cracking the code:
understanding pregnancy maternity notes

From the first time you meet your midwife until the day you arrive in the delivery room, your maternity note goes everywhere with you. However, we know that they can be a bit jargon-y and hard to understand if you aren't already a healthcare professional. Fortunately we have a small guide ready to help you decipher your maternity code.

your pregnancy medical record book

information to look out for

Your notes contain lots of important information about you, your pregnancy and your growing little one. They'll include the date of your very first antenatal appointment as well as results of blood tests, urine tests and the position your baby's lying in. They have a record of your ultrasound appointments and a growth chart showing how big your is baby is getting.

These records will also show any problems you've had during pregnancy, which is why it's so important to keep your notes with you wherever you go – especially if you're going on holiday.

your baby's position

Also called 'presentation and lie', these abbreviations tell you how and where your baby is sitting in your womb.

  • Ceph or C or Vx: your baby is head down and ready to go
  • Br: breach, which means your baby's coming out bum first
  • Long: your baby is lying longitudinal, or vertical
  • Tr: transverse means your baby is lying horizontal, across your body
  • Obl: oblique, your baby is lying diagonally
  • OA: they're head down, facing your spine. This is the best position for your baby to be in
  • OP: they're head down and facing your bellybutton
  • OL: they're head down and facing your side

If you see 'L' or 'R' in front of these, it's which side of your body your baby is on (left or right).

your baby's movements

To keep an eye (and an ear) on your baby, your midwife will check to hear and feel what your little one is up to inside the bump. Every time your midwife listens to your baby's heartbeat, she'll write in their beats per minute. Other abbreviations to look out for are:

  • FHH/FHHR: 'fetal heart heard' and sometimes 'fetal heart heard and regular'
  • FHNH: 'fetal heart not heard' (don't worry, this usually just means your baby is lying in a weird position!)
  • FMF: 'fetal movements felt'
  • FMNF: 'fetal movements not felt'

your urine test results

Your midwife will test your wee for glucose and protein/ albumin ('prot' or 'alb'). Glucose can be a sign of gestational diabetes, while protein can be an early warning sign of pre-eclampsia.

  • NAD or Nil: your urine is fine and dandy
  • Tr: a small amount of protein or glucose was found
  • PGO: your urine contains protein, glucose or 'other'
  • +,++, +++: a higher level of protein or glucose was found

your blood pressure results

The average blood pressure for adult women is 110/70, and anything above 130/90 is considered high. Some women naturally have lower blood pressure levels, so your midwife might not be concerned if yours is low. Also look out for:

  • Oed: water retention (we're looking at you, swollen ankles)
  • +, ++, +++: again, this tells you how high the reading is
  • If any of the readings, abbreviations or comments you read on your maternity note worry you at all, make sure you have a reassuring conversation with your GP or midwife. If there really was anything serious going on, rest assured that your healthcare professionals wouldn't be leaving you to find out from a piece of paper.