Multipara: Definition & Risks

Instructor: Sarah Lawson

Sarah has taught nursing courses and has a master's degree in nursing education.

Multipara is a term that describes the number of pregnancies and children a woman has had. Learn more about what multipara means and its associated risks.

Definition of Multipara

On any given day, thousands of women around the world are giving birth. And these aren't just first-timers; many of these women are giving birth for the second, third, fourth (or more!) time. It is very important to understand a woman's obstetrical history in order to fully understand her potential risks while caring for her before, during, or after she has given birth. Because of this, there is medical terminology used to describe obstetrical history.

Multipara refers to a woman who has had two or more viable pregnancies. This term is used regardless of whether the infant is born alive. The pregnancy must last at least 20 weeks for it to be considered a viable pregnancy. Primipara describes a woman who has had one viable pregnancy.

Woman with two children and considered a multipara

What's in a Term?

Other terms that are often used to describe pregnant patients are gravidity and parity. Gravidity refers to the number of times a woman has been pregnant, regardless of the outcome. Parity, or 'para', indicates the number of pregnancies lasting greater than 20 weeks and therefore considered viable pregnancies.

For example, if a primipara woman becomes pregnant and loses the pregnancy in a miscarriage before 20 weeks, she would be considered gravidity 1 parity 0 (or G1 P0). Another example would be a primipara woman who has a full term pregnancy and gives birth to twins. This woman would be gravidity 1 parity 1 (G1 P1). This is because she has been pregnant once and that pregnancy went past 20 weeks so it is considered viable. Even though she delivered twins, it is still only considered parity 1 because it was 'one pregnancy' resulting in two babies.

Grand multipara refers to a woman who has had five or more viable pregnancies. Great-grand multipara refers to a woman who has had 10 or more viable pregnancies. When a woman is considered a grand or great-grand multipara, there is increased risk of poor maternal and fetal outcomes.

Risks

There is always some level of risk in any pregnancy. When women have multiple pregnancies, the risk of unfavorable outcomes increases. This is because the woman will be older with each subsequent pregnancy, which can increase her chances of pregnancy complications.

When women are 35 years of age or older at the time of their due date, they are considered advanced maternal age and are therefore high risk. Another issue with multiple pregnancies is the uterus. The more times a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth, the less efficient her uterus is at contracting and returning to its normal size. This can cause problems during and after her labor. The following are risks associated with multipara and further pregnancies:

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