The Duggars are famous for a lot of things–tater tot casserole, strict gender roles, young marriages, and mostly for simply being part of a ginormous family. Families don’t get that big without a ton of births. Therefore, while the men of the clan are supposed to be the breadwinners, it’s really the women keeping the Duggars in the headlines. They carry the babies, feature in the announcements, and star in the birthing specials that air on TLC.
Jill had one birth special, and her second never aired for unknown reasons. Although her son, Sam, did have complications, which viewers have accused a botched home birth of being responsible for, no medical justification for those claims ever surfaced. Evidence remains supportive of home birth being safe for low-risk moms like her. Jessa has gifted the family with two television birth specials with sons Spurgeon and Henry. Before Josh’s fall from grace, his wife had three of her own. Joy-Anna and Kendra recently starred in their own birth episodes, each adding another little Duggar boy into the mix.
With their beliefs on birth control well-known, it seems that fans have decades more of Duggar childbirth specials to look forward to. People believe that next to announce a pregnancy (and probably TV birth) are newlyweds Josiah and Lauren. Only time will tell exactly how many Duggar grandbabies’ entrances get featured on television.
20 Home Birth Haven
The Duggars are huge proponents of home birth. While most women of the family do receive outside medical care for their prenatal period, more often than not the girls try to labor to birth at home surrounded by family and their spouses. Why? According to the Duggar Family Blog, Michelle—who originally started the family trend on the advice of a friend—said she felt freer to walk around and listen to her body during the delivery at home.
Because of this, she felt she recovered from babies six and seven—both home births—faster. However, after this, Michelle was deemed high-risk and thus, home birthing wasn't an option for her.
19 Bradley Method Babies
On 19 Kids and Counting, viewers saw Michelle and Jim Bob attend birth classes—once alongside their eldest son and his also expecting wife, Anna. The family seemed to laugh off having both generations expecting babies, and from what we can tell this a fairly regular thing in “fundie” circles (Kendra, a newer Duggar daughter-in-law, and her own mother were simultaneously pregnant).
The Bradley Method teaches that labor is a natural process and all a woman has to do is learn to trust her body and understand the physiological process of birth, according to Bradley Birth. The classes focus on instructing Mom how to listen to her body and Dad how to be a supportive coach.
18 Midwives vs. Doctors
The Duggars seem to prefer midwifery care over that of OBs. Many moms choose midwives over doctors because they are touted as having a better bedside manner. Further, while doctors are trained heavily to look for problems during pregnancy and birth and intervene, midwives are taught more so how to prevent the same problems and how to support natural childbirth—something many OBs don't know a lot about because they just don't see it as often these days.
Romper states that Jill Duggar herself sat for the exam and passed it in September of 2015, therefore making her a certified midwife in the state of Arkansas. She’s attended at least two home births that required emergency medical attention either during or directly following a baby’s birth in her own family. Both of Jill’s sons’ births were also attempted at home before Jill sought hospital care for a breech birth. While breech birth is not actually inherently unsafe, it is illegal for a midwife to perform in some states.
17 Non-Medicated Labor
One part of the Duggars’ preference for home birth seems to be the fact that receiving painkillers is not an option. Reddit has posted several fan theories concerning why the girls prefer to go the painful way, mostly suggesting that in a community with so few lauded achievements for women it’s something they can do for a badge of honor. However, there are references to a conversation between sisters Jessa and Jana in which the former tells the latter there’s no reason to be embarrassed by asking for medical pain relief during labor.
Notably, Jinger Vuolo (née Duggar) recently opted for an epidural during the birth of her first child. That said, we can equally recognize there are more risks involved in medicated births, and natural births offer babies the most health benefits. So, far be it from us to assume their choices aren't based on evidence.
16 A Crowd Around
Some women opt for a certain degree of privacy during labor and delivery (well, as much as can be found with a lady’s private parts receiving way more fresh air than ever), only inviting their partners to witness the big event. It seems the Duggars—who value modesty above fashion—let plenty of supporters in the room.
As one YouTube clip from the 2005 birth of Johannah reminds us, Michelle even allowed her adolescent daughters in the room to witness the big event. She thought witnessing birth was a teaching moment to help get them ready for their own adulthoods. Like Michelle, her daughters have given birth or attempted to in front of many of their female relatives.
