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Understanding your maternity notes

Find out about your maternity notes and pregnancy care; what do the abbreviations on your medical notes mean about you and your baby?

Trying to make sense of the medical notes your midwife or healthcare professional make during your antenatal appointments may seem a bit of a challenge at first. You'll become more familiar with the terms over time and get the hang of the terminology in your maternity notes.

Midwives are good at explaining what's happening during maternity care in plain language, but the notes they write down are in a particular shorthand. Read on to find out what some of the key maternity note abbreviations mean.

Your baby’s position (or presentation and lie)

Your baby's position will be recorded as:

  • Ceph or C or Vx = cephalic, vertex, or head down,
  • Br = breech or bottom down,
  • Long = longitudinal or vertical,
  • Tr = transverse, or across your body or
  • Obl = oblique or diagonally.

OA = Occiput Anterior (head down, facing your back);
OP = Occiput Posterior (head down, facing your front);
OL = Occiput Lateral (head down, facing your side).

L or R written in front of these indicates which side of your body your baby is lying on.
OA is the most favourable position for your baby to be in.

How much of your baby’s head is in the pelvis

NE, NEng, Not Eng (not engaged) or ‘free’ means that your baby’s head is above your pelvis.
1/5, 2/5, 3/5, 4/5 refer either to how much of the head can be felt above your pelvis or to how much of it is in your pelvis (ask your midwife which).
Your baby is engaged once 3/5 of the head is in your pelvis.
E or Eng = Engaged.

Your baby’s movements

Baby movement is recorded using the following terms:

FMF = Fetal Movements Felt
F = Felt
FMNF = Fetal Movements Not Felt
NF = Not Felt

Your baby’s heartbeat

FHH = Fetal Heart Heard; H = Heard
FHNH = Fetal Heart Not Heard; NH = Not Heard.

Urine test results

Prot or Alb (protein or albumin) and glucose are the substances tested for.
NAD means Nothing Abnormal Detected; Nil means none found (normal).
Tr (trace) means that a small amount of protein or glucose has been found.
 +, ++, +++ indicate that greater amounts have been found.

Your blood pressure

The average blood pressure for adult women is 110/70.
Blood pressure above 130/90 is considered high but if the blood pressure was particularly low at the beginning of the pregnancy, lower levels may be considered to be excessive later on.
Swelling (or oedema) is indicated by Oed.
Amount recorded as +, ++, +++

Remember, if you're not sure about anything, please do ask your midwife to explain things to you.

Further information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700.  We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.