The Longest Human Pregnancy And Other Pregnancy Facts

You Won’t Believe These Pregnancy Facts, Including The Longest One Ever

October 26, 2020 Updated September 28, 2021

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Alicia Petresc/Unsplash

If you’re one of those people who “loves” being pregnant and sees every minute as a cause for joy and celebration, good for you. Sure, we’re super jealous, but it’s also nice to know that not every pregnancy is rough. Because when you have one of those — you know, the ones that are essentially a nine-month pain and vomit-fest where you’re always tired, can’t think straight, and just want it to be over — it’s reassuring that they’re not all that bad. And while your pregnancy may be overdue or seemed like it lasted forever, some people do end up going over the usual gestation period.

Pregnancy is a unique and incredible journey and each woman’s experience is different. For some, it can be challenging, especially when the journey goes past the due date. Ugh, amirite? But it’s important to remember that this is normal and happens to many women. And if you’re preggers or thinking about having a baby, you’ve gotta be prepared to learn daily lessons in perseverance and, of course, patience.

Being a few days late is one thing (though really annoying when the body aches get to be too much and you just want to induce labor and get baby out of there), but it’s not quite as unusual as some of these interesting pregnancy facts — including the longest human pregnancy ever.

The Longest Human Pregnancy on Record

Depending on who you ask, there are a few women considered to have some version of the “longest pregnancy on record,” but that doesn’t always come with any proof or, well, record. The person most widely accepted to hold this title is Beulah Hunter, who, in 1945, at the age of 25, gave birth after 375 days of being pregnant. Yes, you read that correctly: 375 days as opposed to the average of 280 days. This is almost a year and a half! It was substantiated by a physician who first documented her last menstrual cycle and the first time she tested positive for pregnancy.

At the time, Hunter broke the previous record by 58 days when she gave birth to her daughter, Penny Diana. According to the doctors who documented and monitored her pregnancy (also verifying its unusual length), little Penny Diana was taking her time in the womb, developing at an extremely slow pace, which, the physicians said, caused the lengthy pregnancy.

Another long pregnancy was reported in 2016 out of China’s Hunan region. Expectant mother Wang Shi claimed she got pregnant in February 2015, but when her due date of November came and went she rushed to the hospital for a check-up. Per news reports at the time, doctors diagnosed her with placenta previa and held off on delivery via caesarian as the baby was developing slower than normal. According to Chinese news reports at the time, Shi gave birth to a healthy 8-pound baby boy after 18 months of pregnancy.

Other Fun Pregnancy Facts

Hunter’s remarkably (read: mind-blowingly) long pregnancy isn’t the only fun fact about being a human incubator. Keep reading to learn more amazing things about the beautiful — and often weird — miracle of carrying a child.

  1. You know the longest pregnancy, so how about the shortest? In 2014, a mother in Texas delivered her daughter at only 21 weeks and four days pregnant. The little girl, who was only 410 grams at birth, survived and remains healthy today.
  2. Prior to getting pregnant, your uterus is about the size of an orange. Sounds pretty standard, right? It doesn’t stay that small, though. By your third trimester, your (now whopping) uterus may be the size of a watermelon.
  3. Your partner might joke about having sympathy pregnancy pains, but they might be more accurate than they realize! This phenomenon is known as couvade or sympathetic pregnancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, more research must be done before it can be deemed a physical condition. However, men do frequently report symptoms like nausea, heartburn, backaches, and urinary irritations when their partner is expecting.
  4. If you thought your bladder was overactive during pregnancy, wait until you hear this — once you become four months pregnant, your baby starts peeing inside of you. And they do it a lot, to the tune of around a liter a day. (Yes, this means they also drink their own pee.)
  5. The minute you found out you were expecting, you may have felt like your heart grew three sizes. The funny thing is, it really grows during pregnancy — maybe not three times as big, but still. Your heart has to pump even more blood to support baby’s development, so it bulks up a bit.
  6. You thought your period was a bloodbath? When you’re pregnant, your blood volume increases by up to 40 to 50 percent.
  7. Your uterus isn’t the only thing that grows when you have a bun in the oven. The size of your feet may go up a few sizes too, which means you may have to give away some shoes after your delivery. (*sniffle* Our condolences!)
  8. Even your voice can change during your pregnancy. There are so many hormones flowing inside of you, your voice might get a little deeper.
  9. If you weren’t flexible before, your baby may give you the gift of a gymnast. OK, maybe not a gymnast, but when you’re pregnant, your body releases a hormone called relaxin. It softens your ligaments and the tissue that connects your joints. This is meant to give you an easier delivery, but it can also be useful for other things — like painting your toenails when your bump is in the way.
  10. A baby has all of its fingerprints at nine to 12 weeks in the womb!
  11.  Babies actually cry in the womb, but because of all the fluid, you just can’t hear them. Enjoy it while it lasts, Mama. 
  12. Pregnant women have a super heightened sense of smell. Have you ever smelled something and felt the urge to throw up? This is your baby’s way of helping you avoid foods you shouldn’t eat.
  13. The oldest woman to have a baby was 66 years old.
  14. When a woman is pregnant, she can start producing breast milk as early as 14 weeks into her pregnancy.
  15. Turkey has the highest percentage of babies born by cesarean section. Iceland has the lowest. 
  16. In Japan, pregnant women can wear a badge on their bags or necklace that tells other commuters using public transportation that they’re pregnant. This is helpful for women who aren’t showing yet.  
  17. Thirty-two out of 1,000 people are a twin. In the United States, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have the highest percentage of twins and New Mexico has the lowest.
  18. In 2012, more than 61,000 babies were conceived in the United States using in vitro fertilization (IVF).
  19. Benin has more twins than any other country. In every 1,000 births, there are about 27 twins born. 
  20. It’s no surprise that your skin stretches during pregnancy, but by how much? The average woman has about 17 square feet of skin when she isn’t pregnant. Usually, by your ninth month of pregnancy, that number can go up to 18.5 or more.
  21. Heartburn during your pregnancy can actually be a good thing. It’s a sign your baby may have a full head of hair. The hormones that generate hair growth are what cause your heartburn. 
  22. When a strong food craving strikes during pregnancy, you may joke that baby wants what baby wants. And although baby probably isn’t craving tacos quite like you are, they may be able to “taste” them! Strong flavors can actually pass through amniotic fluid.
  23. Your pregnancy might feel long, but it’s nothing compared to what some creatures in the animal kingdom endure. Poor mama elephants can carry their young up to 23 months (oh my), and frilled shark pregnancies are estimated to be a mind-blowing three-and-a-half years long.