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 is provided for a better understanding of the definitions. The information is not intended to replace actual training.
With over 40 years in business and 17 years online, our outstanding online training programs will help jumpstart your new career. Fill out the form on the right side of this page and let our enrollment advisors contact you directly.
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.
GPA Terminology - Gravida Para Abortus
GPA is the abbreviation for gravida, para, abortus. Sometimes, GPA terminology is combined with TPAL terminology. 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.