Using a plastic hook inserted through a woman's vagina to release the waters (called amniotic fluid) around the baby.

Anti-embolism stockings

Tight stockings (also known as 'compression stockings') specially designed to reduce the risk of developing a blood clot in your legs. The stockings squeeze your feet, lower legs and thighs, helping your blood to circulate around your legs more quickly.

Body mass index (BMI)

Your weight in kilogrammes (kg) divided by the square of your height in metres (m2).


Extra health problems after an operation or arising from another condition or infection.

General anaesthetic

An anaesthetic that puts you to sleep.

Induction of labour

Methods that are used to start labour. These include a membrane sweep, breaking the waters, using tablets inserted into a woman's vagina or a drip.

Low-residue foods

Foods that are easy to digest, they are low in fibre and other substances that the body finds it hard to digest.

Morbidly adherent placenta

A rare condition in which the placenta attaches abnormally to the wall of the womb. It can cause severe bleeding.


A doctor who has received specialised training and experience in the care of women during pregnancy and childbirth.


A hormone naturally produced by the body which causes the womb to contract. A synthetic copy of this hormone is sometimes used during childbirth to increase or start contractions of the womb.

Placenta praevia

When the placenta is low-lying in the womb and covers all or part of the entrance to the womb.


A condition that happens in the second half of pregnancy that can cause serious problems for you and your baby if it is not detected and managed. Signs of pre-eclampsia are high blood pressure, protein in the urine and/or swelling of the hands, feet, ankles and sometimes the face.

Regional anaesthetic

A type of anaesthetic that numbs the lower part of your body. Spinal and epidural anaesthetics are types of regional anaesthetic. The anaesthetic drugs are either given through an injection into the spine before the start of the operation, or run into your spine through a small tube (catheter). The catheter may have been put in place as part of the epidural used for pain relief during labour, or at the time of the operation.


A metal instrument that is inserted into a woman's vagina so that examination of the cervix and vagina can be done. It is used in smear tests and most gynaecological examinations.

'Top-up dose'

A dose of spinal or epidural anaesthetic drugs given to maintain the effects of the anaesthetic.

Viral load

The amount of virus in your blood. In this guideline, a low viral load is less than 50 copies of the virus per ml of blood and a high viral load is more than 400 copies of the virus per ml of blood.

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