Have you ever watched the show “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” on TLC? It profiles women who, for whatever reason, have no idea that they are with child until they get into an accident and are notified by a doctor or feel the urge to have a bowel movement and find themselves pushing out a newborn instead. The re-enactments of these scenarios are hilarious and kind of fascinating, and after watching them with a gaping mouth and a good laugh it’s hard not to sit back and say “Whew! What kind of denial was she in? Well, that would never be me!”

The surprising reality is that in spite of negative pregnancy tests, regular periods, and a lack of noticeable baby bump, 1 in 450 women don’t find out they’re pregnant until the 20th week or later and 1 in 2,500 don’t find out until she goes into labor. Believe it or not, all of that is not due to negligence or denial. It’s called “cryptic pregnancy,” and scientists have a perfectly reasonable explanation for it.

From The Huffington Post:

One way that embryos and fetuses make their demands known is by putting out a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). This is the hormone that makes a home pregnancy test turn positive. A baby that produces a scant amount amount of HCG might go “under the radar,” failing the pregnancy test and going undetected by the mother. When a fetus doesn’t put out much HCG, he or she also gets fewer resources. This explains why these babies are so often small for their age and are born preterm and underweight.

Scientists explain that a number of factors can cause cryptic pregnancy, including fetal birth defects, genetic abnormalities, or stress in the life of the mother that manifests itself physically.

Years ago my friend’s sister “turned up pregnant” during leave from the Army and was already five months along before she found out — pregnant with twins at that. I just knew she there was some shady business afoot, so underneath my genuine well wishes and excitement about her adorable babies was a big old side-eye. Don’t I feel ridiculous now?

Has cryptic pregnancy ever happened to you or anyone you know? Tell us about it in the comments!

  • http://bella bella de sa

    I am 46 years old, very healthy, and I am sure I am pregnant, no period for 5 months, and a pregnant belly. but blood test negative, when I tell people I am sure I am pregnant, people laugh at me, i don’t want people think i am a crazy lady. i was so happy thinking i was on menopause. then my belly started to show, and i all my life i had the same weight, now i am 2 pounds and half more.

  • Raya

    I’m convinced that this is my current situation. I would be 3 and a half months. First thing that made me skeptical was the nausea and fatigue. And for two weeks I had the worst pains in my abdomen and was always sleep and couldn’t eat a thing. I suddenly became constipated as well and out of nowhere pms came knocking at my door, which I’ve never had swollen, itchy or tingly boobs. There’s movement in my stomach as of now and I feel this hard ridge about 3-4 inches across the area above my pelvic hairline. Boobs are also enlarged right now and my gums have been bleeding lately. However, no positive on hpt nor doctors but I dont think they actually tested. My iron is also extremely low like 30 now and despite the fact that I’ve been on and off iron supplements it’s never been that low. I also get my period every month except the clots aren’t as much as they used to be and its not as heavy, same duration though. I know this is a lot but somebdy out there will be looking for similar events and I just wanna make sure they find something they can relate to. My boyfriend also thinks I’m pregnant. Time will tell.

  • Mommy1993

    My last period was April 11th but I had a negative test as recent as today. I mean urine blood and ultra sound. By the date I had sex I’d be almost 7 weeks. I have nausea, some vomiting, tired, moody, my breast are swollen, sore & my nipples have thickened and darkened up. My resting heart rate has gone from 64 to 90-100. My cervix is high and soft and I have a tiny pudge at the bottom of my stomach. Oh I’m constipated as ever, have heart burn and gas. I also have cramping in my lower abdomen which I don’t even get when I’m having my cycle. This is frustrating because I have too many symptoms to ignore.

  • Mommy1993

    My blood pressure has also dropped and my blood pressure medicine now makes me light headed & dizzy.

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