A mum with two wombs has given birth to triplets in a UK first having twins in one – and a sibling in the second.
Melanie Bassett, 32, already a mother-of-two, was stunned when doctors discovered she was carrying identical babies in one womb, and another single foetus in the other.
Little Brooke and Isabelle, along with their younger triplet Beau, were born in January.
Melanie discovered she had double the anatomy when she was pregnant with her first daughter Phoebe, now aged three.
She fell pregnant again and Melanie and husband Ben, 33, welcomed their son Blake, now one, into the world.
But nothing could have prepared her for the triple pregnancy.
The occurrence of twins from uterus didelphys – two wombs – is estimated at one in a million.
There have only been four known cases of the condition leading to triplets – and this is believed to be the first in the UK.
Mum-of-five Melanie, from Waterlooville, Hampshire, said: “When we were told it was quite crazy!
“Ben is one of four and I’m one of three but I don’t think having a big family was on the cards.
“But I wouldn’t change it for anything. I noticed a difference being pregnant with the triplets.
“I would often find myself having to deal with them kicking on both sides. One would kick and it would set all of them off!”
Melanie first discovered she had a unique anatomy when she was pregnant with Phoebe in 2016.
She has uterus didelphys – a congenital abnormality where there is a double uterus and possibly a double vagina as well.
Rather than looking like a regular womb, Melanie’s is heart-shaped with two chambers.
It makes it no harder for a woman to conceive, but slightly increases the risk of miscarriage or premature birth.
Phoebe was delivered via c-section at 29 weeks, in February 2017, weighing just 2lb 3oz.
In February 2019 son Blake was born at 34 weeks via c-section, weighing 6lb 5oz.
But just two months later, Melanie and electrician husband Ben, discovered they were expecting again.
Due to her unique anatomy, Melanie was booked in for an early eight-week scan where she was told there were two heartbeats.
But it was not until the 12-week scan that the sonographer told the couple they were expecting triplets – miraculously growing in separate wombs.
They were advised to go to fortnightly scans so doctors could keep an eye on the pregnancy.
It was feared the triplets could develop twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) – a rare pregnancy condition which occurs when multiple fetus share the same placenta.
She alternated between Portmouth and Southampton hospitals, with three visits to St George Hospital in London.
Melanie said: “It wasn’t until I was pregnant with the triplets and had been seen up at St. George’s in London where the consultant carried out more testing involving internal scan to see how thick the septum was splitting the two uterus.
“A gynaecologist then carried out a speculum test and discovered I had two cervixes side by side. It’s never been picked up on any of my smears.
“Weirdly, I had the same cravings as I did with the other two. I just craved jelly sweets, particularly Haribo. I was pretty big and felt enormous
“I was very uncomfortable day and night, extremely tired but had to get on with it for Phoebe and Blake!”
The triplets were born via c-section, at 32 weeks, on January 26 this year.
Since then Melanie has had her hands full raising five children under three, during a global pandemic.
But says she is looking forward to spending time this Christmas as a big family.
Melanie said: “We really are looking forward to Christmas.
“We can’t wait to see their little faces on Christmas morning. It’s all about the children.
“We are cooking Christmas Day for my sister and her boyfriend and then Ben’s brother and family joining us for games on Boxing Day.
“Our family is now complete!”