10 Words You Didn't Know Before Pregnancy (and What They Really Mean)

Pregnancy opens up a whole new vocabulary for expecting moms.  There is an abundance of information out there and no amount of books, or blog articles, can fully prepare you for every twist and turn of pregnancy. Here are a few terms you may come across during your pregnancy, and what they mean.

1. Fundus - You might find your OB measuring your fundal height during pregnancy.  Simply put, the fundus is the top of your uterus.  As your pregnancy progresses, it will rise out of your pelvis and expand.  Fundal height is the distance from your pelvic bone to the top of the uterus, in centimeters.  It is not an entirely accurate measurement of fetal growth and it seems that less and less health care providers are taking this measurement.

2. Neural Tube - The neural tube is a part of the embryo that eventually develops into the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.  Taking your prenatal vitamin daily and getting enough folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects such as Spina bifida.  This is why it's so important to start taking your prenatals as soon as you start trying to conceive or find out you're pregnant.

3. Quickening - This word means more than just going faster.  Quickening is the term that refers to the first flutters you will feel of baby's movements.  Many women compare it to feeling bubbles popping or butterflies fluttering.  These movements wont be regular at first, so enjoy them when you feel them!

4. Linea nigra - Have you noticed a dark line forming between your pubic bone and belly button or higher?  That's your Linea nigra.  This dark stripe varies from woman to woman in darkness, length and width.  Typically, this line gets darker as your pregnancy progresses and it is totally natural.  There is no way to prevent it and it should disappear soon after giving birth.

5. Preeclampsia - Ever wonder why you have to pee in a cup every time you visit your OB?  They are testing your urine for proteins which are an indicator of preeclampsia.  Preeclampsia is a serious condition which can even be fatal for mom and baby.  The only cure is giving birth.  Signs of preeclampsia are high blood pressure, sudden changes in vision, headaches, nausea, upper abdominal pain and proteins in the urine and the condition is often accompanied by sudden swelling of the hands and face.  If preeclampsia isn't controlled, it can turn into eclampsia which causes seizures and requires immediate delivery of the baby.  If you are concerned about preeclampsia at any time, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

6. Colostrum - That sticky substance leaking from your nipples during pregnancy, that's colostrum.  Colostrum is a nutrient and antibody packed substance that will feed and nourish your baby until your breast milk comes in. It is thick, sticky and yellow or orange in color.  Leaking while pregnant is perfectly normal and you won't run out before baby arrives.  You may want to wear breast pads to protect your bra and clothes though.

7. Mucus Plug - Yes, this one is exactly as gross as it sounds.  The mucus plug is an accumulation of mucus, developed in the first month of pregnancy, that seals the cervix and protects the fetus from infections that could otherwise enter through the cervix. Many women lose their mucus plug at some point in their pregnancy.  It looks like a giant disgusting booger and no I'm not going to post pictures.  You can google that nastiness yourself.  The passing of the mucus plug does not necessarily mean labor is imminent, the plug could regenerate and it could be several weeks before you go into labor.  If you think you may be in labor you should contact your healthcare provider.

8. Lanugo - Lanugo is a soft, downy hair that covers the baby's skin in the womb.  It usually appears around 5 months and sheds before baby is born.  Some of this hair may still be present at birth and that is nothing to worry about, as it will eventually shed on its own.  The function of the lanugo is to hold the vernix caseosa to the baby's skin, which we are getting to...

9. Vernix Caseosa - This is a waxy substance that coats the skin of a newborn before, and sometimes after, birth.  The vernix is an excellent moisturizer for baby's skin, protects his or her skin from the amniotic fluid and can help provide lubrication while going through the birth canal.

10. Effacement - As you near the end of your pregnancy, your OB may do regular cervical checks. They are checking for dilation and effacement.  Dilation is the opening of your cervix, while effacement is the thinning.  It is a way your cervix prepares for the birthing process.  As the baby drops lower into the pelvis, the cervix will soften, shorten and become thinner.  Effacement is measured in percentages, once you get to 100% effaced, baby might be coming at any moment. 

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About Coffee and Wine Mom

Maddi Casey is a muscle car driving, hard working mama who is obsessed with football and good beer. She has two beautiful baby girls and loving husband. Writing is a passion, hobby and sometimes career of hers at coffeeandwinemom.com. She is also passionate about animals, nature and entrepreneurship.
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