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MoonDragon's Midwives Vocabulary

CT Scan
(Computerized Tomography)

A medical test that uses a high-speed x-ray machine connected to a computer to get 3-D views of organs, tumors, and bones.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Burning or numbness in the hands caused by compression of the nerves in the wrist. Often associated with the swelling and weight gain that accompany pregnancy; goes away after delivery.

Celiac Sprue

A food intolerance characterized by sensitivity to gluten.

Cephalopelvic Disproportion

When a baby's head is too large for the mother's pelvic opening and birth canal.


Encircling of a part with a ring or loop, such as encirclement of the incompetent cervix uteri, or the binding together of the ends of a fractured bone with a metal ring or wire hoop.

Cerebral Palsy

Form of paralysis caused by a prenatal brain defect or by brain injury during birth. Characterized by involuntary motions and difficulty controlling the voluntary muscles, and can result in mental retardation, learning disabilities and seizures.

Certified Midwife (CM)

A midwife specially trained to advise women during pregnancy and to assist with postpartum needs. A CM is a non-nurse midwife who has completed requirements by set by a state, community or organizational standard to receive the certification of CM. A CM may work in hospitals, birthing centers or assisting women with home births. A CM may or may not be an independent practitioner, depending upon the certifying organization.

Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)

A registered nurse specially trained to advise women during pregnancy and to assist with birth and postpartum needs. A CNM usually assists in hospitals or birthing centers under the direction of a physician and the nursing board.

Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)

A midwife specially trained to advise women during pregnancy and to assist with birth and postpartum needs. A CPM may be a Direct-Entry Midwife (without becoming a nurse prior to entering midwifery) or a CPM (certified nurse midwife having prior training as a nurse before entering midwifery). A CPM has completed the minimum requirements established by NARM (North American Registry of Midwives) to receive the CPM certification. A CPM may work in hospitals, birthing centers or assisting women with home births. A CPM works as an independent practitioner of midwifery with or without the direction of a physician.

Cervical Cap

A birth control device -- similar to a diaphragm, but smaller and bulkier -- that is placed over the entrance to the cervix. Provides an effective barrier to sperm if used with spermicidal foam, cream, or jelly. Must be fitted by a physician, nurse, or midwife and checked annually for proper fit.

Cervical Incompetence

When the cervix can't stay closed during pregnancy, which can cause a miscarriage. If detected early enough, it can be sutured shut to maintain the pregnancy.

Cervical Mucus Method

A natural birth control method accomplished by timing intercourse according to the consistency of the woman's cervical mucus. Mucus similar to raw egg white signifies ovulation, when a woman is most fertile, while thick and cloudy mucus indicates a time when conception is less likely.


The gateway to the uterus. Allows sperm into the uterus and menstrual fluid out. Grows long and fills with mucus plug during pregnancy, then shortens and opens dramatically so the baby can pass through at birth.

Cesarean Section

A surgical procedure to deliver a baby through an incision in the abdomen and uterus if a woman can't give birth vaginally, or if the fetus is in distress.

Chicken Pox

A mild, highly contagious, virus characterized by fluid-filled itchy blisters all over the body. Can lead to complications if the blisters become infected. A vaccine is available.


A common sexually transmitted disease that can render a woman infertile if left untreated. Antibiotics will clear up the problem.

Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

A genetic screening procedure done between the 8th-12th week of pregnancy to determine Down syndrome or other abnormalities. Cells from the placenta's outer membrane are drawn into a flexible tube through the vagina. Early results may help parents decide to terminate pregnancy in the event of severe birth defects.

Chromosomal Abnormalities

Problems as a result of errors in the duplication of the chromosomes.


Ongoing as in a medical condition.


Surgical removal of the foreskin on the penis.

Cleft Lip & Palate

A congenital defect that splits the lip and roof of a baby's mouth. Baby can usually feed normally with a cleft lip but needs assistance with a cleft palate. Surgery can usually correct both.


A congenital deformed or distorted foot. May respond to exercises and/or surgery.


A person who shares parenting responsibilities for a child without having legal custody -- a step parent or unmarried partner, for instance.

Cognitive Development

The process by which an infant gains knowledge and becomes a thinking being.


An unexplained, harmless condition when a newborn cries inconsolably for no apparent reason for 1-3 hours -- or longer -- during the day, usually in the late afternoon. Can begin at birth and last up to 6 months, but is most prominent between 6 weeks and 3 months. It usually is a result of acute abdominal pain.


A thin, yellow fluid from the breast that pregnant women produce a few days before and after childbirth, although some women experience colostrum leaking from their breasts throughout pregnancy. A precursor to breast milk that's rich in fats, protein, and antibodies, all of which are beneficial to a breastfeeding newborn.

Comfort Habits

Actions and objects babies and young children use to comfort themselves -- finger or thumb sucking, a pacifier, or a transitional object, such as a blanket or soft toy.

Communication Skills
& Disorders

The manner in which a child learns to communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, with family and friends. Disorders range from not talking to speech problems.


When the sperm and the egg join.


Existing at or from birth.

Congenital Heart Problems

May include ventricular septal defect (a hole in the septum) and transposition of the great vessels, where the pulmonary artery and the aorta are reversed. May be corrected with surgery soon after birth, usually with a high rate of success.


A type of guardian appointed by the court in the event a parent can't take care of his child.


Painful, strong, rhythmic squeezing of the uterus during labor.

Controllable Disease

A disease or illness that can't be cured but can be managed with medication and a health provider's care.


Violent, involuntary, muscular contractions usually in conjunction with seizures.


Line drawn one-tenth of a degree above the six highest readings preceding a spike in a basal body temperature chart.

Cradle Cap

Waxy, harmless scaling on an infants scalp. Removable with baby oil and a fine-toothed comb.


Premature closing of joints or sutures in the skull.

(Acute Laryngotracheobronchitis, LBT)

A common respiratory infection in babies and children, usually following a cold or other upper respiratory infection that causes inflammation and narrowing of the breathing passages. Symptoms include a hoarse, barking cough, usually at night, that lasts 1-3 days.


The top of the baby's head through the birth canal during labor and delivery.

Custodial Parent

Parent who has been given sole legal custody of a child.


Blueness around the lips and nails indicating lack of oxygen. Appears in infants with respiratory distress.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

A genetic and metabolic disorder in which the body secretes abnormally thick mucus. Leading killer of children and young adults in the U.S.

Cytomegalovirus Infection (CMV)

A kind of sexually transmitted disease spread by sexual conduct and other forms of bodily contact, including kissing, caused by the cytomegalovirus. A member of the herpes family. In adults, CMV is characterized by flu-like symptoms and is generally mild. Can be dangerous for infants, for immuno-suppressed adults, and for pregnant women, who can pass the virus on to the fetus.

MoonDragon's Vocabulary Index Page

MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information Index
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information & Survival Tips


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