Parity refers to the number of previous pregnancies, whether resulting in a live or still birth. Research suggests that parity may be associated with some adverse conditions and outcomes, for example babies of first-time mothers may be pre-term, of low birthweight or small for gestational age (Koulalli et al. 2020; Prakesh 2010).
Alternatively, having had 5 or more previous pregnancies has been associated with maternal, obstetric and fetal complications, such as gestational diabetes, anaemia, pre-eclampsia placenta previa, placental abruption and being born large for gestational age (Singh et al. 2015).
There are many factors, such as maternal age, that need to be considered regarding the risks associated with parity, and most mothers have uncomplicated pregnancies and healthy babies, regardless of parity.
In 2020, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females who gave birth were more likely to have a higher parity than non-Indigenous females. In 2020, 11% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers had a parity of 3, 5.9% had a parity of 4 and 6.1% had a parity of 5 or more (compared with 4.4%, 1.6% and 1.2%, respectively, for non-Indigenous females).
Between 2010 and 2020, the proportion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females who were first-time mothers has remained stable (between 32% and 34%) and the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females with a parity of 5 or more has decreased (from 8.5% in 2010 to 6.1% in 2020).
The data visualisation below shows the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous females who gave birth by parity from 2010.
Figure 1: Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females who gave birth by parity from 2010 to 2020
Line graph of parity by Indigenous status. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers with a parity of five or more decreased
In 2020, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers who lived in the most disadvantaged areas had a higher parity (12% with a parity of 3 and 14% with a parity of 4 or more), compared with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers who lived in the least disadvantaged areas (6.0% and 8.5%, respectively).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females who gave birth and lived in Major cities were the most likely to be first-time mothers (37%, compared with between 30% and 34% for other remoteness areas).
The data visualisation below presents data on the parity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females who gave birth, by selected maternal characteristics for 2020.
Figure 2: Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females who gave birth by parity and selected topic for 2020
Bar chart for parity by selected topics. 34% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers were first-time mothers
Koullali B, Zijl MD, Kazemier BM, Oudijk MA, Mol BWJ, Pajkrt E and Ravelli ACJ (2020) ‘The association between parity and spontaneous pre-term birth: a population based study’, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 20(223), doi:10.1186/s12884-020-02940-w.
Prakesh S (2010) ‘Parity and low birth weight and preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analyses’, Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 89(7), doi:10.3109/00016349.2010.486827.
Singh SP, Chawan J and Mangla D (2015). ‘A descriptive study: maternal and fetal outcome of grand multipara’, International Journal of Reproduction, Contraception, Obstetrics and Gynaecology 4(1), doi: 10.5455/2320-1770.ijrcog20150239.