The front part of the body between the chest and the pelvis.
A medicine that is used to relieve pain and decrease fever.
acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)
Commonly known as aspirin. A drug used to relieve pain and reduce fever. Do not give aspirin (ASA) to babies, children, or teenagers because there is an association between the development of Reye’s Syndrome and the use of aspirin.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It can develop if one becomes infected by the HIV virus.
A diagnostic test for finding genetic fetal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome. It is usually done between 15 to 18 weeks of pregnancy. It is done by removing a small amount of amniotic fluid using a needle under ultrasound guidance.
The liquid that surrounds the fetus. It helps the baby by absorbing bumps from the outside, maintaining an even temperature inside, and allowing the baby to move easily. When the amniotic sac ruptures at birth, it is often called the water breaking.
Drugs used to fight many infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics do not work against viral infections.
A drug that acts to relieve the effects of histamine, a normal body chemical that is thought to cause symptoms in people in reaction to various allergens (substances causing a person to become sensitive).
A simple and easy way to measure how healthy a baby is. The test rates five areas: the baby’s heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin colour. The rating is a number out of a total of 10 called the Apgar score. Most babies score an Apgar between 7 and 10.
When a parent or caregiver and baby (or toddler) become bonded into a close and connected relationship. The baby (or toddler) feels safe, secure, and protected on physical, emotional, and mental levels.
A global program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF to encourage practices in hospitals and communities that promote, protect, and support breastfeeding.
A condition in women where the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted. Can cause pain, itching, burning, a bad smell or discharge.
The yellow‑coloured substance formed when the extra red blood cells break down after birth. Eliminated from the baby’s body in its bowel movements. It is the cause of jaundice.
A written document that explains what you would like to happen during and after labour and birth.
Braxton Hicks contractions
Contractions of the uterus that occur during pregnancy. They are not usually painful and can last for about a minute. Often called practicing contractions.
The unborn baby’s buttocks, buttocks and legs, or legs are facing down and would be born first.
A surgical procedure used to deliver a baby through incisions in the abdomen and the uterus. Often referred to as a caesarean birth or C‑section.
The lower part of the uterus that protrudes into the vagina through which the baby passes during birth.
The darkening of the skin around the eyes and over the nose and cheeks during pregnancy. Often called the mask of pregnancy.
chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
A diagnostic test used to detect genetic abnormalities in the fetus. Done by removing a small amount of chorionic villi tissue through the woman’s vagina or the abdomen. The test is unable to detect neural tube defects.
Genetic defects in the structure of a baby’s chromosomes.
The surgical procedure to remove the layer of skin (foreskin) that covers the head of the penis and part of the shaft.
The first breast milk produced. It begins to be produced during pregnancy and is important for the baby’s first feedings.
Feeding a baby when she or he shows an interest in feeding before reaching the crying state. Feeding cues include: rapid eye movements (eyes moving under eyelids), waking, stretching, stirring, hand‑to mouth movements, sucking, licking, and rooting.
Loss of water from the body. Usually due to not taking in enough fluids. Can be serious.
A disease that occurs when the body has difficulty making or using insulin (a hormone that makes it possible for the body to use sugar as a source of energy). Without the help of insulin, the blood sugar level will become much higher than normal.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition in which a baby has 47 chromosomes instead of 46. Down syndrome is the most common chromosome problem. People with Down syndrome have mild to moderate mental delays and a higher chance of some health problems. Each person with Down syndrome is different and there is no way to predict how serious any problems will be.
A pregnancy in which the fertilized egg begins to develop outside the uterus.
A skin rash that often has itching, swelling, blistering, oozing, and scaling of the skin.
The ongoing thinning and shortening of the cervix during the first stage of labour.
The developing baby from the fourth week after the egg has been fertilized until the eighth week of pregnancy.
Occurs when the breasts become overly full (swollen), hard, and painful. It is prevented by early (soon after birth) and frequent breastfeeding, not restricting the time for feeding, and ensuring the baby is well latched on and feeding well.
The drug nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas. It can be used to relieve pain during labour.
Local anaesthetic given into the space around the spinal cord, providing pain relief from the waist down. Used during labour and vaginal birth by some women and for most caesarean births.
An incision (cut) made in the area between the vagina and rectum to enlarge the space for the baby to pass through the vaginal opening.
erythromycin eye ointment
An antibiotic cream used in the eyes of newborns to prevent infection.
external cephalic version (ECV)
A way to try to turn a baby from a breech position to head‑down (vertex) position while it’s still in the mother’s uterus. The health care provider uses his or her hands on the outside of the woman’s abdomen to try to turn the baby.
