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“I didn’t know I was pregnant!”

Is it possible to carry a baby to term without even knowing you’re pregnant?

pregnant belly

Image: Via Shutterstock

A US couple found out just 5 hours before their baby was born that mom Amanda Prentice was pregnant. Some health complications (including seizures) at the end of the woman’s pregnancy sent her to the doctor, who told her of the pregnancy when she woke up from an induced coma, according to Huffington Post.

Although the couple had been trying to conceive for four years, Amanda reportedly said she had experienced no pregnancy symptoms apart from swollen ankles, adding that she had been wearing the same clothes as she usually wore.

Cryptic pregnancy

Before you roll your eyes and say that she’s either a liar or even mentally ill, apparently “cryptic pregnancy” (as it is called when the mother is unaware of the foetus) is an actual condition experienced more often than you’d expect.

Jena Pincott did some research after discovering, astonishingly, that among pregnant women, 1 in 450 doesn't know her status until week 20 or later (more than halfway through the pregnancy), and 1 in 2,500 is oblivious until she actually goes into labour.

Her findings showed that far from denial or insanity being the roots behind these cryptic pregnancies, mental disturbances account for only 8% of these, and that rather, the majority of women who experience cryptic pregnancy are sane and educated. They just don’t have pregnancy symptoms, such as weight gain, nausea, and abdominal swelling. They may still have their periods, or have always had irregular periods. If they have symptoms, they're simply too subtle.

Low hormone levels?

Another study, by scientist Marco Del Giudice presents a decent scientific theory to explain why the expectant mom isn’t aware of the presence of a foetus: The pregnancy may have abnormally low levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), the pregnancy hormone, which would mean possible false results on pregnancy tests, as well as reduced birth weight of a baby- babies who don’t get enough of the hormone tend to be smaller in size.

Del  Giudice also suggests that the mom’s stress levels could play a role. If the expectant mother is extremely stressed, the foetus may emit lower levels of HCG as a way of avoiding being detected, and mom may be less sensitive to any HCG which is emitted. Both foetus and mom are wrestling over one body’s resources, and a “stealth foetus” as he calls it, stands a better chance of survival. Extreme stress is known to be an indicator in some cases of miscarriage. In this way, a baby which is undetected is using less of mom’s resources, and is, in effect, safer.

Do you think it’s possible to be unaware that you’re pregnant?

  By: Scott Dunlop

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