No two pregnancies are exactly alike from conception, through labour and delivery. Nevertheless, some stories about pregnancies are easier to believe than others. So, before you conclude your experience was unusual, consider these unbelievable but true things about pregnancy.
Can a woman become pregnant while she is already pregnant?
Unbelievable but true. Imagine giving birth twice within a few weeks because the babies are just separated by a few weeks and reach full term at different times. The condition is called Superfetation. It occurs when the woman releases another egg which may become fertilized if sexual activity continues during pregnancy. According to reports, only 10 cases have been documented. For example, in 2011, Julia Grovenburg had two babies (NOT twins) that were conceived two and half weeks apart. It is possible to detect these during ultrasound scans. Therefore, the medical team has ample time to plan delivery. Because of possible complications, most pregnancies involving such babies are terminated when the older child reaches maturity. The younger sibling is then managed as premature birth. If you have seen ‘twins’ who appear to be significantly different in terms of maturity at birth, superfetation is a possible explanation.
Can twins have two different fathers?
Unbelievable but true. It has been reported that up to 1 out of every 400 sets of twins have two fathers. How can this happen? Although most women release one egg during ovulation, some release two or more healthy eggs. If the same woman that has released two or more viable eggs has unprotected sex with two different men, she may eventually deliver twins with two fathers! It is due to Superfecundation. It may also occur during fertility treatments if the husband eventually succeeds while artificial insemination has occurred. Because it is not so common, do not begin to assume that twins that look completely different have two fathers. There are other reasons for having twins that are completely different, so do not be quick to judge.
Can a man have pregnancy symptoms?
Unbelievable but true. This is known as Couvade syndrome, sympathetic or phantom pregnancy. It is also called pregnant dad syndrome because it occurs in men whose wives are expecting a baby. In this condition, the man has features of an expectant mother such as weight gain, early morning nausea, and craving. This occurred to Harry Ashby, whose girlfriend was expecting a baby in 2014. Harry also had a bulging stomach and breasts. His morning sickness was so severe that he had been given time off work! In another interesting case, William Bennet reported pregnancy symptoms every time his spouse or daughters got pregnant. By the age of 79 years, he had become ‘pregnant’ 30 times! The doctors observed that his abdomen expanded more when more than one family member was pregnant. This condition has been reported to occur more in men that are emotionally sensitive or prone to distress. It appears that this condition is less likely to occur in Africa where displays of feminine traits by men are not encouraged.
Can a woman in her 50s become pregnant?
Unbelievable but true. However, this is unlikely to occur naturally. In Vitro fertilization techniques make this possible. According to Dr Allan Pacey from UK’s Sheffield University in an interview with BBC, it is “certainly possibly for women in their 70s to become pregnant if IVF donor eggs from a younger woman are used, but there are dangers to the health of the mother and the baby “. In 2013, an Indian woman in her 70s made headlines when she gave birth to a child for the first time. This occurred after decades of infertility. Although, she nearly died from major complications after delivery, she is determined to live long enough to care for her only child.
Can a woman give birth without knowing she was pregnant?
Strange but true. This happened to Ms Bryant, who eventually gave birth while trying to use the toilet. Her doctors thought she had constipation. In another interesting case, a 32 year old woman who had her regular menses never knew she was pregnant. Following an urge to ‘defecate’ she went to the toilet and was shocked to find a baby’s head pop out. Ms Janet Fyle, of the Royal College of Midwives in an interview with dailymail, said: ‘Some women just don’t know they are pregnant. It might happen for a variety of reasons. There are some women with good abdominal muscles and fat and the baby lies flat against the back so they don’t have a bump. Some women won’t have the normal pregnancy symptoms. Some women feel the baby moving inside them, but some don’t. A lot of the symptoms of pregnancy are ‘everyday’ symptoms. Especially if they’ve never had a baby. Not all women are body-conscious. It depends on what’s going on in their life.’
Can babies growing outside the womb survive till time of delivery?
Unbelievable but true. A baby grows outside the womb is a condition called ectopic pregnancy. This is quite common. In Ilorin, Nigeria up to 98 cases were reported in a 3 year period. What is not so common is carrying such baby to term. The reason is that the structure carrying the unborn baby usually ruptures after 6 to 16 weeks which may lead to severe bleeding and loss of life. In the United Kingdom, only 5 cases have been reported. According to mail online, one involved a 38 year old who had been trying to have a child for about a year. When she finally became pregnant, the doctors informed her that her baby was in the abdomen NOT the womb. With adequate support and huge risk to her life, the baby was delivered at 30 weeks. In this instance, the egg was implanted in the abdominal cavity which developed a sac that facilitated growth. In Nigeria, there have been cases of heterotopic pregnancies (ectopic pregnancy co-existing with intrauterine pregnancy) which were successfully managed.
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