If you start thinking to conceive, there are a lot of medical terms that you need to learn. Here is a quick list of some medical abbreviations that you will often encounter during your pregnancy journey.
At the beginning of your journey, you will see your GP to discuss your plans to start a family. Your GP will likely order some tests, including:
FSH – Follicle-stimulating hormone:
This is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. It helps to regulate the menstrual cycle and is important for egg development.
LH – Luteinizing hormone:
This is another hormone produced by the pituitary gland. It also helps to regulate the menstrual cycle and is involved in ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary).
AMH – Anti-Müllerian hormone:
This hormone is produced by cells in the ovaries and is a good indicator of ovarian reserve (the number of eggs remaining in the ovaries).
Your GP may also recommend that you have a transvaginal ultrasound scan to assess your ovarian reserve. This involves inserting a small, sonar probe into the vagina in order to get a clear view of the ovaries. These hormones are important for ovulation and fertility.
Your GP may also recommend a transvaginal ultrasound to assess the health of your ovaries and uterus. This is a painless test where a small probe is placed inside the vagina. The ultrasound can show things like the size of your ovaries, the thickness of your uterine lining, and any problems with your pelvic organs.
If everything looks good, you will be given the green light to start trying for a baby!
Ovulation and conception
Once you start trying to conceive, you will be focused on ovulation – this is when your body releases an egg from your ovary. Ovulation usually happens around day 14 of your cycle, but it can vary from woman to woman. To increase your chances of conceiving, you should have sex around the time of ovulation. You can track ovulation using:
BBT – Basal body temperature charting:
You will need it to know when you ovulate.
You will need it to monitor your fertility hormones and predict when you ovulate.
OPKs – Ovulation predictor kits:
These methods can help you identify when you are about to ovulate. Once you know when you are ovulating, you can plan to have intercourse around that time.
Once the egg is released, it travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus. If sperm are present in the Fallopian tubes, fertilization may occur. The fertilized egg then implants into the uterine lining and pregnancy begins!
Your first pregnancy appointment
Around eight weeks after conception, you will have your first antenatal appointment. This is where you will be asked about your medical history and any current symptoms. The medical abbreviations you will need to know are:
BP – Blood pressure: Your blood pressure will be checked at every antenatal appointment. High blood pressure can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a condition that can be dangerous for both mother and baby.
Another abbreviation you will see is the fundal height (FH). This is a measure of the size of your uterus and can be used to estimate how many weeks pregnant you are. The measurement is taken from the top of your pubic bone to the top of your uterus (usually expressed in centimeters). You will also have a urine test at every antenatal appointment. This is to check for things like protein in the urine, which can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.
Around 12 weeks into your pregnancy, you will have your dating scan. This is an ultrasound scan that is used to confirm how many weeks pregnant you are and to check for any problems with the baby. At this appointment, you will also be offered the combined screening. Among abbreviations, this is the most important one, as it can help you to make decisions about your pregnancy.
The combined screening involves a blood test and an ultrasound scan. The blood test is taken between weeks 10 and 13 of pregnancy and measures two hormones – alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). These hormones are produced by the placenta and can be used to screen for certain birth defects, including Down syndrome.
The ultrasound scan is usually done between weeks 11 and 14 of pregnancy. This is to measure the nuchal translucency, which is the thickness of the skin at the back of the baby’s neck. A thick nuchal translucency (NT) is associated with an increased risk of Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities.
If the screening tests show that your baby is at high risk of a birth defect, you will be offered further testing, such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis. These are diagnostic tests that can confirm or rule out a diagnosis. CVS is usually carried out between weeks 10 and 12 of pregnancy and involves taking a sample of tissue from the placenta. This can be done either through the abdomen or vagina.
Amniocentesis is usually carried out between weeks 16 and 20 of pregnancy and involves taking a sample of the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. This is done by inserting a needle through the abdomen of a woman and into the uterus. As you can see, there are a lot of medical abbreviations that you need to know when you are pregnant. However, don’t worry – your doctor or midwife will be able to explain everything to you. Just ask if you need clarification on anything!
During the delivery
Another class of medical abbreviation you need to know for pregnancy is the class of obstetrical or perinatal terms. These are medical terms that are related to the pregnant woman and her child during the delivery.
Some of the most common obstetrical/perinatal terms include:
APGAR score: A score given to newborns immediately after birth, assessing their physical condition. The five components measured are heart rate, respiratory effort, muscle tone, reflex response, and color.
