fetus.

Gestation - The development of the fetus during pregnancy.


Haemorrhoids – Also known as piles, haemorroids are varicose veins in the anus. They are a common discomfort for pregnant women in the second half of pregnancy and may cause pain and itching. Find out more...

HCG – Human chorionic gonadotrophin is a pregnancy hormone that can be detected in urine in only very small amounts. This is what home pregnancy testing kits look for to give that affirmative line or dot on your test as early as just a few days after a missing period.

Heartburn – A burning sensation in the throat after eating which is a common pregnancy complaint, particularly in the second-half. Find out more...

Hyperemesis Gravida – A very severe form of morning sickness where sufferers are able to keep little if any foods down and lose a significant amount of weight as a result. In the most severe of cases hospitalisation and feeding by intravenous drip may be necessary. Find out more...


IMHO - (forum) In my humble opinion.

Incompetent cervix - See Cervical incompetence.

Infertility - This doesn't as it sounds, refer to couples who are completely infertile, but rather is used to describe all sorts of problems or barriers to conception, which are not necessarily insurmountable. It's a far more common experience than you might imagine, but for most people some treatment is possible, even though the process may take years. Find out more...

Insomnia - Insomnia, or difficulty sleeping, affects many pregnant women, particularly when their bump gets big enough to make finding a comfortable sleeping position more difficult. The best way to deal with insomnia during pregnancy is through natural methods, checking your sleeping environment, encouraging sleep with a glass of warm milk or a warm bath, and so on. Find out more about dealing with insomnia

Iron - A mineral necessary to ensure a healthy supply of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Iron deficiency is particularly common during pregnancy, as your body needs to increase its blood supply dramatically, and can lead to anaemia leaving you pale, tired and short of breath. A healthy level of iron intake can be ensured with iron supplements and iron-rich foods. Find out more...

IUD - Intruterine Device. A contraceptive device inserted into the uterus that can remain in place for up to ten years. The IUD does not interfere with intercourse, but may cause increased cramping during menstruation. Fertility returns soon after the removal of the device.

IUI - Intrauterine insemination. Where the man's semen is inserted directly into the uterus with a catheter.

IVF - In Vitro Fertilisation. A fertility treatment where the eggs removed from the woman's ovaries are fertilised by partner or donor sperm outside the womb in a glass petri dish. Two days later the fertilized eggs are placed in the woman's womb.



Kegel exercises - Exercises to strengthen the muscles in and surrounding the vagina. Regular Kegel exercises can improve sexual sensation and help to control urination, particularly post child-birth when these muscles have been weakened. To locate your pelvic floor muscles contract the muscles you would use to stem the flow of urination. Repeated contractions of these muscles, in patterns of long and short, are known as Kegel exercises.


Lactation - Milk production by the breasts.

Laparoscopy - Key-hole surgery in which a small telescopic instrument is used to examine the inside of the abdomen, often the reproductive organs, via a small incision in the navel.

Let-down reflex - The automatic reflex that makes milk available in your breasts through the release of the hormone oxytocin. Can be triggered in several ways including your baby sucking on your breast or crying. Find out more...

LMAO - [forum] Laughing my arse off.

LMP – Last menstrual period. When you are pregnant your pregnancy is dated from the time of your last menstrual period, not from the moment of conception, so your doctor will ask you the date of your LMP when you make your first visit to the doctors to confirm your pregnancy.

Lochia - Post-birth loss of blood and mucus from the vagina. Flow can be heavy at first but should taper off, and may last as long as six weeks. Pads, not tampons, should be used to absorb the flow.

Lol / LOL - [forum] Laughing out loud.

Luteal phase - A term used to describe the part of the menstrual period from ovulation to menstruation which is usually between 12 and sixteen days. Most women's luteal phase is a regular length and variation of more than a day or two is highly unusual. A luteal phase of eleven days or shorter may cause fertility problems as a fertilised egg does not have time to implant in the womb before the onset of menstruation. Find out more...

Luteinising hormone - The naturally occurring hormone which prompts ovulation and the development of the corpus luteum. Find out more...


Mastitis - An infection in a blocked milk duct in the breasts causes swelling, redness, pain and flu-like symptoms. Mastitis is caused by bacteria entering a blocked duct, which is often the result of your baby not completely emptying a duct during feeding. The infection can usually be treated without preventing breastfeeding, but in a very few cases the infection my be severe. A good feedig technique can help prevent mastitis.

Medicines - Although not that many medicines have been proven unsafe for use during pregnancy, few have been proven safe, so caution is advised. Make sure that your doctor and pharmacist know that you are pregnant before prescribing or recommending drugs for use and never buy over-the-counter medicines, herbal preparations or homeopathic treatments without checking that they are safe for pregnant women. Find out more...

