Mom Gives Birth to 8 Babies

01.28.09 Only expecting 7, surprised doctors in Southern California say octuplets doing well


In a time when multiple births are increasingly common, a woman in Bellflower, Calif., really surprised the world Monday: She gave birth to octuplets—six boys and two girls, The New York Times reports.

For an added twist, everyone in attendance for the birth at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center was surprised when doctors found an eighth baby during the Cesarean-section delivery.

The mother, who asked not to be identified, "is very comfortable ... very excited," Karen Naples, M.D., of Kaiser Bellflower said on NBC's Today show. The babies weigh between 1 pound, 8 ounces, and 3 pounds, 4 ounces; they were born at 30 1/2 weeks, Kaiser doctors said. Some media reports said the anonymous mom hopes to breastfeed all eight. No other information was released about the new family.

It is believed to be only the second delivery of live octuplets in the U.S., National Public Radio (NPR) online reports. If all eight make it home, they will set a record—which the Kaiser doctors fully expect. They were happy to reveal Tuesday that all eight babies are breathing on their own, without the assistance of mechanical ventilators. Septuplets are the largest set of multiple babies delivered in the U.S. who survived—the "McCaughey Seven" of Iowa born in 1997. In 1998, a Houston woman gave birth to eight babies; but the smallest, a girl, died a week after delivery. The surviving Chukwu-Udobi octuplets recently celebrated their 10th birthday.

While a blessing to previously infertile couples, assisted reproduction technology often results in a pregnancy with multiple babies, who are at increased risk for preterm delivery and lifelong health problems. The Kaiser doctors Tuesday declined to say whether the California mom used fertility drugs. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there were 6,694 triplets-or-more births in 2005; there were 4,973 cases of such births in 1995.

In other news, officials in Britain on Tuesday implemented a rule that says doctors can only implant one embryo at a time into would-be mothers in an effort to cut down on risky multiple births, the Daily Mail reports.

If you are expecting more than one baby, remember that preparation is everything. Also, check out our Ask the Labor Nurse blogger as she shares with readers what it's like to help with the delivery of not just one set of twins, but three pairs in one week!

Interested in what it's like? Check out a Fit Pregnancy's editor's behind-the-scenes video of the C-section delivery of her twins!

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.