The process of providing safe, skilled care to meet the physical, emotional, and psychosocial needs of each mother, newborn, and family. Pregnancy and birth are considered to be a normal and healthy life event. Also recognizes the importance of family support and participation and care is adapted to meet their needs.
feeding on demand
Feeding a baby on cue when they indicate hunger by watching for the baby’s feeding cues. Newborns feed frequently. This is the preferred approach. A regular timed schedule is not followed.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
The full range of birth defects and disabilities that can result from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Can range from mild to very severe defects and developmental delays. Is preventable by not drinking any alcohol during pregnancy.
The unborn baby from eight weeks until birth. Also spelled foetus.
One of the B vitamins that women of childbearing age (18 – 45 years old) are recommended to take before pregnancy and in early pregnancy to prevent defects of the spinal cord, such as spina bifida.
Spoon‑like instruments that are placed on either side of the baby’s head during some deliveries. They are used to gently help pull the baby out.
The top part of the uterus.
Diabetes that can develop during pregnancy and usually disappears after birth. Women with gestational diabetes are at increased risk for developing diabetes in later life.
glucose screening (glucose tolerance test)
Screening test used to screen for gestational diabetes. Measures the mother’s blood after drinking a liquid high in sugar.
The place where the abdomen and the thigh meet.
group B streptococcus (group B strep)
Bacteria that is found in the vagina and bowel of 15 – 20% of healthy pregnant women. It can pass from the mother to the baby during birth and cause serious infection. Treated with antibiotics.
hemorrhagic disease A bleeding problem that can occur during the first few days of life. Vitamin K is given to newborns to prevent hemorrhagic disease.
Painful, itchy, and sometimes bleeding veins that bulge out around your anus, especially during pregnancy or after birth.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
The virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Can be passed from the mother to the unborn child. Antiviral drugs are used to help prevent infant infection.
HSV (herpes simplex virus)
Common viral sexually transmitted disease.
High blood pressure.
Leakage of urine.
induction of labour
A medical intervention that starts labour artificially.
Giving fluid through a vein.
Care that places a baby, even preterm babies, skin‑to‑skin with a parent. Babies benefit from the smell, sound of the heartbeat, and the warmth the parent provides. Improves the growth of preterm babies and gives parents an opportunity to be close to their baby.
Exercises to strengthen the vaginal and perineal area (between the vagina and anus).
The fold of skin, on both sides, at the opening of the vagina in females.
Registered nurse who provides nursing care to the pregnant mother and supports the family during labour and birth.
A healthcare provider who has training and is certified to help women with breastfeeding. This person receives a certificate from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.
Fine hair that covers the body of the fetus.
Hormonal reaction to the baby sucking on the breast that causes milk to flow into the breasts. May be felt as a warm, tingling feeling.
Cancer of the tissues in the bone marrow, spleen, and lymph nodes.
A dark line between the pubic bone and the navel that appears in some pregnant women. Due to hormonal changes during pregnancy.
An infection caused by eating foods that have the Listeria bacteria. Pregnant women and newborns are more vulnerable to listeriosis.
Bloody discharge flowing from the uterus and vagina following birth.
A tumor or condition affecting the lymph tissue.
An infection of the breast tissue and/or milk ducts. Causes a hard, swollen, red, painful area in the breast.
A mother’s time off work after the birth of a child. Eligible employees may get Employment Insurance maternity benefits. Parental leave may follow.
The baby’s first bowel movement. It is a sticky, greenish‑black substance present in the baby’s intestine before birth. It is passed for one to two days after birth.
A woman’s monthly bleeding. It is also called menses, menstrual period, or period.
Small white raised spots commonly seen on a newborn’s face. Milia are caused by plugged oil glands and usually clear within three to four weeks.
Nausea and vomiting that woman may experience during pregnancy. Commonly seen in the first trimester but can occur throughout an entire pregnancy.
Electronic monitoring test used before labour to check the functioning of the fetus’ heart rate patterns in response to fetal movement.
An ultrasound measurement of the fluid behind the neck of a baby during pregnancy. Used to see if the baby has a greater risk of a genetic abnormality.
open neural tube defect
An open neural tube defect occurs when the brain or spinal cord does not form properly. Spina bifida is an open neural tube defect in which the spine does not completely close around the spinal cord. This is the most common form of open neural tube defect. People with spina bifida may have both physical and mental disabilities. Anencephaly is an open neural tube defect involving the brain. A baby with anencephaly will be stillborn or die shortly after birth.
