In health class, we all watched in abject horror as a woman proved the power of the female body in the film The Miracle of Life. Before the big push, a woman experiences nearly 40 weeks of dramatic physical and psychological transformation, and if you’ve met a pregnant woman, you know it’s a brutal process.
It’s a sad reality that nobody rubs the swollen feet or makes a late-night trip to buy garlic bread for pregnant animals. They power through their gestation periods the old fashioned way, like, well, wild creatures. Some of their pregnancies are rougher than a human’s, and these end of term photos will make you wanna send these mamas to the spa.
1. Now, we know what you’re thinking. My goodness, she’s glowing! Female pigs, or, sows, retire to their cozy pens when they are ready to deliver. Their four-month-long pregnancies end when they lay down on their sides to birth their piglets feet first.
2. Finally! The men do some of the work. Male seahorses carry the eggs anywhere from 9 to 45 days. Once the time comes to release them, it’s shocking how many can fit inside their tiny frames — up to 1,000 seahorse eggs per term!
3. Technically, goldfish can’t get pregnant. But, boy, do they get chock full of eggs. So much so that its heavy belly makes swimming a real chore. When the goldfish releases its hundreds, sometimes thousands, of eggs, they also save a portion to snack on.
4. What’s more powerful than a group of pregnant manatees? Probably a lot of things; they’re incredibly tired. One male breeds annually with a group of females, who spend 11 months of gestation basking in the sand with their sister wives.
5. Toothless, naked, and blind — newborn squirrels have faces only mothers could love. Their gestation periods are brief, three to six weeks. However, the kits hang out at home with their mothers for a year before branching out to collect their own nuts.
6. Similarly, zebra foal remain under the watchful eyes of their mothers for their first year. The brown and white striped young are ready to walk straight out of the womb, and they should be after a full year of growth in their mothers.
7. When they reach the ripe old age of four weeks, guinea pigs can get pregnant. From then on, life becomes a vicious circle of pumping out pups. Those tiny bodies can handle five pregnancies in one year!
8. A donkey could appear on the show I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant because frequently you can’t tell they’re expecting until they’re visibly showing. Fascinatingly, the milk of a female donkey, a jenny, is sweeter and more protein-packed than cow milk.
9. Giraffes are so magnificent they can do the whole giving birth thing standing up. Within a few hours of enduring the most taxing natural process of the body, mama giraffe teaches her newborn how to walk.
10. The signs of labor for a mother goat are a worried expression, restlessness, and heavy breathing. Goats — they’re just like us. Once she’s delivered her twins, sometimes triplets, she tucks into a meal of her own placenta, Kim Kardashian style.
11. Those moms that gain only a baby belly during pregnancy would make a lady dolphin roll her eyes. Their species carry young in the length of their entire body, with noticeable changes from nose to tail.
Journal of Experimental Biology
12. Macaque monkey mothers don’t get a break once their baby is born. After their five-to-six-month pregnancies, they physically carry their young in their arms for another two months. The idea is enough to drive this mama to drink.
13. Since humans evolved from apes, it only makes sense that our pregnancies have some similarities. They too carry their young for a nine-month period. Also, they rarely have multiple births, and never more than twins.
14. Someone please, massage this gal’s paws and order her a pizza. It’s not easy carrying anywhere from three to seven tiger cubs. Thankfully, the full-term is around three and a half months, so the mama big cat’s discomfort isn’t too drawn out.
15. Cats aren’t known for their bubbly personalities as it is, so there was no hope that they’d bask in their pregnancy glow. This mama must be nearing delivery, and the poor thing is the definition of miserable.
16. The slight stature of a miniature horse makes labor incredibly high risk for both mother and young. In many cases, the eleven month pregnancy ends in miscarriage. So think twice before perpetuating the harsh over breeding of small ponies.
17. People tease human women for the surge of hormones they experience during pregnancy. Well, ferrets are crazier. During the months leading up to delivery, they rip out their fur to build nests. Plus, if you bother a ferret in labor she might eat her kids.
18. The phrase isn’t “breed like mice” for nothing. From day one mice can get pregnant, and birth litters between 9 to 21 days later. If you’ve got a mouse in your house, they have the capability of pumping out 25 to 65 babies annually.
19. Sadly, the mother manatee wades down the path of pregnancy all by her lonesome. Male manatees take no part in the parenting process, so good riddance! Anyway, the mother manatee increases her badassery by delivering a 60 to 70 lb calf.
