- Women's Health
When Giving Birth Is The First Sign Of Pregnancy
Sonia's Surprise Baby
Stranger Than Fiction?
Most long-term Eastenders fans will have come across this phenomenon before.
In 2000, teenager Sonia was in labour with baby Chloe without even suspecting that she was about to become a mum! When the severe stomach pains started she'd thought that she was dying.
But although Sonia's story was fictional, this wasn't just some fantastical drama dreamt up by the writers to draw in audiences!
It happens in real-life too. And not realising that you're pregnant is more common than you would think.
About a year before the Eastenders' storyline aired, it happened to somebody that I knew. This lady was rushed to hospital with a suspected ruptured appendix. But luckily they checked first, and found a baby, who popped out shorty afterwards!
There were lots of questions going through my mind about how she could possibly not have known. Her work colleagues were also full of questions when she phoned to tell them that she'd be needing to go on maternity leave - effective immediately!
If you've never come across this situation before you might have some questions too. For most women, if they've been through a "normal" pregnancy, it seems an impossible thing that someone wouldn't realise they were pregnant for a whole nine months.
I'm sure that there have been a lot of negative aspersions cast on these women by males and females alike. This is unfair, because it is possible for a woman to be pregnant and not know it.
Here are some questions that you might be asking, and some answers that might surprise you!
Lack Of Periods
Wouldn't a lack of periods be a hint that you might be pregnant?
For most women, a missed period is the first sign of pregnancy. But this is not the case for everyone. Some women don't have regular periods anyway for a number of reasons; including poly-cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the peri-menopause, being over or under-weight, or having an under-active thyroid gland. If you don't have a period very often then many months may pass before you realise that something unusual is happening!
And if a woman is on a certain type of contraceptive pill then she will not have any periods at all. So if her pill were to fail for some reason and she fell pregnant, the lack of periods would not give her any clue to her pregnancy.
Other women may have regular periods before their pregnancy, and continue to have regular period-like bleeds even when they are pregnant! These are unusual cases and the reasons for this are not always known, but there are a couple of known causes.
- Some women are born with two wombs. If they become pregnant in one womb and continue to bleed from the other, the continuation of periods would not alert them to being pregnant.
- The second cause of regular bleeding during pregnancy occurs when some of the womb lining continues to shed each month. This is known as decidual bleeding and is caused by an unusual hormonal balance. The lining that sheds has not yet become involved in supporting the placenta, and is thought to be harmless. It is most common in the first few months, but can continue further into the pregnancy.
N.B. Bleeding in pregnancy could be a sign of a miscarriage and
should always be checked out by your doctor.
Beautiful Belly Art
How about the weight gain and increase in stomach size?
In the absence of any other pregnancy symptoms, (or occasionally perhaps due to a lack of knowledge of pregnancy symptoms), a woman might simply put her weight gain down to over-eating.
But, surprisingly, some women put next to no weight on when they're pregnant. I've known several really skinny ladies who have been weeks away from giving birth, and nobody would ever have guessed that they were even pregnant!
Their stomachs stayed small, due to a combination of strong stomach muscles and the (perhaps related) fact that they were carrying their babies high, behind their rib-cage. Some women also tend not to put much weight on elsewhere on their bodies.
Conversely, it is sometimes the case that women who were already quite large before pregnancy do not notice the extra weight, and a baby bump doesn't alter their appearance very much.
So if a woman doesn't gain much extra weight or see her body changing noticeably, then with a lack of other symptoms she would have little reason to suspect that she was pregnant.
Wouldn't you have pregnancy symptoms, like morning sickness?
Although morning sickness is common in pregnancy (it is thought that around 75% of pregnant women have pregnancy-related sickness or nausea), some ladies are lucky enough not to suffer with it at all!
Some women feel perfectly normal during their pregnancy, and don't have any typical pregnancy signs. They don't get strange cravings or digestive problems and they're not frequently rushing to the toilet. They are even-tempered, have normal-sized breasts, and they have plenty of energy throughout.
Women who don't experience these "normal" pregnancy symptoms often worry that there's something wrong with their baby, or that maybe they're not pregnant after all. But for some people it's just normal.
When you felt your baby move you would suspect you were pregnant, wouldn't you?
Babies don't always move that much. Some children are full of energy while others are more laid-back - and this difference starts while they're still in the womb. Everybody's different.
My mum didn't realise that it was even possible to feel your baby moving inside of you because she never felt any movement at all when she was pregnant with me. While my own baby didn't stop kicking and jiggling around in my tummy. And it turns out that my daughter and I have very different personalities and energy levels!
A friend of mine was also worried when her baby didn't appear to move very much so she went to see her doctor, who did a scan and told her that everything was fine, she just had one chilled-out baby.
Had you heard about surprise pregnancies before reading this hub?
So Not So Unbelievable After All..
So some women have pregnancies with no noticeable weight-gain, others have no perceptible change to their menstrual cycle, certain people suffer no pregnancy symptoms, and in some pregnancies there is little or no foetal movement at all.
And it is perfectly feasible for all of these things to happen at once! So this helps us to understand how occasionally a woman might be far into her pregnancy, but not suspect a thing.
Some Real-Life Examples
- I didn't know I was pregnant - until I had a baby | Mail Online
When Claire Durick fell ill at her dad's wedding, she assumed she had food poisoning. But when she was rushed to hospital, the doctor delivered a surprise...
- Woman who didn't know she was pregnant gives birth just 10 minutes after hospital dash with stomach
A woman received the ultimate Christmas present when she gave birth to a child that she didn't know she was carrying.
- Pregnant with twins, but had no idea
To any mother who has not only navigated her way through morning sickness, but been hampered by a huge bump and then floored by a long labour, the idea that you can be expecting a baby and not know is hard to grasp.