Glossary of Terms - labor epidural, labor pain management, labour pain


Amniotic sac The sac in which the fetus develops. It is formed by two membranes and is filled with amniotic fluid. Normally the membranes rupture in most cases close to the end of the first stage of labor
Amniotic fluid The fluid surrounding the fetus in the uterus
Ante-partum Before delivery
Cauda Equina The roots of sacral nerves that extend beyond the termination of the spinal cord in the form of a bundle resembling a horse’s tail
Central Nervous System The part of the nervous system comprising the brain and spinal cord
Cervical Dilatation The term used to define the progression of the first stage of labor, by measuring the opening of the cervix
Chorioamnionitis Inflammation of the amniotic membranes caused by infection
Doula A woman who assists women during labor and after childbirth
Dura Mater The tough, fibrous membrane covering the brain and the spinal cord
Dystocia Abnormal, slow or difficult childbirth, usually because of disordered of ineffective contractions of the uterus
Fentanyl Synthetic opioid commonly used in the local anesthetic mixture for epidural or spinal anesthesia
Fetal distress Signs of lack of oxygen in the fetus
Fever An abnormally high body temperature
First stage of labor The stage of labor that classically starts when the cervix is 3 cm dilated and ends with the full cervical dilatation
Hemorrhage Bleeding
Instrumental Delivery Delivery with the assistance of forceps or vacuum
Intra-partum During delivery
Multigravida A woman pregnant for the second or more time
Multipara A woman who is giving birth for the second or more time, or who has borne two or more children
Neuraxial Anesthesia The term encompassing spinal and epidural anesthesia
Opioids Drugs that produce effects similar to those of opium, by acting on the opioid receptors
Oxytocin A hormone produced in the pituitary gland that stimulates the contraction of the smooth muscle of the uterus. Also known under commercial name of Syntocin or Syntocinon. Synthetic oxytocin is used to induce or augment labor
Parturient A woman giving birth
Perineum Anatomical region in front of the anus containing female genitalia (or root of the penis in male). Corresponds with the outlet of the pelvis
Peripheral Nervous System The portion of the nervous system lying outside of the brain and spinal cord
Pethidine Synthetic opioid used to relieve pain in labor
Placenta The lining connecting the fetus to the uterus which, via the umbilical cord, provides the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to and removes waste products from the fetus
Placenta previa Abnormal position of the placenta at or near the internal opening of the uterine cervix. During delivery it may cause severe bleeding
Placenta accreta, increta or transcreta Different degrees of progressively abnormal adherence of the placenta to the uterus interfering with the delivery of the placenta during the third stage of labor. May cause severe bleeding
Placental abruption Premature separation of the placenta from the uterus. The most common pathological cause of bleeding during late pregnancy
Post-partum After delivery
Primigravida A woman pregnant for the first time
Primipara A woman who is giving birth for the first time, or who has borne only one child
Second stage of labor Begins when the cervix is fully dilated and ends when the baby is born
Third stage of labor The period from just after the fetus is expelled until just after the placenta is expelled