Duggars: Should medical issues mean no more kids?

(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar surprised a lot of people when they recently told People magazine they are still open to having more kids despite their most recent baby – their 19th child – being born more than three months early and struggling to live with multiple medical issues. (This particular article is not featured online, but here is the most recent story about the Duggars on People.com.)

Mom Michelle had preeclampsia, pregnancy induced high-blood pressure, and the baby girl had to be taken by C-section in December.

Jim Bob and Michelle talk frequently about why they want to have as many kids as the Lord will give them. (The story is on their Web site.)

Michelle miscarried after she conceived on birth control pills. The doctors felt the miscarriage was because of the pills. At that point they decided to they shouldn’t use contraceptives and be open to how ever many kids they conceive whenever they conceive.

Doctors in the People article suggest that the preeclampsia could be a problem in any future pregnancies and additional health problems could arise as Michelle is 43.

People did have some interesting quotes on having multiple babies that I had never heard before:

“ ‘The risks of additional pregnancies tart to go up dramatically after four,’ warns Dr. Jeffrey Richardson,a Ventura, Calif., obstetrician who had practiced for more than 30 years.”

“ ‘Postpartum hemorrhage, dysfunctional labor, preterm labor and early miscarriage are all risks.’ ”

The article says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says pregnancies should be spaced out at least 18 months. (I think Rose was 16 months old when I got pregnant with Walsh.)

The article also reported that based on the Bible, The Duggars abstain from sex 40 days after having a boy and 80 days after having a girl.

The Duggars say in People: “Each child is a gift from God.”  Jim Bob adds, “The negatives don’t bother us.” Agrees Michelle: “Our hearts haven’t changed.”

There are many faiths that for many reasons preach that parents need to always be open to conception and there are loads of reasons why people think having as many kids as you can conceive in a lifetime is excessive, but I really want to focus on the medical issues alone.

At what point do medical factors override that openness to having children? At what point does Mom’s health or baby’s potential health change being open to conceiving any time you are having sex?

277 comments Add your comment


February 12th, 2010
9:21 pm

I was the oldest of 2 children,as my husband is also and both of us wanted a large family. I wanted at least 6 and then would decide if more was good idea after that. I miscarried my first, then had 3 healthy boys. 19 weeks into my next pregnancy, I lost my 4th son, I was devastated, but still had a strong desire to have more. God blessed me with another son 17 months after that loss, which was a difficult pregnancy due to my fears and concerns, which caused high blood pressure which I had to be medicated for starting at 6 weeks. My son was delivered 4 weeks early after it was discovered at a routine stress test that his tracings were not good. Upon an induced delivery, it was discovered that the cord was wrapped tightly around his neck 2x. 1 year later, I was pregnant again and thrilled. My 5th son was delivered by c-section, my only one, 4 weeks early as my cervix would not stay closed any longer and it was discovered after my water had been broken that he was transverse. There were complications during the delivery, I had to be put out, my uterus had to be cut every which way to get him out and I was told in recovery that I was lucky my uterus was able to be saved. Any future pregnancies would end up with a c-section delivery. My recovery was horrible, took 12 weeks for me to recover from all of the internal incisions and scarring is still a problem today. This, I believe, was MY sign that I was to stop and be thankful for what God had given me. I thank God every day for my 5 beautiful, healthy sons.

Michelle, be thankful for what God has given you as you are truly blessed. I do believe in signs from God and you have been given one!! I wish nothing but the best for Josie and hope that you will bring her home very soon healthy to join the rest of the family.


February 14th, 2010
6:23 pm

If everyone had kids like the Duggars it owuld get like China sooner or later with a one child policy. When citizens fail to be repsonsible the gov has a right ot intervene for the better of the people Quiverfull is too cultish and dangerous.It isnt a religion but just a fad movemet that unfortunatley gained popularity. Many have left it for good reason. BTW the Duggars claim not to be Quiverfull but Fundamentalists who follow many similarites. Debt and gov assistance is against their belief. If they were debt free on their own terms and so forth I would not see a probem. I dont believe in taking gov assistance for granted and strive to be debt free but that is my personal conviction and not part of religous belief. There are times you must go in debt. The kids suffer in poorer QV families because their paretns extreme frugality. Not everyone is so fortunate to have cell phone towers and land . It amazes me in 21st centruy America people blindly follow in the name of Christianity. Andrea Yates was part of this movement. Christians do not blindly follow but lead. thi si nothing against large families or anyone but against sugar-coating