Bishop score: A scoring system used to predict how likely it is that a pregnant woman will go into labor spontaneously within the next 24 hours. It takes into account cervical dilation, effacement (thinning), station (position of the baby's head in the pelvis), and consistency.
Dilation: Refers to the opening of the cervix.
Effacement: Refers to the thinning of the cervix.
Station: Refers to the position of the baby's head in relation to the woman's pelvis.
Water breaking: Refers to the rupture of membranes, or when the sac containing amniotic fluid breaks open before labor begins. This usually happens just before or during labor.
Episiotomy: A surgical incision made in the perineum (the area between the vagina and anus) to enlarge the vaginal opening for delivery.
Forceps: A type of instrument used during delivery to help guide the baby out of the birth canal.
Vacuum extractor: A type of instrument used during delivery to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. It consists of a cup that is placed over the baby's head, and a vacuum pump that creates suction.
These are just a few of the many medical terms you may come across during your pregnancy. Be sure to ask your doctor or midwife if you have any questions about what they mean.
After giving birth to a baby
Medical abbreviation you need to know when you have already given birth to a baby.
PPD: Postpartum Depression
This is a form of depression that can occur after having a baby. It is important to be aware of the symptoms so that you can get treatment if you need it. This term is often abbreviated as "PPD."
C-section: Cesarean section
This is a surgical procedure in which the baby is delivered through an incision in the mother's abdomen. It can be abbreviated as "C-section" or "cesarean section." This is also sometimes called a "caesarian section."
Dilation and curettage (D&C):
This is a procedure in which the cervix is dilated and the uterine lining is removed. It can be abbreviated as "D&C." This is often done after a miscarriage or an abortion.
This is a type of pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside of the uterus. It can be dangerous and needs to be treated immediately. This term is often abbreviated as "ectopic pregnancy."
Fetal distress (FT):
This is a condition in which the baby is not getting enough oxygen. It can be dangerous and needs to be treated immediately. This term is often abbreviated as "fetal distress."
Gestational diabetes (GD):
This is a type of diabetes that can occur during pregnancy. It can be dangerous if it is not controlled. This term is often abbreviated as "gestational diabetes."
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG):
This is a condition in which a woman has severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It can be dangerous if it is not treated. This term is often abbreviated as “hyperemesis gravidarum.”
What are some common abbreviations on pregnancy forums?
If you visit any pregnancy forum, you're bound to come across some medical abbreviations. Here are 10 of the most common ones you'll see:
- EDD - Estimated Due Date - this is when your baby is expected to be born
- BFP - Big Fat Positive - a positive pregnancy test
- DPO - Days Past Ovulation - the number of days since you ovulated
- TTC - Trying to Conceive - when couples are actively trying to get pregnant
- HPT - Home Pregnancy Test - a test that you can take at home to confirm your pregnancy
- OBGYN - Obstetrician/Gynecologist - your doctor who specializes in women's health and pregnancy
- LMP - Last Menstrual Period - used to calculate your due date
- AF - Aunt Flo or menstruation/period known by any other name
- BG - Blood Glucose - often monitored by pregnant women with diabetes
- Ultrasound - a scan performed during pregnancy to check on the baby's development that uses sound waves
So there you have it - a quick rundown of 10 common medical abbreviations you're likely to see on pregnancy forums. Now you can join in on the conversation without feeling lost!
Parents chats and forums - other abbreviations
When you are already a parent, or you are trying to become one, it is important to be in the know about all things related to pregnancy. This includes medical terms and abbreviations. Here are some that you may come across during your early parenting period:
KMFX - keep my fingers crossed
AF - another day
L&D - labor and delivery
BFP - big fat positive (pregnancy test)
EBF - exclusively breastfed
PMA - positive mental attitude
During breastfeeding, you may also see or hear the following abbreviations:
NIP - nipples in public
FED - food, every day
BM - bowel movement
WIC - women, infants, and children (supplemental nutrition program)
PPD - postpartum depression
IUGR - intrauterine growth restriction
TMI - too much information
When you already have a toddler, there are also many medical abbreviations to know:
ADHD - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
OT - occupational therapist
PT - physical therapist
ASD - autism spectrum disorder
SPD - sensory processing disorder
Now that you know some of the most common medical abbreviations, you can join in on the conversation with other parents without feeling lost!
From the day you conceive till the day your baby is delivered there are a lot of medical terms and abbreviations that you need to know. Understanding these terms will help you better communicate with your healthcare team and understand your pregnancy journey.