Graveyard Shift

Women Who Gave Birth Without Knowing They Were Pregnant  

Amanda Tullos
762.1k views 15 items

It's hard to imagine how someone can go nine months without knowing they're pregnant. There must have been symptoms. There had to be signs - kicking, nausea, cravings. It's something that is physically affecting your body. How could one not know?

It's a phenomenon known as cryptic pregnancy. About one in 2,500 women don't know they're pregnant until they're in labor, so the condition is very rare. There are many contributing factors that can hide the pregnancy, like a lack of actual symptoms and obesity.

Dr. Patricia Devine, the former director of labor and delivery at Columbia University Medical Center, explained, "This is an extreme situation, a very rare situation, because it is pretty hard to miss all of the signs of pregnancy."

But it does indeed happen. The following cases involve women who claim they went their entire pregnancy with no signs or symptoms until delivery. These are stories of people who gave birth without knowing they were pregnant.

90-Year-Old Gives Birth To Mummified Fetus
90-Year-Old Gives Birth To Mum... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Women Who Gave Birth Without Knowing They Were Pregnant
Photo: Vishal Kapoor/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

In 2009, 92-year-old Huang Yijun of China gave birth to a calcified fetus she had been carrying in her body for more than 50 years. The phenomenon is known as a lithopedion, which occurs when the fetus of a failed pregnancy calcifies - or turns to stone - inside the body but outside the uterus.

Doctors explained that the condition is similar to an ectopic pregnancy, and the fetuses rarely last for months before breaking down in the body.

Woman Delivers 10-Pound Baby Hours After Learning She's Pregnant
Woman Delivers 10-Pound Baby H... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Women Who Gave Birth Without Knowing They Were Pregnant
Photo: Ann Marie Brasco/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Boston native Katherine Kropas, 23, never suspected she was pregnant when she arrived at the hospital for stomach and back pain. Kropas had been on birth control and experienced no pregnancy symptoms in the months before her unexpected pain. When she spoke with a doctor she learned she was pregnant, and an hour later she delivered a healthy, 10-pound baby girl.

"I thought I had put on some Christmas season weight, but I never thought I was pregnant," she told CBS Boston. "Never."

47-Year-Old Learns She's Going To Be A First-Time Mom Right Before Labor
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A 47-year-old Massachusetts woman never expected to find that pregnancy was the cause of her severe abdominal pain. Judy Brown believed she was just going through changes in life - like menopause - when her symptoms worsened. She went to the hospital and discovered that she was actually in labor

Brown delivered a healthy, 8-pound baby girl named Carolyn Rose.
Teen Mistakes Pregnancy For A Stomach Bug
Teen Mistakes Pregnancy For A ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Women Who Gave Birth Without Knowing They Were Pregnant
Photo: dirtyboxface/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

A 17-year-old Wisconsin teen thought she had the stomach flu when she went to use the bathroom one night. To her surprise, she discovered she was actually in labor when she delivered her baby into the toilet.

Luckily, Braeley Pettigrew didn't panic. She and the baby were rushed to the hospital where they were treated. "I never thought I would be having a baby at 17, but my first instinct was to get him out of the toilet and wrap him up to keep him warm," she said.

She originally told her mom and police the baby had been abandoned on the front porch. She eventually admitted the child was hers, and that she'd lied out of fear.