In labour for 75 days! Triplets' mother spent it all lying upside down to save two babies
Joanna Krzysztonek lost one of her triplets at just 22 weeksDrugs eased contractions, umbilical cord tied and put back in the uterusHad to lie almost upside down for more than 10 weeks

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UPDATED:

22:29 GMT, 9 March 2012

However long it lasts, labour is a gruelling affair. So spare a thought for Joanna Krzysztonek, who endured an astonishing 75 days of it.

And as if that wasn't challenging enough, the 31-year-old was forced to lie upside down for the entire time.

Mrs Krzysztonek was pregnant with triplets when she went into labour at 21 weeks. Her first baby was born prematurely and, tragically, was too weak to survive.

Delight: Joanna Krzysztonek with one of her surviving babies after she was able to hold off giving birth for 75 days

Delight: Joanna Krzysztonek with one of her surviving babies after she was able to hold off giving birth for 75 days

Sleeping easy: Iga rests unaware of her dramatic birth

Sleeping easy: Iga rests unaware of her dramatic birth

The other two were in danger of suffering the same fate – until doctors stepped in to try to delay their delivery.

They gave Mrs Krzysztonek medication
to stop her contractions and got her to lie on a bed tilted at a 30
degree angle, with her feet pointing upwards, to reduce the risk of
contractions starting again. The umbilical cord was tied and put back
inside her uterus.

She remained in the upside down
position 24 hours a day for two and a half months. After 75 days – and
what is believed to be the longest labour ever recorded – Mrs
Krzysztonek gave birth to a healthy girl, Iga, and boy, Ignacy, at a
neo-natal clinic in the Polish town of Wroclaw.

Yesterday she said she had not been put off by the prospect of lying in such an awkward position for months.

'I was relieved that there was a
chance to keep the pregnancy and to give the babies a chance to be born
successfully,' she added.

'I am feeling so elated that words
can't describe it. They are such good babies, they are really calm and
sometimes they even have the gentlest little smile.

'I've been told the labour was a world
record. I am amazed by what happened but all I want to do is express my
gratitude to the staff of this hospital for their wisdom and
helpfulness. I would never have been able to get through this without
them.'

At 32 weeks into the pregnancy, the doctors decided to deliver Iga and Ignacy (pictured) by Caesarean on February 15. Each weighed just under 4lb

At 32 weeks into the pregnancy, the doctors decided to deliver Iga and Ignacy (pictured) by Caesarean on February 15. Each weighed just under 4lb

Professor Mariusz Zimmer, head of the
Wroclaw obstetrics and neo-natal clinic, explained that Mrs
Krzysztonek's labour is considered to have begun when the first baby was
born because that was when 'the birth had started'.

He said Mrs Krzysztonek was kept at the 30 degree angle to 'take pressure off her body'.

Senior doctor Mariusz Zimmer

Dr Mariusz Zimmer led the team that saved Iga and Ignacy

Her contractions were suppressed by
the drug Tokoliza throughout most of the 75 days to prevent her giving
birth to the babies too early.

One of the biggest dangers was Mrs Krzysztonek picking up an infection which could have killed her or the babies.

'It would be fair to say that this
situation, throughout the 75 days, was like trying to not jog a live
bomb,' Professor Zimmer said.

'This [labour] started with the
premature birth of Mrs Krzysztonek's first triplet, who had no chance of
survival, and ended with the birth of third triplet. The whole process
was very risky.'

Mrs Krzysztonek was not allowed to move from the bed until the birth, and was fed and bathed while tilted in the same position.

She added: 'I had to be very
disciplined as I was not allowed to move out of the bed for the whole 75
days. This was very uncomfortable, but the staff kept me going.

'We had to arrange for everything to be done at the bed, and I mean everything – I couldn't even visit the toilet.'

At 32 weeks into the pregnancy, the
doctors decided to deliver Iga and Ignacy by Caesarean on February 15.
Each weighed just under 4lb.

After leaving her hospital bed, Mrs
Krzysztonek had trouble with her balance, but now visits and holds her
two babies every day. They remain in incubators but are expected to
leave hospital soon.

In December, Donna Kelly, 29, from
Coventry, spent ten weeks in a hospital bed tilted at 45 degrees to
prevent her suffering a third miscarriage.