05/14/2015 01:07 EDT | Updated 05/14/2016 05:59 EDT

Six Reasons You Could Be Pregnant and Not Know It

worried woman with pregnancy test biting lips.
coloroftime via Getty Images
worried woman with pregnancy test biting lips.

How Can You Not Know You're Pregnant?!

A recent story broke about a woman going into labour on flight from B.C. to Japan. Without even knowing she was even pregnant, she miraculously delivered a healthy term baby girl thanks to the help of three on-flight physicians.

How is it even possible that she could be so pregnant and not even know? Well actually, this happens often enough.

How is it even possible that she could be so pregnant and not even know? Well actually, this happens often enough. I personally have two patients who share a similar story. Both were in their final trimester, gaining weight and with growing bellies, which they mistook for growing fibroids. On ultrasound of these "fibroids" they were told they were pregnant. They were shocked and excited and went on to deliver healthy babies at term.

I am pretty jealous to tell the truth. For me, pregnancy is nerve-racking and exhausting and seemingly endless. I would feel fortunate to pass the whole nine months in oblivion. Although I don't recommend skipping regular visits to your healthcare provider if you think you are pregnant or if you are pregnant.

So yes, it is possible to grow another person inside you and not even know, if the right set of circumstances apply:

A false negative pregnancy test

Pregnancy tests are not perfect. Pretty accurate, yes, but not perfect. These tests measure the level of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in urine. Elevated levels of this hormone suggest a woman is pregnant. Home pregnancy tests can give false readings if used improperly, read wrong or taken too early. There are no 100 per cent accurate home pregnancy tests.

Body weight and habits

Every pregnant woman carries weight differently. Women that are overweight may hide a pregnancy more than others. On the other hand, some women may not gain much weight during pregnancy if they are dieting or exercising excessively, which may not be ideal for a growing baby.

Pregnancy side effects

For a lucky few, pregnancy may not be complicated with feelings of nausea and vomiting, fatigue or achiness. Some women may confuse the side effects of pregnancy with other problems, including stress, food poisoning or indigestion.

Irregular menstrual cycles

This was the case with my two patients. They had irregular periods to begin with; so missing a few months wasn't out of the ordinary for them. Some women have spotting during pregnancy, which can be confused for a light period, tricking these women into thinking they are not pregnant.

Thinking you or your partner are infertile

Women who are told that they or their partners are infertile may not consider pregnancy an option. Because of this, they are less likely to notice the first signs of pregnancy. On the other hand, some couples want to eliminate the chance of becoming pregnant through surgical procedures such as vasectomies and tubal ligation. In rare cases, women can get pregnancy despite these seemingly fool-proof plans.

A "quiet" baby

If you know you are pregnant the baby's kicks "feel" like kicks. To someone who doesn't know they are pregnant, this may feel like indigestion or upset stomach. It's all about perception. In addition, the position of the baby matters as well. Sometimes, the baby may rest in a breech position with its feet fixed toward the bottom of the uterus. These babies may not be felt as well. The position of the uterus can also hamper these feelings; women with a tilted uterus may not feel the kicks as strongly.

Mistaking pregnancy with another health problem

This was the case with my patients: they had large fibroids, so their irregular menstruation and weight gain was chalked up to this.

If you think you are pregnant, please see your doctor for a blood test. If you know, you can get pre-natal care and ensure you and your baby are healthy. Better safe than sorry!


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