London - Finding out you’re having twins is always a surprise.
But for Jennifer Ashwood, the news came with a twist when doctors discovered she had two wombs – and had become simultaneously pregnant in both.
The odds of the phenomenon are 500 million to one, with fewer than a hundred examples ever recorded worldwide, and just a handful in Britain.
Most pregnant women with Ashwood’s condition, known as a bicornuate uterus, carry one baby on one side. Indeed, Ashwood, 31, had daughter Millie, now eight, without finding out.
"I’ve had a baby before and it was really straightforward," she said. "But my body surprised me this time.
"We found out at the 20-week scan and ever since people have been saying how rare it was."
The care worker and her husband Andrew, a fireman, learned they were expecting twins in December.
Then, after doctors discovered an abnormality, they revealed in February that she had two wombs, with one baby in each. The condition, which developed when Ashwood herself was in the womb, does not cause extra problems with conception but there is a slightly higher risk of miscarriage or premature birth.
Ashwood, from Camborne, Cornwall, went into labour at 34 weeks and gave birth to son Piran and daughter Poppy via caesarean. The twins came home after two weeks, following treatment for jaundice.
She said: "To have the two [wombs] is rare in itself, but to have an egg in both, then those to be fertilised, and then for both eggs to be in the right part ... it’s a bit of a miracle. You think you know your body well, but it turns out you might not.
"Compared to my first pregnancy I was sick much, much more. Because it’s so rare to carry a baby in each [womb], they didn’t really quite know what was going to happen until they opened me up and took a look.