February 14th, 2010
6:49 pm

I wish Josie well It isnt her fault after all. Im not telling anyone to stop but sometimes you ahve to think about consequnces. Crystal L, my mother had to work there was no other choice, else we wouldnt eat. If woman chosses to work outside the home for whatever it is noone’e business jsut as it is michelle choice to stay home with hers.. As I mentioned, not everyone is so fortunate. bad behavior happens in all walks of life Christian or not. I know a few. People need ot grow up and not make blanket statements. Fl and Beckys comments prove no two families are alike regardless of size. Db the Amish dont put their families on TV. The Duggars are also quick to judge when a lifestyle isnt to their liking. I saw this is the Ethiopian restuarant episode and teh marathon episode. What if one of their kids doesnt want to be married or follow their lifestyle. What business is it 3 people live in a mansion or 20 in a shack? If the person is paying for the MCmansion as aposter mentioned all by themselves I see no problem. I have no children and not materialistic. Those who defend the Duggars need to stop judging everyone else. Since when did smaller famileis become so sinful? LIFE is not one size fits all. Please show some maturity in comments.


February 15th, 2010
1:20 am

This is not a very popular opinion but i somewhat agree with catlady. Make them non -Christian another race, religion,or a family who adopted 19 kids, or single parent (Octomom ) and you would get a different response. She was just mistaken that they live off the gov and it is only natural to think so considerig the cost of living. They may not live off the gov but they got help from their church (before the home church) because michelle didnt work and already had several children then. Some claim not to be on assistance but are or were so you cant verify they werent ever on gov assistance. If gov assistance is wrong, shouldnt help from the church be wrong too?


February 15th, 2010
2:38 am

These parents don’t have close, individual bonds with each of their children, and I think that’s horrible. The majority of the parenting is done by the grown daughters simply because there are so many more of them. Mom and Dad are often away from the home anyways, so their not having jobs outside of the home doesn’t matter.

Also, Michelle breastfeeds for six months, prior to passing the kid off on her eldest daughters and getting pregnant again. That isn’t right. The parents made that child. If they lack the faculties (not just financially) to care for each of their children who requires parenting, they’re being irresponsible by getting pregnant again. Those grown kids are not responsible for their parent’s baby making addiction.

It’s sad. They gave their grown son a job in which he could make OK money and probably makes some coin from the show. His parents found him a nice girl who they encouraged him to marry and have babies with. In contrast, they have given their grown daughters nothing. They keep them around, to care for the kids. Those girls have no ability to go to university or get jobs because they have no lif experience outside the home. Their parents aren’t even encouraging them to get married to someone who can care for them.


February 15th, 2010
8:56 am

Wow, it’s amazing the number of people who feel the right to pontificate about this family without feeling the need to have any actual facts.

These kids are not kept away from the world, they actively engage in it! They do volunteer work in both their own community and in other parts of the world, both boys and girls alike.

They were debt free with 14 children before any media attention came their way. The young ladies in the family certainly have many life skills that they can apply to either a job or university. Their time management skills alone are extraordinary. They all play instruments and are capable of teaching music lessons.

As to individual bonding, even a cursory read of their book discusses time that is given to individual children with their parents alone. It is simply a matter of priorities. These children rank over mom and dad’s “alone” time, “girls’ night out”, “poker night” and any other number of activities that some parents prioritize over time with their children.

Oh… and I have seven children. Both of us work in hospitals and have private insurance through work. As an RN, I can contribute a great deal to our family budget working only 2 or 3 nights per week (when Daddy is home from his shift at the hospital thereby ensuring no need for babysitters) and am able to be home with them all week to homeschool them using a virtual charter school that is accredited by the state. Oh… and as to intelligence, colleges are actively competing for our eldest (who attends a charter school for pre-veterinary students), our next eldest is in the 7th grade but taking honors high school geometry, all of our children are 2-3 years ahead in mathematics, and number 5 (who should be getting less intelligent according to some posts here) is in kindergarten but reads at a 3rd grade level, with number 6 following closely on her heels!

