What do you do when your waters break after you've given birth? Miraculously, a woman has given birth to three children after the presence of a second uterus was discovered holding a further pregnancy of twins, a month after she had given birth to her first child. Yes, like me, you're probably wondering whether that technically qualifies as a birth of triplets? As it turns out, it doesn't.
Arifa Sultana Iti, the 20-year-old Bangladeshi mother, was rushed to hospital when her waters broke, 26 days after she had given birth to a baby boy. There, she delivered twins (a boy and a girl) by emergency caesarean where it was also discovered that she had two wombs.
The presence of a double uterus is rare, but according to some gynaecologists it's maybe not as rare as we think. Also known as uterus didelphys, the development of two seperate uteruses can occur in foetuses when two small tubes fail to form into one organ, as a result of a congenital abnormality. Women with two uteruses often experience no symptoms but the condition does carry a higher chance of complications with pregnancy - including infertility, miscarriage and premature birth, which is perhaps why it makes it unusual that Arifa carried not one, but two pregnancies. An expert explained '[It's likely that] three eggs ovulated and were fertilised at the same time during her fertile period which resulted in three embryos'.
The Gynaecologist who performed the emergency Caesarean, Dr Sheila Poddar told the BBC 'When the patient came in we performed an ultrasound on her and found there were twin babies, we were very shocked and surprised. I have never observed something like this before.'
On 22nd of March Sultana experienced stomach pains, when she was taken to hospital Doctor's discovered the second pregnancy when they carried out an ultrasound. She had previously delivered a boy prematurely at the Khulna Medical College hospital, where Doctors have been criticized for not identifying the presence of a second womb and pregnancy.
Thankfully all three babies are reportedly healthy, however there is concern for the economic circumstances of the family who come from a poorer rural district of India. Financial difficulty is the factor attributed to why the presence of Sultana's second womb wasn't discovered - as women's health in economically poorer countries continues to be neglected. Sultana had never had an ultrasound before her second delivery.
Sultana explained to newspapers that her husband earns up to 6,000 taka ($70) a month as a labourer. 'I don’t know how we will manage such a huge responsibility with this little amount.” with her husband adding 'It was a miracle from Allah that all of my children are healthy. I will try my best to keep them happy'.