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F – Glossary Terms

Created by: Melissa Werner
Posted : Monday January 01, 1900

fetal distress
When a fetus's life is believed to be in danger, most often because of too little oxygen. Signs of fetal distress -- including slowed heartbeat or absence of fetal movement -- call for immediate delivery of the baby.

fetal monitoring
Tracking a fetus's heartbeat and a woman's uterine contractions during labor.

fetal presentation
The position of the baby -- such as feet down (breech) or head down (vertex) -- inside a woman's uterus. About 96 percent of babies present in the vertex position; some who present in breech position can be turned around by a doctor before delivery begins.

A prenatal diagnostic procedure in which a doctor inserts a laparoscope (a small viewing instrument) through a small incision in a pregnant woman's abdomen and uterine wall to look for any abnormalities in the fetus. Carries a 5percent risk of miscarriage or preterm labor.

floppy infant syndrome
Limp, slack muscles in an infant often caused by neuromuscular disease (Werdnig-Hoffman disease, myasthenia gravis, myotonic dystrophy, or muscular dystrophy). In a child who is otherwise healthy and meeting normal developmental milestones, hypotonia can mean simply low muscle tone and increased flexibility or laxity of ligaments; in one who is severely ill it can mean an inability to sit up, crawl, walk, eat correctly, etc.

folic acid
A B complex vitamin used to treat anemia and shown to reduce incidence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida (incomplete closure of the spine) and anencephaly (partially or completely missing brain). Included in prenatal vitamins; good natural sources include liver, beans, and leafy green vegetables.

The soft spots on a baby's head that, during birth, enable the soft bony plates of the skull to flex, allowing the head to pass through the birth canal. Fontanels are completely hardened by a child's second birthday.

forceps delivery
A delivery in which a hinged, tongue like device (called a forceps) is used to pull out a baby's head.

A baby born between 38 and 42 weeks' gestation.

fundal height
The distance between the top of a pregnant woman's uterus (called the fundus) to her pubic bone. Measured to determine fetal age.

The upper, rounded portion of the uterus.

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