Oh, and I’m the sixth in my family as well… I performed in Carnegie Hall when I was 17 (on the viola), toured Europe as a soloist with the National Honors Choir at 18, and am a registered nurse in pediatrics with specialty certifications in pediatric emergency nursing.

As a nurse, I can tell you that what happened with this last birth was a fluke that can happen during any number pregnancy for a woman of any age… pregnancy in and of itself raises your risks for gallbladder issues.

As for the “falling in” idiotic comments… any woman who does her kegels and realizes that the vagina is a muscle can keep it just as toned as she and her husband desire with just a little effort! (Of course, this assumes her husband is full sized… perhaps a few of you men making the snide comments are not?)


February 16th, 2010
1:20 am

I enjoy watching this program, and especially note the kindness and soft quality that each family member, exhibits towards another. Michelle and her husband speak softly and respectfully to their children, and to one another. It apparently works! Although the number of children is a personal decision, the body is not necessarily geared, for the riggors of excessive pregnancies. It is to be respected too,and treated kindly. It would be my fear, that the existing children, might find themselves motherless, if their mother does not allow sufficient time, between pregnancies, to heal and strengthen her body. Without sufficient rest and recovery, that then, would put another pregnancy at risk, which is also a CHOICE, that she and her husband would KNOWLINGLY make and facilitate. Further, if you take the number of children, in addition to her husband, (20), the number of WAKING HOURS, and divide, how much individual (not collective) quality time, can be given to any one family member? If you take a look at nature, mothers do the mothering with some assistance from the hubby, depending on the species. The job is not subcontracted out, to other offspring. A Cardinal sticks with the program, until her job is completed, a short cycle for birds, but a lengthy one for humans.It occurs to me that pregnancy and weaning is a tad addictive, and when that task is over, it becomes a shared responsibility. If children are a gift from God, and certainly they are, perhaps accepting too many “gifts” is not what he had in mind, but savoring the ones given, is. There is a little something, and they call is greed. Birth control via medicine is one thing, refraining from such pleasures, is quite another, and probably quite acceptable. I personally lost one child, and sterile after age 22, have three adopted children, and have had several foster children. I am the only “mother”, my kids ever had, and it worked out just fine!


February 16th, 2010
1:45 am

Intelligence has nothing to do with birth order or the number of kids in the family. You dont need many skills to cook and clean. It seems only the’ young ladies’ possess these skills. I only saw the boys cook or try to on one episode but only the younger ones. What everyone is trying to say is these poor kids dont have a choice in any matter. I couldnt imagine being 20 years old and raising my younger siblings. If you need to sign up for mommy time something is wrong. A child should not have to sign up for mommy time.

True, what happened to Michelle can happen regardles of number of pregnancies, it is no excuse to contine procreating. They were already told to stop three or four kids ago. Duggar defenders dont realize the seriousness of this situation and Im no medical expert. Common sense speaks volumes.Experts have voiced their concerns over and over again but you wont see this on the show. Why do people try to pontificate and dumb down small families now that the Duggars are on TV? I do have facts because I watch the show sometimes.


February 16th, 2010
1:14 pm

Children have been responsible for contributing to the family since humankind has existed. And, for older children, that includes taking care of younger siblings. I credit my responsibilities toward my younger sister when I was a child to helping me become the nurturing person who I believe I am. It also forged a bond between us that is very important to me. So, I don’t think that the mere fact that older children have to help take care of their younger siblings makes the Duggars’ lifestyle a bad one.

I don’t believe that childhood should be all play; imagination, learning and discovery should be coupled with work and increasing responsibility. If children aren’t expected to contribute to their family’s well-being (in age-appropriate ways), those children are likely to become adults who are incapable of caring for themselves and who believe that they are entitled to everything the world has to offer.

I am not a Christian, but I have a lot of respect for the Duggar family. I believe that the parents are good people who work hard to help their children grow up to become good people. I don’t envy their lifestyle — and, truthfully, I wish they would encourage their children to attend college before marrying — but I respect their autonomy and for the most part I understand their choices.

