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10 Medical Terms Often Heard In The Delivery Room

There are many ways that expectant moms prepare for giving birth. They take childbirth classes and read up on pain management techniques. It’s so important to be mentally prepared when heading into labor to help ease anxiety. That’s why we’ve compiled a collection of terms that are often overheard in the maternity ward.

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Some of these words may be commonly known but we covered everything from the first contraction to the APGAR score a baby is given after birth. This way, a new mom can be prepared and there won’t be any surprises. Please enjoy this list of 10 medical terms often heard in the delivery room.

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10 Dilation

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It’s normal for an expectant mom to have fears about giving birth but knowing terms you might hear in the delivery room will make you feel more at ease. One word that you’ll more than likely hear from your obstetrician is dilation.

Dilation is when a woman’s cervix gradually opens before giving birth. The healthcare staff will track how your labor is progressing by measuring how wide your cervix is at each stage of labor. Your cervix is measured in 1 cm increments.

When you reach 10 cm, you’ll be fully dilated, and will have completed the third stage of labor.

9 Station

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Another term that doctors and nurses use often in the delivery room is your baby’s “station”. This is one way that the medical team describes how far your baby’s head has moved into your pelvis. Simply put, it’s a method for them to keep track of how your little one is moving into the birth canal.

The station is determined by the doctor examining your cervix, finding the lowest part of your baby’s presenting part, and measuring in centimeters how far it’s descended. A number is then assigned, ranging from -5 to +5, to keep track of where your baby is located.

8 Cephalic Presentation

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As you reach the end of the third trimester, there are several questions that you’ll want to ask your doctor before labor and delivery. One subject that you will discuss as your due date draws near is what fetal position your baby is in within your uterus. It’s so important to know how your baby is presenting.

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The ideal scenario is a cephalic presentation, which is the safest position for a baby to present before birth. This simply means they are facing head-down, chin tucked in and facing the mother’s back. Hopefully, the baby will be settled into this position by the last few weeks of pregnancy.

7 Induction

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Another term that can be overheard both in the delivery room and your doctor’s office is labor induction. This is when contractions are stimulated before labor has begun to kickstart a vaginal birth. There are several medical reasons to induce labor such as post-term pregnancy, high blood pressure, or if your water has broken but labor stalls.

Some women choose to have an elective induction, which means that an expectant woman who doesn’t need a medical intervention has an induction. There are several methods to induce including synthetic prostaglandins, rupturing the amniotic sac, or intravenous medication to stimulate uterine contractions.

6 Effacement

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Your body works hard to prepare to give birth and effacement is one term that you will surely hear the delivery room staff discuss with you. This is just a fancy way of saying that your cervix is thinning in preparation for delivery.

The staff will measure your progress in percentages. You’ll be halfway through the process at 50% and by the time your 100% effaced, it will be time to start pushing. More than likely, you’ll hear this term during your check-ups with your doctor as your due date gets closer. Many women begin effacing a few days before they start active la

5 Transition

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You will also probably hear the word “transition” while you’re in the delivery room. This is the final phase of the first stage of labor when the cervix opens from 7 cm to 10 cm. It’s an important step that means that the baby will soon begin the descent into the birth canal.

Many women feel like this is the most intense stage of labor but the good news is that it generally moves pretty fast in typical labor. Transition can last anywhere from minutes to about an hour. Either way, it’s an exciting shift and a good sign that delivery is probably coming soon.

4 Crowning

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Another term that is often overheard in the delivery room during vaginal birth is “crowning”. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this is when the cervix finally completes dilating and the baby’s head appears through the birth canal.

It’s also known as the “ring of fire”, thanks to the burning sensation that many women feel when the baby becomes visible through the vaginal opening. It can be uncomfortable but it’s a pivotal moment. This is the final stage before pushing and an exciting time in delivery. It means that you’re one step closer to finally meeting your baby!

3 Episiotomy

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We’re going to be honest, there is one word that you might hear in the delivery room that can be a bit daunting. An episiotomy is when an incision is made along the perineum (the skin between the vagina and the anus) to prevent vaginal tearing during birth.

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It’s performed to quickly create a larger opening for the baby to pass through during the second stage of labor. There are ways to prepare your body for a vaginal delivery to help prevent an episiotomy. Perineal massage is a technique where a woman manually massages her perineum to stretch out her pelvic floor.

2 Meconium

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One term that the doctor might say to you during childbirth is meconium. This is the first stool that a baby passes and is comprised of all sorts of fluids they ingested during their time in the womb. It’s a black, sticky substance, so don’t be alarmed if their first diaper change looks a bit strange.

Meconium often is discussed in the delivery room because sometimes babies pass meconium while they are in the womb, creating an inhalation and aspiration danger for the baby. It usually only happens if a baby is in distress or is born well beyond their due date.

1 APGAR Test

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There are many maternity terms that expectant moms learn during the course of their pregnancy but there are a few words you should know before heading into the delivery room. An APGAR score is a method for testing the health of a newborn.

Soon after your baby is born, a nurse will swoop in to quickly access them. This is a routine procedure and really isn’t anything to fret about. They’ll check your newborn’s heart rate, reflexes, and other determining factors to assign them a score. They often perform the test one minute after birth and then again at five minutes.

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