A disease that affects the bones. The bones are thin and brittle, with lots of holes inside them like a sponge. This makes them easy to break. It affects millions of older adults, usually striking after age 60. It is most common in women, but men can get it too.
Infection of the middle ear. Most commonly seen in young children. It frequently follows or occurs at the same time as an upper respiratory infection (cold).
A hormone naturally produced by the body that is responsible for starting uterine contractions.
Time off work to care for a newborn. May be taken by either or both parents. Eligible employees may get Employment Insurance parental benefits. Usually follows maternity leave.
A Registered Nurse who provides nursing care for the woman, newborn, and the family during labour, birth, and postpartum.
Perinatal depression is more than just the “postpartum blues” or “baby blues.” Perinatal depression is depression that happens any time from when you first become pregnant to one year after your baby is born (postpartum depression is depression that happens after birth.) It can also happen after miscarriage, stillbirth, or adoption.
Symptoms can include extreme fatigue or exhaustion, lack of interest in things that usually bring pleasure, uncontrollable crying, depressed feelings or extreme mood swings, strong feelings of guilt or failure. Perinatal depression is a serious health concern.
The area between the vagina and the anus, including the pelvic floor muscles, the external genitals, urethra, and anus.
An unusual craving or compulsion to eat non‑food substances, such as dirt, clay, and laundry starch.
The structure that grows on the wall of the uterus during pregnancy that connects the fetus to the mother. Blood passes through the placenta to the fetus, providing oxygen, nutrition, and antibodies. Blood circulated back to the mother’s body brings waste from the fetus for removal. The placenta also produces a number of hormones that affect the body during pregnancy.
A condition in which the placenta covers all or part of the cervix. It can cause bleeding.
A sticky film of bacteria that is present in the mouth. This bacteria is the primary cause of inflammation of the gums (gum disease or gingivitis) and tooth decay.
The flattening of one side or the back of the baby’s head. It is caused by the baby always lying in the
The back of the unborn baby’s head is toward the mother’s back.
The period after childbirth.
postpartum blues (or baby blues)
Occur within the first 3 – 5 days after birth. Up to 80% of mothers can experience temporary emotional distress (from happiness to sadness). In most women these resolve without treatment within a week or two.
A type of perinatal depression that can affect the mother after birth. It is described as a group of symptoms that can change a woman’s mood, behaviour, and outlook. See Perinatal Depression.
Red, swollen, tender, and bleeding gums caused by hormonal changes in pregnancy combined with poor oral hygiene. It can be prevented with correct gum care. If the condition persists, or there is extreme swelling, see a dentist or dental hygienist.
pregnancy‑induced hypertension (PIH)
High blood pressure that occurs in pregnancy in a woman who has had normal blood pressure. High blood pressure disappears quickly after birth.
The time before labour actively begins when the uterus may start gentle but irregular contractions (Braxton Hicks).
Related to the time from when a woman becomes pregnant to the time of birth.
prenatal genetic screening
Blood tests offered to pregnant women to screen whether they are at increased risk of carrying a baby with certain conditions, such as Down Syndrome or an open neural tube defect. This screening is optional.
Vitamin and/or mineral pill designed for pregnancy and taken in addition to a healthy diet. These supplements provide extra vitamins and minerals needed to help meet the needs of a growing baby.
public health nurse
Registered Nurse who provides prevention and health promotion services to pregnant women, mothers, infants and families in homes, preschools, schools, and other community settings.
Local freezing given around the vagina. This stops the pain in the vagina, vulva, and perineum. Given at the time of birth.
The first time a baby’s movements can be felt by a pregnant woman.
A trained professional who provides care for women during normal pregnancy labour, birth, and after the baby is born.
A serious disease that affects the organs of the body. It can cause very serious damage to the liver and the brain. Because there is an association between the development of Reye Syndrome and the use of aspirin (ASA), babies, children, and teenagers should not be given aspirin (ASA).
Women who are Rh‑negative can develop antibodies to an Rh‑positive baby. If there is mixing between the blood of the mother and baby, the woman’s body may respond by developing antibodies as if it is allergic to the baby. This can be very serious for the baby, but this is preventable. An injection of Rh immunoglobulin (RhIg) is given at about 28 weeks pregnancy. It will also be given at any time in pregnancy if there is bleeding or an amniocentesis. Rh‑negative women will also be tested after birth to determine if another injection of RhIg is needed.
rubella antibody screen
A blood test to determine a woman’s immunity to rubella (German measles). If a woman becomes infected during pregnancy her unborn baby can be affected.
