Pregnancy Terms Cheat Sheet

When pregnant, it's not enough to learn where all the available bathrooms are and how to tie your shoes with that belly. You need to learn a new language: doctor-speak.

Amniotic Fluid to Due Date

Amniotic fluid

What your baby is more or less swimming in for nine months. When your water breaks, it's the amniotic fluid that gushes -- or more likely trickles -- out.

Anatomy scan

Halfway through pregnancy (somewhere around 20 weeks), you'll get this, also known as a level 2 ultrasound. It's your chance to find out if you're having a boy or girl! The sonographer also measures the baby's length and head size, and checks for the development of organs, such as the heart and lungs.

Birth plan

A document you write and then share with your doctor, explaining your preferences for the birth. Just don't think you'll always get what you want. My first birth plan called for a natural water birth with special music in the background. Ha! My second just kept reiterating what drugs I'm allergic to.

Braxton Hicks

Practice contractions that can drive a pregnant woman crazy. You can distinguish them from actual labor only because they don't get stronger or closer together.


Thin milk, rich in proteins and antibodies, produced during pregnancy. Why would you ever see it? If your pregnant breasts... leak. Eeek!

Cord blood

Baby's umbilical cord has blood stem cells that could help someone else overcome a disease. You can pay (hundreds of dollars) to have it collected and stored for family members, or you can donate it to a public bank. Either has to be arranged in advance.


A Doppler fetal monitor picks up baby's heartbeat. Your doctor moves a handheld device across your belly until she finds a whooshing sound (your blood) and a horsey clip-clopping sound (baby's heart!).

Due date

The date that baby might arrive. Big emphasis on "might." It's not like baby has a calendar in there.

Pregnancy Month by Month: Month 1
Pregnancy Month by Month: Month 1

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