Can you get pregnant while pregnant?
Pregnant while pregnant –how and why does it happen?
This topic swarmed the internet a few months ago when a woman in England was diagnosed with the condition and gave birth to a healthy baby boy and girl conceived three weeks apart.
Superfetation is an extremely rare situation, with only a few cases ever reported, during which a second pregnancy implants a few days or weeks after an initial pregnancy.
“Don’t panic,” says Dr. Francesca Popper, OB-GYNE at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Lakeview. “Superfetation is exceedingly rare and the likelihood of it happening is very small. This is no reason to avoid intercourse during pregnancy because of fear that you may conceive again with an entirely different sperm and egg joining together.”
This condition is a rare reproductive abnormality because after the egg and sperm unite, the ovaries no longer ovulate. When a woman is pregnant, a mucus plug is formed in the cervix and blocks the passage of sperm. Superfetation is more common in animal species like rabbits and badgers. Essentially, for superfetation to occur, three things need to happen that normally do not.
- Ovulation must happen during an ongoing pregnancy
- Semen must travel through the blocked cervix
- Successful implantation must occur
In the case that this does occur, the most challenging complication would be that the two babies are developing at different stages in the pregnancy. The younger baby would be at a high risk of being born prematurely.
“No pregnancy is entirely risk free,” says Dr. Popper. “As with carrying twins conceived during the same cycle, there are some risks and complications that may arise in the case of superfetation, but so is the possibility of both babies being born fully developed and healthy.”
About the Author
Neda Veselinovic, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. She has more than five years of public relations experience and most recently worked with clients in the travel and hospitality industries. She prefers to spend her time with a cup of coffee and a good read and always welcomes book recommendations.