Pregnant bellies get bigger as the number of babies in the pregnancy increases. This increase in size continues with the number of babies involved, and since current fertility treatments can result in higher numbers of babies conceived in a single pregnancy, the bellies can just keep getting bigger. High-order multiples are big news, so it's possible that one of the moms famous for having a lot of babies (sextuplets, septuplets, and now even octuplets) could claim the coveted title of the "World's Biggest Pregnant Belly."
In 1998, Nkem Chukwu of Houston, Texas, became the first woman in the United States to give birth to octuplets. All of the babies were born alive and the weights of the babies ranged from just 10.3 ounces to 25.7 ounces. Sadly, one of the Chukwu octuplets, the smallest girl, died a week after she was born.
Chukwu's Indescribably Huge Belly
Obviously, these eight babies did not take up as much room in their mom's uterus as eight full-term newborns would, since the average newborn weighs between seven and eight pounds. However, the Chukwu octuplets were born twelve weeks prematurely and may have stressed and strained Nkem's belly even more had they stayed in longer. No pictures or estimates of the size of then 27-year-old Nkem's belly are available, but it's believed to be quite large; according to Nkem's doctor in an article for The New York Times, it was "indescribably huge."
Bobbi McCaughey gave birth to the first living septuplets in the U.S. in 1997. Her seven babies ranged in size from two and a half to over three pounds. The McCaughey septuplets were born at 31 weeks, so they also were not the size of a fully developed newborn at their births. Because of the septuplets prematurity, one of the babies, Alexis, was born with cerebral palsy. Also, several of the septuplets have learning difficulties related to their prematurity.
Size of McCaughey's Pregnant Belly
Bobbi McCaughey's belly was reported by NBC News to be 55 inches around, which definitely puts her in the running for the world's biggest pregnant belly. Bobbi was on bedrest from the ninth week of her pregnancy on to prevent the babies from being born too prematurely to survive. A uterus stretched so far is very irritable and can very easily be irritated into contractions simply by too much activity.
Kate Gosselin is the mother of sextuplets featured in the TLC show Jon and Kate Plus 8. The Gosselin sextuplets were born via C-section on May 10, 2004, and weighed from two pounds 11 ounces all the way up to a little over three pounds. Kate's belly was rumored to be almost five feet around, making her belly somewhat larger than Bobbi McCaughey's. Kate Gosselin has had the good fortune to have a tummy tuck sponsored by TLC as part of an episode of their show, so her belly has recovered well from its ordeal, at least on the outside.
Derisively labelled "Octomom" by the media, Nadya Suleman made news when she gave birth to eight living babies on January 26, 2009. The storm surrounding Suleman comes from the fact that she had six children before she gave birth to the octuplets, and she is a single, unemployed mother who utilized fertility treatments to conceive all 14 of her children.
Suleman's Enormous Belly
Ms. Suleman states that she had five to six IVF embryos implanted for each of her pregnancies, and each resulted in a single baby. She had the fertility clinic implant all of her remaining embryos so that they would not have to be destroyed. Defying all odds, all of the embryos implanted and two of the embryos split into sets of twins. The octuplets had the distinction at only a month old of being the longest surviving octuplets in the world. A picture does exist of Ms. Suleman's belly a few days before she gave birth, but measurements have not been made public. Her belly certainly looks large, but not excessively so for a woman carrying eight babies.
Lara Carpenter Beck
In 2014, Lara Carpenter Beck was 29 years old and pregnant with a girl. Around the end of her pregnancy she ended up gaining around 90 pounds and had a belly that measured around 55 inches. She gave birth to a healthy baby who weighed around nine pounds. Average belly gain in inches is around 40 to 45 inches for full term single births.
Chrissy Corbit was used to delivering large babies; her first two children were nine and 10 pounds. When she became pregnant with her third child, however, she gained a massive baby and went on to deliver a 13-pound baby girl via c-section in 2017. Her belly during pregnancy was described as if she were carrying a "toddler-sized" baby, and her daughter Carleigh was the largest baby her doctor had ever delivered.
The World's Biggest Pregnant Belly Isn't Definite
Although every woman may think that she is in the running for this title during her pregnancy, the fact remains that pregnant-belly size is a difficult thing to measure. It increases throughout pregnancy and is obviously time-limited to the duration of the pregnancy. Most women are not keen to let anyone near them with a tape measure, especially at their largest point in pregnancy, so the belly size record will have to remain unclaimed for now.