'My surprise toilet birth'
Denial of pregnancy may lead to a shocking surprise.
A woman has allegedly given birth in a toilet to a healthy 4kg son despite not even being aware that she was pregnant, according to the Huffington Post.

Out of the womb, into the toilet bowl

The surprised new mom claimed that she had woken sweating in the night with severe cramps, and had gone to the toilet. She says that a “head of hair” had suddenly appeared, and that it was only then she realised she was giving birth, and with one push, the baby was out, landing in the toilet.

She subsequently pieced together the previous nine months in which she’d had irregular periods and had thought that she was merely putting on weight.

Rare madness?

The unusual story highlights a condition which is frequently misunderstood: Denial of pregnancy. According to a study carried out at 19 obstetric hospitals and other associated practices in Germany, 1 in 475 women had no idea that they were pregnant before 20 weeks gestation and in 12 cases out of 29 462 pregnancies, viable babies were born without the mothers having known they were pregnant. That’s 1 in 2,455 pregnancies.

The results are being used to prove that far from being as unusual as you’d expect, pregnancy may go undetected or diagnosed, especially if the woman does not see a medical professional during the period of her pregnancy.

More frequent than triplets

As one writer at PregnancyAbout.com notes, this means that you are three times more likely to give birth to an undetected baby than you are to give birth to triplets, which happens in one out of 7,225 pregnancies.

Denial of pregnancy is currently being proposed as a genuine disorder with various possible causes. It is described as a pregnancy in which the woman either consciously or subconsciously denies awareness of the pregnancy.

Denied, concealed or imaginary

PregnancyAbout.com says that the condition would include denied pregnancies, concealed pregnancies (where the pregnancy is hidden from others) and false pregnancies. It may even extend to an obsessive desire from the woman to have a baby.

It is considered a psychological disorder according to Divine Caroline, and one which may be related to many factors such as pre-existing depression or anxiety disorders, the age/immaturity of the mom, economic issues, education, fear of abandonment by the father or other family members and even religious factors such as fear of being ostracised by a religious community. She suggests that it’s rare for a normal, well-adjusted woman to be unaware of a pregnancy.

More possible causes for being surprised by a baby could be if the mom has unexplained infertility issues and has struggled to become pregnant previously, if she has some form of contraceptive device fitted or has had a sterilisation procedure.

In the case of denial of pregnancy, often it is pregnancy-related complications which cause the woman to visit the doctor: Cramps, abdominal pains or bleeding, for example.

The absence of pre-natal care may lead to complications for both the mom and the baby should certain conditions not be diagnosed.

Parent24 has covered some of the other reasons a woman may have an undiagnosed pregnancy:

‘I didn’t know I was pregnant!’

‘I didn’t know I was six months pregnant’

‘I didn’t know I was in labour!’

If you suspect you may be pregnant, a blood test will provide confirmation. It’s always safer to consult a medical professional if you aren’t sure.

When did you realise you were pregnant?

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