A California woman gave birth Monday to the country’s second live-born set of octuplets, a grand feat since she and her doctors were only expecting seven babies. According to the Associated Press, the mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, gave birth to six boys and two girls weighing between 1 pound 8 ounces to 3 pounds 4 ounces.
The babies have been doing well in incubators since their Caesarean-section delivery at Kaiser Permanente hospital in Bellflower, California. Doctors said at a news conference Monday that three needed breathing assistance, but otherwise none of them appear to have serious problems.
Doctors told CNN that they believed the mother to be pregnant with seven babies. Though the team of 46 physicians, nurses and staff were surprised by the birth of Baby Number 8, they insist that it’s not an unusual occurrence. The hospital’s chief of fetal medicine, Dr. Harold Henry, told CNN that ultrasounds are very difficult when dealing with multiples.
“It is quite easy to miss a baby when you’re expecting seven,” Henry said.
The mother would not answer questions about whether or not she’d taken fertility treatments to achieve the pregnancy.
According to Dr. Mandhir Gupta, one of the doctors at the news conference, the first three to seven days will be critical for the babies. They could be in incubators for six to eight weeks and in the hospital for 10 weeks. He also stated that the mother is doing well after the octuplets’ five minute delivery.
The United States’ first live octuplets were born three months premature in Houston in December 1998. Their birth weights ranged from 11 ounces to 1 pound 11 ounces. The smallest infant died of heart and lung failure a week after she was born.
So What About Conceiving Octuplets?
Jeanna Bryner of LiveScience.com asked James Airoldi, a maternal fetal medicine specialist and director of Obstetrics at St. Luke’s Hospital and Health Network in Bethlehem, PA. He said it’s likely that the mother of the California octuplets conceived by means of a method of “ovarian stimulation with the use of fertility drugs,” which would make the ovaries produce more follicles (which each release an egg) than normal.
What About Carrying Octuplets?
Airoldi says that with multiples, he recommends 300 extra calories per baby. However with octuplets, that would not be possible (Mom would have to consume 2,400 extra calories and her belly is too big). Because of this, it is recommended that Mom eat small frequent meals and keep calories up to at least 3,000 per day.
Airoldi also adds that carrying octuplets puts more stress on a woman’s body than smaller multiples, such as twins. He stated that babies take “every ounce” of iron and calcium from the mother. If she doesn’t take supplements, she will “end up with nothing in the bank.”
According to Airoldi, multiple births have skyrocketed in the United States in the past two decades, due to women using fertility drugs and other artificial fertility methods.
Octuplets’ Births Surprise California Doctors, CNN
Raquel Maria Dillon, Woman Gives Birth to Octuplets in SoCal Hospital, Associated Press
Jeanna Bryner, Q&A: The Incredible Birth of Octuplets, LiveScience.com