Those who have been pregnant or who have helped someone through a pregnancy know exactly how long nine months can be. Through the morning sickness, achy backs and swollen feet maybe it would help to remind ourselves of the trials that other mammals go through in order to bring new life into the world.
Human babies are born large, but our infants are nothing compared to those of bats. An adult little brown bat weighs only 0.2 to 0.4 ounces, is pregnant for about 60 days and will give birth to a pup weighing up to 25 percent of the mother's body weight. That is equivalent to a human giving birth to a 30-pound baby! These massive infants will nurse for four weeks, during which time the mother will eat more than her body weight in insects every night just to keep up with the pup's needs. The good news is that bats usually only have one pup each year.
Unlike bats who go big and take a break, kangaroos believe in no rest for the weary. Red kangaroos often will become pregnant immediately after the birth of their last joey. It takes only 33 days for a red kangaroo to develop in the womb, but it takes about nine months for them to leave the pouch. This means that the next baby can't be born until the last one leaves the pouch and makes room. To solve this problem, pregnant kangaroos can stop the development of a fetus in the womb until the last joey has left the pouch. Once there is space for the new baby in the pouch, the fetal development will resume and the new joey will be born a short time later. Of course, getting a child to "leave the nest" is easier said than done. The older joey will continue to nurse from its mother even after it no longer fits in the pouch. In order to satisfy the needs of both the newborn and the older joey, the mother will produce two different types of milk from different nipples for each of them.
For those who have felt like they were carrying the largest baby ever, just remember the African elephant. African elephants have the longest gestation of any mammal, carrying their infants for up to 760 days, or two years! Apparently, this is the amount of time it takes to grow a 265-pound, three-foot tall baby. If you're an elephant, the good news is that this is only about 3 percent of your own size. The bad news is that it is still a huge baby, and two years probably feels like forever. I'm not sure how to tell if an elephant's ankles are swollen, however, so maybe they don't mind it too much.
While all of this might help put things in perspective, I wouldn't advise comparing an upset pregnant woman to an elephant cow. It might seem harmless, but the reaction probably won't be quite what you were expecting.
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