Arifa Sultana had no idea she was expecting more than one baby.
Giving birth is a pretty heroic feat under the best of conditions, but some women really go above and beyond.
Last month, we were doffing our hats to the woman who had six babies in less than 10 minutes. But now it’s time to put yourself in Arifa Sultana’s shoes. Imagine bringing your new arrival home from the hospital, only to be rushed back to give birth again weeks later – to twins!
The 20-year-old woman gave birth to a premature son at Khulna Medical College Hospital in Bangladesh in February. But although they were both fine and there didn’t seem to be any complications, she was taken back to Ad-din Hospital with severe stomach pains 26 days later.
When Dr Sheila Poddar gave the young mother an ultrasound, she made a shocking discovery: Arifa had a second uterus and was still pregnant with twins!
‘When the patient came in, we performed an ultrasound on her and found there were twin babies,’ the doctor told the BBC.
‘We were very shocked and surprised. I have never observed something like this before. She had no idea that she had two other babies.’
Dr Poddar performed an emergency caesearan section and Arifa delivered two more babies, a boy and a girl. ‘The babies and her are all healthy,’ said the doctor. ‘I am very, very happy that everything went well.’
Arifa comes from a poor rural area and hadn’t had an ultrasound scan during her pregnancy, so nobody had spotted her unusual condition.
Experts think that three eggs must have been released and fertilised at the same time, resulting in three embryos – two that developed in one womb and one in the other.
About one in 3,000 women has two wombs, a condition called uterus didelphys. The female reproductive system starts out as two tubes – these later fuse to form a single womb, but in rare cases the process goes wrong. Some women with two wombs also have two cervixes and two vaginas.