A bacterium of the genus Salmonella, especially of a species causing food poisoning.
The skin‑covered pouch below the penis that contains the testes in males.
sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Once called venereal diseases, these are spread mostly by sexual contact. There are about 20 identified types, including herpes, Hepatitis B, Chlamydia, AIDS/HIV, genital warts, gonorrhea, and syphilis. They can cause sterility, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies, etc., and can affect the baby while in the uterus or at the time of birth. Treatment and prevention is available for most STIs.
Blood‑tinged vaginal discharge that may be one of the signs of labour. Bloody show continues as labour progresses. It has blood in it because small blood vessels in the cervix break as the cervix thins and opens.
The naked or diaper‑clad baby is placed on the mother’s or partner’s bare chest. A blanket is placed over both for warmth. Babies benefit from the smell, sound of the heartbeat, and the warmth of the parent’s body. It also encourages breastfeeding.
The position of the baby’s presenting part (the lowest part, usually the head) in relation to the mother’s pelvic bones.
When a baby that appeared to be well during pregnancy is born dead.
The waste that comes out of the bowels. Also called a bowel movement.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
The sudden and unexpected death of a healthy baby that remains unexplained after all known and possible causes have been carefully ruled out. Research suggests that cigarette smoke and the baby sleeping on its tummy are contributing factors. Formerly known as crib death.
Vitamin and/or mineral pill, taken in addition to a healthy diet. Supplements provide extra vitamins and minerals needed to help meet the needs of a growing baby.
A substance formed in the lungs late in fetal life that helps to keep the small air sacks expanded. Babies born preterm without enough surfactant have difficulty breathing.
transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS)
A method for relief of back pain. Electrodes are placed on the lower back. They are attached to a small, hand‑held battery device. The stimulation gives tingling, buzzing, or prickling sensations over the back.
A yeast infection that can cause breast infection. Yeast grows well on milk and in warm moist areas (such as mother’s nipples, infant’s mouth, diaper area, and vaginal area). Generally responds well to treatment. Mother and baby are usually treated together. Continue to breastfeed.
A disease caused by a parasite and transmitted by: eating raw or undercooked meat or other raw foods including fruits and vegetables; drinking unpasteurized milk; cleaning cat litter boxes; or working in gardens or playing in sandboxes that contain cat feces (poop). Can result in miscarriage, poor fetal growth, preterm birth, or stillbirth. Babies born with toxoplasmosis may have serious physical and mental disabilities.
The nine months of pregnancy divided into three parts.
A rare chromosomal disorder in which all or a critical region of chromosome 18 appears three times (trisomy) rather than twice in cells of the body. Symptoms and findings may be extremely variable from case to case. In many affected infants, such abnormalities may include growth deficiency, feeding and breathing difficulties, developmental delays, mental retardation, physical malformations and structural heart defects at birth.
A scan that uses very high‑frequency sound waves (can’t be heard by humans) to show the development of the baby in the uterus.
Links the placenta to the baby. Nutrients and waste products pass through the umbilical cord. It is attached to the baby at the belly button. The umbilical cord is usually about 56 cm (22 inches) long and feels like a smooth, tough rope.
The tube between the bladder and the opening to the outside of the body. Urine passes through the urethra.
The fluid containing water and waste products that is produced by the kidneys, stored in the bladder, and discharged through the urethra when you go pee.
A hollow, muscular, pear‑shaped organ located in the woman’s pelvis. It holds the growing baby.
The canal going from the cervix to the outside of the body through which the baby passes during a vaginal birth.
Blood vessels that are swollen, distended, and twisted, showing just beneath the skin, especially on the legs. They result from a slowing of the flow of blood, probably in combination with defects in the valves within the veins and weakened walls of the veins. Pregnancy is often a cause. They may disappear at the end of pregnancy.
A blood test to identify women with untreated syphilis.
A white creamy substance that covers the baby’s skin for protection while in the uterus.
Urinating or peeing.
The external parts of a woman’s reproductive system that surround the opening of the vagina.
X-rays are a form of radiation, like light or radio waves, that can be focused into a beam, much like a flashlight beam. Unlike a beam of light, however, X-rays can pass through most objects, including the human body.