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Definitions: Maternity/Delivery Terms to Know


Analgesia Medication used to decrease the sensation of pain.

Anesthesia: A medication or other agent is used to cause a loss of feeling. With General Anesthesia, a gas or intravenous medication is used to make the mother unconscious during delivery. With Spinal Anesthesia, a drug is injected into the lower spinal area to numb the vaginal region. With Epidural Anesthesia: a drug is given through a fine tube inserted in the mother's lower back to numb the vaginal area and lower abdomen. With Paracervical Anesthesia: a drug is injected into the cervix (opening of the womb) to relieve the pain of labor.

Augmentation of Labor : A drug is used to help labor contractions continue or become stronger.

Birthing Room: An in-hospital arrangement in which labor, birth and  immediate recovery after birth all occur in the same room. In some hospitals, it's called an "LDR" or "LDRP."

Breech Birth: A birth in which the infant's buttocks and/or feet enter the birth canal first.

Cesarean: A surgical operation in which the baby is delivered Section through incisions (cuts) made in the mother's abdomen and uterus. A Primary Cesarean Section is a mother's first, even if she has given birth vaginally before. A Repeat Cesarean Section is when a mother has had a previous cesarean section/s.

Episiotomy: An incision (cut) sometimes made to enlarge the vaginal opening.

Fetal Electronic Monitoring: recording of contractions and the baby's heartbeat.

External Fetal Monitoring: involves the use of small instruments held in place or the mother's abdomen by belts.

Internal Fetal Monitoring involves inserting a small tube with a fine wire into the uterus and attaching the wire to the baby's scalp. Also, a soft tube may be placed along side of the baby's head to measure contractions.

Forceps Spoon-shaped Delivery: instruments called forceps, are used to help deliver the baby's head. In a Low Forceps Delivery the instruments are not used until the baby's head has moved through the pelvis. In a Mid Forceps Delivery, the instruments are used before the baby's head has moved through the pelvis.

Medical Induction of Labor: A medication is used to start labor contractions.

Nurse Midwife: A registered nurse who has had specialized midwifery training to care for women and babies during pregnancy childbirth, and after birth.

Rooming-In: An arrangement in which the mother and infant are cared for in the same room for all or a substantial part of the day.

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Section (VBAC): The mother has had a cesarean section previously, but delivers this baby vaginally.


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