HatchPedia

From Amnio to Zygote, peep our glossary of all the pregnancy and birth-related terms you never knew existed, 'til now.

Pap Smear

/pap· smeer/

This test looks for changes to cells in the cervix that could lead to cervical cancer if left untreated. A Pap Smear is a routine part of OBGYN visits, and you'll probably have one at your first prenatal appointment. It's important to continue getting Pap smears once you're expecting, for the same reasons you get tested annually or every other year.

PCOS

/pee·see·oh·es/

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition among women of fertility age that occurs when their ovaries produce higher than normal levels of the male hormone, androgen. This can lead to irregular periods as well as affect a woman’s overall fertility. Symptoms vary from woman to woman, but infrequent menstruation is the most common, followed by excess body hair, acne or male-patterned baldness. If you've been TTC for a year and have any of these symptoms, visit a reproductive endocrinologist who can lead you on the best course of action.

Pelvic Floor

/pel·vik· flohr/

This group of muscles in the floor of the pelvic area support the organs in the pelvis, and some form a sling around the rectum and vagina. They’re stretched out and overused during pregnancy, so doing exercises like kegels are essential for strengthening during and after pregnancy. They’ll help you recover after a vaginal birth as well.

Perineal Massage

/per·uh·nee·uh·l· muh·sahj/

Perineal massage, which is often recommended by midwives, is natural method used to protect the perineum from tearing or needing to be cut during labor. The technique involves massaging and stretching the perineum during the second stage of labor, however it has not been medically proven to be effective.

PGD or PGS Testing

/pee·gee·dee· ohr· pee·gee·es· test·ing/

PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) is the process of removing a cell from an in-vitro fertilization embryo to test it for a specific genetic condition (cystic fibrosis or a genetic disorder you may be a carrier for) before transferring the embryo to the uterus. PGS (preimplantation genetic screening), however, is the catch-all term for testing for overall chromosomal normalcy in embryos as opposed to a specific disease. Both types of testing improve your chances of having a healthy baby, so ask your fertility doctor which test is right for you.

Pitocin

/pit·o·sin/

This is the synthetic version of oxytocin that's used in some situations to help begin the labor process. During the end of pregnancy, a woman usually releases oxytocin, which stimulates the muscles of her uterus to begin contracting and start the process of labor. In some cases, pitocin can be useful when a mother in labor is experiencing weak contractions or if the labor isn't progressing normally. Pitocin is administered intravenously and can start having a chemical effect in the mother's body after about 30 minutes. However, it's hard to tell when exactly a mother will go into labor after being induced by pitocin. The desired outcome in using pitocin is the onset of contractions that will gradually help to dilate the cervix and prepare for labor.

Placenta Accreta

/pluh·sent·tuh· uh·kreetuh/

This serious pregnancy condition occurs when the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall. In normal birthing circumstances, the placenta detaches from the uterine wall soon after delivery. With placenta accreta, part or all of the placenta remains attached. This can cause severe blood loss after delivery. Placenta accreta is considered a high-risk pregnancy complication. If the condition is diagnosed during pregnancy, you'll likely need an early C-section delivery followed by the surgical removal of your uterus (hysterectomy). Placenta accreta tends to be related to abnormalities in the uterine lining, typically due to scarring after a C-section or other uterine surgery, but sometimes placenta accreta occurs on its own.

Placenta Pills

/pluh·sen·tuh· pil·s/

This is the practice of ingesting the placenta (which is delivered or removed after birth depending on what kind of delivery you have) after it has been steamed, dehydrated, ground and made into swallowable pills. Generally these capsules are taken by the mother and has been practiced in Chinese medicine for centuries. Their benefits are not proven and doctors have warned against the practice saying it could cause infection.

Placenta Previa

/pluh·sen·tuh· pre·vee·uh/

This condition occurs when the placenta partly or completely covers the cervix, or the opening of the uterus instead of at the top of the uterus. The danger occurs during labor as your cervix can cause blood vessels connecting the placenta to the uterus to tear. This can lead to bleeding and put both you and baby at risk. Nearly all women who have this condition, which occurs in 1 out of every 200 pregnancies, will have to have a C-section. Your doctor will monitor you and diagnose via ultrasound.

Postpartum Depression

/pohst·pahr·tuh·m· dih·presh·uhn/

Many new mothers experience normal baby blues after childbirth (hello mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping), especially within a few days post delivery and lasting up to a few weeks. Others struggle with a more serious, seemingly endless form of depression called postpartum depression (or PPAD for postpartum anxiety disorder). Symptoms include uncontrollable sobbing, trouble bonding with baby, fatigue, loss of appetite, intense anger, fear and hopelessness, panic attacks and thoughts of death of suicide. This form of depression has garnered media attention in recent years as celebrities such as Brooke Shields, Chrissy Teigen, Drew Barrymore, Serena Williams and Adele have shed light on this debilitating issue. Talk to your doctor, midwife or therapist for help if you feel any of these symptoms.

Postpartum Hemorrhage

/pohst·pahr·tuh·m· hem·er·ij/

A postpartum hemorrhage ( PPH) is when a woman has heavy bleeding usually within 24 hours after giving birth. It can be serious. PPH can cause a severe drop in blood pressure and needs to be treated in a hospital immediately, often with blood transfusions. There are many factors that can cause them, from a c-section to very long or very short labor to serious tearing or blood conditions. In a U.S. hospital setting, you are likely to make a full recovery if treated immediately. In developing countries, hemorrhages are the cause of 27% of maternal deaths as women don’t have access to proper medical treatment.

