Cephalopelvic disproportion: a complication of childbirth when the head of the baby is too large for the pelvis.
Cervix: the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb). The cervix forms a canal that opens into the vagina, which leads to the outside of the body.
Cesarean section (C-section): procedure where the baby is delivered through an abdominal incision.
Chlamydia: a common sexually transmitted disease (STD). Most people have no symptoms, but Chlamydia can cause serious damage to a woman’s reproductive organs. Symptoms of Chlamydia include thin vaginal discharge and burning when urinating. Long-term irritation may cause lower abdominal pain, inflammation of the pelvic organs, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Circumcision: a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin from the penis of a newborn male infant.
Cleft lip and palate: congenital abnormalities (present at birth) that affect the upper lip and the hard and soft palate of the mouth. Features range from a small notch in the lip to a complete “groove” extending into the roof of the mouth and nose. These features may occur separately or together. A cleft lip and/or palate can cause problems for the affected infant with regard to feeding and learning to speak.
Colostrum: thick, yellowish fluid secreted from the breast during pregnancy, and the first few days after childbirth before the onset of mature breast milk. Also called “first milk,” it provides nutrients and protection against infectious diseases.
Contractions: during the birthing process, a woman’s uterus tightens, or contracts. Contractions can be strong and regular (meaning that they can happen every 5 minutes, every 3 minutes, and so on) during labor until the baby is delivered. (Women can have contractions before labor starts; these are not regular and do not progress, or increase in intensity or duration. See “Braxton-Hicks contractions”.)
Cord prolapse: when the umbilical cord comes out of the uterus while the fetus is still inside. It is considered an obstetric emergency during pregnancy or labor that endangers the life of the baby.
Cystic fibrosis: one of the most common serious genetic (inherited) diseases. Cystic fibrosis causes the body to make abnormal secretions leading to mucous build-up. Cystic fibrosis mucous build-up can impair organs such as the pancreas, the intestine and the lungs.
Diabetes: a disease in which blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are above normal. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.
Dilation: the opening of the cervix during childbirth.
D&C: abbreviation that stands for Dilation and Curettage. This refers to the dilation (opening) of the cervix and surgical removal of the contents of the uterus.
Doula: a non-medical assistant who provides physical, emotional and informational support in prenatal care, during childbirth and during the postpartum period.
Down syndrome: Down syndrome is the most frequent genetic cause for mild to moderate mental retardation and related medical problems. It is caused by a chromosomal abnormality. For an unknown reason, a change in cell growth results in 47 instead of the usual 46 chromosomes. The extra chromosome usually causes mental and physical abnormalities.