Most Bizarre Pregnancy Cases
Here are some of the most strange and unusual pregnancies that broke records!Society
Pregnancy is a crazy time for any parent, but even the healthiest of pregnancies can be difficult, what with morning sickness, swollen ankles, and hormone fluctuations, and that’s before you bring home a screaming baby! However, rare conditions and complications have made some pregnancies even more crazy.
From stories of getting pregnant while pregnant, to biological twins born in different decades, let's take a look at some medically amazing and record-breaking pregnancies that you won’t believe actually happened!
Back in 2009, single mom Nadya Suleman, more famously known as the Octomom, broke records by giving birth to eight babies in one go. At the time, it was the very first case of all the octuplets surviving past their first week, making her pregnancy a true medical marvel.
Nadya conceived her octuplets through IVF, which stands for in vitro fertilization. This is where an egg is retrieved from a woman and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. The result of this fertilization is called an embryo, which is then placed inside a uterus to develop and grow into a fetus.
Usually, ovaries only release one egg at a time, so before the eggs are harvested, medicines and fertility drugs are administered to whoever’s eggs are being harvested to allow the ovaries to produce multiple eggs, which are then collected.
To ensure the highest chance of success, multiple embryos are then usually inserted into the womb. This means IVF treatments are more likely to produce fraternal twins or triplets, that is, separate fetuses grown from separate eggs, rather than two or three fetuses developed from one egg.
Nadya began IVF treatments back in 1997, and had a total of 6 children this way, all born separately with the exception of one set being twins! By 2009, she had some viable embryos left and decided to have 6 inserted at once because they were reaching the end of their viable lifespan.
She and the doctors assumed that, now that she was older, not all the embryos would take, and while 6 was still a lot for a woman of her age, the procedure was approved. But there was a problem. Nadya’s doctor in Beverly Hills, California, hadn’t actually transferred 6 embryos, he’d transferred 12.
Not only was this extreme, but it was also very risky for both Nadya and the 8 embryos which had successfully become fetuses! As they grew, Nadya’s pregnancy pictures quickly captured the public’s attention, as she was sporting one of the biggest bumps you’ll ever see!
Wombs are incredibly elastic, easily able to carry an average 20-inch long, 7.8 lb fetus to term for a full 37-weeks. Even so, images like the one in the tweet below this floating around the internet showing mega moms with hugely distended stomachs, apparently having given birth to 17 babies aren’t always real.
However, at just 31 weeks, Nadya really was close to bursting and running out of room, she had to deliver all of her miracle babies by emergency c-section, with each of them weighing between just 1 lb 8 oz, and 3 lb 4oz, less than half that of your average newborn.
But, despite being dangerously underdeveloped, they beat the odds and all survived! And more than 10 years on, they’re all one happy family! However, Nadya's record has been broken in 2021 by mother Halima Cisse, who gave birth to nine babies in Morocco.
The Pregnant Man
As a society, we’re better educated on transgender issues than ever before. But back in 2008, the idea that a man could be pregnant wasn’t only ridiculous, it was impossible! Then along came Thomas Beatie, the first man in the entire world to get pregnant!
Thomas’ story was a revelation, given that childbirth had only ever been recorded in people identifying as women up until that point. But Thomas, who’d been assigned female at birth, had undergone sex reassignment surgery involving a double mastectomy and testosterone hormone treatments, allowing him to develop a physically masculine body.
Because his wife at the time couldn’t carry children, he took matters into his own hands (well, his own womb) and decided to bear their children himself. Because he’d never had any surgeries to remove his uterus, he was able to use a sperm donor to fertilize his eggs, and with the help of IVF, he became pregnant.
In order to do this, though, he was required to come off testosterone for the entire period of egg retrieval and pregnancy. This essentially allowed his natural estrogen and progesterone levels to rise, which are essential for a fetus’ development. Also, high testosterone intake during pregnancy can negatively impact fertility and development.
For many people in 2008, it was definitely the weirdest pregnancy story they’d ever heard. But Thomas bravely shared his story publicly to raise awareness, and since then, the collective understanding of pregnancy in trans people has increased significantly. He proved that it was possible to be a pregnant dad, with his baby bump photos garnering a lot of attention!
He didn’t stop with one, though, and went on to give birth to two more children! This amazing example allowed others to share their own experiences too. Danny Wakefield is another trans person who followed in Thomas’ footsteps and made the sacrifice to come off testosterone to carry a child themselves!
Thanks to Thomas’ story as the first pregnant man legally recognized by the US government, he’s paved the way for people who once thought it was impossible to have kids of their own! And I think we can all agree, the world can never have too many loving parents.