Ann D

February 16th, 2010
11:23 pm

well we all are entitled to opinions and i agree having that many children would seem rather too much to handle and i know for me it would , but that is not me or anyone else that is the Duggers . and if you are watching the show all the time they are doing a fantastic job on their own and that is their business how many kids they want to have or god blesses them with and i am sure they know the dangers of having babies , weather it is your first or your 20th, all pregnancies are a chance for complications . and as for someone saying something about the taxpayers money , well they do pay taxes too , they do run a car lot so taxes are paid from them too. i wish i could run my house as good as they do (and i only have 3 ) teens , and believe me i hear people all the time say how organized and well manored they all are and they wish their family was like that and the funny thing is that it is not a movie where people are fake this is reality a real genuine family.


February 17th, 2010
5:39 am

It is amazing to me to see how many people are so anti-Duggar. Just because they chose to allow the Lord to control their lives/pregnancies! The most hateful comments I see seem to be from people who first, are not Christian and don’t believe the Bible. And second, ones who don’t watch the show. Because if you DID watch the show, you would understand their beliefs. You would see that they don’t practice “buffet” Christianity, but they believe everything the Bible says. You would know that they are debt-free, government assistance free, etc. You would know that she does breast feed all of her babies exclusively…yes, contrary to what you may have heard, you can still get pregnant while exclusively breast feeding! You would see that they are very doting, loving, and caring parents who devote time, love, and teaching to ALL of their children. God gave this husband and wife a tremendous amount of patience, wisdom, and love. Let’s not be jealous of it and say hateful things just because we don’t have the blessings that they have! Oh, and I saw one comment asking a rhetorical question “can you snuggle and read a book to 6 kids at once?”…and my answer is a resounding YES…I do it all the time!

The Voice of Raisin

February 17th, 2010
8:46 am

What amazes me is that her husband can still get her pregnant. Must be like throwing a pencil down a mine shaft after all those kids, that vag of hers.

One of my former bosses called it (jokingly) “uterus abuse.”


February 22nd, 2010
12:36 am

I do watch the show I am not JEALOUS I have brain and can think for myself. I call ‘myself fortunate to have husband but would rather be single and childless the rest of my life by choice than conned into having babies and no control over my own body or mind. Let me ask Duggar supporters how does more kids = Christian and sixlittleones, they have patience called older girls or buddies. These girls are mere mini parents.They do not follow the Bible but a whack job named Bill Gothard. Google him ,Fundamentalism, then come back and tell me if you still suport them. I understand the beliefs perfectly. Fundamentalism has damaged families. It is way too strict and legalistic.Im reading a blog of one young lady who managed to escape. I suggest anyone associated with Quiverfull or Fundamentlaism to get out now.I guess why argue with those who wont listen There are those who support them no matter what.but condemn everyone else.


February 23rd, 2010
12:14 am

I find the Duggar’s to be an inspiration in the sense that despite the enormity of their family, they are able to communicate effectively, work together, have responsibilties, are taught to be self reliant, have gentle spirits, and appear to have a genuine love and connection. In a family of that size this really is amazing. Our family is much smaller and sometimes getting things done as a team is like pulling teeth. The Duggar’s teach their children morals, closely monitor their television and internet usage as well as the music they are allowed to listen to. In an age where young children are being sexually charged by the ear porn known as top 40 music, and images on TV,that quite frankly, embarass me, why not promote a family who is making a lot of kids with good sense and a strong foundation who are learning to do good for the world. For those who watched the episode when Josie was born, the oldest kids were in El Salvador on a mission trip? Some of the previous posts make me think, maybe it would have done some people a little good to be brought up in a home such as theirs!.


