A mother has become the first in the UK to give birth to triplets carried in two separate wombs.
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.
Brooke and Isabel, 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.
The occurrence of twins from uterus didelphys – two wombs – is estimated to be 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. Ms Bassett from Waterlooville, Hampshire, said: “When we were told, it was quite crazy.
“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.”
Rather than looking like a regular womb, Ms Bassett’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.
Due to her unique anatomy, Melanie 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 – 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.
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 scans 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.”
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.