22 medical terms every expectant father should know

APGAR, meconium and colostrum? During pregnancy and childbirth, you will be confronted with numerous medical terms that every expectant father should know. This page provides a list of the key terms.

 
 
APGAR
The APGAR test is used to assess how the newborn has responded to their new environment one, five and ten minutes after they are born. The test has five different criteria (skin colour, heart rate, reflexes, breathing and muscular tone) measured on a scale of 0-2 points. After the ten-minute APGAR test, most babies will reach the maximum score of 10 points.    
Amniorrhexis    

This term refers to the bursting of the amniotic sac, i.e. when a woman’s “water breaks”. The amniotic fluid may drip or rush out all at once. Amniorrhexis often occurs during the dilation stage (between start of labour to full dilation of the cervix) and the pushing stage (between complete dilation of the cervix and full birth). Some women already experience this before the onset of labour, however. This is referred to as premature amniorrhexis. If this happens, labour will be induced artificially after waiting a certain amount of time.
If the amniotic sac has ruptured, pregnant women should immediately go to the hospital, because the risk of infection increases at this point. 

Bonding
Bonding refers to the early stage during which the newborn forms a bond with mother and/or father. After the mother has given birth, the baby is placed directly on the mother’s bare skin, so that the baby can smell her scent, hear the familiar heartbeat and voices, and feel the warmth of her skin. Fathers can also be involved in the bonding stage by holding the newborn against their bare chest. 
CTG/cardiotocography    
A woman usually undergoes this examination toward the end of the pregnancy. The midwife will use an instrument to measure the heartbeat of the unborn child, the mother’s labour activity and the child’s response to it. The examination can determine whether the unborn child has an adequate oxygen supply. A CTG is completely painless and harmless both to the mother and the child.    
Postnatal care for families    
During the postnatal period for families, the brand-new father will come to the hospital to support the mother and stay with her and the newborn overnight (this is only possible in private rooms with a second bed, however).    
Amniotic fluid    
The amniotic sac is filled with amniotic fluid that completely envelops the embryo/foetus. The amniotic fluid is the ideal environment for the unborn child to move around in. The amniotic fluid also provides protection against external forces.  
Amniotic puncture/amniocentesis    
This is the term used to describe the testing of the amniotic fluid carried out between the 14th and 18th week of pregnancy to identify any chromosome abnormalities. It is particularly recommended for women whose unborn children are at a greater risk of having chromosomal defects (e.g. Down syndrome). This risk increases, for example, if there any abnormalities were found during the first trimester test, if the woman is over the age of 35 or if there is a hereditary disposition for a certain disease. 
Caesarean section    
This procedure involves giving the mother spinal anaesthesia and performing an incision in the abdomen and uterus to remove the child. A caesarean section is usually performed when a normal vaginal birth is impossible.    
Vernix caseosa    
The vernix caseosa is a sort of white “protective layer” covering the entire surface of the baby’s body during pregnancy. It protects the baby’s skin from drying out and contains antibacterial agents to protect against infections. At the end of the pregnancy, or shortly before childbirth, only some of it remains.    
Meconium    
This is a newborn’s first bowel movement, which occurs in the first 12-48 hours after it is born. Meconium is not an actual product of digestion, but consists of amniotic fluid, bile, skin cells, hair and other components. Meconium is blackish green and odourless. 
Latent phase    
This phase is also referred to as the first phase of childbirth. The contractions prepare the cervix for the dilation needed to give birth to the child. Contractions during the latent phase are rather brief, but they can be painful, without having much of an effect on the cervix. The latent phase can last many hours and be very tiring for the pregnant woman. 
Lactogenesis    
Lactogenesis refers to the phase after childbirth when the breasts begin to produce breast milk instead of colostrum. Lactogenesis starts around two to four days after giving birth. The woman might feel tenderness, sensitivity or pain in her breasts. Every woman experiences lactogenesis differently. 
Cervix    
During pregnancy, the opening of the cervix narrows, among other things, to prevent germs from penetrating the uterus. During labour, the cervix begins to dilate. For childbirth, the cervix must be dilated to ten centimetres. 
Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA)    
This is one of the latest pain relief methods available to women giving birth. During childbirth, the woman in labour can push a button to administer a painkiller (Remifentanil) intravenously through a programmed syringe pump. 
The drug takes effect and is metabolised very quickly in the body, so it is safe for both the mother and child. Not all hospitals offer this method yet, and it requires additional monitoring of the mother. 
Epidural anaesthesia (PDA)    
PDA involves the insertion of a very thin plastic tube between two vertebrae in the lower part of the spine near the spinal meninges. A local anaesthetic can then be administered via this tube. PDA is used when the mother experiences extreme pain during labour. PDA blocks the sensation of pain in the abdomen, legs, and feet. 
Placenta 
The placenta is affixed to the inner wall of the uterus and is connected by the umbilical cord to the newborn’s belly button. The placenta supplies the foetus with nutrients and oxygen. The placenta is also referred to as the afterbirth and is expelled shortly after the birth.  
Rooming-in
Rooming-in gives the mother and her newborn child the chance to be together in the same room right after giving birth and during postnatal recovery. The mother usually takes care of the baby with the aid of the midwife or nurse. 
Natural birth    
A “natural” birth refers to a normal vaginal birth, without the use of a suction cup, forceps or caesarean section.    
Trimesters    
The pregnancy is divided into three periods, each of which is referred to as a trimester. 
Colostrum  
Colostrum is the first substance produced by the female mammary glands after a pregnancy and is excreted through the nipples. It is a yellowish fluid that is thicker than actual breast milk. It is important that the baby ingests this colostrum after the birth. Colostrum is rich in protein, vitamins and antibodies that strengthen the baby’s immune defences. It also helps to get the baby’s digestion working by helping along the excretion of the meconium. 
Pre-labour contractions    
These occur a few days or weeks before giving birth. Pre-labour contractions are uterine contractions that are a sort of “training” for the upcoming birth. Pre-labour contractions are sometimes confused with dilation pains. In contrast to these, the cervix does not yet dilate with pre-labour contractions. As childbirth nears, the pre-labour contractions become more painful. 
Postnatal care    
This is the period 6-8 weeks after childbirth. The mother and newborn recover from the birth during this period. During this initial phase, the bodily changes occurring during pregnancy and birth return to the non-pregnant state.