Updated: 2019, Jun 12

Is It Possible to Go into Labor Even Without Knowing Pregnancy?

Is It Possible to Go into Labor Even Without Knowing Pregnancy?

Women giving birth without even the slightest knowledge of being pregnant is actually not that bizarre as per expert analysis. “How could she not know that?” This question is often the first to pop-up in someone’s mind the second they read the title, it’s also the first thing that I thought of when I first heard of it. But after I’ve done some reading and read some studies, I found out that it wasn’t really that uncommon. There are two common causes of this phenomenon: Cryptic pregnancy, the lack of awareness of a baby in your stomach; and Denied pregnancy, where the mother is subconsciously aware of it but is denying it so strongly that she believes it herself. The cases so common that they’re even more likely to happen than delivering triplets.

Cryptic and Denied Pregnancy

Last year, Katie Kropas, a woman from Weymouth, had given birth to a lovely baby girl just an hour after she found out she was pregnant. The woman suffered lower back pain and had to get a day off of work just to go to the hospital. After the doctors ran some tests, Kropas was astounded to find out that what she was feeling was signs that she was ready to give birth. She felt no signs of pregnancy and thought her feet were swollen due to her catering job. Her family heard of news of people that were not aware of their own pregnancy before and are now fully convinced that it could happen to anyone.

“Cryptic” pregnancies and Denied pregnancies happen more often than you think and even the hospitals say that they have them every year. If you think that this is just some form of psychological issue, that the woman is just under a strong defense mechanism, there is a study that supports this boggling phenomenon.

Cryptic and Denied Pregnancy

The Study

Jens Wessel and Ulrich Buscher have created a study showing that between July 1st, 1995 and June 30th, 1996, there were 1 in 475 pregnancies that were denied. This is a pretty remarkable number that was taken in the span of 29,462 deliveries that occurred in the Berlin metropolitan area, where the study was held. 62 women found out of their pregnancy at around 20 weeks of gestation, 37 found out before giving birth, and 12 only found out when they were already in labor.

Though the numbers in the study only reflects denied pregnancies between 1995 and 1996, it still occurs very often up until this very day. It’s not something that can be passed off as very rare or highly unlikely to happen. The likelihood of denied pregnancies are even higher than some occurrences of uncommon diseases.

Phenomenon Possibility or Occurrence
Triplets 1 in 7225
Uterine Rupture 1 in 1500
Rhesus Haemolytic Disease (Rh disease) 1 in 1000
Denied Pregnancies 1 in 475

There are huge risks accompanying denied pregnancies such as neonaticide and emotional imbalance. Another case would be of toilet birth, one case of which became a buzz on the internet. 17 year old Wisconsin girl, Braeley Pettigrew gave birth to a baby boy she did not know she had. The teenager claimed to be suffering from the flu when all of the sudden, she dropped a baby on her toilet. She was lucky that the baby survived where as six months prior, a toilet birth in Truro, UK did not end well.

Denied Pregnancy in TV

The sheer number of cases of denied pregnancy started off TLC’s “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant”. The show featured numerous women and their experiences with regards to denied pregnancy. The show aired for over 2 years with 58 episodes over the span of 4 seasons. The show tried to see what causes the phenomenon on the different cases and features experts to analyze the scenarios.

In 2015, TLC relaunched the series with a new title: “I Still Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant”. The show is still ongoing with 3 episodes currently aired.

Denied Pregnancy

What Causes Denied or Cryptic Pregnancies?

Though people might think that these cases have just been sparked by denial, they might be shocked to find out that it isn’t just that. There are pregnancies that have not been properly diagnosed due to the mother’s weight and built (overweight and obese women are harder to diagnose), irregular menstrual cycles, and hormonal imbalances.

There are even some cases that a mother does not even show signs and symptoms of traditional gestation. Rare cases even show mothers not having a baby bump and just look like they put on a little weight.


Denied pregnancies are not “exotic” or “very rare” as you may have first thought. Though they do not happen frequently, they’re still happening right under your noses. If you or your friend and relative are experiencing differences in your or their body, even in the slightest, visit your doctor right away to get an early diagnosis. Who knows, you might be able to save a life.

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