What are the health risks for nulliparous women?
The term “nulliparity” refers to having no children. However, it is not only a woman’s choice whether or not she will have children. Some women choose to limit their childbearing because they do not want to deal with the responsibilities of raising a family. Others may decide that having children would interfere with other aspects of their lives such as work, education, or socializing. Still others may feel that they simply don’t have time for parenthood and so they never become parents. Whatever the reason, all women face some level of risk when they become pregnant.
Women who choose to remain childless are at higher risk than those who choose to bear children. There is no way around this fact; there is always a small chance that pregnancy will fail.
Pregnancy carries many risks for both mother and baby, but these risks increase significantly if either partner becomes pregnant before age 15 years (the legal minimum age for sexual consent in most countries).
One of the biggest risks is premature birth, which occurs when a baby is born too early, or before the thirty-seventh week of pregnancy. Around 10% of all babies are born prematurely, and this risk increases with each additional child that a woman bears.
Risk factors for premature birth include maternal age younger than 20 years, obesity, drug use, and previous preterm birth.
Another risk factor for nulliparous women is preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition in which high blood pressure affects some women during pregnancy, and can be very dangerous for both mother and baby.
If left untreated, preeclampsia can cause seizures (eclampsia), liver failure, and coma.
Other risks for nulliparous women include anemia, urinary tract infection, preterm rupture of the membranes that surround the fetus (the amniotic membrane), and postpartum bleeding. Nulliparous women also have a higher risk of experiencing stillbirth and neonatal death than do multiparous women.
Nulliparous women are also at a higher risk for having a cesarean delivery than are multiparous women. Nulliparous women may experience complications during labor that require a C-section, though this does not mean that they will always need one.
Nulliparous women are also at a higher risk for developing ovarian cancer.
The best way to decrease the risks of pregnancy for nulliparous women is to seek pre-pregnancy counseling. It’s important to make sure that any potential mother is healthy and has no medical or psychological problems that would make becoming pregnant dangerous.
A woman should always consult her primary physician before getting pregnant, even if she’s had her tubes tied.
All women are encouraged to seek prenatal care even if they’ve had children in the past. Prenatal care can help prevent premature labor by monitoring a woman’s health and allowing early treatment of any potential problems.
Risks of Pregnancy for Multiparous Women
The following risks are associated with pregnancy only if a woman has already given birth one or more times:
Anemia (low blood count) in later pregnancies.
Problems with the placenta.
Miscarriage in later pregnancies.
Longer labor in later pregnancies.
Sources & references used in this article:
Risk factors associated with preeclampsia in healthy nulliparous women by BM Sibai, M Ewell, RJ Levine, MA Klebanoff… – American journal of …, 1997 – Elsevier
Risk factors for preeclampsia in healthy nulliparous women: a prospective multicenter study by BM Sibai, T Gordon, E Thom, SN Caritis… – American journal of …, 1995 – Elsevier
Labor induction and the risk of a cesarean delivery among nulliparous women at term by DB Ehrenthal, X Jiang, DM Strobino – Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2010 – journals.lww.com
Clinical risk prediction for pre-eclampsia in nulliparous women: development of model in international prospective cohort by RA North, LME McCowan, GA Dekker, L Poston… – Bmj, 2011 – bmj.com
Prevalence, trauma history, and risk for posttraumatic stress disorder among nulliparous women in maternity care by JS Seng, LMK Low, M Sperlich, DL Ronis… – Obstetrics and …, 2009 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Labor induction versus expectant management in low-risk nulliparous women by WA Grobman, MM Rice, UM Reddy… – … England Journal of …, 2018 – Mass Medical Soc