Czech “super mum” gives birth to quintuplets

Photo: Vojtěch Resler, Institute for the Care of Mother and Child

Twenty-three-year-old Alexandra Kinova has become a household name in the Czech Republic after giving birth to the country’s first quintuplets. Ever since doctors upped the number of babies from four to five in April the media zoomed in on the story and followed the expectant mum’s every step up until the birth nearly a fortnight ago.

Photo: Vojtěch Resler,  Institute for the Care of Mother and Child
Just a few months ago Alexandra Kinova was the mother of a six year old boy, happily expecting twins. In March doctors confirmed it would be quadruplets and in April another fetus appeared on the monitor. Alexandra, now dubbed “super mum” by the media, admits she broke down and cried on hearing the news, but she couldn’t be happier.

“I think someone up there likes me a lot to have given me such a gift: five babies conceived naturally, spontaneously.”

The father, Antonin Kroscen says he was shell-shocked by the news and has been of a roller-coaster of emotions since.

“It was a mix of happiness and fear for their health. But now I’m just happy. “

Antonin, who is taking care of little Tony at home says he nearly missed the birth, crying all the way on the train which was delayed because he feared he would not make it. In the end he got there in time to see their five babies enter the world by Cesarean section.

Deniel, Michael, Alex, Martin and their baby sister Teresa were born on Sunday morning in a well-orchestrated operation that involved 40 doctors and nurses. The head of the ward, chief surgeon Zbynek Stranak, says it was an unforgettable experience for everyone.

“We spent over a moth preparing for this birth planning the logistics both in terms of staff and technical equipment. There was no previous experience with birthing quintuplets and we had prepared for every option. There were doctors and nurses taking care of the mother and a team taking care of each baby as it came out. They even wore different colour badges so that everyone knew who was doing what. Everything went quickly surpassing our expectations. We thought we would have the babies out in 15 minutes but they were all out in less than five.”

Photo: Vojtěch Resler,  Institute for the Care of Mother and Child
Although the babies, born in the 31st week of pregnancy, made an appearance together with the 2013 floods, they got massive news coverage and the team of doctors who birthed them gave a press conference for the media to fill them in on the details. Doctor Alena Mechurova said they are not expecting to experience anything similar anytime soon.

“These are the first ever quintuplets born in the Czech Republic. What makes them even more special is that they were conceived naturally, without IVF. The chances of that happening are 1:48 million. The country’s statistics go back to 1948 and there are no quintuplets. There have been 84 cases of quadruplets of which 78 were delivered safely. World statistics have 795 quadruplets on record the world over of which only 135 were conceived naturally. So you can see how exceptional this pregnancy was.”

So how were these miraculous babies conceived? To find out the technicalities and their present state of health I called one of the medical experts on the team looking after them, dr. Ladislav Krofta.

“In one case we have monozygotic twins, meaning that they developed from one egg that split in two and then we have three more babies that developed from three separate eggs.”

So there were four eggs fertilized in this case?

“Yes, that’s right.”

Would you say that this case has been a major medical success, since all the babies were born safely and are doing well?

Alena Měchurová,  Ladislav Krofta,  photo: Institute for the Care of Mother and Child
“We know that in twins, triplets and quadruplets there is a high risk of severe complications. So from the very beginning of this pregnancy we took good care to regularly check the size of the developing fetuses searching for potential signs of intrauterine growth restrictions or possible pregnancy complications associated with one placenta for monochorionic twins. Therefore it was important to carry out special ultrasound scans, to check the growth of the fetuses very often, approximately once a week to see possible risks early on.”

But none of them materialized?

“No, there was no sign of intrauterine growth restrictions, the size of the fetuses matched their gestational stage and there was no sign of transfusion syndrome, a complication that is common to monochorionic twins.”

What do you attribute this to -for a pregnancy involving five babies to be problem free…is it because the mother is young and in good health?

“Yes, what was very important was that the pregnancy was spontaneous because the complication rate would have been much higher in an IVF induced pregnancy and it also helped that she is young and healthy.”

And how are the mother and babies doing now?

“This is day 12 after the birth and she is in optimal condition, no complications in the early post-operative stage occurred and the babies are now in our high-dependency unit and they are in very good condition. They are breathing normally, spontaneously without support.”

And when will they be able to leave the hospital?

“It depends on their growth, so I think within a month or two.”

Photo: Vojtěch Resler,  Institute for the Care of Mother and Child
As the media bring more and more coverage of the story people from around the country have been calling and writing in with offers of help, saying they would be happy to provide the young parents with prams, nappies, toys or whatever else is needed. The mayor of Milovice where the couple are from, has found them a 3 room flat, since they are now living in a one-room apartment and has promised to pay for two nurses. IKEA and KIKA have contacted the family with offers to furnish their new apartment for free. An association giving support to parents of twins and multiples is now helping to resolve the practical problems of daily life for the eight member family. Klara Rulikova, the head of the association, says that just feeding the kids will be a challenge.

“We expect the mother to feed two babies at a time. But she will still need 3 pairs of extra hands to feed the other three babies at the same time. They will have to be fed with her milk from a bottle –if she has enough. Normally they would each consume about a liter of milk a day. What would be ideal would be for all the babies to get at least part of her milk.”

Even with two nurses to help out mum Alexandra is not likely to get much sleep and since her live-in partner has to work she may need to find more helpers. The association has established a bank account where people can send money to help the family. At present there are 55 thousand crowns on it and more donations are being made daily. Alexandra says she is extremely grateful for the support, but admits that as a Romany she got a few negative reactions as well. The one that shocked her most was from a woman who offered to buy her baby for 300,000 crowns if she could not afford to take care of it. Luckily such reactions are few and far between and the town of Milovice is looking forward to welcoming home its most famous inhabitants.