Taking care of one newborn baby is hard enough. But imagine if a few weeks later, you give birth again—two twins?
That was the case for one 20-year-old new mom. Arifa Sultana, who lives in Bangladesh, gave birth to a baby boy in late February…only to be rushed back to a hospital 26 days later to deliver twins, a boy and a girl.
How in the world is this possible?
Turns out, Sultana has not one but two functioning uteruses. It's a congenital condition known as uterus didelphys. According to the Mayo Clinic, uterus didelphys, or “double uterus,” occurs during fetal development, when the two tubes that are supposed to eventually form one uterus instead become two separate structures. Sultana’s first baby and the twins were conceived a month apart and then developed in two separate wombs.
Uterus didelphys typically has no symptoms, though it's associated with miscarriage and premature birth. The condition can be detected via an ultrasound—which Sultana did not have until she came back to the hospital to deliver her twins.
Christine Greves, MD, an ob-gyn at the center for obstetrics and gynecology at Orlando Health in Florida, tells Health that only a few case reports have chronicled the birth of babies from a mother who had uterus didelphys.
She describes the condtion as incredibly rare. “I don’t know what the stats are on winning Powerball, but there are more people that won the lottery then have this [condition],” said Dr. Greves.
A woman can live a completely normal life with two uteruses and may never even know about it, even if she does have kids. In some cases, a woman will have not just a double uterus but a double vagina—which means she might have her period twice a month, among other issues.
In Sultana's case, just weeks after having her first baby and suffering no complications, she was rushed to the hospital complaining of abdominal pain, Sheila Poddar, MD, ob-gyn at Ad-Din Hospital in Bangladesh, told CNN. She quickly preformed a C-section to deliver the twins. "All three children are safe and healthy," Dr. Poddar said. "The mother is also fine."