Longest. Pregnancy. Ever. or, how long was the longest human pregnancy?

I’m well aware, what with a pregnant wife and related readings, that the “typical” human pregnancy lasts 40 weeks (38 weeks from fertilization, but I’ll use the more common 40 weeks from onset of last period counting method). Babies born anywhere between 37 weeks and 42 weeks are considered “on time.”

Babies born later than 42 weeks are considered postmature. Most American women are induced after that point.

I’ve found references to women giving birth at “46 weeks or even later.” I’ve heard secondhand accounts (most recently in Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle) of pregnancies that have gone 11 or 12 months, which seems unlikely to me, but who knows?

So what’s the record for the longest human pregnancy?

After about 42 weeks the placenta begins to decompose. The chances of a still birth are very high.
Here and here are medical articles, discussing post term risks.
So, I didn’t answer your question, but chances are, its not far out of the norm.
Reports of exceedingly long gestation can be attributed to, mis-calculation, an early miscarriage, with re-empregnation, or lies.

I finally re-found a website I turned up while googling about this on Friday – the Ten Month Mama Page includes references to successful 47- and 48-week pregnancies. Given the tenor of the site, though, I’m not sure how much credence I’d give those claims.

picunurse, I know the hazards of going beyond 42 weeks – I really doubt the stories of 11- or 12-month pregnancies I’ve heard, because, well, they’re just stories I heard. But while 47 or 48 weeks strikes me as highly improbable, it doesn’t strike me as impossible – which is why I’m curious. I mean, someone has to have had the longest pregnancy, even if it’s only 44 weeks or something.

I’m just not sure if its a statistic that’s been kept. Pregnancy length has, until recently, been a best educated guess, since older tests weren’t acurate before 12 weeks.
The early term tests have only been around for a few years. They will become positive 14 days after implantation. But, there’s still no way to tell how much more than 14 days have gone since implantation.
As I said eariler, Those 48 weekers were very possibly unrecognized early miscarriages with later re-fertilization.
Say, the woman does an early term test. Its positive. A month, or more goes by, she has some spotting, but it stops. The signs wouldn’t be dramatic, and those that are apparent, don’t disappear over night. Because she assumes she is pregnant, she continues to have unprotected sex, and is re-fertilized.
The doctor takes the word of the mom as to when her last period was, then calculates the due date. No real science.
If you look at the animal model, all placental mammals have very circumscribed gestational periods, with afew exceptions, of course. Some species will re- absorb a gamete if conditions are not acceptable.
Marsupials, on the other hand, function a little differently, in that the development can slow, until conditions are optimal. They are, I believe, the only mammals with variable lengths of gestation.
I’ve cared for a few post term infants. The most post term was 43 weeks. The baby’s skin was cracked, with some areas of necrosis. He had fairly severe brain injury.
The OB told us that the placenta was only about 1/4 viable, the rest was black.
Sorry I can’t help.

Mrs. Napier carried her first for 46 weeks from the last period. She was scheduled for an induction but broke her water the nigh before laughing at a Laugh-In episode.

Chinese legend tells how Laozi (or Lao-tse), author of the Dao De Jing (or Tao Teh Ching), got his name.

His mother was pregnant with him for 60 years. When he was born he had white hair and a long beard. He was called Laozi, which means ‘Old Child’.

Ha ha, did someone just make up that story to explain the name? Actually in Chinese the word zi, basically meaning ‘child’, has another sense: ‘sage of ancient times’. If that’s so, Laozi is just a description of someone whose real name isn’t recorded. Or else his name “Old Child” came first, and the sense of ‘ancient sage’ is secondary to that. I don’t know.

(hijack) Chinese mythology seems pretty big on delayed births, ne? IIRC, Ne Zhe (Nataku) spent 3 1/2 years in the womb, and then was born as a giant egg-like object.

I remember a mention in the Guinness Book when I was wee. Very wee. And it STILL gives me nightmares, nearly 20 years later. I’m getting faint just thinking about it, but to give you guys a hint - it was a very non-viable pregnancy which lasted for years.

Since the OP doesn’t seem to have specified that the result be a live baby, I figure that qualifies.

going off to scrub brain

I probably should’ve specified, but I was definitely thinking of a successful pregnancy.

I have a friend who, when pregnant with one of her kids (number 2, I think, maybe number 3), at 6 months, the baby just stopped developing. 5 months later, he resumed, and was born, perfectly normal and healthy at 14 months gestation. He’s now in his late 30s. Her next baby was also a long pregnancy - 11 or 12 months I think, again, her daughter is a perfectly normal adult.

As she cheerfully admits now, if it had happened in this day and age (rather than almost 40 years ago), it would never have been allowed to go on that long.

And just so you know - it’s not a friend of a friend or anything - I know this woman, and I know 2 of her kids. She was, in fact, my Sunday school teacher when I was little.

Couldn’t your friend, Robin, have miscarried and been refertilized? It’s all so strange.

I thought that was Jonathan Winters.

I personally know someone who was the first recorded pregnancy in their state! the person has mild normal health issues nothing out of ordinary…it is possible! I read thats how ancient jewish people used to determine if a baby was Hebrew or not ! thats not a myth either! I did further research on cloning and how woman were told they could never have babies and did…alot like 4-5 healthy normal children! something to ponder! think out of the box!!

I know of a thread that developed normally for about three days and then stopped. Nothing happened for ten and a half years. It began developing again normally after that point.

There’s a condition where a woman can have two normal uteri, and carry babies in each one. I suppose to get pregnant in uterus A, and before the pregnancy had advanced to the point that hormones from it would stop ova from being released, she could become pregnant in uterus B, and deliver from A at term while remaining pregnant for, say, for more weeks in uterus B. That takes quite a convergence of unusual circumstances, though, but it would result in a woman remaining pregnant for 44 weeks, albeit, with two different babies.

Cecil on twin pregnancies and divergent birth days, including the double uteri.

I thought he also did one on longest pregnancies but I can’t find it.

IIRC, there were some “record” length pregnancies declared back in the days of yore when the presumed daddy wasn’t around 9 months earlier and a miraculously long pregnancy was certified by suitably friendly authorities. In particular, 10-12 months after the father died sometimes happened.

This post wins the thread. :smiley:

One of the problems with counting the pregnancy from the last period is that it doesn’t necessarily have any relationship at all to how long the pregnancy has been. Depending on how long/regular your wife’s cycle was, the actual pregnancy might have been 44 weeks long, but it might also have been the standard 38 or even less.

An in-law of mine has polycystic ovaries and only has a few periods a year. When she found out she was pregnant, she hadn’t had a period in something like three months, but the scan showed the baby at only six weeks’ development. It arrived after what was actually a normal-length pregnancy, but was officially a 45-week monster.

Sorry, too late for edit window -

This also goes to the original (zombified) question in the OP. Until recently, there wasn’t any way to be sure when a pregnancy had actually begun. All you could do was count from the woman’s last period - which could have been the standard 2 weeks before conception, or could have been months before.

I’d be willing to bet that a lot of the ‘incredibly long’ pregnancies ending in healthy babies were actually relatively normal-length pregnancies where someone didn’t take into account an anomaly in the woman’s menstrual cycle.

So did this thread menstruate at or around Jun 20th, 2005? Well, it was already pregnant when I got here …