Understanding Your Hospital Notes

doctor writing out notes for patient

Navigating pregnancy can seem like a minefield, with appointments, scans, and well-meaning advice from friends, family and even strangers! Just when you think you have a handle on it, you flick through your hospital notes, and you suddenly feel like you need to learn a new language!

Your maternity notes keep records of your pregnancy journey. They are put together at your first antenatal appointment and are filled in by medical staff at every appointment to keep track of both you and your baby. You will take these away in a folder or book, and you’ll need to bring them to every appointment, scan, and test, as well as have them with you when you go into labour so that any nurse, midwife, or doctor can have your comprehensive notes and know all about you and what care you need.

We’ve put together a list of terms and abbreviations that you may come across in your notes or hear in conversation to decode them and make them easier to read and understand.

What’s in Your Notes?

  • · Your details - name, address, contact number, NHS number, next of kin, your partner’s details (if applicable).
  • Details for your midwife - your GP, antenatal clinic, birth suite, and hospital contact numbers.
  • Your medical history, in detail - current/recent illnesses, medications, and mental health.
  • Family medical history of diseases and genetic conditions.
  • Info on any previous births, pregnancies, or infant loss.
  • · Dates of appointments and your EDD.
  • Blood test results, ultrasound scans and screening test results.
  • Blood pressure readings, urine tests, vaccinations, fetal movements, heart rate and baby’s position.
  • Tracking of your baby’s growth in the womb.
  • · Your birth plan - place of birth, type, pain relief options, birth partner, etc.

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Antenatal (Before Birth)

Abx - Antibiotics

AC - Abdominal circumference - your baby's tummy will be measured during ultrasound

AF - Artificially feeding - both feeding

A/N - Antenatal - before baby is born

ANC - Antenatal clinic

AP - Abdominal palpation - your midwife feeling your bump

APH - Antepartum haemorrhage - bleeding during pregnancy

BMI - Body mass index

BPM - Beats per minute - how fast your baby’s heart is beating

CVS - Chorionic villus sampling - a diagnostic test for fetal abnormalities

DAU - Day assessment unit

ECV - External cephalic version - turning a breech baby

EDD - Estimated date of delivery

EPU - Early pregnancy unit

G - Gravida - how many times a woman has been pregnant

GBS - Group B streptococcus

HC - Head circumference

HVS - High vaginal swab

P - Parity - how many babies a woman has given birth

SFH - Symphysis fundal height - the measurement of your bump

SPD - Symphysis pubis dysfunction AKA pelvic girdle pain

UTI - Urinary tract infection

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Antepartum - During Labour

ARM - Artificial rupture of membranes - having your waters broken

BBA - Born before arrival - baby not born in hospital as planned

BP - Blood pressure

CDS - Central delivery suite - also known as labour ward

CEFM - Continuous electronic fetal monitoring - generally by CTG

Ceph - Cephalic - baby’s head is coming first

CMV - Cytomegalovirus - this is also known as herpes virus

CTG - Cardiotocography - machine used to monitor baby’s heart during labour

Cx - Cervix

EBL - Estimated blood loss

EFM - Electronic fetal monitoring

EL LSCS - Elective lower segment caesarean section

EM LSCS - Emergency lower segment caesarean section

FBS - Fetal blood sampling

FH - Fetal heart

FM - Fetal movements

FMF - Fetal movements felt

FSE - Fetal scalp electrode

GDM - Gestational diabetes

IDDM - Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus

IOL - Induction of labour

IM - Intramuscular - refers to injection

IV - Intravenous

IVI - Intravenous infusion

LFT - Liver function test

LSCS - Lower segment caesarean section

NAD - No abnormality detected

NBFD - Neville Barnes forceps delivery

PET - Pre-eclampsia

PPROM - Pre-term pre-labour rupture of membranes

PROM - Pre-labour rupture of membranes - waters broken but contractions not commenced

SVD - Spontaneous vaginal delivery

SB - Stillbirth

TENS - Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

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Baby’s Positions

LOA - Left occipito anterior

LOP - Left occipito posterior

LOT - Left occipital transverse

OA - Occipito anterior

OT - Occipito transverse

ROA - Right occipito anterior

ROL - Right occipito lateral

ROP - Right occipito posterior

ROT - Right occipito transverse

'Occipito' refers to the back of a baby's head.

Postnatal - After Birth

BF - Breastfeeding

BNO - Bowels not open - can refer to yours or your baby’s bowel movements

BO - Bowels open - can refer to yours or your baby’s bowel movements

BW - Birth weight

CCT - Controlled cord traction - refers to gentle pulling on the cord to deliver the placenta

DOB - Date of birth

DVT - Deep vein thrombosis

EBM - Expressed breastmilk

MROP - Manual removal of placenta

NPU - Not passed urine

PN - Postnatal

PPH - Post-partum haemorrhage

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Blood Tests, Screening & Investigations

AFI - Amniotic fluid index - this is the measure of amniotic fluid around the baby

Amnio - Amniocentesis - a test to test for certain chromosomal abnormalities

FBC - Full blood count

GTT - Glucose tolerance test

Hb - Haemoglobin

LVS - Lower vaginal swab

MSU - Mid-stream specimen of using

MOEWS - Modified obstetric early warning chart - where your observations are recorded

X-match or XM - Cross matching blood - in preparation for a possible transfusion

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Your Care Team

CMW - Community midwife

Cons - Consultant

MCA - Maternity care assistant

MW - Midwife

Registrar - Senior doctor

SHO - Junior doctor

SMW - Senior midwife

SpR - Specialist registrar

StMW - Student midwife

This is not an exhaustive list so if you see something you don’t understand just ask!

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