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://www.sosingerssd.blogspot.com Yolanda Marie

    Interesting because my friend was just telling me last night that she didn’t know she was pregnant with her second child until she was almost 5 months and I know my mom has told me that she didn’t know she was pregnant with me until she was 3 months so it is very possible. False negatives on pregnancy tests, regular periods, no other symptoms…why would anyone assume they’re pregnant with all that going on?

    I think the most scary part is not only not knowing in general and not getting the proper care but not knowing and still out doing the most (i.e. drinking/partying excessively and smoking). I think those things are more of a factor to why some of these babies are born prematurely or have a low birth weight more so than the lack of HCG, but then again, I’m not a scientist either. That could be the very reason why the HCG is low. *shrugs*

  • http://www.sosingerssd.blogspot.com Yolanda Marie

    Even with all that being said, I think any woman who has even the slightest inkling of pregnancy enough to even take a home pregnancy test and gets a false negative should have common sense enough to go to a doctor to really get checked out and not go months and months until she feels like she has to shit and BAM a baby comes out. That’s straight up denial and where side eyes are totally required.

  • Miranda

    I’ve heard of this before. Very interesting

  • Jenn

    My mother had light bleeding for the first several months of her pregnancies and didn’t get any morning sickness until the third month. I kinda dread the thought that my own period isn’t necessarily a first warning sign.

  • Magda

    I had a friend that went through that recently. She Is 5 mos pregnant and didnt find out until now. Baby is doing well and so is she.

  • Pingback: Daily Uh-oh: Mom gives birth five hours after finding out she’s pregnant - OC Moms: The Mom Blog : The Orange County Register

  • Charity

    My husbands stepdaughter was pregnant and never got a positive HPT or positive blood test. They took her to doctors in 2 different states and they all told her she wasn’t pregnant, there was no way since the HPT, blood tests and scans all came back negative. She delivered a very healthy baby boy at home, yes, in the bathroom. Yes, it is possible to be pregnant and never have it detected until delivery.

  • Britney

    i understand not knowing your pregnant because of false tests and a regular period.. but is it really possible to be pregnant and not have a pregnant belly? this doesnt make sense to me. im worried this might be the case for me. i havent had my period for 4 months. (odd for me) i have taken 2 home tests and gone to the doctors twice with no positive results.

  • Emmy

    Hi. My name is Emmy and I have been feeling like I’m pregnant since February, however, all HPT have been negative, 2 negative blood tests (but those were done back in March) and I’ve had two ultrasounds (one in April and one in June) that showed no baby. I’ve been getting my “period”, but it’s extremely light and I need no protection and it only last a day and a half. I know it sounds crazy, but I still feel like I’m pregnant. I’m having a lot of weird cramping and feeling a weird kind of crummy…Maybe I am pregnant, maybe I’m not. But if I am my time is getting close so I will let you know. :) Good luck either way. :)

  • ingrid

    I’m a mother of 3,the first 2 pregnancies were normal and evrything went well.
    After 2 very healthy kids we were not planning on a third,i was on the pill ,never missed a period always on time very normal.
    Still at the beginning of summer i wasn’t feeling well decided to take a pregnancy test just to be sure.
    To my suprise it was positive so i made a doctors apointment and he told that if i was pregnant it was probably very early on he was estimating about 6 weeks.
    the following week i went back to get an ultrasound done to find out how and what,and the woman doing the ultrasound almost fell of her chair looking at me and back at the screen just very shocked.
    i thought something was wrong,she told me she had do some measurments
    it turned out i was allready 28 weeks pregnant they estimated.
    my son was born on july 18th 2012 after a estimated 35 weeks pregancy.
    he was small 2430 grams but otherwise completly healthy.We took him home a week later.The doctors still cant really tell me if he was really a premature baby or just small,they are just not sure.
    i was always sceptic when i would hear stories like this,but i believe it now.

  • dd

    You can’t say that! I have had pregnancy symptoms for the past 5 months have had 3 pregnancy tests, have spoken to three doctors and have been told that i am definitely not pregnant. I can feel sonething moving in my stomach so what use have doctors been in my case – none!

  • nikki

    Did any tests say yes yet? *hoping for an update* :)

  • linda

    A little over a week ago i miscarried a 18.5 week old foetus. I had no obvious symptoms and the ones i had felt like period ones. No more than that. I’m 48 and was having light period every 2nd month. I thought it was menopause. The first month i skipped i took a pregnancy test which was negative. My weight was the same but my shirts did not fit well in the front. Still i had no clue i was pregnant. This was my 5th pregnancy and 3rd miscarriage. It was nothing like the 4 previous pregnancies. I will never again criticize the women from that TLC show. I feel a great sense of loss and guilt from this.

