4.7 Obstetrics

Obstetrics is a medical specialty, and there are medical terms specifically related to this area. This section will focus on common abbreviations related to obstetrics. The most common abbreviations are listed, but there are more that are not covered here. As well as obstetrics-related abbreviations and definitions, some key concepts related to the abbreviations will be covered here.


Table 4.26. Obstetrics

C-section caesarean section
EDC estimated date of confinement
c-section being performed
Fig. 4.15







Key Concept

A C-section, or caesarean section, is a surgical procedure used in certain circumstances to deliver babies (Mayo Clinic, 2022). Sometimes a patient may have a planned C-section, but in certain circumstances, an emergency C-section is required. Typically a horizontal incision is made to the lower abdomen and uterus, then the baby is delivered through this incision (Mayo Clinic, 2022). Fig. 4.15 shows a C-section being performed.


Example of orders related to obstetrics:

  1. Scheduled C-section at 1000

Explanation of orders related to obstetrics:

  1. Scheduled caesarean section at 10 o’clock in the morning.


Table 4.27. Obstetrics

FHR fetal heart rate
G gravida (number of pregnancies may be given)
IUD intrauterine device
LMP last menstrual period
multigravida pregnant more than once
multipara given birth to more than one child

Key Concept

fetal heart rate monitor
Fig. 4.16

Fig. 4.16 is an image of a fetal heart monitor, which provides the fetal heart rate (FHR) and rhythm for a fetus in utero (Johns Hopkins, 2022). The average fetal heart rate is 110–160 beats per minute, but the rate can vary depending on the situation. For example, if the umbilical cord is being compressed, the FHR may decrease, and if the situation worsens, it could result in the patient having a C-section (Johns Hopkins, 2022).


Example of orders related to obstetrics:

  1. Monitor FHR q2h

Explanation of orders related to obstetrics:

  1. Monitor fetal heart rate every two hours.


Table 4.28. Obstetrics

NB newborn
OB obstetrics
Pap smear test done on cervical cells for cancer
P number of viable births
PID pelvic inflammatory disease
PKU phenylketonuria
PKU test being performed
Fig. 4.17







Key Concept

PKU (phenylketonuria) is an inherited disorder, and a PKU test is used to determine whether a baby has the enzyme required to help digest phenylalanine (Alberta Health Services, 2022). This enzyme plays a role in normal growth and development, and if it is missing from the body and the baby is not treated early on, the infant is at risk of developing seizures and brain damage and becoming intellectually delayed. This blood test is typically done 24 hours to a couple of days after birth (Alberta Health Services, 2022). Fig. 4.17 shows a healthcare provider collecting a sample of blood from the heel of a newborn to complete the PKU test.

Example of orders related to obstetrics:

  1. Hx of PID

Explanation of orders related to obstetrics:

  1. History of pelvic inflammatory disease.


Table 4.29. Obstetrics

PPD postpartum depression
PPH postpartum hemorrhage
primigravida first pregnancy
primipara first birth
PTL preterm labour
umb umbilical
VBAC vaginal birth after C-section

Key Concept

Most mothers will have the “baby blues” for the first few days after birth, but if the feelings of emptiness, sadness, or hopelessness do not go away after two weeks, then a new mother may have postpartum depression (PPD) (Office on Women’s Health, 2021). It is really important for new mothers to contact their healthcare provider if they think they have PPD.

Example of orders related to obstetrics::

  1. Patient arriving at 1300 for VBA

Explanation of orders related to obstetrics:

  1. Patient arriving at one o’clock in the afternoon for a vaginal birth after a C-section.





Unless otherwise indicated, material on this page has been adapted from the following resource:

Carter, K., & Rutherford, M. (2020). Building a medical terminology foundation. eCampusOntario. https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/medicalterminology/ licensed under CC BY 4.0


Alberta Health Services. (2022). Phenylketonuria (PKU) test. https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=hw41965#:~:text=A%20phenylketonuria%20(PKU)%20screening%20test,whether%20your%20baby%20has%20PKU

Johns Hopkins. (2022). Fetal heart monitoring. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/fetal-heart-monitoring

Mayo Clinic. (2022). C-section. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/c-section/about/pac-20393655

Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2021). Postpartum depression. https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression


Image Credits (images are listed in order of appearance)

Infant’s head emerging during C-section by Engin Akyurt, Pixabay licence

Sonoline B by Baby Doppler by Cognito 100, CC BY-SA 4.0

Phenylketonuria testing by Staff Sgt. Eric T. Sheler, U.S. Air Force, Public domain


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The Language of Medical Terminology Copyright © 2022 by Lisa Sturdy and Susanne Erickson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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