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A measurement taken of the abdomen to check for normal development rate of the fetus.
A physical examination whereby a midwife or obstetrician feels the abdomen to assess the position of the uterus and the height of the fundus.
Also known as: Induced Labour
Any method of encouraging the onset of labour, including administering a synthetic form of the naturally-occurring hormone oxytocin via an intravenus drip; placing a pessary containing the hormone-like substance prostaglandin on the cervix, or separating the amniotic sac from the cervix.
Where a labouring woman moves around, and adopts different postures to help manage contractions and progress labour. Techniques can be taught at active birth classes and usually centre around breathing and relaxation.
Acute fatty liver of pregnancy (AFLP)
A rare, but serious condition in which there is an excessive accumulation of fat in the liver or liver cells. It is characterised by its rapid onset in the third trimester of pregnancy, Excessive fat can cause liver damage, but whilst the condition cannot be predicted or prevented, it’s thought to affect only around 1 in 9,000-13,000 pregnancies.
A drug used to prevent transmission of active genital herpes from mother to baby, during vaginal delivery.
Also known as: Attention Deficit Disorder, now known as ADHD
ADHD is a neurobehavioural disorder characterised by chronic inattention and/or hyperactivity and/or over-impulsive behaviour, and resulting in significant impairment to normal social functioning. There are three main types, manifesting different degrees of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Surgical removal of the adenoids .
Two masses of tissue at the junction of the nose and throat, which help filter out harmful bacteria that can cause infection. Enlarged adenoids may interfere with breathing and speech .
The discomfort – considerable in some women – experienced over the few days following birth, as the uterus contracts back to normal size.
A substance which is harmless to most people, but which provokes an abnormal physiological reaction in some individuals. Also known as antigens.
Also known as: Hay-fever
An allergy to airborne substances such as grass or hay pollens, which affects the upper nose, sinus, throat and eyes.
An abnormal physiological reaction to an allergen
A substance produced by a fetus in the uterus. AFP levels may be checked via a simple blood test at around the 16th week of pregnancy, to screen for fetal abnormalities.
Also known as: Lazy eye
Medically referred to as amblyopia, lazy eye is a condition of early childhood where vision does not develop properly in one eye, although it can occur in both eyes. Lazy eye affects about 1 in 25 children, may have no obvious physical symptom and is often undiagnosed until a child’s first eye test, when visual disturbances are picked up.
Amniocentesis is a specialised diagnostic test, that involves analysing a sample of amniotic fluid taken from the amniotic sac in order to detect chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, including Down’s syndrome. The diagnosis is conclusive. As a side issue, amniocentesis can also determine conclusively the gender of the unborn baby.
Aprotective, colourless liquid, consisting mostly of water, which surrounds and protects a fetus throughout pregnancy.
A membrane which lines the womb and contains both the fetus and amniotic fluid.
Also known as: Artificial Rupture of Membranes
A procedure whereby a midwife or obstetrician breaks your waters by hand to trigger or speed up labour. This will usually be done using an instrument which looks like a crochet hook to puncuture the amniotic sac. The procedure is also known as ‘amniotomy’.
A debilitating condition caused by a reduction in either red blood cells or haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in blood. Characterised by paler-than-normal skin, lethargy, shortness of breath on exertion, dizziness and a raised pulse rate.
A drug that causes temporary loss of bodily sensations.
A drug that reduces or eliminates pain.
A severe general allergic reaction which can result in anaphylactic shock – a condition which needs prompt medical treatment.
A detailed ultrasound scan, performed at around 20 weeks, to check for normal fetal growth.
Preparatory lessons for expectant parents, covering what to expect during labour and delivery, birthing skills, and tips on how both parents can cope with labour and afterwards. Offered through the NHS and privately.
Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC)
National charity offering non-directive, specialised support to parents who discover that their unborn baby has an abnormality.
Antepartum haemorrhage (APH)
Vaginal bleeding occurring between the 24th week of pregnancy and delivery
When a baby is lying in the uterus with the back of the head facing the front of the mother’s pelvis. Sometimes known as ‘occipito-anterior lie’ and abbreviated in maternal notes as ‘LOA’ of ‘ROA’, depending on whether the baby is on the left- or right-hand side of the uterus.
A drug used to fight bacterial infection.
An agent of the body’s defence system, produced by the white blood cells to fight infection or a foreign body.
Antibodies given by injection to women whose blood group is Rhesus negative, to prevent ‘haemolytic disease of the newborn’ (HDN), which in some cases can result in stillbirth or neonatal death. This is usually not a threat in first pregnancies, but can be problematic in subsequent pregnancies where the unborn baby is Rhesus positive.
Also known as: Allergen
A type of drug that relieves allergy symptoms by blocking the action of histamine, which is released by the body in an allergic reaction.
An evaluation of a baby’s responses carried out immediately after birth and again five minutes later. Heart rate, breathing and muscle tone, as well as skin colour and reflexes are all assessed.
Apnea (or apnoea) of prematurity
When a premature, low-birthweight baby stops breathing for short periods because the respiratory and nervous systems have not yet developed fully.
Also known as: Breathing monitor
A breathing monitor, also known as an apneoa alarm, which alerts you if your baby stops breathing
Surgical removal of the appendix
Acute inflammation of the appendix, requiring prompt medical attention. Left untreated, this can result in potentially life-threatening peritonitis.
A narrow, blind tube usually about three or four inches (7.6-10.2 cm) long that extends from the cecum in the lower right-hand part of the abdomen. The full medical term is ‘vermiform appendix’. (See also ‘cecum’.)
The dark circle of skin surrounding the nipple
Artificial Rupture of Membranes (ARM)
Also known as: Autistic spectrum disorder
A set of conditions, which have differing symptoms and degrees of severity, affecting brain function, especially with respect to communication and the formation of relationships with other people and the outside world. Symptoms of ASD usually appear in the first two years of life, should be considered as lifelong (although may in some individuals respond in part to therapy) and may include learning difficulties.
An analgesic, anti-inflammatory, fever-reducing drug.
Help with the second stage of labour if it is prolonged, if the baby is in distress or if pushing is not helping the baby’s progress. The risk of episiotomy or other intervention increases with an assisted delivery. See also ‘intervention’.
An allergic disease which affects the airways, causing wheezing and/or difficulty with breathing. Affects individuals to varying degrees, and can be triggered by various allergens. Mild attacks can be treated at home, but a severe attack can require hospital treatment and, in extreme circumstances, may even prove fatal.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
A foreign national offering subsidised childcare in return for bed and board in the family home, and the opportunity to learn the indigenous language.
Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)
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