15 Size Is Just A Number
In this new generation, a pattern has emerged that make ladies clench their knees and cringe ‘round the world. The Duggar girls are giving birth to some pretty large babies. The Hollywood Gossip said the biggest Duggar baby of the married girls tipped the scales at just over ten pounds. This was Joy-Anna’s baby boy Gideon. Other have come in at nine-plus, which is one reason Jinger cited her desire to be induced before she could become overdue as some of her sisters had.
Even though there is no proven way to gauge a baby's size before birth and baby's size isn't an evidence-based reason that supports induction, many doctors will agree to it. Her baby was a healthy eight pounds and some change, which is perfectly average. She and husband Jeremy named their daughter Felicity.
14 Get Pregnant Now
While the Duggars are famous for only allowing “side hugs” during the courting and engagement stages of a relationship, once a young couple is married all the boundaries come crashing down. In fact, Jim Bob Duggar is pretty famous for instructing his children on their wedding day to “be fruitful and multiply,” according to Inquisitr. This means most of his children end up with honeymoon babies who appear almost exactly nine months after the wedding day.
Kendra and Joe were part of this trend as were Joy-Anna and Austin (whose early announcement sparked shotgun wedding rumors). Jill also became pregnant right after her marriage.
13 VBACs Attack
It stands for vaginal birth after cesarean, and not all doctors are willing to try it. This is because patients run the risk of uterine rupture if they try to labor too soon after a cesarean—a circumstance in which the uterus breaks open while the baby is still within. ICAN says that Michelle, who vocally supports VBACs, has experienced them 13 times. Michelle also utilized a doctor who specialized in these procedures while still in her childbearing years.
Her daughter Jill tried to have a VBAC after her cesarean with Israel but wasn’t able to successfully deliver her second son Sam this way, though not blatantly because of her previous Cesarean.
12 But Wait After Babies
While most know the general rule to wait until after being cleared at the six weeks post-birth gynecology appointment, Duggars are told to wait to have marital relations even longer if they have baby girls. Six weeks is about 42 days postpartum. If Duggars have boys, they're permitted to be close 40 days after his birth. However, with the birth of a little girl that time doubles.
Only 80 days later is the married couple allowed to start trying again. Patheos says this is in adherence to IBLP’s “regulations” as taught by now-disgraced leader Bill Gothard.
11 Have As Many Kids As Possible
The Duggar parents wanted and were once pregnant with their 20th child. However, the pregnancy ended when the baby had no heartbeat at a doctor appointment, and Michelle was later induced to deliver the tiny baby. Yet, they continued to hope for another pregnancy. According to The Christian Post, this is because Michelle and Jim Bob swore after losing a pregnancy after they had Josh to let God decided the size of their family.
They’ve since encouraged their married children to do the same, going so far as to have the kids include this in their vows. Josh and Anna did, and Jill and her husband have come out and said they would have as many children as God will bless them with.
10 Take Pictures Right After
Most of us are sweaty and gross, need a shower, and want nothing more than to scream to be left alone to sleep or whip out our milk twins. However, that road isn’t open to Duggar girls. While still in the hospital or right after coming home, these couples are sitting in front of a camera, usually for People Magazine. Joseph and Kendra followed suit in People, and no one can forget how exhausted Jill looked when it was her and Israel’s turn in the spotlight. After all, she’d just been through 70 hours of stop and start labor, found out her still-unborn child was in distress, and then rushed into an emergency C-section she wasn’t prepared for.
9 Give Birth On TV But Don’t Watch It
Duggar children were raised in a house without television access. This is because their parents felt like television was a distraction from maintaining close relationships and refused to have one in the house. Therefore, even though a camera crew is there for most of the Duggar births, the Duggars don’t watch the media it’ll be used for.
One way the family has admitted to bending the rule is by watching DVDs of shows they deem wholesome, like The Andy Griffith Show. In Touch Weekly has said it is “broadcast TV” that the family means to stay away from. We wonder if they watch their own birth episodes.
8 No Birth Control
Jim Bob and Michelle, who encourage their children to leave their family sizes up to God, have what they think is a valid reason for doing so. After having their first child together, they decided to wait to have another and used the pill as their birth control method of choice. However, Michelle fell pregnant again and lost the baby sometime before 20 weeks.