February 23rd, 2010
8:16 pm

Why they say that they don’t use contraceptives because they feel guilty for the death of their unborn child, (Note: 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage especially in new mothers.) yet they continue to have children despite the risks of having more. She has been lucky that she hasn’t had any complications up till now, but I will argue that she is putting her future children at the same risk of dying, by choosing to have more. I agree with what most others have said and I think most people would, for we are not ridden with guilt for something that was not our fault, this lack of regard for the human body has only to with their guilt. If God was really in control of how many children we should have then why hasn’t she not gotten pregnant, or for that matter why are there people out there that have children that shouldn’t or that don’t want children. There is a movement that exists of these families its called the quiverful movement that believe God will give them as many children as He sees fit yet not one these families has less then five children and most still having children. To me it is like saying I will sit around all day eating junk and saying if God whats me to be fit and healthy then I will be, or having a broken bone and saying God will heal me if that is what is meant to happen, it is just simply not how our bodies work. Women are meant to get pregnant and if you don’t use anything to prevent it no amount of divine intervention will stop that. Do you really think God would what that for his Children? It is scary to think if this movement where to catch on we already over populate the earths habitable space there is no more need to have children like this it is simply not necessary. We have become smarter people then those in the bible we have developed birth control, although I will argue that I am sure they must have used some sort of barrier method they weren’t stupid. We also must remember that women use to die very often in child birth we do not have that now, but if Michelle was having these kids in any other time but with in the past 100 years she and her baby would probably be dead by now, so the questions becomes, now will they stop? I don’t think God would what this either, for being extreme in any aspect isn’t healthy. I don’t think they are bad parents and I don’t think many would argue, but I do think most of use agree that this is a health risk for her to have more children. We all have our opinions but the bottom line is it is not healthy for her any more. What would her family do with out her, I think it is a valid reason for her to stop, if not for her for her children and after all aren’t they everything to her.


February 24th, 2010
12:29 pm

God gave me two children that I am extremely thankful for. But God also gave me common sense, and for that I am thankful, which is why I have only two kids. These people are selfish and completely unfeeling of their older children, I have no respect for them at all.


February 24th, 2010
7:24 pm

“The article also reported that based on the Bible, The Duggars abstain from sex 40 days after having a boy and 80 days after having a girl.”

The Duggars would not follow this because it is Mosaic law. It is not because Christians “pick and choose” which verses they want to follow. Rather, due to the whole premise that Christ fulfilled the requirements of the law through his death and resurrection, it is no longer necessary to follow a list of cultural and societal rules such as the one mentioned in the article. Plus, the rules that are contained in Mosaic law were given to the Israelites for their protection from possible illness, harming each other, and from harm from outsiders during a very tumultuous time as they wandered in the desert and sought to settle in the land of Canaan.

What is concerning is that the Duggars have a very poor understanding of how to read and study the Bible, but act as if they represent how all Christians should practice their faith. As they note on their website, they base their idea of having many children merely on “a host of references.” Basing their whole lifestyle on random verses is poor theology as it does not take into consideration who the texts were originally written to, the cultural context, the time period, etc. It’s poor theology and it is as bad as pointing to a random verse and doing what it says.

I respectfully disagree with their ideas and feel they are a little misled, but they are certainly very kind people that do take very good care of their children. I wish them the best and hope that they use wisdom and careful deliberation in making decisions about the future of their family.


February 25th, 2010
12:11 pm

I am a mother of 5 and each time i was scared about equal time between them all, Well there isn’t. I feel guilty as a parent who can’t spend the fair amount of time with each child, i have one who is so smart and busy she drives me nuts, and that’s because she wants my attention. I work full time to care for my kids and take nothing from the system, they are my children and my responsibility. So if the duggers want 50 kids and can pay for them go for it, they all seem well behavied and look to be doing a good job raising them. good luck duggers keep positive and god bless your family.


February 28th, 2010
9:53 pm

I enjoy watching the Duggars because they are a joy to watch. I am a mother of two boys..19 and 10 and I can’t imagine having 19 children or giving birth to that many. I suppose there is a good reason God chose Michele and not I. I admire how well their household runs and how well behaved their children are. But I mostly admire how Michele and Jim Bob can remain so calm when there is so much craziness going on around them. Many people have said many things that do make sense..how can they possibly have individual time for that many kids? Well, they can’t but none of their children seem to be missing out. None of their time is individual but they all spend time with them..have you watched the show???? I do worry about Michele and her future health if she continues to have children and that of her future children but we cannot forget that we have no control over that. Only God does. No matter what our opinions are will not change that. Instead of being so critical…be thankful for a family that still believes in family. These children are well cared for, loved and believed to be a blessing. What more could they need? And what business is it of ours other than the Duggars want to share their beliefs with us? They hope to make our lives better by learning about theirs. If it does not make your life better, don’t watch. It does help me to make better choices, no matter how small and I will continue to watch. God Bless the Duggars!