Baby Born With Two Heads, Three Arms And Two Hearts
All children are unique in their own way, but some twins are the literal definition of unique. A remarkable pair of conjoined twins defied all odds when they were born back in 2022 with two hearts, three arms, and two heads, sharing a chest, pelvis, and torso.
This may seem like a standard case of conjoined twins; a rare but understood phenomenon where two babies are born connected to one another. But even for the experts, it’s hard to discern whether this baby should be treated as one child or two!
Shaheen Khan expected to deliver 2 fully formed twins but gave birth to dicephalic parapagus twins. These twins occur when the egg splits into two embryos, but this splitting stops before it can fully complete its separation. This is an incredibly rare type of partial twinning, one that’s often fatal.
Conjoined twins usually occur once in every 50,000 to 100,000 pregnancies, and even if they’re separated surgically, they have an average survival rate of just 7.5%. But dicephalic parapagus twins are in their own special category, with only 11% of conjoined cases resulting in dicephalic parapagus twins and their survival rate being unknowably low.
Because their bodies are so closely intertwined, dicephalic parapagus twins usually will not undergo separation surgery. This is because there will be a better chance of survival if they are not separated, unless one of the twins is in critical condition. Thankfully, neither of the Khan twins was critical, and so both of these amazing miracle babies survived!
World's Oldest Mom Has Twins At The Age Of 74
One of the biggest myths surrounding pregnancy is that you can’t get pregnant after a certain age. But Erramatti Mangayamma proved everyone who thought that wrong at the grand old age of 73! She is the oldest woman to ever give birth.
Her decision to have children at that age sparked a large debate over geriatric pregnancies amongst doctors and the public. Pregnancies in women over the age of 35 tend to carry higher risks for low birth weights, the likelihood of the child having developmental issues, cardiac issues such as strokes, and higher chances of complications during pregnancy and labor.
At 72, then, Erramatti’s pregnancy was as risky as it could be! But she refused to give up on the dream of having a child, which she and her husband had tried desperately to conceive for 5 decades.
What is pretty impossible is for a woman in her seventies to have enough, if any, viable eggs left. Women are born with all the eggs they’re ever going to have, some 300 to 400,000. They have the most when they hit puberty, and this supply gradually reduces up till menopause, at around 45 to 55 years old, when there are no eggs left.
So, the couple went through IVF with donor eggs and her husband’s sperm. She was then subjected to a year-long stay in hospital, with ten doctors monitoring her progress; but it was worth it when she finally gave birth in 2019 to twin girls!
What’s even more amazing though is that despite her age, Erramatti’s doctor detected no underlying conditions or issues, and expected no complications at all! And just as the doctor ordered, her twins were delivered safely and healthy.
Beulah Hunter: World's Longest Human Pregnancy
Have you ever had to carry around an average-sized melon for an hour or so while shopping? It can be cumbersome, so imagine how annoying it must be to have something that size and weight strapped to your belly for months!
Anyone who has ever been pregnant will probably tell you that spending a few months at this size is more than enough to deal with. But what if you had to keep carrying this for an additional three months?
In 1945, Beulah Hunter finally gave birth to her little girl, Penny, after a staggering twelve-month-long pregnancy. For reference, the normal human gestation period is around 280 days, but Beulah’s pregnancy became a bizarre case when she was almost 100 days overdue, at a total of 375 days!
The reason this occurred was down to the baby’s development. While the first 3 months were normal, at 6 months everything started to change. It was at this mark that the fetus had only just started to stir, something that’s usually felt by the mother at 4 months.
The doctor confirmed that the fetus was growing at an extremely slow pace, even though Beulah’s womb was developing at the normal rate. Yet, she didn’t feel any changes concerning her pregnancy for months! Even stranger still, baby Penny’s heartbeat wasn’t detected until the 7th month, which is both scary and mind-blowing.
Ordinarily, a fetus’ heartbeat can be first detected between five and six weeks, not months! And because of Penny’s slow growth, doctors were concerned that she would have certain diseases and pathologies, including low birth weight. Amazingly, though, Penny was born without any complications! She was perfectly healthy and weighed a very normal 6 lbs 9 oz.
Penny continued to grow at a normal and healthy rate in childhood, showing no signs whatsoever of any complications for her extended time in the womb. And Beulah still holds the official record for the world’s longest pregnancy! Well, you know what they say, slow and steady wins the race!
Woman With Double Uterus Gives Birth At 22 Weeks
People with wombs usually only have only one, but having two wombs is possible! It’s a rare abnormality, but it can do incredible things; like grow two babies at the same time, in two separate uteruses!
