As a nurse who worked in an Obstetrics and Gynecology ward, I met a lot of moms. Some had fairly smooth pregnancies, with little to no pregnancy symptoms, while some experienced morning sickness and unusual cravings. I met a mom who didn’t even feel like she was going into labor, but she knew full well she was pregnant. It was her eighth child.
But in my time as a nurse, I never encountered a surprise pregnancy, or where the mom doesn’t know she is pregnant until she goes into labor. Such was the case for three moms.
I stumbled upon the CNN feature entitled They Didn’t Know They Were Pregnant and found out it isn’t as uncommon as I thought. The two women featured in the story, both named Amanda, lived 700 miles away from one another.
Amanda Burger, 33, rushed to the hospital due to extreme stomach pain in 2010. Seven years later, Amanda Prentice 34, was rushed to the hospital after having a seizure.
They both gave birth to two baby girls, but neither of them knew they were even pregnant.
Another surprise birth happened in 2014, to Dakota and Anthony Kuhns, who was 29 weeks along, but didn’t know they were about to be parents.
Dakota went into labor and gave birth on their couch. Recalling the weeks leading up to the surprise birth, Dakota told FamilyShare that she experienced symptoms, like nausea as well as back and stomach pain.
She even took two pregnancy tests, at the prodding of her boss, but both came out as negative, even if they were taken a month apart!
After giving birth, Dakota posted photos on Facebook, to which, as you can imagine, friends and family commented in surprise.
“I had him last night,” responded Dakota. “And don’t worry, until I had him I was out of the loop too!!”
photo: Dakota Kuhns facebook
How could this be possible?
According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, about one out of every 7,225 pregnancies are unknown to the mother until the moment of delivery. They cited a case involving a 40-year-old woman, which they termed a “denied pregnancy.” The woman in their case study had two teenaged kids and was not planning on a third child at her age.
However, unknown or “denied pregnancies” often affect teenagers who refuse to accept they’re carrying a baby or those who are overweight to begin with.
Dr. Patricia Devine of Columbia University Medical Center told CNN that these are very extreme and rare situations “because it is pretty hard to miss all of the signs of pregnancy.”
In her career spanning more than two decades, Dr. Devine only encountered it about five times.
“Sometimes you doubt that they were completely unaware,” she shared. “Other times, it’s completely plausible.”
Being unaware of pregnancy signs and symptoms is also a contributing factor to the incidence of unknown pregnancies. According to Dr. Devine, these include (but are not limited to) bloating, breast tenderness, weight gain, constipation, nausea, and a missed period.
READ: How can you tell if you’re going into labor?
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