E – Glossary Terms
When a fertilized egg does not enter the uterus, but instead implants elsewhere, usually in the Fallopian tube. Must be surgically removed to prevent rupture and damage.
The accumulation of fluid in the body's tissues, which causes swelling, often of the hands and feet. Common during pregnancy due to extra blood production and pressure on the vena cava from the growing uterus, which slows circulation.
Congenital condition stemming from a chromosomal abnormality. Symptoms include severe mental retardation and often numerous defects, such as cleft lip and palate, club feet, and malformation of internal organs.
The thinning (sometimes called ripening) of the cervix in preparation for delivery. During effacement, the cervix goes from more than an inch thick to paper thin.
An inflammation of the brain, most often caused by the herpes virus, but sometimes brought on by chicken pox, mumps, or measles. People with a mild case usually recover in two or three weeks; severe encephalitis is rare, but can cause brain damage or death.
An instrument used to examine the inside of the body.
Engagement, also called lightening or dropping, is when the fetus descends into the pelvic cavity. In first-time mothers, this usually happens two to four weeks before delivery; babies of women who've already had children usually don't engage until labor begins.
Swollen and tender breasts, usually beginning between two days and a week after childbirth, when a mother's milk comes in. Symptoms usually disappear in a few days when nursing is well established, but breasts can re-engorge during weaning, a sudden nursing strike, or a bout of mastitis, or if the baby's sick.
Anesthesia administered to a laboring mother into the epidural space at the base of the spine to numb the lower body. It decreases or eliminates pain, enabling her to save her strength for pushing. It can numb the lower body entirely, so she's unable to feel contractions when it is time to push out the baby.
An incision in the perineum (the area between the vagina and the anus) to enlarge the vaginal opening and prevent tearing during delivery.
external cephalic version
A procedure in which a doctor, using ultrasound images as a guide, attempts to massage a baby out of breech position (feet down) and into a head-down position for delivery.