Sounds crazy, but it’s very real, as Megan Phipps knows all too well. She was born with this condition, called Uterine Didelphys, possessing two cervixes and two uteruses, which occurs in a minuscule 0.3% of the population.
Here’s a quick biology lesson on the differences between a uterus and a cervix, because they commonly get thrown about together without any explanation! The uterus is where a fetus can develop. It‘s an upside-down pear-shaped muscular organ, which contracts to expel the baby right out of there during labor.
The cervix, on the other hand, is a cylindrical piece of connective tissue within the lower segment of the uterus. Consider it the "neck" of the womb, connecting the uterus with the outer sections of the female anatomy. It controls when a baby exits the uterus, widening when it's time to deliver. So, having two of each must look quite busy down there!
Doctors initially thought that Megan’s left uterus was inactive, but this was shockingly disproved when she fell pregnant with twins by carrying a child in both her left and right uterus at the same time! Because only one in about 25,000 women with uterus didelphys gets pregnant with a twin in each uterus, that means the chances of it occurring are about 1 in 50 million!
But this also meant the babies had a much lower chance of survival due to complications. Born at 22 weeks, Riley and Reece were some of the most premature girls ever recorded, weighing just under a pound each.
Because of this, doctors estimated that they would have under a one percent chance of survival. Sadly, Riley didn’t make it. But her sister luckily survived and had to stay in the hospital for another 144 days until she weighed eight pounds. This peculiar pregnancy turned out to produce a modern miracle and a 50 million-to-one modern miracle at that.
Mariam Nabatanzi: World's Most Fertile Woman
Looking after one child is hard enough, looking after two is harder, but four? Not impossible, but definitely a challenge. And after the age of forty, caring for four children seems nigh on impossible. But, astonishingly, at least one woman has done this ten times over!
Mariem Nabatanzi was born with a hereditary condition called hyperovulation, which, thanks to her abnormally large ovaries, made her incredibly fertile.
Initially, Mariem was told that birth control wouldn’t work and could cause severe health issues. This didn’t mean she never tried; in fact, an IUD, which is an implant device designed to prevent pregnancy, actually left her in a coma! The side-effects of hyperovulation vary from person to person, but many report severe pain, tenderness, and bleeding.
She was told by doctors that the only way to ease her body was to actually keep giving birth since access to medication for hyperovulation is rare in rural Uganda. It was only after having her 44th child, doctors advised her to stop giving birth altogether and operated on her uterus to prevent further pregnancy.
Mariem’s story is even more unbelievable when you learn that she had all of her children by the age of 40; that’s over twenty-five years of her life she spent being pregnant! Not only that, but this amazing mother has only given birth to a single child once, having had three sets of quadruplets, four sets of triplets and six sets of twins in total!
Following several complications and losses, she now has twenty boys and eighteen girls, a clan of thirty-eight, and Mariem is a single mother, too. Going through all that deserves every parenting award imaginable. Just imagine having to do the school run!
Oldest Woman To Give Birth To Her Grandchildren
Back in 2008, when Jaci Dalenberg fell pregnant, she knew she wasn’t going to be a typical mother. In fact, she knew she wasn’t going to be this baby’s mother at all because she wasn’t carrying her own child, but her grandchild! This bizarre pregnancy resulted in a Guinness World Record for the oldest woman to give birth to her grandkids, a crazy achievement.
When Jaci was in her 50’s, her daughter had to undergo a hysterectomy, a procedure to remove one’s womb. She was prepared to adopt, but Jaci selflessly offered to be her daughter’s surrogate, that is, she’d carry the embryos of her daughter and son-in-law through IVF!
Being 56, Jaci knew the risks of geriatric pregnancy, and so underwent hormone therapy to strengthen her uterus. And boy, was she going to need it, because the IVF was so successful it resulted in triplets! Their doctor stated that Jaci’s case was unusual and didn’t come without complications.
All three daughters were born two months prematurely, each weighing less than three pounds. Despite all this, Jaci was always confident that her health was good enough to carry and deliver her grandchildren, and luckily, she was right. The triplets grew stronger and healthier, Jaci was rightly given heaps of gratitude, and, of course, her world record!
Premature Triplets Born In Different Decades
In a pair of twins, one usually likes to brag that they were born first, whether by a few minutes or a few hours. But regardless of who’s oldest, the DeShane family gained all the bragging rights when their triplets were born. Because it took a whopping 132 hours between the first birth and the second!
Cian was born at just 22 weeks old on 28th December 2019 and was only given a 9% chance of survival while awaiting the arrival of his siblings. Then a colossal 5 days and 12 hours later, Rowan and Declan were born, on 2nd January 2020.