20. “They swim so wild and they swim so free,” so the song about baby belugas tells us. Prior to their first majestic jaunt in the Arctic waters, the whale calves spend 14 to 15 months forming in their mothers.
21. If your killer whale friend turns out to be pregnant, you’re gonna be waiting a long time to before you can share a bottle of wine. Their average gestation period is an exhausting 15.7 to 18 months!
It’s a rare occasion to get to see a live animal birth, especially in the wild. While not many get to witness such an incredible event, even fewer have the opportunity to see an animal who is still inside of the womb. Now, that’s all changed!
Thanks to ultrasound technology, microscopic cameras, and digital imaging, nature and wildlife magazine National Geographic has finally given people the opportunity to see animals inside their mother’s womb—before they’re born!
Bristol Zoo / Flickr
The photographs that resulted from this one-of-a-kind project not only gave people the first opportunity to see these animals in the womb, but they captured the beautiful cycle that is pregnancy and childbirth. Get ready, because these pictures are absolutely breathtaking…
1. Dolphin: Even seeing a pod of dolphins swim in unison through the open ocean is no match for the beauty of an unborn dolphin calf inside the womb. Look at the look of pure serenity on this baby’s face!
2. Lemon shark: While many unborn animals’ eyes remain closed throughout the entire pregnancy, sharks are one of the rare species whose eyes remain completely open. It’s as if he’s saying, “I’m ready to come out now!”
3. Kangaroo: It’s truly incredible how clear the photos of these animals inside the womb can be. Here, you can see a kangaroo looking outward from its mothers womb, as if it’s ready to go out and be part of the world. “Let’s hop to it, Mom!”
4. Tiger shark: The characteristic black eyes on this tiger shark are unmistakable. And as you can clearly see, those sharp chompers have already started to develop well before he’s ever born. They may be small now, but you’ll still want to avoid them!
Here’s another shot of an unborn tiger shark. With those big, bright eyes, she looks far more innocent than her brother. Still, you shouldn’t take any chances! She’s ferocious.
5. Cat: This photograph of an unborn kitten inside her mother’s womb takes the idea of “cat nap” to a whole new level. Those eyes are closed tightly and her tiny tongue is partially sticking out. It won’t be long before it’s time to wake up!
6. Polar bears: Believe it or not, here’s a shot of unborn twin polar bear cubs. What a sweet embrace between them! This mother need not worry; it looks like they’ve already done some sibling bonding in there!
7. Horse: Seeing a horse without its trademark mane and beautiful coat is quite surreal; it almost resembles an animal candle made from wax, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, it’s easy to see its tiny hooves and long, elegant legs take shape.
8. Bats: You have to admit it seems pretty comfy to be a baby bat inside the womb. When you really want to kick back and relax, you go from simply lying on your back to covering your face with your floppy bat wings! This one’s definitely ready to lounge in the cave.
9. Penguin: With their tuxedo-like markings and trademark waddle, it’s practically impossible not to recognize a penguin in the wild. But a look at one inside its mother’s womb shows it would be almost unrecognizable if not for its signature flippers!
Of course, that changes big time once they’re inside of an egg waiting to be hatched. What was once a blank slate inside the womb is now undeniably a penguin! This silly little bird is already sporting his best tuxedo.
10. Cheetah: There’s no mistaking this cheetah inside her mother’s womb. Just look at those spots! As you can also see, the little cat’s fur has already begun to grow, as has her razor-sharp claws and adorable paw pads.
11. Chihuahua: Inside the womb, a chihuahua almost looks like a tranquil hybrid of a bear and dog. Rest assured, once this little guy is born, he’ll be barking up a storm and begging his human for treats.
12. Possum: Once they’re fully grown, possums—the Australian marsupial shouldn’t be confused with the American opossum that sneaks into your trash cans at night—are one of the most easily recognizable creatures Down Under. While still in their mama’s pouch, however, they look pretty different!
13. Snake: Just look at the spectacular fashion in which this snake is curled. It’s incredible that the blood vessels are formed at this stage, and that you can even see the individual vertebrae that make up its body!
14. Elephant: It’s strange to see this gentle giant seemingly floating inside its mother’s womb. It looks so utterly peaceful and relaxed at the same time. It almost appears like a fully grown elephant—except it’s tiny enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
Just taking a glance at an elephant in the womb a few weeks prior shows how rapidly they grow. What transformed into the spitting image of an adult elephant was once just a tiny little pink mammal!