Every now and then, we hear stories of young women giving birth in the toilet and claiming they never knew they were pregnant. And many of us would scream, LIAR!!!! and ask “How did she not know?”
But Helen Cheyne, a professor of midwifery research at the Royal College of Midwives, writing for The Conversation, says the phenomenon is plausible.
According to Cheyne, cases of ‘cryptic pregnancy’ – also known as ‘pregnancy denial’ – are not particularly rare.
Signs and symptoms were described as ‘probable’ and ‘presumptive’ rather than diagnostic.
But if awareness of pregnancy can now be regarded as a notorious fact, what are the symptoms that any woman would recognise?
And how could they still be overlooked, dismissed or ascribed to another cause?
Absence of menstrual periods is the most common early symptom of pregnancy.
However, there are many reasons why a woman may not menstruate regularly, including some medical disorders and factors such as poor diet or stress.
Women approaching the menopause are likely to have disrupted menstruation and some women stop having periods altogether when taking the contraceptive pill.
Conversely, ‘menstrual–like’ bleeding during pregnancy (any pregnant woman who experiences any vaginal bleeding should seek medical attention) is reported, although not explained, in around 1 per cent of women.
Morning sickness, the most common pregnancy symptom portrayed in the media and drama, is experienced by around 70 per cent of pregnant women but varies widely in severity and duration and may again be attributed to numerous other causes.
Weight gain is another usual symptom.
The ‘average’ pregnant women would be expected to gain around 12.5kg but this is widely variable and subject to cultural and ethnic difference.
But many women anticipate gaining weight and an increased waist circumference around the menopause – and, at any age, weight gain is easily explained: for example, as the result of comfort eating in times of stress.
The relationship between maternal and foetal nutrition is complex.
Women who have a restricted diet (intentionally or unintentionally) throughout pregnancy may gain very little weight, while the baby’s birth weight may still be within the normal range.
Source: Daily Mail/The Conversation