What do all the abbreviations mean on my maternity notes?
Your maternity notes make for interesting reading (although once you've carried them around for almost nine months you might tire of them a little!), and although most of them should be a pretty straightforward record of your appointments and the pregnancy screening tests you have had, you might find some entries hard to decipher – particularly when your midwife or doctor uses medical shorthand!
At a glance
- Most maternity notes are a record of your appointments
- There are lots of common abbreviations which will be used throughout your pregnancy
- By the end of your pregnancy you will probably be a pro at deciphering them all
You may find your maternity notes are digital now, electronic patient records (EPRs) or digital maternity notes. Whether you are offered digital maternity notes may depend on which NHS trust your hospital is in. There is ongoing work nationally on The Womens Digital Care Records Project which supports women with the opportunity to contribute towards their own record. However many women will still have handheld maternity notes or a combination of handheld notes and digital records and will still be exposed to the common abbreviations used.
Although you should always clarify anything you don't understand in your notes with your midwife, here are the most common abbreviations you are likely to come across while you are pregnant – and most importantly, what they actually mean!
Alb: Albumin. A protein in your wee that could be a marker of a potential problem
BP: Blood pressure
Breech: Bottom down
Cephalic or ceph: head down (nearest to the symphysis pubis)
CGC: Customised growth chart – the chart used to plot the growth of your baby based on ultrasound scans and/or SFH measurements
EDD: Expected date of delivery
Eng: Engagement – when your baby's head has moved down in to your pelvis
FH: Foetal heart (your baby's heart)
FHH: Foetal heart heard
FHHR: Foetal heart heard and regular
FMF: Foetal movement felt
Fundus: The top of your womb
Glucose: Used rather than sugar
GTT: Glucose Tolerance Test – a test used to check for gestational diabetes
Hb: Haemoglobin – the oxygen carrying part of your red blood cells
Lie: Which way the baby is lying (either longitundinal;lengthwise, oblique (on an angle) or transverse (sideways)
LMP: Last menstrual period
MSU: Midstream urine
NAD: No abnormality detected (meaning there is nothing wrong)
NE: Not engaged (meaning your baby's head is not yet down in the pelvis)
NIPT: Non Invasive Prenatal testing
SFH: Symphysis fundal Height or standardised fundal height measurement, the measuring of your bump from the top of your uterus (fundus) to the top of your symphysis pubis which starts from 26 -28 weeks
Oedema: Swelling, usually of the hands of feet, and caused by fluid retention
Presentation: Which part of the baby presents towards the birth canal
Sugar: The levels of sugar in your blood or urine
Tr: Trace, so 'Tr blood' would mean a trace of blood was found in your urine, for instance
TCA: To come again (as in, you need another appointment)
USS: Ultrasound Scan
VE: Vaginal examination
You might come across other abbreviations in your maternity notes, depending on any individual tests or screenings that you have – remember though, always ask for an explanation of any terminology you are not familiar with or do not understand.