Premature Labor

Premature Labor: Glossary

Here are definitions of medical terms related to premature labor:

Braxton Hicks Contractions: Normal contractions of the uterus, usually painless, in which it tightens and becomes hard.

Cesarean Section: A surgical method of delivering a baby through an abdominal incision in the uterus.

Cerclage: A stitch put around the cervix to help prevent preterm delivery.

Cervix: The lower part of the uterus, often referred to as the neck of the uterus.

Diethylstilbestrol (DES): A synthetic estrogen given to millions of pregnant women between 1938 and 1971 because it was thought to prevent miscarriages. It is no longer used for that purpose.

Eclampsia: A severe form of pre-eclampsia, resulting in coma or seizures.

Episiotomy: A surgical incision in the perineum (the muscular areas between the vagina and anus) used to facilitate delivery.

Fetal Fibronectin: A protein found in fetal membranes and amniotic fluid.

Intrauterine Growth Retardation: A condition in which the fetus weighs less than 10 percent of what it should for its gestational age.

Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU): A specialized unit of the hospital equipped to treat preterm infants.

Neonatologist: A specialist trained in treating and caring for preterm infants.

Pre-eclampsia: Also called toxemia; an illness that occurs during late pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, swelling of the hands, feet and face, and large amounts of protein in the urine.

Premature labor: Also preterm labor; labor occurring before 37 full weeks of pregnancy.

Preterm Labor: Also premature labor; labor occurring before 37 full weeks of pregnancy.

Preterm Premature Rupture of the Membranes (PPROM): When the amniotic sac ruptures prior to the 37th week of pregnancy.

Protaglandin: A hormone-like substance that causes uterine contractions.

Terbutaline: Also known as Breathine; a tocolytic medication that can be used to relax the uterus and reduce contractions.

Tocolytic: Medication that relaxes the uterus to reduce contractions.

Magnesium sulfate: A tocolytic medication used to relax the uterus and reduce contractions.

Transvaginal ultrasound: A method of imaging the pelvic region in which an ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina.

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