Preeclampsia

/pree·i·klamp·see·uh/

A potentially dangerous pregnancy complication that causes high blood pressure, kidney damage, and LOTS of other problems. Preeclampsia is considered a life-threatening condition that impacts about five percent of pregnant women in the US. What makes it so scary is that you may not even experience any symptoms, but your doctor should be screening you for it at your prenatal visits.

Preeclampsia commonly starts in the last trimester, but it can happen at any time later in pregnancy, even during labor, or up to six weeks following delivery. It can become severe quickly or progress slowly. If left untreated, it can lead to dangerous health problems for you and your baby. Preeclampsia causes the blood vessels to constrict, resulting in high blood pressure and a reduced blood flow that can affect organs in the body, ie the liver, kidneys, and brain. These changes cause small blood vessels to "leak" fluid into tissues, which can result in swelling. When these tiny blood vessels in the kidneys leak, protein from the bloodstream spills into urine. Bottom line is it’s dangerous.

Most women who get preeclampsia develop it near their due date and are TOTALLY FINE. But the earlier you develop the condition, and the more severe it is, the greater the risk is for you and your babe as preeclampsia raises the chance of serious complications. Not to stress it, but that's why some women may need to deliver early if the condition is severe or getting worse.

Premature/Preterm Labor

/pree·muh·choo·r· pree·turm· ley·ber/

Preterm labor is defined as delivering your baby before 37 weeks. Some preterm babies are born intentionally early due to health conditions (i.e. preeclampsia or growth issues), while others are known as spontaneous preterm births. Whether or not your baby survives preterm labor depends on how close they are to the full term/40 week mark. Premature babies born between 34 and 37 weeks are usually OK, although they’re still at an elevated risk for short and long-term problems compared to babies born full term. On the flip side are the babies who are born extremely premature. These days, some babies born as early as 24 weeks have a great chance of surviving, but these extremely preterm infants require significant medical interventions and long stays in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).

Prenatal Depression

/pree·neyt·l· dih·presh·uhn/

Though less common than postpartum depression, prenatal depression occurs during pregnancy in 14-23% of women and causes anxiety, mood swings and sadness. It’s important to check in with your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression because if left untreated, it can cause complications in your pregnancy and health issues for mom and baby.

Prenatal Visits

/pree·neyt·l· viz·it·s/

Your first appointment with a healthcare provider should be at around 8 weeks after your last period, or as soon as you know you’re pregnant. At the appointment, your doctor will check your medical history and perform a physical exam, ie a pap smear, cervical culture and possibly an ultrasound if you’re far along enough. She’ll also draw blood and run several tests, including hemoglobin, RH Factor and blood type, Rubella screening + other vaccination screenings, Hepatitis B and C testing and an array of genetic testing, if you haven’t had them done already. She’ll also check you for HIV.

She’s also going to break down your new very healthy new habits, such as dental care (hello floss) and prenatal vitamins, pregnancy safe exercise and diet, nutrition and weight gain details. She’ll go into ALL of your commonly asked questions like travel, working out, headaches, sex, nausea + risks of miscarriage.

You might want to bring along a series of questions, such as whether there’s a nurse line to call if you have questions, what they consider an emergency, and what kinds of testing they recommend. You may also want to get their thoughts on various forms of pain medications, cesarean rates, what situations would lead to an episiotomy or labor induction and how long they’ll let you go past your due date. Take your time and get the answers you need.

Prenatal Vitamins

/pree·neyt·l· vahy·tuh·min·z/

Prenatal vitamins are a non-negotiable when it comes to prenatal care. They’re stocked full of vitamins + nutrients that are essential for healthy fetus development, like folic acid, calcium and iron - each at increased levels you can’t produce on your own. But if combing the vitamin aisle at CVS has your stressin’, know that prenatal vitamins can vary greatly in price, brand + nutritional focus. To get the full breakdown, check in with your doctor in determining the right option for you.

Preterm Labor

/pree·turm· ley·ber/

Defined as delivering your baby before 37 weeks, some preterm babies are born intentionally early due to health conditions (i.e. preeclampsia or growth issues), while others are known as spontaneous preterm births. Whether or not your baby survives preterm labor depends on how close they are to the “full term” 40 weeks. Premature babies born between 34 and 37 weeks are usually OK, although they’re still at an elevated risk for short and long-term problems compared to babies born full term. On the flip side are the babies who are born extremely premature. These days, some babies born as early as 24 weeks have a great chance of surviving, but these extremely preterm infants require significant medical interventions and long stays in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).

Pruritic Urticarial Papules

/proo·rahy·tik· ur·ti·kair·ee·uhl· pap·yools/

Also known as the plaques of pregnancy, this itchy rash appears as small, pink pimples in stretch marks on the stomach during late pregnancy. The rash is triggered by the stretching of the skin, and it’s more common with first pregnancies and when you’re carrying multiples. It affects 1 in 150 pregnancies. PUPPP usually begins on the abdomen and its hive-like spots can spread to other extremities within a few days, like the butt, thighs, arms and legs. A PUPPP rash can be very itchy, especially at night. While your healthcare provider may prescribe a topical steroid or antihistamine, the most common relief is giving birth.

Pruritic Urticarial Papules

/proo·rahy·tuk· ur·ti·kair·ee·uh·l· pap·yool·s/

Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) is an itchy rash that appears as small, pink pimples in stretch marks of the stomach during late pregnancy. The rash is triggered by the stretching of the skin and it’s more common with first pregnancies and when you’re carrying multiples. It affects 1 in 150 pregnancies and while it starts around the belly button, it often spreads and may form large, red, scaly patches (think psoriasis). It can be treated with topicals like steroids, creams and oral medication but it shouldn’t harm baby in any way.