The woman who gave birth to 69 children in 17th century Russia had given birth 27 times in her marriage. Each time she gave birth at home without the help of anyone but neighbors when the midwife was not available, she produced twins, triplets, or quadruplets, all without modern medical help, without C-sections, and without anesthesia. She birthed a total of 69 children in her long life span.
THE greatest recorded number of children born to one mother in the world, according to the Guinness 2004 world records is 69. In 27 pregnancies, the first wife of Feodor Vassilyev of Russia gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets. She also holds the world record for giving birth to the most sets of twins and sets of quadruplets.
Those were the days of no in-vitro fertilization. So you can imagine how rare it is to have multiple births every few years. In 17th century, you gave birth at home in bed or on the floor under the bed with a rope tied around your waist that would be pulled down to move the baby out using gravity.
Having twins, triplets, or quads every two or three years for 27 years meant you probably married at fifteen and gave birth until you were no longer fertile or had eventually reached menopause. It's rare, that's why the Russian woman probably is listed in a publication three hundred years later.
The source of this information is, "Twins in Russia," Eugenical News, Vol. IV, (1919), p. 52. The notation is cited on page 350 in chapter 17, and on page 493, in Notes, of the book, War Against the Weak, a national bestseller by Edwin Black, Avalon, 2003.
The Octo-mom has given birth to the largest number of surviving multiples--eight infants--born at the same time. There have been two other pregnancies recorded at this time in other countries of a woman carrying 11 fetuses and one carrying 12 fetuses, but in one case only two children survived when the woman chose to have the fetus number reduced early in the pregnancy so that two could reach normal size and be born healthy.
There's no news yet on what happened to the woman carrying the 12 fetuses. But in those cases, doctors usually ask the mother whether they can reduce the number of fetuses, usually to two or three so give a smaller number of babies the chance to be born healthy.
The official record for the most babies in a pregnancy (although not the most babies in one birth) was set in 1971, when an Italian woman on fertility treatment conceived 15 babies. None of the 10 girls or 5 boys survived to birth.
Before the Octo-mom's eight babies were born on Jan 26, 2009, the first known surviving set of healthy septuplets was born in the U.S. to the McCaugheys in November of 1997.
The smallest woman to give birth contacted the Guiness Book of Records. Watch an online news interview video of "The Smallest Woman to Give Birth," at: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/2