A JOONDALUP mother was surprised to find out she was pregnant earlier this year, even more shocked when a routine scan revealed she would have triplets.
Abigirl Damba and Pascal Ntwari already had four children when they found out she was pregnant, then the 11-week scan revealed three foetuses.
“It was a big shock,” Mrs Damba said.
All three were born within 35 minutes by caesarean at Joondalup Health Campus (JHC) on October 20, at 35 weeks and six days.
Baby boy Bryson was the first to arrive, weighing 2.55kg and measuring 48cm long. Bianca followed weighing 2.325kg at 43cm long and the youngest sister Bailey was 1.93kg and 45cm long.
JHC obstetrics and gynaecological ultrasound specialist Bridget Jeffery said they were the first triplets born at the hospital in more than a decade and triplets were not common in Australia.
“They happen naturally in about one in 8000 Australian pregnancies,” she said.
“They are non-identical; that means most likely the babies came from three eggs.”
Dr Jeffery said as a result each baby had its own placenta, which was better for their development, and early births were normal for multiple pregnancies.
“Usually the babies are a little bit smaller; these babies were born a little bit early,” she said.
Dr Jeffery said the hospital’s ultrasound unit monitored their development and while she was pregnant, Mrs Damba received medication to help her babies’ lungs mature before the birth date was set.
“It was a safe time; we didn’t want this lady to go into labour,” she said.
“It becomes very difficult to monitor the three babies when in labour.”
Expansion of facilities and services were attributed to the hospital’s ability to deliver the triplets, with several staff – and three cots – on hand during the surgery.
“The theatre would have been absolutely buzzing,” Dr Jeffery said, noting there were two doctors doing the surgery, plus anaesthetists, nurses and paediatricians.
She said the babies went into the special care nursery initially for observation, and had been doing well, back with their mother by Tuesday.
“Mum has done amazingly well; she has taken everything in her stride,” Dr Jeffery said.
Turning 40 on October 29, Mrs Damba said she had not felt sick during this pregnancy and it had been much the same as her previous ones, although the health care was better than with the first two.
Son Blessing (14) and daughter Bridget (12) were both born in Zimbabwe before the family moved to Australia in 2006.
The next two daughters – Britta (8) and Brianna (6) – were born at JHC as well.
Mrs Damba said the family would have to look for a bigger home to accommodate their growing family, and get a van big enough for them all.
“It’s good when they are little like this inside my room; later they will need their own space,” she said.
Her parents have come out from Zimbabwe to help care for the children for up to 12 months, with the triplets’ arrival bringing their tally of grandchildren to 19.
Originally from South Africa, Dr Jeffery trained there and in the UK before moving to Australia in 2007.
She worked at King Edward Memorial Hospital in high-risk obstetrics and ultrasound for five years before joining JHC in 2012 to set up the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Ultrasound Unit.