Last week a Massachusetts woman went to an emergency room complaining of severe back pains and within an hour gave birth to a 10-pound daughter. Katie Kropas insists that she had no idea that she was pregnant.
It’s incredibly hard to believe, especially if you’re one of those women who is plagued with morning sickness and other early signs of pregnancy, but it is possible to be pregnant without realizing it, according to a CBS News Report. The condition is called cryptic pregnancy (pregnancy denial), and a British study suggests that it occurs in approximately 1 in 2,500 pregnancies.
There are several factors that might explain how a woman misses the obvious signs of pregnancy.
If you suspect you are pregnant, often the first step is to take a home pregnancy test, but these tests aren’t always accurate. Although most kits claim to be 99 percent accurate, taking one too early can deliver a false negative. Hormone levels in the body rise once the embryo is implanted in the walls of the uterus — normally at 7 to 10 days after ovulation. And these tests have varying levels of sensitivity. If a woman’s urine is too diluted, the test registers lower hormone levels.
Extra weight is less noticeable in overweight women. Katie Kropas said she thought she had put on some “holiday” weight, but never connected her weight gain with a pregnancy.
Some lucky women have minimal pregnancy-related symptoms. Fatigue, morning sickness, back pains, and food cravings can be mistaken for food poisoning, stress, or simple indigestion. It’s easier to miss the signs in a first-time pregnancy when the woman doesn’t really know what to expect.
Not all women have regular menstrual cycles, and while in most cases a woman’s period stops when she conceives, some have spotting and may not recognize the flow difference. Women with very irregular cycles might not see a significant change. And while most babies in utero kick, some babies move less frequently and the movement is mistaken for a digestive condition. Overweight women tend to be further along in their pregnancy before they feel the baby move, and the position of the placenta can also make a difference. If located on the front wall of the woman’s uterus, there’s extra cushioning that makes movement less noticeable.
Other factors that may trigger a cryptic pregnancy could include a diagnosis of infertility, high levels of stress, or existing psychiatric problems. The mind is powerful, and denial of obvious signs can sometimes override logic.