Jim Bob says a doctor informed them the lost pregnancy was due to the use of the pill. In a Hollywood Life article, it is said that Jim Bob believes he and Michelle accidentally caused her body to terminate their baby. While doctors insist this isn't possible, there's little science on it and many people do share this opinion with the Duggars.
7 Labor Over A Toilet
One thing about giving birth at home–there's the potential for a lot of necessary clean up. Anna Duggar, during her first labor experience, was so worried about "going" before pushing the baby out that she went to the toilet.
The Inquisitr reminds us that it was there that her oldest child was born since the feeling of needing to relieve herself was actually her body’s instinct to push. And yes, it was caught on camera, and the baby catchers had to kneel down to make sure the baby didn’t plunk into the potty. We can imagine filming that event was pretty interesting for everyone involved.
6 Don’t Show Your Knees
While the Duggars are allowed to give birth on camera as well as breastfeed under a cover within the presence of their film crew, one thing those girls are not allowed to show are their knees. In Touch Weekly reports that there have been several instances of the girls’ knees being blurred as a way to respect the Duggars’ modesty standards.
Michelle and company were always covered by a sheet that blocked a camera view of bare belly during ultrasounds, but having knees pixelated seems to be a little odd. This has apparently happened with Jessa, Jill and Michelle—all figures who gave birth on camera.
5 Start Young
The Duggar kids tend to marry quite young. Despite this, they are encouraged to get down to baby making as soon as the honeymoon starts. Nikki Swift noticed how young the couples wed, stating that Joy-Anna was the youngest to tie the knot at 19. Yet her brother Josiah was 18 when he announced his first courtship meant to lead to marriage with a 17-year-old girl named Marjorie.
That courtship didn’t pan out, but we imagine if it did Josiah and his young wife would’ve given his sister a run for her money. Since that breakup, Josiah has courted successfully and married. His wife was nineteen at the time. Duggar fans are becoming quite eagle-eyed trying to spot the couple’s expected pregnancy.
4 Keep The Fans Happy
The Duggars make their money on television and publicity. Having weddings and babies is sort of their bread and butter, and fans like to feel included and up to date with family goings-on.
Therefore, all the pregnant girls have participated in what Romper calls “bumpdates,” which are social media posts (because once the kids are married, they can have official accounts) that tell people what fruit or vegetable a baby size is close to. Jill did this, as did Jessa and Jinger. It was rumored Joy-Anna did not because she was poked fun at for the size of her bump early on in her pregnancy.
3 Get The Skinny
Remember, in the Duggar world women are taught to never tell their husbands to take care of it themselves. That means that Duggar ladies not only have to birth the babies, they immediately have to make themselves desirable again. Over at CafeMom, an article shines a light on just how they do it.
Michelle admits that she uses friends and her “sweetheart” to keep her accountable for losing the weight. She says nothing really about staying healthy or recovery periods, just simply that a mix of her support network and using Weight Watchers keeps her accountable to her goal. It looks like her daughters are taking after her. Jinger recently debuted a shockingly svelte figure after having her first baby.
2 Get The Pedi
It doesn’t seem like the Duggar girls get a lot of pampering in their lives. They’re expected to cook, to look after children, to manage households and to be helpmeets to their husbands in whatever they need. One thing the girls do seem to be allowed to splurge on is pedicures.
In Touch Weekly says that a very heavily pregnant Jessa was once featured on the show getting a pedicure with her mother in law. Jill even went so far as to get a pedicure after her water broke. We’ve heard of holistic methods of pain relief but never a trip to the salon.
1 Just Ask Mama
One thing nearly all Duggar girls have admitted to doing is calling up their mother for advice (after twenty labors, she’s got to have learned a thing or two). Jill admitted to doing so when she wasn’t sure if she was under or overfeeding Israel in the early days of nursing. For Jessa, Michelle was there to call the ambulance after her first home delivery resulted in traumatic hemorrhage.
Michelle’s advice for new mamas, as stated by Romper, was simple. She said to leave laundry and cleaning when those early days make parents exhausted. Opt for the sleep, and getting on with the chores later won’t seem like such a trial.