Russian Woman Gave Birth To 69 Children! 67 Of Them Survived!
If tabloids had existed in the 18th century then they would have been fighting each other to report on the family of a Russian peasant Feodor Vassilyev. What’s so special about that peasant’s family you might ask? Well, it’s all because his wife, whose name has been lost in history, though some sources claim it was Valentina, holds a wildly cited world record for...bearing the most children. In total, the couple from Shuya, Russia, had 69 children. Why do some not believe this to be true? Could a woman have that many children in her life without the use of modern fertility treatments? And were these not the only children Feodor had? Read on to find out!
Limit On Having Babies?
When it comes to men, the theoretical limit of how many babies a man could father seems to be limitless. A very popular historical example of that is the conqueror Genghis Khan. According to historians, the man likely fathered hundreds of children across his continent-of-Asia spanning an empire approximately 800 years ago. And this is backed up by genetic evidence which implies that right now in modern times, there are some 16 million people that are descended from him. To put that into perspective, that’s close to the current population of Senegal! But are there limits for women? And did Mrs. Vassilyev go beyond them? Read on to find out.
Guinness World Record
According to the Guinness World Records website, the most prolific woman is the wife of Feodor Vassilyev. According to the information provided which originated from the Monastery of Nikolsk which recorded births in the Russian countryside where the family lived, Mrs. Vassilyev went into labor 27 separate times. Given that their records are indeed correct, the woman is believed to have delivered 16 sets of twins, seven triplets, and four squads of quadruplets. This meant that in total, the couple had 69 babies, of whom 67 survived early infancy. However, as amazing as that would have been the story did have many take it with a pinch of salt.
18th Century Sceptics
While even now, in the 21st century many are skeptical about whether the information provided is even true, the people in the 18th and 18th centuries were also hesitant to buy the story. As the news spread about the woman that gave birth to 69 children people wanted to verify if the news was actually true! According to reports, the French Academy is said to have tried to confirm the case, asking representatives of St. Petersburg’s Imperial Academy about the exact number of children. However, the answer from the Russian side was rather cold, as they said there was no need to verify the information and that the children of the Russian couple as it was provided by the government in Moscow. Yet the question remains would it be possible for a woman to really go into labor 27 times and deliver that many children during her lifetimes? Read on to find out!
Was It Possible?
According to the information about the family, the woman had given birth between the years 1725 and 1765, which meant that her regiment of offspring was born in the span of four decades. According to some rough math done by a BBC journalist who looked further into the case, Mrs. Vassikyev would have been pregnant for 18 of the 40 years. There is also the issue of fertility to consider. As a woman gets older, the egg quantity and quality diminishes. Experts that had spoken out on this story had also revealed that the ability to become pregnant goes down with each pregnancy as successive labors take their toll out on a woman’s reproductive anatomy. On top of all this, if the woman was breastfeeding, which could have been assumed as a peasant farmer would not have been able to afford a wet nurse, her body would not ovulate. And so, this built-in, biological method of birth control would have made the odds of the lady having 69 children less possible. At least according to some experts.
Result Of A Genetic Condition?
Due to the fact that not much is known about the woman, even her name, it is hard to determine whether the couple had that many children and how it was possible. Some had pointed out that possibly the number of children was just a clerical error and that the pair never had this many kids yet on the Guinness World Record site it states that it would have been certainly possible that Mrs. Vassilyev could have had a genetic predisposition to hyper-ovulate, which means that multiple eggs are released in one cycle, which significantly increases the chance of having twins or multiple children. But fertility and pregnancy aside, what are the other reasons that people aren’t too keen to believe this story?
Burden Of Labor Undermimes All?
Given that pregnancy is the most physically rigorous thing a woman's body ever goes through, the burden of labor is another reason that may undermine the credibility of Vassilyev’s 69 children claim. Especially given that the couple lived hundreds of years ago and out in the Russian countryside. Even now, with the technology that we have, some births are still risky, let alone in the past when every single pregnancy was a risk to the mother’s life, even giving birth to just one child. Notably, in those days, multiple births, such as quadruplets, were dangerous for the mother’s life as they caused complications such as hemorrhaging.
Even More Doubt
The claim that the woman had only given birth to twins, triplets, and quadruplets also shed doubt onto this story according to experts who claim that having twins, let alone more children during one pregnancy, is rare. However, they do add that a propensity to have twins does run in families so there is a slight chance that Feodor’s wife cold has been an extreme example. Though to them, overall, the odds of Mrs. Vassilyev to have somehow conceived and then survived having 16 twins alone, seems astronomical. One more thing in this story baffles, the experts...the fact that 67 of the 69 children had survived infancy. Especially since infant mortality was high in the 18th century even among single children and the more children in multiple births pregnancy, the higher the rate grew. But this isn’t the only surprising thing about Feodor and to find out more click on the next page.
Not His Only Wife
With the lack of information available about Mrs. Vassilyev, it has been noted that she had lived to the age of 76. But what’s complicates this story even more, and makes it even harder to believe, is that her husband had eventually left her and married a second time. And with his second wife, he also had children! 6 sets of twins and 2 sets of triplets, which equaled 18 more children. According to a letter an English merchant had sent home to his family back in England, he noted that he met a peasant farmer, who at the time in 1782 was 75 years old and that 82 of his 87 children were alive.
While throughout history there had been plenty of claims about such big families, it has been difficult to confirm whether they were real or not. However, there is one story about a woman in Uganda who by the age of 39, had 44 children. According to reports of local media, Mariam Nabatanzi first gave birth to twins at the age of 13, a year after she was married off. After that, she welcomed five more sets of twins along with four sets of triplets and five sets of quadruplets. Out of her 44 children, 38 of them had survived. The reason for the woman having so many children was the rare genetic condition causing hyperovulation.
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