The most common maternity abbreviations explained! Along with a whole new body to get used to, and a new baby to prepare for, pregnancy brings with it another new challenge, one that you’ll experience at your first appointment with your midwife – a whole new pregnancy language!

You’ll be presented with a folder, in which all the maternity notes relating to your pregnancy will be kept.  Every measurement, blood test, scan, blood pressure check  and heartbeat will be recorded in maternity abbreviations and some of it just isn’t that easy to understand!

To give you a head start, we’ve taken a look at the most common terms, maternity abbreviations and the all important meanings of each!

Maternity abbreviations

Baby’s position

For the first few months of pregnancy, this will change a lot, but as the weeks tick away and space becomes a bit more restricted, the position (or presentation) of your little one will become more important, especially in terms of the type of birth you’re likely to have.

Your midwife will record the baby’s orientation in three way.

  • Firstly, ‘lie’ – whether the baby is longitudinal (cephallic/vertical), transverse (across) or oblique (diagonal) in your uterus.
  • They’ll also look at ‘presentation’ – which part of the baby lies closest to the cervix and therefore the birth canal.
  • Finally, they’ll look at ‘engagement’ – how far the head or bottom has descended, or ‘engaged’, inside the pelvic cavity.

Lie and Presentation

  • C, Ceph or Vx = cephalic, vertex, or head down
  • Br = breech or bottom down
  • Long = longitudinal or vertical
  • Tr = transverse, or across your body
  • Obl = oblique or diagonally
  • OA = Occiput Anterior (head down, facing your back)
  • OP = Occiput Posterior (head down, facing your front)
  • OL = Occiput Lateral (head down, facing your side).

Engagement

  • NE, NEng, Not Eng (not engaged) or ‘free’ means that your baby’s head is above your pelvis.
  • 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, 4/5 refer either to how much of the head can be felt above your pelvis or to how much of it is in your pelvis (ask your midwife which).
    Your baby is engaged once 3/5 of the head is in your pelvis.
  • E or Eng = Engaged.
  • Relation to brim = How much of your baby’s head can be felt above the brim of your pelvis and how much has descended into your pelvis, or ‘engaged’.

Baby’s movements and measurements

The amount your baby moves, grows and how that little heart beats are all great indicators of how well they’re developing.  For that reason, your midwife will be keeping a close eye on all of these things:

Baby movement

Baby movement is recorded using the following maternity abbreviations:

  • FMF = Fetal Movements Felt
  • F = Felt
  • FMNF = Fetal Movements Not Felt
  • NF = Not Felt

Your baby’s heartbeat

A normal foetal heart rate is between 120 and 160 beats per minute.  From 10 weeks of pregnancy, your midwife should be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat and will record it in the following way:

  • FHH = Fetal Heart Heard
  • H = Heard
  • FHNH = Fetal Heart Not Heard
  • NH = Not Heard.

Your baby’s size

  • CRL = Crown-rump length. Your midwife uses this to work out foetal age in the first trimester, measuring from the top of your baby’s head to his bottom.
  • FH = Fundal height. It’s also called referred to as height of uterus. This is the distance in centimeters from the top of your pubic bone to the top of your womb or bump, giving an idea of how your baby is growing.
  • SFD = small for dates
  • LFD = large for dates
  • AC = Abdominal circumference.  This will be measured at your scans.  The AC will be combined with your baby’s head size and leg length to calculate his estimated weight.
  • Gest = The length of your pregnancy in weeks, from the first day of your last monthly period (LMP).

Your maternity measurements

Your midwife will keep a close eye on your growth, blood count, levels of protein in your urine as a sign that your pregnancy is on track and healthy.

Urine test results

Protein in your urine may be a sign of an infection, and in more serious cases can be a sign of high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, similarly your blood sugar levels may indicate diabetes.  For this reason, your urine will be tested for the presence of protein (albumin) and glucose.

  • MSU = Midstream sample of urine. You may be asked to give a midstream sample when your midwife or doctor needs to test your wee.
  • P/Prot = Protein
  • Alb = Albumin
  • G = Gluclose
  • NAD means Nothing Abnormal Detected
  • Nil means none found (normal)
  • Tr (trace) means that a small amount of protein or glucose has been found.
  • +, ++, +++ indicate that greater amounts have been found.

Your blood pressure

The top number is the systolic blood pressure reading – this represents the maximum pressure exerted when your heart contracts.  The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure reading – this represents the pressure in your arteries when your heart’s at rest.  The average blood pressure for adult women is 110/70, although this can vary. Blood pressure above 130/90 is considered high but if the blood pressure was particularly low at the beginning of the pregnancy, lower levels may be considered to be excessive later on.

  • PET, or pre-eclampsia = is a potentially dangerous pregnancy condition and your midwife and doctor will check for signs, including high blood pressure each time they see you.

Your body

  • Oed = Swelling (or oedema), the amount will be recorded as +, ++, +++ depending on the severity.
  • CBC/FBC = Complete blood count or Full blood monitors haemoglobin (which carries oxygen) and platelets (which help with clotting) in your blood. A lack of red blood cells results in anaemia.
  • Hb = the levels of haemoglobin in your blood

All about you!

Your history of previous pregnancies can provide key information for your antenatal team.  You may therefore notice some of these abbreviations on your notes:

  • LMP = This stands for ‘last menstrual period’ and refers to the first day of your last period, which is used to work out when your baby is due.
  • Multigravida = This means that you have been pregnant before. This includes any pregnancies that ended in miscarriage.
  • Para 0 = This means you have had no pregnancies that have gone beyond 24 weeks.
  • Para 1 = This means you have had one other pregnancy that has lasted for longer than 24 weeks. (Para 2 means two pregnancies and so on.)
  • Primigravida = This means that you are pregnant for the first time.
  • EDD – this one we love! Expected Date of Delivery – the date you’re waiting for!

Where to next

Read more about your pregnancy