So, not only were these kids born more than 5 days apart, but they were also born in different decades. While only days apart, technically Cian was a 2010’s baby, whereas Rowan and Declan were 2020’s kids! Regardless of when they were born though, all three of them came in at just under 2 lbs.
After spending several weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, all three defied the odds stacked against them, and are now happy, healthy kids! And to top it off, Mom Kaylie was awarded the Guinness world record for the longest interval between the birth of triplets! After that 132-hour, decade-spanning labor, she’s earned it!
World's Smallest Mother
Stacey Herald defied all medical expectations when she gave birth to three children. Doctors maintained that pregnancy could be life-threatening and dangerous because Stacey was only 2ft 4in tall! She was born with a condition called osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder that stunts bone growth and causes vital organs to be underdeveloped.
This meant that going through pregnancy could be hard on her body. Because her pelvis was so much smaller than an average-sized person’s, she was advised that a fetus could potentially crush her organs as it was growing.
However, Stacey decided she wanted to carry her own child even if it was fatal, and, defying the odds, she did just that. Not just once, but three times over! By two years old, one of her daughters had surpassed her height!
Stacey considered her own life, and the life of her children, to be miracles. And their births certainly were, since they were all successfully delivered without any broken bones! For context, there is an increased chance of crushed bones when being born with osteogenesis imperfecta, which two of her children were, due to the pressure of childbirth.
This is just one of the reasons why Stacey was warned against carrying children, but she showed the world that it was in fact possible and gave hope to many others with osteogenesis imperfecta wanting families of their own!
There’s a type of pregnancy that occurs that is so rare, only fourteen cases worldwide have ever been documented. It’s called superfetation and it happens when someone gets pregnant while already pregnant.
In certain animals, like hares, fish, or badgers, superfetation is common, but not so with humans. This is because an entirely different egg has to be fertilized separately in the womb with an already fertilized and developing egg released much earlier, which is a near-impossible feat.
However, Rebecca Roberts recently went through this phenomenon, birthing two twins who were conceived three weeks apart! This happened when a fertility drug Rebecca was taking caused another egg to be released later on in her menstrual cycle, which was then fertilized, resulting in a double pregnancy.
At her two previous pregnancy scans, only the first child was shown in the womb, but at twelve weeks her second baby started showing up on the screen as well! Not only was she stealing the limelight from her brother, but she was also showing him up by being much smaller.
Doctors eventually noticed the growth discordance and tried to figure out what had caused this. It wasn’t due to any common explanations, such as a lack of blood distributed to one of the twins, or the placenta being unable to support both of them; it could only be explained as an entirely new pregnancy!
Even doctors can have trouble recognizing it because there are no symptoms associated with superfetation. However, it does come with a big risk; the second child is more likely to be born prematurely because it’s several weeks of growth behind its larger sibling.
This was seen in Rebecca’s case, when Noah was born weighing over 4 lbs, and Rosalie who followed close behind only weighed 2 pounds 7 ounces. Baby Rosalie stayed in hospital for nearly a hundred days in order to grow sufficiently, before finally being taken home. What a pair of little superstars!
Back in 2016, 19-year-old Charlotte Thomson was suddenly rushed to hospital in the middle of the night, experiencing agonizing stomach pains. She thought maybe it was her appendix bursting, or some trapped wind, which is when the doctors revealed she was actually nine months pregnant and was going into labor! Talk about a surprise birthday party.
You would have thought that being pregnant would be obvious, with physical signs like a big baby bump. However, Charlotte was experiencing a phenomenon called Cryptic or Stealth Pregnancy. While women usually gain between 22 and 28 lbs during their pregnancy, Charlotte only gained an extra 3 lbs in weight over nine months.
Her stomach was completely flat, and she was still able to fit into her regular clothes. All the mental discomforts of pregnancy, like increased tiredness, she thought were due to partying too hard. So, if there was no bump, where was the baby coming from? Doctors explained that the fetus was tucked underneath her ribs, and therefore didn’t show at all.
Baby Molly certainly caught her mother out, as Charlotte went into labor just two hours after arriving at the hospital. All turned out well in the end thankfully, with no complications for mother or baby.
Normally, a person finds out they’re pregnant within 5 to 12 weeks from the point of conception, but an estimated 1 in 475 pregnancy cases turn out to be cryptic, which, if you think about it, is quite a lot. Symptoms can be explained away as a case of the flu or side effects of your diet, and even negative pregnancy tests can be outliers so you could be pregnant right now and not know it!
I hope you were amazed at these unusual pregnancy stories. Thanks for reading!