  • Destinee

    My situation is based on what I am currently going through..In simple i’m a 40 yr old mother of 3 and a grandmother who loves her grandchild to bits and the best thing of all….he’s not mine!! I am not crazy no mental health issues but the long and short of my story is I started having symptoms…nothing like any of my other pregnancies but when multiple pregnancy tests come back negative 7 in fact then they must be right especially if I believe like all those that believe this really doesn’t happen. I had symptoms all of which were very very mild and nothing like any of my other pregnancies that I would put them down to other things…pms yet I have never suffered that in my life but with out a positive pregnancy test I cant run around telling people I am…This started in August

    I decided to ignore my symptoms based on the negative tests however I started to feel what feels like a twitch ever so slight low down in my pelvic in the October and usually same time evening I continued to ignore but as time progressed and the feelings developed my friends convinced me to go to a dr so it is now november however the 1st dr totally dismissed what I was feeling as movement two more drs and two tests still negative when the slight twitches started to feel like a definite kick and was no longer low down in my pelvic I also had bleeding gums real bad however my last visit to the dentist was september my teeth fine and healthy I have periods of nausea periods of actually being sick but all very very mild headaches, backaches, heavy feeling in the groin lots and lots of symptoms and negative tests combined with a a monthly bleed of roughly 2/3 days if you can call it that my last normal period was a 5 day period back at the beginning of august all the others each month barely can be counted as three days and it has taken three different drs before recognising my periods are not normal. My stomach is hard and filled out pictures of my stomach and my closest friends think i look pregnant while some say I look exactly like when I had my last child.

    Although I was never miss skinny I was never this big and my stomach is hard. My fat has always been squidgy i’ve given myself enough imaginary tummy tucks to know how soft my stomach usually is I have an obvious line from my pelvic to my belly button which is very thick and another line from my belly button to the top of my abdomen thinner but obvious and trying to get a dr to take you seriously about what you are feeling because you dnt turn a test positive and being told by a nurse who may I add is willing to take bets im not that what I am feeling is the blood pushing through my veins because my bp is hitting hights of 218/135….yet if my bp was high enough for me to actually feel the blood through my veins wouldn’t i be hospitalised? the fact with my last pregnancy I had high bp through my pregnancy, i was sent to eau for a heart trace as I complained of irregular heartbeat when I lay on my back my heart rate is fast yet pregnancy also causes the heart to beat faster the nurse even says because I have low potassium what I am feeling is spasms because of this however I have just found out I have had low potassium for 10 yrs and both the information online and has been supported by the consultant who is finally investigating my bp and potassium says low potassium causes muscle weakness not muscle spasms. Also why would I suddenly start having symptoms of low potassium if it has been in my records for 10yrs without any?

    Well I finally have a scan and will finally get an answer but definitely can understand how this is possible as to whether or not my story turns out i am…i would never say i was without concrete evidence I have spent ages trying to capture some of the movements for evidence because when drs themselves haven’t come across it they are just as unbelieving and feeling something doesn’t get you jack without a positive test as its down to getting drs to take you serious as I said the first dr blew me off completely I walked out of the drs as confused as when I walked in and the last 5 months has been the most confusing of all.

  • theDR

    your retarded. and doctors are EXPENSIVE. stupid girl

  • K

    My brother’s girlfriend just had a baby and she didnt know until she was in labor. There was almost no swelling, she had no morning sickness and she still had her monthly bleeding. When she had some stomachache, she drove to the hospital, they did an ultrasound and 30 minutes later she had a little boy. It is rare and none of us could really believe it, but when you have no symptoms it can happen, its not denial or anything, its real.

  • Rachael

    I have 3 children with my second pregnancy I had taken at home pregnancy tests and had 2 urine tests in doctors officeand one blood test that all said negative before I was three months along. at 4.5 months I made an appt to see my OBGYN, and they did an ultrasound , and that it how they discovered I was pregnant–on that same day, they did a Urine test which was also negative. I dont know how or why the HCG did not show up in blood or urine tests, because my knowledge and understanding of the the human body tells me it should have. I realized in some instances enough of the hormone is not being produced to be detected. Just out of curiosity, when I was 7 months along–I took a home test that I had bought before the ultrasound and it turned up posituve.??

