10 Terms You Need To Know Before Giving Birth

10 Terms You Need To Know Before Giving Birth

When you get pregnant, you start having a lot of information thrown at you. From baby books and articles to unsolicited advice from your in-laws, It’s important to do your research and educate yourself about the birthing process. With so much misinformation available, we’re here to help make it things a bit easier for you.

These are our top 10 pregnancy terms you need to know before giving birth: 

Active Labor

This is when the birth process really starts. When you enter labor your cervix begins to dilate: these dilations are called contractions. Once your cervix dilation reaches 6 cm, it’s time for the doctor to take over. If all runs smoothly, once you hit that 6 cm mark, expect each dilation to increase one centimeter per hour. Getting admitted before active labor means more time spent on bed rest.

Normal Labor

This typically begins within 2 weeks of the estimated delivery date and is characterized by painful cervical contraction. For first time moms (known as Nullips), labor usually lasts 12 to 14 hours.

Breech Presentation

A breech presentation refers to the position of the baby: it means that the baby’s head is facing up in the uterus rather than down. A breech presentation is usually found at around 35-36 weeks and the best time to try to externally vert (rotate the baby) is 36-37 weeks. With first-time mothers, there is a 50% failure rate due to tighter thighs, but the vert is very likely to work for a multip (a woman who has given birth before).

Instrumental Vaginal Birth

Also known as operative vaginal birth, this type of birth includes the help of both a vacuum device and forceps. The instruments are typically used to assist during pushing.

Normal Prenatal Care

During pregnancy, plan for a lot of visits to the doctor to ensure the health of both you and your baby. For the first 28 weeks, expect to have a check-up monthly. From weeks 29-37, plan for every three weeks, with a switch to bi-weekly towards week 34. Finally, once you reach 41 weeks, expect to get close with your doctor, as you’ll have weekly visits until you go into labor.

Overdue Pregnancy

Also known as a late or post-term pregnancy, this term means that the baby has been carried for more than 41 weeks.

Optimal Delivery

This refers to the delivery ‘sweet spot’ which is considered to be between 39-41 weeks.


This abbreviation literally means, “Nulliparous, Term, Singleton, Vertex.” In layman’s terms, this means a first-time mom that has carried her one (singleton) baby to full term (37 weeks), and that the baby’s head is facing down (vert).


Another important abbreviation, this refers to a vaginal birth after a mother has already had one or more C-sections.

Episiotomy & Episiotomy Rate

An episiotomy is a surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth. It is used as a method to help with difficult delivery and prevent rupture of tissues. While once routine during childbirth, doctors now look to use this method only during special circumstances (typically in no more than 5% of vaginal deliveries).

Whether you’re newly pregnant, trying, or just curious, give us a call at (415) 461-1949 for the best care in the Bay Area at La Follette OB-GYN & Aesthetics.

Greenbrae - Marin County OB-GYN and Aesthetics

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La Follette OB-GYN and Aesthetics offers women’s comprehensive obstetric and gynecological care including high-risk prenatal care, well women care exams with STD testing and birth control choices, as well as minimally invasive surgeries and popular non-invasive lasers such as MonaLisa Touch, SculpSure, and Icon.

Our goal is to provide each woman with the best and most personalized service oriented OB-GYN care possible.

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