Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space. I have been reading the book called "The Astronaut Wives club". In it, they discuss women flying in space, and mention that Valentina was the first woman in space. They also state her being pregnant. I can't believe that anyone would allow the first woman in space to be pregnant when she launched. I've never heard of this before. Was this actually true, that she was pregnant when she orbited the Earth?

The quote is in chapter 8, as below (Emphasized as included). Note that the preceding sentence mentioned she orbited the Earth 48 times.

... comrade Valentina (Tershokova) was pregnant at the time.

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    $\begingroup$ Does the book list any sources? This seems highly dubious and I'd faster attribute it to lazy fact-checking/bad-writing than the Soviet Union not determining the health of its cosmonauts or not claiming the status of first nation to return a pregnant woman safely from space. $\endgroup$ – 89c3b1b8-b1ae-11e6-b842-48d705 Jul 14 '15 at 0:38

If Wikipedia page you link to can be trusted with dates, then she gave birth to her and Andriyan Nikolayev's daughter on 8 June 1964. Vostok 6 launched on 19 June 1963, and was in orbit a bit under 3 days. So unless she was pregnant for a bit under a year (352 days) which is impossible even for prodigious pregnancy considering early-term exposure of the fetus to microgravity, stress and increased levels of radiation, or she terminated her pregnancy early and got pregnant again both within under 3 months which is highly unlikely, then no, she couldn't have been pregnant in space.

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    $\begingroup$ Or her pregnancy ended as a result of her traveling to space. Still, it is odd... There seems like there should be something more to this story... $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Jul 14 '15 at 0:23
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    $\begingroup$ @PearsonArtPhoto Uncontrolled, spontaneous abortion would result in even more severe uterine trauma and make it even more unlikely to conceive again in such a short period of time. And if it was under medical supervision, that should be documented somewhere, at least as her leave of absence, and hormonal treatment would again prevent conception. Either case, I don't buy it. If the book wanted to make such a bold claim with any seriousness, they would have included some proof of it. Or at least they should, otherwise it's just slander. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Jul 14 '15 at 0:29
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    $\begingroup$ The bit about three months being an impossibly short time between the end of one pregnancy and the beginning of another is completely false. There is no medical basis for that claim. $\endgroup$ – Seth Battin Jul 14 '15 at 2:04
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    $\begingroup$ @SethBattin There's no such "bit" in my answer, and it never was. I said that it's highly unlikely, not impossible. Additional clue is in that this wouldn't have been a normal miscarriage, but by a cosmonaut that was recently subjected to microgravity and increased radiation. It's a well known fact that it can cause hormonal disorders or even endometriosis-like symptoms of the uterus, both of which cause (temporary) infertility. A miscarriage would have worsened that, so it would be even less likely for her to later conceive in under three months to deliver in full-term a healthy child. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Jul 14 '15 at 2:27
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    $\begingroup$ @TomJNowell OK, I clarified that. Cheers! $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Jul 14 '15 at 2:50

It seems as though Valentina became pregnant shortly after her flight, as @TildalWave. She was worried about how her pregnancy might have been affected by her recent space flight, and it was that fact that is the truth behind this error.

There are some documented reports of Valentina being particularly concerned with respect to her pregnancy. Both her and her husband were Cosmonauts, the sometimes having Elena be known as the first Star Child, with both of her parents having traveled to space. That likely is the source of this confusion, although it seems she was not pregnant in space.


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