The greatest officially recorded number of children born to one mother is 69, to the wife of Feodor Vassilyev (b. 1707–c.1782), a peasant from Shuya, Russia. In 27 confinements she gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets.
According to a report to the government by Moscow’s Monastery of Nikolsk, between 1725 and 1765 Mrs Vassilyev popped out 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets, over 27 separate labours. The grand total: 69 children.
Numerous contemporaneous sources exist, which suggest that this seemingly improbable and statistically unlikely story is true and she is the woman with most children.
The case was reported to Moscow by the Monastery of Nikolsk on 27 Feb 1782, which had recorded every birth. It is noted that, by this time, only two of the children who were born in the period c. 1725–65 failed to survive their infancy.
Aside from this, not much is known about the first Mrs Vassilyev – even her first name (although some sources claim her full name was Valentina Vassilyev). It is thought she lived to the age of 76.
Most women don’t get pregnant past their mid-forties, so would there be enough time to have 69 children. However, it is also not impossible for a woman to have 27 pregnancies during her fertile years.
It is also proven that the ability to become pregnant goes down with each pregnancy, as successive labours take their toll out on a woman’s reproductive anatomy.
And if Mrs Vassilyev were breastfeeding, as might be expected for a peasant who could not afford to keep wet nurses about, her body would not ovulate.
Feodor and his wife, therefore, would have had to be extremely lucky (or, arguably, unlucky) to have kept hitting the mark into her 50s.
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