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Michelle Duggar: Medical Miracle?

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An OB/GYN breaks it down.

the duggar family 19th baby

This week, we learned that Michelle Duggar is pregnant with her NINETEENTH BABY. Is this woman a medical miracle? To find out, we went to OB/GYN Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz for her perspective.

Here's what she had to say:

ML: Is this woman a medical miracle?

Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz: She started having kids early -- in her early 20s, I believe -- and guess what? Fertility is much higher in younger women!

ML: Why is it so easy for her to get pregnant when other people struggle?

Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz: If she has been essentially continuously pregnant for the last 20-plus years, she must not be exclusively breastfeeding on a long-term basis. [Editor's Note: Thank you to our commenters who pointed out Michelle Duggard did indeed breastfeed. According to this interview, the longest she breastfed one of her children was nine months.] But fertility can be quite high as soon as breastfeeding ceases. Ovulation may resume fairly quickly, especially in someone who has not experienced long-term hormonal suppression that occurs with a term pregnancy and then long-term breastfeeding.

Plus, she is super fertile -- and so is her husband. Luck of the draw, I guess ...

I find the mind-body connection here to be fascinating. Not much proof of this one, but I have observed in many women that the more un-worried they are about conception, the easier it goes. Ironically, I have warned more than one IVF multiples mom to use birth control after those kids are born (breastfeeding or not), only to have them back in my office with an unplanned spontaneous pregnancy within the year. This is NOT to imply that all fertility challenges are due to aged, neurotic worriers! So what does this have to do with the amazing reproducing Mrs. Duggar? She is clearly NOT worried that her biological clock is running out or that she won't have kids and grandkids to enjoy -- her life is pretty busy and maybe even stressful, but she KNOWS she can get pregnant, and I sure hope she is not hyper-focused on having more babies. This is probably part of her secret recipe for baby-making.

ML: Can a person's uterus survive 17 (with twins) pregnancies?

Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz: What we refer to as a Grand Multip (a woman who has six or more term live births under her belt) does risk post-partum hemorrhage due to uterine atony -- the inability of the uterine muscles to effectively clamp down after birth and staunch the flow of blood. This in turn increases the risk of blood loss, transfusions, or even surgery, such as an emergency post-partum hysterectomy or maternal death. In addition, the close spacing of these pregnancies increases risks to mother and fetus of inadequate nutrition for both, and growth problems in the fetus. And the repeated pregnancies increase Michelle's risk of rectus diastasis (the abdominal muscles stretching apart and increasing risk of hernia), pelvic floor dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and uterine prolapse. Each pregnancy can result in vascular changes that promote hemorrhoids, and her poor vagina has seen an awful lot of traffic! Though I know nothing of her actual deliveries, such as the babies' birth weights, etc., I am thinking that her vagina is not getting away without some impact. She is one amazing and brave woman, I tell ya!




next: Elected Officials: Attack the Black Prez!
21 comments so far | Post a comment now
MarMar September 3, 2009, 12:25 PM

“…her vagina is not getting away without some impact.”

Thanks for THAT mental picture for the rest of the afternoon. Sheesh!

Tara September 3, 2009, 12:30 PM

She does breastfeed. They’ve shown her bf’ing on their TLC show.

Becca Seitz, LAc September 3, 2009, 12:31 PM

I beg to differ with the comment about “she must not be breastfeeding if she had so many pregnancies.” You’ll have to ask Michelle Duggar if she breastfed. After my first, I started having regular menstrual cycles after only 6 weeks. All the while I breastfed EXCLUSIVELY for 1 year, and continued supplemental breastfeeding for an additional year. Some women’s bodies are just geared for being super fertile.

Renee September 3, 2009, 12:44 PM

Duggar momma DOES breastfeed. She was even doing it on a parade float at one point!!

morgan September 3, 2009, 12:54 PM

and her breastfeeding isn’t anyone elses business, i hate this topic! even if she didn’t breastfeed (but she did), doesn’t hame her a bad mom. “boo” yourself! oh, and i have hweard from quite a few ob/gyn’s that it is possible to get pregnant while breastfeeding, its rare, but does happen. sorry, if i’m getting worked up this whole breastfeeding thing, it just drives me nuts! oh, and i did breastfeed, it has nothing to do with that

bob September 3, 2009, 1:10 PM

I hope she isn’t building a evil army to try and take over the world

kim September 3, 2009, 1:37 PM

um.. she DOES breastfeed, but a “boo” to you for condemning her without knowing your facts. And… it IS possible to get pregnant while BFing. I actually know three women who actually have. So, I’m bored with reading articles where the writer doesn’t know the facts before trying to answer questions that they obviously don’t really know the answer TO.

ame i. September 3, 2009, 3:57 PM

I agree with the guy that said having sex with her is probably like throwing a hotdog down a wide hallway.

BFproblems September 4, 2009, 3:50 AM

What a lady! I’m sure she is very busy… I’m busy enough just with one!

SesshoumarusGirl September 4, 2009, 1:53 PM

I find it funny that people think this is so “amazing” Look into history, having many kids was normal until the social changes of the early-mid 20th century.

So she is pupped with number 19, so what? As long as she is healthy and is aware of the risks, its her own damn business and our need to be nosey is disturbing.

Jessica September 5, 2009, 10:45 AM

I’m sorry but 3 kids are hard for me.. I could NOT IMAGINE 18!!
That is way too many kids.

John December 8, 2009, 5:18 PM

For fame (or infamy), this woman just won’t stop. It seems her desire for attention puts all her children at risk (especially the younger ones) of being left without a mother—even though she obviously assigns the duties of mothering to the older girls. Seems like a big price to pay for attention.

Anonymous August 11, 2010, 9:24 AM

Well there you have it. A woman’s body is not built to withstand more than six pregnancies safely. I’ve read that this woman has had a collapsed bladder and a dangerous recent delivery.

Stupid Quiverfull movement…

What’s moral about having 19 + kids only to leave then without a mother?

guest October 16, 2010, 5:43 AM

I also admire and love the Duggar’s. There are some issues i am concerned with. I don’t doubt they love God but if they are following Bill Gothard they are in trouble. We are told to be comformed to the image of Christ not be conformed to a mere man. Bill Gothard’teaches aherical form of christianity. He defines grace as ‘the desire to reproduce ourselves spiritually versus God’s grace which is unmerited favor. One teaches you must earn God’s grace and the Bible tell’s us that is absolutely impossible..it is the unmerited grace of God and it’s for the asking. (through the shed blood of Jesus) Faith according to Gothard is ‘visualizing what God intend’s to do with us versus the biblical defination..faith is simply taking God at His word. It is critical the duggar’s decern these thing’s and if not then ..well who want’s to be known as ‘christian pharisee’s’ who stand on the corner and call out to God thanking Him they are not like that poor sinner down the street who also is praying and calling out to God..God forgive me a wretched sinner. When anyone get’s into legalism there is sin. This is what i feel concern over. One more thing..they are teaching ‘do unto other’s as i would have you do unto me’ would Michelle Duggar at 20 want to do all her mother’s cleaning,cooking,laudry,packing for trip’s,teaching,potty training,getting up in the middle of the night when little one has ear infection,etc.Jana is in a heartbreaking situation in that at least one little boy think’s of her as ‘momma’ Even if she could go to school she won’t leave ‘her child.(little brother)

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