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Germinal period

The period of prenatal development that takes place in the first 2 weeks after conception. It includes the creation of the zygote, continued cell division, and the attachment of the zygote to the uterine wall.


An inner mass of cells that eventually develop into the embryo


An outer layer of cells that lter provides nutrition and support for the embryo.

Embryonic period

The period of prenatal development that occurs two to eight weeks after conception. During the embryonic period, the rate of cell differentiation intensifies, support systems for the cells form, and organs appear.


The life support system that is a bag or envelope that contains a clear fluid in which the developing embryo floats.

Umbilical cord

A life support system that consists of two arteries and orie vein; it connects the baby to the placenta.


A life support system that consists of a disk-shapred group of tissues in which small blood vessels from the mother and offspring intertwine.


Organ formation that takes during the first 2 months of prenatal development

Fetal period

Prenatal period of development that on average begins 2 months after conception and lasts for 7 months


Nerve cells that handle information processing at the cellular level in the brain


Any agent that potentially cause a birth defect.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

Cluster of abnormalities that appears in the offspring of mothers who drink alcohol heavily during pregnancy.


Third stage of birth, when the placenta, umbilical cord, and other membranes are detached and expelled.


A caregiver who provides continuous physical, emotional, and educational support for the mother before, during, and after childbirth.

Natural childbirth

Developed in 1914 by Dick Read, this method attempts to reduce the mother's pain by decreasing fear through education about childbirth and relaxation techniques during delivery.

Prepared childbirth

Developed by French obstetrician Ferdinand Lamaze, this childbirth strategy is similar to natural childbirth but includes a special breathing technique to control pushing in the final stages of labor and a more detailed anatomy and physiology course.

Breech position

A baby's position in the uterus that causes the buttocks to be the first part to emerge from the vagina.

Cesarean delivery

The baby is removed from the mother's uterus through an incision made in her abdomen.

Apgar Scale

Widely used method to assess the health of newborns at one and five minutes after birth; it evaluates an infant's heart rate, respiratory effort, muscle tone, body color, and reflex irritability.

Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale

A measure that is used in the first month of life to assess the newborn's neurological development, reflexes, and reactions to people and objects.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Network Neurobehavioral Scale

A measure that provides a comprehensive anaylsis of the newborn's neurological and stress responses and regulatory capacity.

Low-birth weight infant

An infant that weighs less than 5 1/2 pounds at birth.

Preterm infants

Those born before the completion of 37 weeks of gestation.

Small for date infants

Infants whose birth weight is below normal when the length of pregnancy is considered

Kangaroo care

Treatment for preterm infants that involves skin-to-skin contact.

Postpartum period

The period after childbirth when the mother adjusts, both physically and psychologically, to the process and aftermath of childbirth; it lasts for about 6 weeks or until her body has completed its adjustment and returned to a near prepregnant state.

Postpartum depression

Characteristic of women who have such strong feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair that they have trouble coping with daily tasks in the postpartum period.


The formation of a close connection, especially a physical bond between parents and newborn in the period shortly after birth.

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