Technical and medical words
In this book we use simple and clear words as often as we can. We hope this makes
the book easy to use for most people. Sometimes we use a simple word where
most medical workers would usually use a more technical one, but it can be very
helpful to know the technical word too. This is a short list of some of the words
you might hear in a midwifery training program or in a hospital or medical center.
If you want to know the meaning of a word that you do not see on this list, it may
be explained somewhere in the rest of the book. Check the index, starting on
A BC D EFG H IJKLM N O PQ RSTU VW X YZ
amniotic fluid The liquid that surrounds
the baby inside the womb.
anesthesia Medicine used to keep a
person from feeling pain from a medical
procedure. General anesthesia is a
medicine given to make someone sleep
during surgery. Local anesthesia is injected
into the body to numb a small area.
bacteria Germs that cause infections.
Bacteria can usually be killed with
bilirubin A chemical in the bile or blood.
When too much bilirubin builds up, it
causes jaundice (the skin turns yellow).
biopsy When a piece of tissue or fluid is
taken from part of the body and is
examined in a laboratory to see if it is
healthy or diseased.
bowel The end of the large intestine, near
the anus where stool comes out of the
circulation Blood flowing through the
heart, arteries, and veins.
complication A problem or thing that
contagious When an illness can pass from
one person to another. These illnesses are
caused by bacteria or viruses.
ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the
tubes) A pregnancy that grows in the
fallopian tubes or anywhere outside the
embryo The beginning stage of a baby
early in pregnancy, from the second to the
engagement (engaged) When a baby’s
head is deep in the pelvis soon before
engorgement (engorged) When a part of
the body is filled with fluid, often blood.
Breasts engorged with milk are common
after birth and can be very painful.
fallopian tubes (tubes) The tubes that
connect the ovaries to the womb. A
woman’s eggs travel through the tubes.
fertilization (conception) When a
woman’s egg joins with a man’s sperm —
the beginning of pregnancy.
forceps Medical tools for pulling. A small
forceps can be used to hold tissues or
sewing needles. Obstetrical forceps are
used to help bring a baby out.
genitals The inner and outer parts of the
body that are used in sex and producing
babies — including the labia and vagina,
and the penis and testicles.
hemorrhage Severe bleeding.
hemostat A medical tool for clamping.
Hemostats can be used to clamp the cord
so that blood does not come out of it
when it is cut.
A Book for Midwives (2010)