Guide to Obstetrical Words
Obstetrics deals with pregnancy, childbirth, and the post-natal period. Familiarity with obstetrics terminology is necessary to understand and practice obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN). Some words are heavily coded and may be confusing at times.
As a training supplement, Meditec has gathered commonly used obstetrics words for reference to facilitate students’ learning. A partial list of obstetrics terms, abbreviations, acronyms, and values are provided for better understanding of the definitions. The information is not intended to replace actual training.
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Obstetrics and Gynecology Words
TPAL terminology is a system used to describe obstetrical history.
T — term births
P — preterm births (prior to 37 weeks gestation)
A — abortions
L — living children
Example: A woman who has 2 living children born as preterm twins in her first pregnancy would be designated as: TPAL 0-1-0-2: 0 term births, 1 delivery prior to 37 weeks gestation (preterm), 0 pregnancies ending in spontaneous or induced abortions, and 2 living children.
Separate TPAL numbers by hyphens. Obstetric history: 4-2-2-4. Alternatively, spell out the terms as follows: 4 term infants, 2 premature infants, 2 abortions, 4 living children.
Sometimes, GPA terminology is combined with TPAL terminology. GPA is the abbreviation for gravida, para, abortus. The patient is gravida 3, 3-0-0-3.
Accompanied by Arabic numbers, G, P, and A (or Ab) describe the patient’s obstetric history. Roman numerals are not used. Separate GPA sections by commas. Alternatively, spell out the terms in lower case.
Obstetric history: G4, P3, A1 or gravida 4, para 3, abortus 1. When one or more of the numbers is 0, the preferred form is to write out the terms: gravida 2, para 0, abortus 2.
- G: gravida (number of pregnancies)
- P: para (number of births of viable offspring)
- A or Ab: abortus (abortions)
- nulligravida gravida 0: no pregnancies
- primigravida gravida 1, G1: 1 pregnancy
- secundigravida gravida 2, G2: 2 pregnancies
- nullipara para: 0 offspring
Other Obstetrical Terms
- Amniotic fluid: Fluid in a sac surrounding the fetus.
- Apgar scoring: Rating system measuring newborn babies’ general condition on a scale from 1 to 10.
- Cephalic delivery: Normal childbirth when the head comes first. When the head doesn’t appear first, it’s called “breech position.”
- Contractions: Muscles of the uterus contracting before birth, described by their intensity, duration, and frequency.
- Braxton Hicks contractions: a.k.a. false labor. Contractions felt in the abdomen after the 28th week of pregnancy.
- Embryo: Baby during the first trimester; after the first trimester, it’s called a “fetus.”
- Episiotomy: Incision to enlarge the vaginal opening for childbirth.
- Prolapsed cord: Umbilical cord appears before the infant’s head .
- Trimester: Three calendar months. There are three trimesters during gestation.