Terminology & Abbreviations

Here are a few common terms that you may encounter when talking about pregnancy loss or reading stories on this website or our blog:

Miscarriage: The spontaneous, premature expulsion of a nonviable fetus from the uterus

Stillbirth: The birth of a baby with no signs of life

Ectopic pregnancy: A pregnancy in which the fetus develops outside of the uterus, often in a Fallopian tube; it is life-threatening to the mother

Blighted ovum: Occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus but does not develop into an embryo

Chemical pregnancy: Occurs when the fertilized egg does not implant properly in the uterus, resulting in a very early miscarriage

Ultrasound: A diagnostic technique that uses sound waves, rather than x-rays, to visualize internal body structures

Dilation & Curettage (D&C): A procedure to scrape and collect tissue from inside the uterus using an instrument called a curette. Prior to curettage, the cervix is gradually opened with instruments called dilators. D&C is often used to clear the uterine lining after a miscarriage

Dilation & Evacuation (D&E): A surgery that is typically performed midway through the second trimester of pregnancy in which the cervix is dilated and fetal tissue is removed using instruments, such as a forceps and curette, and suction

Nuchal translucency (NT) scan: A screening test that measures the size of the translucent space behind the neck of the fetus between 10 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. The measurement reflects the amount of fluid that has accumulated under the skin of the fetus and it tends to be increased in chromosome disorders

MaterniT21: A test that can detect fetal abnormalities in chromosomes 13, 18, and 21 and can also detect the presence of X and Y chromosomes

Amniocentesis: The sampling of amniotic fluid using a hollow needle inserted into the uterus to screen for chromosomal abnormalities in a fetus

Maternal fetal medicine (MFM): The branch of obstetrics that focuses on the care of women with high-risk pregnancies

Preterm premature rupture of membranes (pPROM): The rupture of membranes before 37 weeks gestation. It can lead to respiratory distress syndrome, umbilical cord prolapse, placental abruption, and fetal death

L&D: Abbreviation for “labor & delivery” at a hospital

TTC: Abbreviation for “trying to conceive”

TTCAL: Abbreviation for “trying to conceive after a loss”

BFP: Abbreviation for “big fat positive” which refers to a positive pregnancy test

BFN: Abbreviation for “big fat negative” which refers to a negative pregnancy test