Menorrhagia - Particularly heavy menstrual bleeding.

Miscarriage - When a pregnancy ends spontaneously with the death of the fetus and its evacuation from the womb.

Missed miscarriage / missed abortion - When the fetus has died spontaneously but remains in the womb.

Morning sickness - Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy that may occur at any time of day. It usually starts between weeks 4 and 6, peaks between week 8 and 12 and clears up by week 16. However, some women may have morning sickness that comes and goes throughout the pregnancy or that lasts the whole pregnancy. Find out more...


NFP - Natural Family Planning. A contraceptive method that involves charting the naturally occurring signs of fertility such as changes in waking temperature and cervical mucus.


OH – [forum] Other half (as in your partner)

Oestrogen – The sex hormone that matures eggs within the ovaries, stimulates the thickening of the walls of the uterus in preparation for implantation and prompts the production of cervical mucus favourable to sperm. It’s produced by the follicles within each ovary between your period and ovulation.

Oestrogenic phase – The first phase of the menstrual cycle leading up to ovulation. the duration of this part of the cycle can vary widely between women and may not be regular for each individual. The duration of the phase can also be affected by factors such as travel, illness and stress.

OPK – Ovulation predictor kit. A urine testing kit that looks for the presence of luteinising hormone (LH) as a sign of impending ovulation.

Ovulation– Where a mature egg is released from the ovaries.


PCOS / Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – A common disorder affecting women where maturing follicles become trapped inside the ovaries becoming cysts. Can cause erratic menstrual cycles and lead to difficulties in conceiving.

Pelvic floor – The muscles supporting the bladder, uterus and rectum. Strong pelvic floor muscles help to control defecation and urination.

Perineal massage – Massaging of the inner part of the perineum with oils to improve its stretchability and condition in anticipation of childbirth. Find out more...

Perineum – The tissue between the opening of the vagina and the anus which stretches during childbirth to allow the baby to pass through. The stretchability of the tissue may be improved leading up to childbirth by perineal massage.

Piles – See haemorrhoids.

Placenta praevia – When the placenta grows over the cervix during pregnancy. If the placenta hasn’t moved off the cervix by the end of the pregnancy then a cesaerian section will be necessary. A partial placenta praevia is when the placenta covers only part of the cervix and a marginal placenta praevia when the placenta is at the margin. A low-lying placenta praevia is when the placenta is implanted in the lower part of the uterus.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – A common disorder affecting women where maturing follicles become trapped inside the ovaries becoming cysts. Can cause erratic menstrual cycles and lead to difficulties in conceiving.

PND / Post Natal Depression – A surprisingly common illness affecting mothers which can be very debilitating. More serious than the very common baby blues, PND usually occurs when the baby is between 4 and 6 months, but may happen any time during the first year. It leaves the mother depressed, anxious, despodent and occasionally even suicidal. PND can be treated in various ways and if you're a sufferer it's important that you seek help from family and health workers as soon as possible. Find out more...

Polymenorrhea– Frequent bleeding - often caused by anovulation.

Post-coital test – A fertility test conducted to see whether the man's sperm can survive in the woman's cervical mucus. A sample of the mucus is taken within two hours of intercourse and viewed under a microscope to ascertain whether the sperm can swim forward in the mucus.

Postovulatory phase - also called Luteal phase. A term used to describe the part of the menstrual period from ovulation to menstruation which is usually between 12 and sixteen days. Most women's luteal phase is a regular length and variation of more than a day or two is highly unusual. A luteal phase of eleven days or shorter may cause fertility problems as a fertilised egg does not have time to implant in the womb before the onset of menstruation. Find out more...

Pre-eclampsia – An illness occuring only during pregnancy or immediately after pregnancy, pre-eclampsia prevents the placenta working properly and may also affect several of the mother's major organs. Its main symptoms are high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Without treatment pre-eclampsia can have serious implications for both mother and child, but in the vast majority of cases the illness is successfully treated. Find out more...

Progesterone– Hormone released by the corpus luteum after ovulation to prompt the uterus to prepare its lining for a potential pregnancy and to change cervical mucus produced to fertile (wet and stretchy). The release of progesterone also causes the rise in waking temperature charted for natural family planning.

Prolactin – Hormone that stimulates milk production in the breasts. This hormone also suppresses the production of oestrogen to prevent menstruation during regular breastfeeding.



Reflux – See heartburn.

Rh- / Rhesus factor –

The rhesus positive or negative state of a person's blood is usually irrelevant to general health, however, being rhesus negative can significant during pregnancy. If you're carrying a baby with rhesus positive and have previous exposure to rhesus positive blood and so carry antibodies against it. Rh- incompatibilty is easy to prevent with a series of injections during pregnancy: a blood test will reveal whether you are rhesus +/-.

