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What is Primiparous?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Primiparous is an adjective describing certain aspects of a woman’s reproductive state. When a women is declared primiparous, she is either pregnant with her first child or has had a first child already. The term can be changed to noun form, and a woman pregnant with her first child or having given birth to that child is a primipara. The medical community principally uses these appellations or might symbolically represent a primipara as para 1.

There’s another term that may used in place of primiparous: primigravida. The terms essentially substitute one for the other, and either could be used in a medical setting. Both words are understood as either being pregnant for the first time or having already had a first birth.

Things change when women have not been pregnant or have had several births. If a person is not yet primiparous, she is usually nulliparous or nulligravida. Special notation may exist if a woman has previously had abortions or miscarriages.

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To achieve the state where the medical community counts a pregnancy as having ended in birth very much depends on regional definitions. In some cases, giving birth occurs any time after age of potential viability is reached. In this case, whether miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion occurs, after about the 20-25th weeks, the pregnancy would be considered complete and the woman is primiparous. If abortion or miscarriage occurred earlier, the woman might still be considered nulliparous, though doctors would clearly note existence of previous miscarriages or pregnancies in other ways.

Other sets of descriptions apply to women who have completed more than one pregnancy. The woman who has given “birth,” as it is defined in a region, two times is biparous or multigravida. Multiparous usually refers to women who have had at least three children. Once women have given birth four times or more they may be described as grand multiparas.

One distinction important to note with terms like primigravida and primiparous is that neither refer to the number of children being delivered in a single birth. A woman could have sextuplets in a first delivery and she would still be primiparous until birth resulting from a second pregnancy. Again, the notation is useful but it can’t fully account for all the medical circumstances that are unique to the particular person being treated. A primiparous woman who had sextuplets might have a high-risk second birth and need to be watched carefully.

Principally, the notation is useful and can be a way for medical professionals to discuss specific types of women who are pregnant or laboring. Such labels don’t speak to all medical concerns. Generally, they give the medical profession a convenient set of terms to use in discussions about patients that separates them by number of times they have given birth.

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croydon
Post 4

@irontoenail - It's also fairly important to identify women who have had multiple pregnancies. I'm not sure at what point it becomes more dangerous but the more pregnancies a woman goes through the higher the likelihood that she will face vitamin deficiencies and problems like that.

Pregnancy can take a huge toll on the human body, although of course it depends on the individual woman and how she takes care of her health.

irontoenail
Post 3

@pleonasm - A primiparous mother is also going to, in theory, be less likely in general to be sick, if she wasn't sick on the first time around. There are some things you just can't know about a person until they've gone through every stage of pregnancy.

If they've done that once already without problems (or with predictable problems) then the next time around is likely to be similar.

pleonasm
Post 2

At first I thought this was kind of a weird thing to have a specific name for, particularly if being pregnant isn't the thing being measured, but carrying a child to term. I mean, there isn't a magical line you cross at a certain point in pregnancy, and giving birth itself can happen in more than one way (by Cesarean, for example) so being called primiparous wouldn't really describe much.

But then there are certain conditions that can only happen to someone who is on their second pregnancy. That condition where the baby has a different blood type and the mother's body sees it as an allergen, for example. So I guess the point is not to describe so much as just to notify the doctors that it might be necessary to look for certain things.

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