Pregnant bellies come in all sizes, but the biggest pregnant bellies tend to belong to those who are carrying more than one baby. Fertility treatments commonly result in multiple births, such as twins, triplets or high-order multiples (4 or more babies).
High-order multiples are big news, so it seems likely that a mom famous for having a lot of babies at once (e.g., septuplets, octuplets and now even nonuplets) could also claim the coveted title of the "World's Biggest Pregnant Belly." No official record exists, so we don't know exactly who wins the prize, but these pregnant bellies are likely to be some of the largest.
In May 2021, 26-year-old Halima Cisse from Mali set a world record when she gave birth to living nonuplets (nine babies). Cisse, who had previously been told she was carrying 7 babies, was admitted to the hospital at 25 weeks gestation where she remained on bedrest until her babies were born at 30 weeks via c-section. The babies each weighed between 1 to 2 pounds at birth, and Cisse's pregnant belly weighed in at an impressive 65 pounds by the time she was ready to deliver.
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.
The average full-term newborn weighs between 7 to 8 pounds. Since the Chukwu octuplets were born twelve weeks premature, they did not take up as much room in their mom's uterus as eight full-term newborns would. Had her pregnancy gone full-term, Nkem's belly would have undoubtedly grown larger. 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. The McCaughey septuplets were born at 31 weeks, so they were smaller than the average full-term newborn. At birth, the seven babies ranged in size from two and a half to over three pounds. Since the septuplets were born prematurely, one of the babies (Alexis) was born with cerebral palsy and several of the septuplets have learning difficulties related to their prematurity.
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 to help keep the babies in utero for as long as possible and increase their chances of survival. Giving birth too early is a significant risk in high-order multiples pregnancies, and bedrest is often recommended to prevent an irritable uterus, contractions and premature birth.
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.
Derisively labelled "Octomom" by the media, Nadya Suleman made news when she gave birth to eight living babies on January 26, 2009. The media storm surrounding Suleman brought intense backlash, in part because she already had six other children when she conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Ms. Suleman reportedly had 5 to 6 embryos implanted after undergoing IVF for each of her previous pregnancies, which all resulted in a single baby. On her last transfer, the fertility clinic implanted 12 embryos (guidelines recommend implanting only 1-2 embryos at a time), which resulted in the octuplets. By the time they were one month old, the Suleman octuplets had the distinction of being the longest surviving octuplets in the world. A picture was taken of Ms. Suleman's belly a few days before she gave birth, but measurements have not been made public.
Lara Carpenter Beck
In 2014, Lara Carpenter Beck was 29 years old and pregnant with her first baby. Near the end of her pregnancy, she had gained nearly 90 pounds and her belly measured 55 inches around. She and her husband were convinced she was having a boy given how large her stomach had grown, but she gave birth to a healthy baby girl via cesarean section. Baby girl Beck weighed in at a whopping 9 pounds, 5 ounces when she entered the world.
Chrissy Corbit was used to delivering large babies - her first two children were 9 and 10 pounds at birth. Her third child made the first two babies look tiny in comparison, weighing in at 13 pounds, 5 ounces when she was born via C-section in May 2017. During her pregnancy, Corbit had gestational diabetes, which is associated with excessive birth weight in babies.
Corbit heard many comments about the size of her belly, including being told it was as if she was carrying a "toddler-sized" baby. At the time of her birth, baby Carleigh was the largest baby her doctor had ever delivered.
Copenhagen resident Michella Meier-Morsi went viral after posting photos of her baby bump before delivering triplets via c-section in January 2022. Taken just days before the babies were born at 35 weeks gestation, the photos show Meier-Morsi's distended, uncomfortable-looking pregnant belly which had grown "straight out" rather than up and down as you'd normally see. The proud mom, who had given birth to twin girls 3 years earlier, admitted to being in "extreme pain" in the final days of her pregnancy.
Who Has the World's Biggest Pregnant Belly?
Although every pregnant person may feel like they are in the running for the "world's biggest pregnant belly" title, the prize for largest belly size likely goes to one of the women mentioned here. For now, the title is officially unclaimed and up for grabs.
If you feel that your belly is larger (or smaller) than normal, speak to your healthcare provider. They can provide more information about whether or not your belly is typical for your stage of pregnancy and potential causes for the size.