Gravida & Parity: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What are Gravida and Para?
  • 1:27 Calculating Gravidity & Parity
  • 3:16 Significance
  • 3:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Susan Utterback

Susan is a RN who has a master's degree in instructional technology with a corporate training focus. She has taught continuing education programs for healthcare providers.

Gravidity and parity are important terms for gathering a woman's health history. In this lesson you will learn about the definition and significance of gravidity and parity, as well as how to calculate each value.

What are Gravida and Para?

Imagine you're watching your favorite medical drama. The ambulance crew rushes through the door with a patient and quickly reports, 'We have a 26-year-old female in labor, G2 P1, 38 weeks pregnant!' Are you thinking, 'What is G2 P1, and can I catch it?' Don't worry, G2 P1 is medical shorthand for gravida 2 para 1, a quick way to explain how many pregnancies and births a woman has had.

The term gravida comes from the Latin word gravidus. It is used to describe a woman who is pregnant and is also a medical term for the total number of confirmed pregnancies a woman has had, regardless of the outcome of the pregnancy. For example, a woman who is pregnant for the first time will be termed a primigravida, which means first pregnancy.

Para refers to the total number of pregnancies that a woman has carried past 20 weeks of pregnancy. This number includes both live births and pregnancy losses after 20 weeks, such as stillbirths. The term primipara may be used to describe a woman who has had one delivery after 20 weeks, and multipara is used for a woman who has had two or more births. Nulliparous is the term that describes a woman who has never given birth after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Calculating Gravidity and Parity

Gravidity includes all confirmed pregnancies. Each pregnancy is only counted one time, even if the pregnancy was a multiple gestation, such as twins or triplets. For example, a woman who has had a miscarriage at 8 weeks of pregnancy, a birth of twins at 36 weeks of pregnancy, and a birth of a single baby at 40 weeks of pregnancy is a gravida 3; she has had 3 confirmed pregnancies.

Parity reflects the total number of births after 20 weeks, not the total number of infants born. Using the same example as above, the woman with one 8-week pregnancy loss, a live birth of twins, and a live birth of a single infant would be a para 2, even though she has given birth to 3 infants and has been pregnant 3 times.

Para can also be recorded using a four-digit system to include greater detail. The acronym for the four-digit system is T-P-A-L:

  • T is the abbreviation for term delivery, typically considered to be 37 weeks gestation or after.
  • P stands for the number of preterm deliveries between 20 and 36 weeks gestation.
  • A is defined as the number of spontaneous (also called a miscarriage) or induced abortions.
  • L represents the number of living children.

Continuing to follow the previous example, the woman's pregnancy history would be written as G3 P2 T1 P1 A1 L3. The healthcare team would interpret this information as three pregnancies, two births after 20 weeks, one birth at term, one preterm birth, one abortion before 20 weeks, and three living children.

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