Cesarean section — giving birth involving the surgical incision of the abdomen and uterine wall. Also referred to as ‘cesarean delivery’ or ‘cesarean birth’. Primary cesarean — a first cesarean section, where the mother has either only had vaginal deliveries or has never had a baby before. Repeat cesarean — a second or subsequent cesarean section. Primary elective cesarean — a first cesarean section, where the mother has not had a baby before, and the cesarean section is done without a medical reason.
Doula — a non-medical assistant who provides physical and emotional support, primarily during childbirth and the postpartum period.
Ectopic pregnancy — a pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. The fetus does not survive, and this type of pregnancy is potentially life threatening to the mother.
Epidural — a form of anesthesia (pain relief) where drugs are injected into the spine, causing numbness in the lower half of the body. Usually an epidural involves a thin tube being placed into a space in the spine, followed by a shot of medicine for pain relief and a pump to keep the medicine flowing in if needed. An epidural is the most effective method of pain relief in labour.
External cephalic version (also known as ECV) — a procedure that can help to turn the baby from breech (head-up) to the normal position (head-down). This is done by pressing on the mother’s abdomen and helping the baby to turn a somersault into the head-down position. To see a diagram of what happens during an ECV, click here
Forceps delivery — the use of an instrument that surrounds the baby’s head to help pull the baby down and out while the mother pushes during a vaginal birth.
Placenta — an organ that grows inside the uterus and nourishes the baby. The placenta allows for oxygen, nutrients and waste to pass between the mother and the baby.
Placenta accreta — a potentially life-threatening condition in which the placenta invades the muscles of the uterus and becomes firmly attached to the uterine wall, making it difficult to remove after the birth of the baby.
Placenta previa — a potentially life-threatening condition in which the placenta implants in the lower part of the uterus, so that it partially or completely blocks the baby’s passage out through the vagina. Can cause bleeding late in pregnancy that requires emergency cesarean section.
Placental abruption — a potentially life-threatening condition in which the placenta peels away from the wall of the uterus before the baby is born. Can cause the need for emergency cesarean section.
Primary maternity care provider — an individual who monitors the health of pregnant women and babies and oversees their care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. In British Columbia, the primary maternity care provider can be a family physician, a registered midwife, or an obstetrician.
Postpartum period — the six weeks following birth.
Spinal anesthesia — a form of anesthesia (pain relief) that is similar to an epidural, but usually involves a one-time shot of medicine to the spine that works immediately, and blocks all feeling from the waist down. Frequently used for cesarean section.
Vacuum delivery — a procedure where a cup is applied to the baby’s scalp while suction is applied to help pull the baby down and out while the mother pushes during a vaginal birth.
VBAC — Vaginal Birth After Cesarean.
World Health Organization — the public health arm of the United Nations, which provides leadership on global health matters.