Glossary of Terms


Someone you trust who is willing to act on your behalf as well as someone who can work well with other members of your healthcare team.

Institute for Healthcare Improvement – What is an Advocate

Pulse Center for Patient Safety – Tips for Patient Advocates

Anesthesia and Analgesia (pain relief)

Using medicine to prevent the feeling of pain or another sensation during surgery or other procedures that might be painful (e.g. C-section or in terms of childbirth, epidural).

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – Pain Relief in Labor and Delivery

Augmenting Labor

Stimulating the uterus with medication during labor to increase how frequent, how long, and how strong the contractions are.

What to Expect in Labor and Delivery – Augmentation of Labor

Baby Friendly Birth

Designed to optimize mother-baby bonding and to protect, promote and support breastfeeding in the first few days of a new baby’s life.

La Leche League – Skin to Skin with Baby after the Birth

Birthing Room

A room in a hospital that is used for labor and childbirth and is designed to be comfortable and homelike.

Breast Feeding / Lactation
Cesarean Section (c-section)

When surgery is used to take the baby out of the mother. Doctors cut into the mother’s abdomen to get to the baby.

Women’s Health/pregnancy – Childbirth – Labor and Birth – Cesarean Birth


A disease in which blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are above normal.

Centers for Disease Control – Diabetes and Pregnancy

Doula Support

Doulas are trained to give emotional, physical, and educational support to birthing people and their partners during labor and birth; and sometimes during pregnancy and postpartum.

Maternal Health Task Force – Access to Doula Care

National Black Doula Association


A procedure that involves making a small cut in the area between the vagina and the anus to enlarge the opening when the baby is about to be born. Episiotomy is not needed for most births and it may cause increased risk of severe tears.

Mayo Clinic – Labor and Delivery – Episiotomy

Family Practice Doctors

Medical doctors who provide care during pregnancy, delivery, and following birth. Family practice doctors do not perform c-sections.

Women’s Health/Pregnancy – Prenatal Care and Tests

Fetal Monitoring

Detecting or listening to the unborn baby’s heart beat to check on their wellbeing while still inside their mother.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Patient Resources

Women’s Health/Pregnancy – Childbirth – Labor and Birth


A tool shaped like salad tongs used to assist the doctor in bringing the baby outside the mother.

Mayo Clinic – Forceps Delivery

High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure greater than 140 over 90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or higher than usual for the pregnant mom.

Centers for Disease Control High Blood Pressure and Pregnancy

High-risk Pregnancy
Induction of Labor

The process in which the baby and the placenta leave the uterus in three stages.

Women’s Health/Pregnancy – Childbirth – Stages of Labor

Maternal Fetal Medicine (Specialist)

A medical doctor that cares for high-risk pregnancies.

Wikipedia – Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist


Provider of prenatal, birth, and postpartum care. Midwives do not perform c-sections.

Discover Midwives

Find a Black Midwife or Doula

Normal Delivery / Birth

Labor started on its own, low-risk at the start of labor and remaining so throughout labor and delivery.

Normal Healthy Childbirth


A healthcare professional who helps individuals, families, and communities to attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life.

Wikipedia – Nursing


Medical doctors who specialize in care of pregnant and birthing mothers.

Women’s Health / Pregnancy – Prenatal Care and Tests

Patients’ Rights

Those basic rules of conduct between patient and medical caregiver as well as the institutions and people that support them.

New York City Standards for Respectful Care

Birth Justice Bill of Rights

What are patient rights


Physiologic Birth

Allowing your body to go through labor naturally.

Normal Healthy Childbirth

Postpartum Care

Getting care, taking care of yourself after giving birth.

Women’s Health/Pregnancy – Childbirth – Recovering

Postpartum Warning Signs

Signs that something may be wrong and you should get checked out by your doctor or midwife, or go to the nearest emergency room.

March of Dimes/Pregnancy – Warnings Signs after Birth


High blood pressure, plus other possible signs and symptoms, which put mom and baby at risk for complications.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists/Patients – Preeclampsia and High Blood Pressure

Prenatal Care

Health care you get while you are pregnant.

Women’s Health/Pregnancy – Prenatal Care and Tests

Provider or Healthcare Provider

A Midwife, Doctor, Nurse Practitioner, or Physician Assistant permitted (licensed) by the state to give a range of medical services depending on the training they received.

Women’s Health/Pregnancy – Prenatal Care – choosing a prenatal provider

Respectful Care

Care organized for and provided to all pregnant and birthing people in a manner that maintains their dignity, privacy and confidentiality, ensures freedom from harm and mistreatment, and enables informed choice and continuous support during labor and childbirth.

New York City Standards for Respectful Care

Rooming In

When the baby stays in the room with you after you’ve given birth.

Cleveland Clinic Health Articles Rooming In

Spontaneous Vaginal Delivery

Giving birth through the vagina without the help of tools to bring the baby out.

Wikipedia Vaginal Delivery

Vacuum Assisted Vaginal Delivery

When suction is used to help bring the baby out of the mother.

Wikipedia Vacuum Assisted Vaginal Delivery

Vetting Services

To make a prior examination and critical analysis, or detailed evaluation, of a document, a line of action regarding someone or people, etc.: If something is vetted, it is checked carefully to make sure that it meets the requirements that government officials have established regarding the quality of Maternity Care available in the local area.

Wikipedia – Vetting