For the most part, pregnancies in people are pretty simple. Whether it’s natural, in vitro, or through surrogacy, the steps remain the same. Take an egg and some sperm, get them together, and nine months later… okay, it’s an oversimplification, but you get the idea.
Of course, not every pregnancy is the same, and some are downright weird. Rare conditions and otherwise impossible pregnancies exist, and many of them may surprise you. These ten instances are the most unusual pregnancies ever recorded, and they are straight-up weird.
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10 Youngest Mother On Record
Typically, a girl doesn’t begin menstruating until she’s around 12-years old. While that number certainly fluctuates up or down by a few years, it’s the general average for most women around the world. Despite this, there are records of girls beginning their menstrual cycles much earlier. Still, the earliest known example is rather shocking.
A Peruvian girl named Lina Marcela Medina gave birth to a child at the tender age of only five years and seven months old. What’s even more shocking about that number is that doctors estimated she had been menstruating since the age of three and was capable of being impregnated that early in life.
This wouldn’t result in a pregnancy in most cases, but sadly, we don’t live in a world where people don’t prey on children. When Lina was brought into the hospital for abdominal pain and was found to be pregnant with a seven-month-old fetus, her dad was arrested for rape and incest.
Because of her young age, the child was born via Caesarean section, and the boy survived. He came in at 5.95 lbs (2.7 kg), which was a healthy weight. The viable pregnancy was certainly rare, and no mother has since been recorded at such a young age, and hopefully, one never will.
9 Oldest Mother On Record
Typically, women stop having children in their 40s, but thanks to modern medical practices like in vitro fertilization and various drugs, that’s changed. Now, women can get pregnant well into their 40s, but it’s rare for pregnancies to happen in the 50s and beyond.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it is rare. Still, there are unusual cases such as Omkari Panwar, who gave birth to twins at 72. The Indian woman successfully delivered a boy and a girl, and it was all thanks to in vitro fertilization, so it wasn’t some sort of strange accident.
Both children were born healthy if a bit premature, though the effort nearly killed the mother. Panwar and her husband, Charam Sing, had two other children and five grandchildren, but the couple had never had a son. The desire for one was so strong, they went forward with implantation despite the risks.
Such a practice is certainly frowned upon, but in India, where it is illegal for a doctor to reveal the sex of a child, having a son is important. This desire often leads to the abortion of healthy female fetuses, hence the law.
8 Getting Pregnant While Pregnant
Believe it or not, it’s possible to become pregnant while already pregnant, though it is incredibly rare. The phenomenon is called “superfetation,” and there are only around ten cases known to exist in all of recorded medical history.
One such case involved Julia Grovvenburg, who became pregnant with her second son, Hudson, while she was pregnant with her first daughter, Julian. Hudson was conceived around two weeks after his sister’s conception, so the two were close enough in age to pass for twins.
Ultimately, that’s how the parents passed the kids off, as they were both born simultaneously, making this easy. Interestingly, superfetation can occur with more than one father, making it possible to carry two children from two different fathers at the same time.
This occurred in 2017 when an American surrogate for a Chinese couple became pregnant with two children. The first was the implanted embryo. The second was the result of a biological impregnation between her and her partner. The two pregnancies were separated by about three weeks and technically stemmed from two mothers and two fathers.
7 Double-Pregnancy Without Twins
While it’s exceptionally rare for a woman to get pregnant while she’s already pregnant via superfetation, there’s another way multiple pregnancies can occur. Some women are born with more than one uterus, a condition known as didelphys. It’s next to impossible for these women to become pregnant in both uteri at the same time, but it can happen.
The odds of it occurring are only around one in five million, so there aren’t many recorded cases. A recent occurrence happened in 2010 when Angie Cromar managed to have two babies at once, but they weren’t twins. Twins form from two eggs and different sperm (fraternal) or a single fertilized egg that splits (identical) but develops in the same uterus.
Development in different uteri of the same mother is entirely different, so the offspring are not considered twins. Essentially, it’s two separate eggs and two sperm cells, both of which combine separately, so the offspring are siblings, but not twins.
Still, they are often called “non-genetic twins,” which isn’t necessarily incorrect. It’s incredibly rare, and only about 100 instances have been recorded. Theoretically, a didelphys pregnancy could result from two separate fathers.
6 Two Pregnancies From Two Separate Fathers
Becoming pregnant while pregnant is rare, but it can happen in a variety of ways. Superfetation results in pregnancy on top of pregnancy, but it’s not the only way a woman can become pregnant twice. A more common double pregnancy can occur simply by having sex with multiple partners in a short period of time.
Typically, a woman drops a single egg when she ovulates, but occasionally, she can drop more. When this happens, one or both can become fertilized by separate sperm cells. Sperm can survive for up to five days following insemination, and that whole time, they’re just waiting to find an egg.
If one of those cells finds that second egg, it can fertilize it — even if the woman was already impregnated around the same time. One such case occurred in 2009 when a Texas woman delivered twin boys. The father noticed how different they looked and asked for a paternity test.
The results were baffling because while both children were born simultaneously, they each had a different biological father. This phenomenon, called “heteropaternal superfecundation,” accounts for between one and two percent of all fraternal twins. It has resulted in the birth of twins where the children are of different races, via the father.
