Pregnancy Terms Cheat Sheet

Glucose Screening Test to Triple Screen

Glucose screening test

Imagine taking a cup of orange soda, boiling out most of the water, and then stirring in a tablespoon of sugar. This is what you drink to find out if you might have gestational diabetes. If there's an elevated amount of sugar in your blood an hour after you drink the stuff, you take a glucose tolerance test, which involves fasting and even yuckier syrup.

Height of fundus

The top of your uterus is the fundus. When the doctor presses on your belly like she's making dough, she's looking for it. Then, in this high-tech world of 4-D sonograms, she'll pull out a regular old measuring tape and size you up as if to make some clothing alterations. What she's really checking is that you and the baby are growing at a good rate.

Incompetent cervix

The somewhat cruel term for a cervix that opens too soon, leading to a premature birth or miscarriage. Once you know you have one, your doctor can take steps to help keep the baby inside.


Peeing in your pants. Blame baby, who rests on your bladder.

Linea nigra

"The dark line that's running from your belly button on down" must be too much of a mouthful, so it's named the linea nigra, Latin for "black line." It's actually always there, but (like your nipples) darkens considerably during pregnancy.

Mucus plug

A thick blob of mucus plugs up the opening to your uterus. As your labor draws near, the plug might fall out. Most women never even see it (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your level of squeamishness and interest).


During pregnancy, you grow not only a new human being but an entirely new and temporary organ, the placenta. This round, flat, blood-rich organ is how oxygen and nutrients flow from you to the baby, and waste and carbon dioxide flow from baby to you. One side of the placenta attaches to the wall of your uterus, and the umbilical cord attaches to the other. The placenta comes out shortly after baby does, and when you see it, you might be astonished at how huge it is.

Placenta previa

In about 1 of every 200 women, the placenta either fully or partially covers the opening of the uterus, blocking baby's exit. There's a good chance that it will correct itself if you still have months to go. But if the placenta continues to cover the opening at the end of pregnancy, you'll have a cesarean birth.


Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure that's dangerous for you. It's why your doctor checks your blood pressure at every prenatal visit.

Stripping the membranes

Doesn't this sound like cleaning a fish? Actually, it's a way to encourage labor. If you're overdue, your doctor can take her finger and run it around the inside of your cervix to detach the amniotic sac. Some women go into labor a few hours later; others (like me) can be stripped and, 10 days later, are still pregnant.

Triple screen

By the time you're reading this, you've probably already had it. It's a blood test done early in the second trimester that checks for chromosomal abnormalities and neural tube defects. But know this: A positive reading doesn't mean anything's wrong. It just means there's an elevated risk, and your doctor will want to discuss further testing.

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