Cryptic pregnancy is when a woman who is already pregnant does not know she is pregnant

  • A cryptic the pregnancy It happens when a woman does not realize that she is pregnant until she is at least halfway through her pregnancy.
  • Most women with cryptic pregnancies find out they are pregnant after 20 weeks. This happens in about 1 in 475 pregnancies.
  • While it may be difficult to imagine, there are many reasons why cryptic pregnancies can occur, including a lack of pregnancy symptoms, irregular periods before pregnancy, and an inaccurate pregnancy test.

“Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” is not just a reality TV show, it is a real phenomenon. While rare, it is entirely possible for someone to not know they are pregnant until the end of the term or even into labor. This is called a cryptic pregnancy.

“I’ve seen it for sure, but it’s not incredibly common,” says Dr. Christine Greves, OB-GYN in Orlando. Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.

For the most part, women with cryptic pregnancies find out they are pregnant after week 20. This happens in about 1 in 475 pregnancies. “They can go through basically half their pregnancy and not know it,” Greves says.

However, there are rarer cases of cryptic pregnancies, roughly 1 in 2,500 pregnancies, in which someone doesn’t realize they are pregnant until they are literally about to give birth.

While it can be difficult to imagine how someone failed to realize that they are pregnant, there are many reasons why cryptic pregnancies can occur.


What Causes Cryptic Pregnancies?

  • Lack of symptoms: “Sometimes women have no pregnancy symptoms. Some are lucky enough to not have nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness and fatigue,” says Greves. “Sometimes if a woman is overweight, she may not notice the weight gain [associated with pregnancy]. “In this case, the person may not ‘show’ as much. Additionally, a 2007 study published in Medical Hypotheses noted that it is common for babies with cryptic pregnancies to be underweight, which can also lead to less abdominal growth during pregnancy. pregnancy.
  • Irregular periods: Irregular periods can make it difficult to determine whether or not you’ve missed a period, Greves says.
  • Sterility: Alternatively, someone may be battling infertility and thinking that pregnancy is simply not a possibility for them.
  • You are taking birth control pills: If you miss a pill or take a dose too late, you may be able to ovulate, and this is how you can get pregnant on the pill in the first place. “Birth control pills can fail, and if you take them continuously, you may not have symptoms that indicate something is wrong,” Greves says.
  • Inaccurate pregnancy test results: Another thing that can go wrong? Pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests can be extremely accurate, but only if you take them correctly. If you take them too early in your pregnancy, check the results too early (or too late), or if your urine is thin because you are well hydrated, this can increase your risk of an inaccurate result. Specifically, a false negative result, which is when the results are negative but you are actually pregnant.
  • Psychology: Additionally, there may be a psychological component, where the pregnant person is so stressed or fearful of being pregnant to the point where they may experience complete denial that they might be pregnant, according to the study from the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

There is no research to indicate whether certain people are more likely to have cryptic pregnancies than others, or if there are factors that increase the risk of having a cryptic pregnancy.

So for now, as far as we know, “no one is immune,” says Greves.