5 The Successful Birth Of Nonuplets
When an American woman gave birth to eight children at once in 2009, she became a reality star and a Guinness World Record holder. Octomom had some competition in 2021 when a Malian woman named Halima Cissé gave birth via Caesarean section to nine babies at once (five girls and four boys), and they all survived.
That’s an important distinction because the previous two recorded instances of nonuplets births resulted in all of the children passing away after only a few days. Fortunately, Cissé avoided that horrific outcome, and her children all came into the world as healthy little ones.
They weighed in between 1.1 and 2.2 lbs (500g to 1kg), so they needed to spend the first two to three months of their lives inside incubators, where they continued to grow and mature. Delivering the nonuplets was a significant ordeal requiring a team of ten doctors and 25 paramedics at the Ain Borja clinic in Casablanca.
Typically, multiple pregnancies like Mrs. Cissé’s result from fertility treatments and aren’t the result of natural impregnation. It’s unknown if this is the case for Cissé, but it is possible that it can happen naturally.
4 Twenty-Seven-Years-Old At Birth
During in vitro fertilization, multiple embryos are harvested to increase the probability of producing a viable pregnancy. It’s common for people to keep the leftover embryos in cold storage so they can use them at a later date. Sometimes, they are donated to programs that handle embryo adoption, so infertile people can use them to have a child.
Typically, stored embryos aren’t held in cryogenic preservation for more than a few years. Still, there are cases where an embryo was stored and used after a much longer period of time. Tina Gibson and her husband Ben managed to obtain two embryos stored in a cryogenic freezer, and both of them broke records.
Their first child came from a frozen embryo that was extracted and put on ice 24 years earlier. When they decided to have another child, they went back to the source so their kids would be genetic siblings. Two embryos from the same donor were implanted, and one took.
The resulting baby came from a frozen egg donated in 1992 — a full 27 years before the Gibsons implanted it. That’s the longest period of time an egg spent between extraction, freezing, thawing, and implantation that resulted in a viable pregnancy.
3 The Surprise Birth—Cryptic Pregnancy
Medical dramas and even Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life have delved into the “surprise pregnancy” trope over the years, so many think it’s somewhat common. It actually isn’t, and when a surprise birth comes along, it can create a whole host of problems for everyone involved.
Surprise births, or cryptic pregnancies, occur when a woman has mild to a complete absence of pregnancy symptoms. No morning sickness, cramping, minimal abdomen swelling, and more can leave a woman thinking she’s not pregnant; many continue to menstruate.
In April 2021, Mellisa Surgecoff gave birth to her son while sitting on a toilet — she thought she was passing a kidney stone. Stories like this pop up every once in a while, and cryptic pregnancies are definitely rare, but they happen more often than you might think.
Patrick O’Brien, an obstetrician at University College London Hospitals, sees about one every year. In some cases, the unknowing soon-to-be mother spent her entire pregnancy menstruating with regularity, so the baby is genuinely unexpected. These pregnancies can be problematic because the mother missed out on all pre-natal care.
2 The Longest Recorded Pregnancy
If you’ve ever watched a sitcom involving a pregnant woman, odds are you’ve seen someone complain about their baby skipping their due date. It’s a common trope, and it’s also fairly common for women outside the world of entertainment. Most pregnancies last for an average of 280 days, which is a little more than nine months and a day.
That’s the average, but plenty of children are born too early or a little late. Then, there’s the case of Beulah Hunter, a woman who spent the longest time being pregnant. Hunter gave birth to her daughter Penny Diana after 375 days, earning herself a place in the record books and a story to tell for the rest of her life.
The unusual pregnancy sparked skepticism that Hunter miscarried and then quickly became pregnant once more during her year of pregnancy. Her doctors quickly quashed this notion, and by all accounts, she was genuinely pregnant, and her baby was born 100 days overdue.
Hunter’s daughter was perfectly healthy and without any unusual developments. Doctors concluded that her womb was healthy, but her daughter developed at a slower rate than normal. Her gestation had a few stops and starts in terms of development, which is what kept her around for so long.
1 Longest Labor Pains Ever Recorded
If your mother ever let you know that she suffered for a long time delivering you, and you should appreciate her, she’s right! Still, her intense pain that lasted upwards of 10+ hours may sound terrible, and it probably was, but it hardly counts as the worst labor pains on record. That distinction goes to Joanna Krzysztoken, a Polish woman who suffered far longer than most.
Instead of the more typical 8-12 hours of labor pains felt by most mothers, Krzysztonek endured a disturbingly long 75 days! That’s 1,800 hours of intense labor pains! She went into early labor at 21 weeks while carrying triplets. The first was born soon after, but it was too early to survive, leaving two still inside her womb.
The labor pains didn’t end, nor were the other children delivered. Instead, her contractions continued. To help her children survive, her doctors placed her in a bed tilted at a 30° angle with her feet up. She remained in that position for 75 days, experiencing labor pains the entire time.
Fortunately, after that insanely long period of time, she delivered the remaining two children safely. Krzysztoken suffered some balancing issues soon after the birth, but she’s since recovered.