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Uganda mother 'Mama Babirye' delivers 38 children in 37 years

KAYUNGA, Uganda (Xinhua) — Mariam Nabatanzi Babirye has five squeezed houses in her compound. It gives a semblance of a school as children run around playing.

The 37-year-old single mother, who has given birth to 38 children, is a known figure in the dusty small town of Kasawo in the central Ugandan district Kayunga.

With the alias Nalongo Muzaala Bana (the twin mother that produces quadruples), Babirye has delivered mostly twins, triplets and quadruplets.

Babirye’s first assignment every day is to wash a heap of clothes for her children.

She has to do it early in the morning to save time for other daily housework.

Breakfast time, the children seated in a circle.

One loaf of bread was not enough and the children run to Babirye.

She has to dig into her pockets to buy another loaf.

She did the counting, and 14 children have missed.

She gives money to one of the children to go to the shop to get more bread.

Babirye’s story did not have a happy start.

Her mother abandoned her at young age following a break-out with her father.

At 12, Babirye’s father married her off in exchange for cows, as per the cultural norm then.

She barely remembers her first pregnancy.

She was 13 years old when she first got pregnant back in 1994.

Those days, pregnant women in villages were going to Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) to give birth.

Babirye’s own grandmother was a TBA.

Now Babirye has six sets of twins, four sets of triplets, three sets of quadruplets and two single births.

She said at some point she had a miscarriage of five babies when she was five months pregnant.

Babirye delivered all these children at home except the last born.

She tried several birth control plans but they could not work as she got severe side effects.

"I used to have a lot of side effects when I use family planning methods, so the health workers asked me to stop using them.

"They told me to continue giving birth or else I would die," she told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Local media reported that some doctors said her high ovary count could bring severe side effects to her if she stopped getting pregnant.

Charles Kiggundu, a consultant gynecologist at Uganda’s national referral hospital, Mulago Hospital, argues that although it is not common, some women can have such a number of births.

He said that scientifically every month a woman recruits between 12 to 15 eggs potential meaning these eggs can be fertilized.

In normal cases one or two are fertilized, meaning that a woman can have two babies in her womb.

Kiggundu said there is a possibility of having more than two eggs being fertilized.

"They may be genetic factors, environmental factors but scientifically it is possible."

"The media has publicized her, so in current literature she is the most fertile woman on record in Uganda," Kiggundu said.

Babirye has an uphill task to take care of the children singlehandedly.

She left her husband a few months ago after a misunderstanding.

Her eldest daughter finished a nursing training but is yet to get a job.

"She has tried to look for jobs but to no avail.

"Everywhere she goes they keep asking for money in order to get her a job," Babirye said.

Babirye does all sort of work to ensure there is food on the table.

Despite the odds, she said she had no option but to soldier on.

Luckily, some of the children are taking advantage of the free education provided by the government.

Some well-wishers also sent food to the mother at times.

"I will strive to make sure that my children have what to eat.

"I will never abandon my children even if we are struggling to survive," she said.



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