[...] But do we really want the state deciding how nuts a person has to be to want 14 children? Or 19 children (and counting)? [...]


March 5th, 2010
12:54 pm

I wish I had never heard of these disgusting people. Yes, they have 19 kids, it’s their right to keep having more and it’s nobody’s elses business. However, they should have truly made it nobody’s elses business by keeping their lives private. I am appalled that Michelle and Jim are open to having more children despite knowing the increased risk to Michelle and future babies.

P Gell

March 11th, 2010
5:32 pm

catlady said: “Has she exclusively breastfed all these babies for 12 months each? I am doubting it. If she had breastfed,it is unlikely that she would have conceived so quickly, repeatedly.”

Mrs. Duggar FORCIBLY weans her children between 4 and 6 months (LONG before a natural weaning would occur) and also forces them to Cry It Out at night.

All for what? So, she can, of course, regain her “fertility” and get pregnant again.

THIS IS NOT WHAT GOD’S WORD MEANT! They have twisted the Word Of God for their own purposes (as do most people.) The Blessed Mother would never have force weaned the Infant Jesus, nor would she have let him cry alone and miserable in his bed, without her arms and her breasts.

Yet, Mrs. and Mr. Duggar think their DESIRE to have a record breaking family is more important the the individual psycological and physical health of each and every one of thier children.

It is SO sad.

It is SO sad. They don’t show Michelle ignoring her baby’s cries for HER and her baby’s cries for her milk on the show, so most people just ASSUME she is taking care of them at night.

I wonder how this poor preterm baby, Josie will fare on such neglect?


March 18th, 2010
9:45 am

I think that Jim Bob and Michelle are wonderful parents. They raise there kids in a great way. Yes the older children help with the younger ones, but it teaches them and they learn alot from it. Some people might say its wrong, but I dont think so I think they enjoy being such a help to there parents. They are that way because they were raised to be caring ! When it comes to them having more children i think god will help guide them in the right direction. I think they are a wonderful family, and i wish them all the best !!!!


March 18th, 2010
5:30 pm

Maybe it is just me, but Michelle seems to have a obsessive compulsion with babies. When the entire family came to the hospital to see Josie, Michelle ignored all of the older children and only spoke to Jordyn. If I was an older girl like Jana, Jill, Jinjer and Jessa, I would feel my only purpose in life was to rear my younger siblings. They do not go to college or have jobs that pay. Years ago when the older children were asked what they wanted to be…some said nurse, teacher, etc. So, they stay home and are not allowed to grow up and join the world as adults. I hope they are allowed to be married and have children of their own.


April 8th, 2010
2:44 pm

I really think they need to see the early delivery of this child as s sign from GOD that they are pushing the limit here. God also gave us the doctors and researchers to help with medical needs in this world – like him being fixed or her being fix – there is NOTHING wrong with NOT reproducing…………


April 12th, 2010
10:46 pm

If they could truly afford all these kids they clearly would not need a t.v. show! Yes, they may have a few more brains than Jon and Kate Gosselin or Octomom, but not much. I know they want more kids if God allows, but l think God has given them a huge gift-little Josie’s survival. They say they’ll stop when God wants them to stop, and sadly l think God’s saying “stop” with what’s going on with this poor baby. l feel they should take this tremendous gift, Josie, and quit while they’re ahead. If they were so heartbroken with a miscarriage, how heartbroken would they be if Michelle gave birth to a baby and they lost it? They need to stop!


August 15th, 2010
3:10 am

Wonder how long it will be before there is a follow-up to this show when the kids help Jim Bob search for wife #2 ?? After all, when Jim Bob set up the show with the title “18 and counting” that pretty much set the pace for Michelle to have one pregnancy after another to keep them on TV. But hey, the show much go on…even if his wife’s and the baby’s health is now at risk due to her age. What a guy. Treats his wife like some brood mare in the barn. And his other children like chattel to take care of children that are his and Michelle’s responsibility to raise.