  • adaugo

    This is amazing, I watch TLC as well and I see all this women have there kids. 50% of me didn’t really belive it, but reading all this true stroies has changed the way I felt. Thanks for sharing

  • Cristina

    I know what you are going through. Please tell us what happened in the end.Im Sitting here watching my stomach move and feeling my baby move and tests are still negative. Doctors are just mean.

  • Erika

    I just found out I am 20 weeks pregnant. The reason I didn’t know was that I am 41 years old and went through a lot of fertility testing about 4 years ago where I was told I have a 2% chance of conceiving with my own egg in a dish! The Doctor told me how sorry she was to tell me the news but a donor egg was my best option. Being 41, I thought I was in peri-menopause considering I was told my eggs were old. So not getting much of a period didn’t throw me off. I knew something was wrong with me. But I thought it was everything BUT being pregnant! The ultrasound showed my baby is healthy and we took all the test for older mothers and are waiting for the results now. I am woman after all!!! Hear me roar!

  • cheryl

    im pretty sure im 21 weeks cuz im having all the symptoms and havent had a period and all test are saying negative but i can feel movement mostly at night when i go to bed i wish i knew for sure im so sick of people telling me im not but i feel like i know my own body better than some stupid test

  • jessica

    I have had negative blood and urine tests but feel 100% that I am pregnant. Every symptom possible. Doctor was rude and said im not pregnant and to get over it. Ive been feeling this way since June 30th.. three days after ov day and husband and I are trying. I have a 9 yr old daughter I know what it feels like to be pregnant but denied any care due to neg tests. I can accept not being pregnant, but I f im not then therr is something seriously wrong with me

  • Stacy

    I am having a similar situation…. I every Dr we go to won’t do the sono to prove to us we are not based on a negative urine & blood test. I have constant movement in my belly that grows more frequent by the day & more forceful by the week. Im guessing to be right around 5 months, but no one will take me seriously…. if the nurses believe it, then the Drs override their gut feelings. Feeling so confused right now….

  • Linda

    my name is Linda i am going through same thing this be my fiancee first if i am everyone has felt baby move tests negative heartbeat you can hear.but the doctors don’t believe me they are rude so it will be soon can’t wait to prove these rude doctors wrong

  • stephanie

    I have three kids (14y, 11y & 6y) and with my 11yr son I knew I was pregnant..just had that feeling that I was. I took preg test one after the other blood and urine. all came out neg and I kept having that I’m preg feeling. then I felt him kick me and it was an unmistakable feeling I recognized from my first preg. I went to the er and they gave me another test and it was also neg. I begged them to test in another way and finally got an ultrasound. sure enough I was 5 1/2 months preg. again I think I’m exp the same. I have that feeling , nausea and i swear this past week I have been feeling the quickening (flutters). I don’t know if its possible for this to happen twice but next month would make it my 5 month of nausea and symptoms, so I wait and see bc once again all tests are negative.

  • Cindrea Kieska

    Linda,
    Lots of us are going through the very same thing. We have joined a Yahoo group called “Pregnant but Negative Tests.” It is a great support group for those of us in this “club”.
    Cindy

  • Katrina

    Thank you! I am going through the same thing. Negative test and I feel my baby move all the time. Doctors wont help when you have no insurance. The wait is excruciating. This will be my 1st as well. Congratulations!

  • Tiffiany

    I am going through..much of what you all discussed here. My sister had her period for 6 months and she was pregnant. You may join the cryptic pregnancy support group or face book or the pregnant but negative test ..yahoo group. Neo Brown..has negative blood..urine and ultra sound..due to low or high hcg and scarring from previous c-sections..tubalization….and a tummy tuck.. there is a picture of the baby there. Also, check out motherhoodaires…her story is there also.. Welcome ladies you will not be judged in these groups..this is hard enough to go through without judgement of ppl that have never gone through it.

  • Tiffiany

    Yes, there are several ladies who are going through this including me. Also, fbook has cryptic pregnancy support group. Neo Brown has a real baby to prove that cryptic pregnancy exist.

  • Andrea

    This happen to me when i was sixteen i would have periods each month & feeling movement & all negative tests nobody wanted to believe me. but i trust my body more than stupid tests.

  • 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.

Latest Stories

Cheers! 30 Not-As-Obvious Occasions That Call For Champagne

by

Maker of Infamous ‘Sizzurp’ Takes it Off the Market

by

How To Rock: Black Women In Orange Lipstick

by

Newsflash: Most People Aren’t Down With the ‘Swirl’

by
Read previous post:
Oprah’s OWN Finally Targeting a Black Audience, Will It Work?
58339164clutchmag917200932917PM
How Much Would You Pay For Fashion?

Close