Rhythm method – Now discredited method of family planning which calculates the fertile phase purely on the examples of past cycles. Find out more...

Rubella – Commonly known as German Measles, Rubella is a mild disease that nevertheless can have serious consequences for a developing fetus if the mother becomes infected. Rubella is routinely vacccinated against in the UK, and the likelihood is that as an adult you will have been innoculated. However, if you're planning a pregnancy and you're not 100% sure of your immune status then you should ask your doctor to test for it.


Semen – The fluid ejaculated from the man's penis at orgasm. Semen contains the sperm which can go on to fertilise a waiting female egg at the fertile phase of the female cycle.

Short luteal phase– When the second half of a woman's cycle is not long enough to allow for implantation of a fertilised egg. Luteal phases for successful implantation should last ten days or longer. Luteal phases are commonly between 12 and 16 days.

Sperm count – Testing a man's sperm quality for his sperm count involves testing not only the total number of sperm in ejaculated semen, but also ascertaining what portion of the sperm can move forward and what portion are well formed.

Spermicide – Substance intended to kill sperm or render them immobile and used for contraceptive purposes.

Sterility – An absence of fertility for both men and women.

Subfertility – When a couple's chances of conceiving are lower than is usual.


Thermal shift – The rise in a woman's basal body temperature that indicates that ovulation has taken place.

Travel system – A pushchair sold in combination with a carry cot and/or car seat compatible with the same frame, allowing you to take your baby in and out of the house or car and convert to a pushchair without disturbing her. Find out more...

TTC – Trying to conceive.


Ultrasound – The use of sound waves to capture images of structures inside the body, commonly known simply as a scan in pregnancy.

Uterus – Female organ which houses the developing embryo during pregnancy. Made of muscle, in its natural state the uterus is shaped like a pear and the size of a small fist.


Vagina – The canal leading from the uterus to the the female opening of the vulva. The vagina is muscular and expands to allow the through passage of the baby at birth.

Vaginitis – An infection or irritation of the vagina.

Vanishing twin syndrome– An often undetected syndrome where one of two fraternal twin embryos miscarries or is reabsorbed by the body early in pregnancy leaving a single baby to develop through to birth.

Vulva – The opening to the vagina made up of the external female genitalia.

VBAC – Vaginal birth after Caesarian.


Waterbirth - Use of a birthing pool filled with warm water to relieve labour pains and/or for the moment of birth itself. The idea is to provide physical support and relaxation for the mother and to provide a more gentle introduction to the world for baby. Find out more...

Weaning - Introducing your baby to solids, usually starts between four and six months depending on when baby is ready to experiment with real food. Real food is given in parallel with milk for some time. Find out more...

Wind - Wind is a common pregnancy complaint, particularly in the first and third trimesters. It's caused both by swallowing air and by the hormone progesterone slowing down the digestive system. Later in pregnancy pressure from your growing womb on the digestive tract can also cause digestive discomfort. Everybody releases wind each day, but there are steps you can take to relieve the excessive wind that can occur during pregnancy. Find out more...

Withdrawl bleeding - Where the oestrogen level falls to below that needed to sustain the lining of the uterus, resulting in the lining of the uterus disintegrating and being excreted from the vagina.

Womb– Female organ which houses the developing embryo during pregnancy. Made of muscle, in its natural state the uterus is shaped like a pear and the size of a small fist. Also known as the uterus.




Zygote – The name for the fertilised egg as it starts to divide into more cells.


2WW – [forum] Two week wait. Term for the time from ovulation to the start of the next cycle or time to test for pregnancy in event of a period not starting when you're hoping to conceive. This is a general term, for many women the second half of their cycle will not be exactly two weeks.

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Discuss this story

Hi all,

we've just published a glossary to help explain commonly used terms around the site, not least all those forum abbreviations!

It's by no means comprehensive yet, and will need to grow as we all make up new terms. So if there's a term that you'd like adding to the glossary then post it here.

Posted: 19/08/2005 at 17:29

Maria, that looks great. It'd be god if actually some of the terms linked to other articles, as there are plenty of articles on this site and it'd be a useful way to find them.


Posted: 19/08/2005 at 21:22

Hi Issie, quite a few of the terms do already, but there's probably a few more that could be linked you're right. I agree, it hopefully will be a good way to find articles and information. It's linked up on the right at the top, so that you can find it with a single click no matter what page of the site you're on.
Thanks for the feedback!

Posted: 22/08/2005 at 09:05

Glossary's great - really helpful! a lot of terms that ppl use on forums that i just don't understand so thank you! Brill!

Posted: 25/08/2005 at 15:55

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