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Can you really be pregnant without knowing it?

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

Surprise childbirth could just be denial

It may seem like fiction, but a study reports that one in every 600 mommies-to-be claims, "I didn't know I was pregnant" until labor begins. But, are women just making this claim to protect themselves or can you really be pregnant without knowing?

It's hard to ignore pregnancy symptoms

Although every pregnancy is different, the idea that someone can claim, "I didn't know I was pregnant" seems shocking to me. How could she have missed the signs of pregnancy? Did she chalk up midnight cravings for weird food to quirkiness? Goodness knows I felt every pinch, cramp and wave of nausea through both of my pregnancies. Yet, women still claim to have gone nine months without knowing they're knocked up. But I, for one, am a skeptic despite the studies supporting this outlandish claim.

Find out how this clever mom hid her pregnancy >> 

Nine months pregnant without knowing

A story ran on Independent.co.uk in April 2014 about a 20-year-old girl named Sophie Aldridge who had nary an inkling that she had a bun in the oven before she gave birth. Caitlin Beckner of XOJane.com wrote that she didn't know she was with child until six months along. There's even an entire TV series on Discovery Fit and Health called I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant featuring women who were surprised to give birth.

So, I guess it's not too big of a pill to swallow that in 2002, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) touched on a study that one in 475 births in Berlin during one year were undetected in the first twenty weeks. And, in the same publication year, BMJ reported that one in 300 to 600 women in the Berlin metropolitan area alone denied they were pregnant for nine long months until just before or during labor. But, in 2011, the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine marked the mystery pregnancy numbers closer to one in 2,500. Even if those numbers were one in a billion, can a surprise pregnancy go undetected through term?

"No, not really!" asserts Dr. Draion M. Burch, D.O. "You will definitely feel the baby move. Even if in denial, you can't ignore that sign."

Pregnancy denial may be the cause

Dr. Bruce B. Lee attributes claims of being pregnant without knowing during early pregnancy to minimal or missing symptoms like missed periods. "However, in some cases, intense conflict regarding pregnancy and other external stresses may produce a state of denial that may continue until birth. Women with denial of this magnitude are in need of a highly coordinated health care approach in order to adequately address their social, emotional and psychological needs," advises Dr. Lee. That would explain how a woman could be pregnant without knowing it, or rather, admitting it to herself.

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Although I understand how surprise pregnancies can go undetected in early months, I'm still a doubter when it comes to claims that you can really be pregnant without knowing it. I just send out hopes for those women and their babies that they both make it through pregnancy and delivery healthy and without complication, even when those new moms claim, "I didn't know I was pregnant."

Get more pregnancy tips and advice

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