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Meconium, colostrum, breech – common pregnancy terms demystified

Pregnancy can be an overwhelming time. Expectants mums and dads have a lot to contend with – not only mentally preparing for a new addition to the family, but also the nuts and bolts like getting the nursery prepared, packing a hospital bag, organising a buggy and all the other crucial bits and pieces to consider.

The last thing you need at this time is jargon to wade through! With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at some of the most common pregnancy lingo and demystified it.

Amniotic fluid

This is the fluid that surrounds the baby inside the womb. It also helps the baby learn to breathe and swallow. 

 Braxton-Hicks contraction

Also known as practice contractions, these can start in the second trimester but are more often felt in the third trimester. These pains are often mistaken for the onset of labour. 

Breech

A breech birth is when a baby is born bottom-first or feet-first instead of head-first. A baby in the breech position may be delivered by C-section. 

Colostrum

Colostrum is the first breast milk produced in pregnancy. It contains many nutrients and also produces a laxative effect to encourage meconium in the newborn baby (more on this later in this article). 

Engaged

When you hear about a baby’s head engaging, it means how far into your pelvis the baby’s head has moved. This happens later in pregnancy, when delivery is coming closer. 

Forceps

Obstetrical forceps are used to move along delivery that is not progressing adequately. It is an alternative to ventouse or C-Section delivery techniques. These techniques are often used in cases of prolonged second stage labour.

Mastitis

This is an infection of the breast tissue that occurs most frequently in women who are breastfeeding their baby. It results in tenderness, pain and swelling.

Meconium

As mentioned above in relation to colostrum, meconium is the first bowel movement of a newborn. It is a dark olive green colour and unlike other bowel movements but is nothing to be alarmed about. It passes within a few days of the baby’s birth.

Ventouse

Also known vacuum extraction (VE) or vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery. This is used in labours that are not progressing adequately in lieu of forceps or a C-Section. It is often used in cases of prolonged second stage labour.

Pregnancy and parenthood are a learning curve. If you’re ever concerned, don’t hesitate to ask your GP, midwife or doctor for clarification on any terms you’re not sure about. 

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