The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A 65-year-old mother of 13 is pregnant with quadruplets

Annegret Raunigk with her 13 children (and their children) in 2005. Now 65, the German woman is pregnant with quadruplets. (Joerg Carstensen/AFP via Getty)

The last time Annegret Raunigk gave birth, to her 13th child, she was 55 years old.

Now, the 65-year-old teacher from Germany is pregnant once again — this time with quadruplets conceived through in vitro fertilization, the German newspaper Bild reported.

Critics have voiced concern that Raunigk purposefully sought out a high-risk pregnancy. “The 65-year-old body is definitely not designed to carry a pregnancy, not of one child and certainly not of quadruplets,” Holger Stepan, head of obstetrics at the University of Leipzig, told the DPA news agency.

Stepan said pregnancies of women over the age of 45 are deemed high risk while “over 60 is naturally extreme.”

It took multiple tries, and Raunigk became pregnant with donated eggs that were fertilized abroad. She said the morality of such a decision is personal. “I think one must decide that for oneself,” she told broadcaster RTL.

“How does one have to behave at 65?” Raunigk said. “They can see it how they want to, and I’ll see it the way I think is right.”

Raunigk said she became pregnant once again because her 9-year-old daughter asked for a younger sibling. The mother was surprised that she had become pregnant with quadruplets. “After the doctor discovered there were four, I had to give it some thought to begin with,” she told Bild.

Raunigk could become the world’s oldest woman to give birth to quadruplets, but she wouldn’t be the oldest known woman to give birth. That Guinness World Record belongs to a Spanish woman, Maria del Carmen Bousada Lara, who gave birth to twin boys just shy of her 67th birthday after having received in vitro fertilization in the United States. According to Guinness, she had been initially rejected for the treatment and then she lied about her age, saying she was 55.

Raunigk had her 13th child, Leila, in 2005. “I was surprised myself as the last baby wasn’t planned,” she said at the time, AFP reported. “I was told about it when I was 11 weeks pregnant.”

“At first, I only wanted one child,” she told Bild in 2005. “Not all were planned. But then things happen. I’m not a planner but rather spontaneous. And children keep me young.”

Raunigk, a Russian and English teacher nearing retirement, has children ranging in age from 9 to 44. She also has seven grandchildren. She is expected to give birth to the quadruplets in two months, and AFP reports her pregnancy has been without any major complications so far.

Read more: 

The women over 100 who say staying single is a key to their longevity

Meet America’s oldest living vet. He smokes cigars, does yard work, drives and drinks whiskey. And he’s 108.