Labor & Delivery Terminology
The labor and delivery process is the most emotional, nerve wracking, exciting, overwhelming and, more than anything, confusing day of your journey. After all, your entire life is about to change forever! Here’s a look at a few of the terms that you may hear flying around during the hours that lead up to the birth of your child.
Show– Also referred to as the “bloody show” is when the softened cervix begins to open, thus rupturing tiny blood vessels and leading to blood tinged mucous. This is also known as the mucous plug. This is usually indicative on the onset of early labor.
Dilation– A term used to measure the opening of the cervix. Through the process of labor the cervix will go from 1cm (the size of a Cheerio) to 10cm (The size of a sliced bagel)
Effacement- A term used to measure the softness of the cervix. Usually measured in percentage from 10-100% effaced.
Epidural– A popular form of pain management used in childbirth. A form of regional anesthesia, an epidural is administered through a small tube inserted into the back. The goal is to decrease sensation in the lower half of the body by blocking nerve impulses. More than 50% of laboring women will request this form of pain management.
Station– This refers to how far into the birth canal your baby’s head is located. The scale ranges from a -5 to a +5. Generally speaking, a -5 station is a baby that is not engaged at all, and a +5 station very engaged and preparing for delivery.
Meconium– The fetal waste that accumulates in a baby’s intestine during gestation. It is expelled during or shortly after birth and is greenish in color. If it is present at the time of birth members from the NICU may be called in for observation.
NICU– Short for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This is a hospital inside of the hospital for babies born either very premature or with serious health conditions.
Breech- The term given to the position of the baby when the buttocks or the feet are positioned to exit the vagina before the head.
Episiotomy- The procedure of cutting the thin skin (the perineum) between the vagina and the anus. The doctor may perform this procedure in the final stages of labor in order to enlarge the vaginal opening in preparation for delivery. This can help prevent excessive tearing