W When Clara Dollan, then 22 years old, woke up at 4 am on the day she was due to start her new job, she felt her agonizing stomach cramps signaled her period "returning with a vengeance ". She had taken the pill for more than six months without a break, but had stopped about two weeks ago. The painful waves made her pale and trembling, but she did not feel like she could report sick on her first day ̵
Hours later, Dollan was at the Hampstead Royal Free Hospital, rocking a newborn girl: completely healthy and in custody. Dollan had been born in the bathroom of her apartment after being sent home sick from work. a neighbor had heard her cries of work and called an ambulance. When Dollan called her mother and told her to come to the maternity ward, the answer was, "But you were not pregnant this morning!"
Amelia, now three years old, was a "complete surprise," Dollan says trying to believe. How could she not know she was pregnant? The more relevant question might be: why would she have thought she was?
Dollan had separated from her boyfriend (Amelia's father) five months before her daughter was born, and she was used to not getting a rule. She had gained a little weight, but calculated that until the breakup. A mirror selfie she took with her reveals no sign of seven and a half months of pregnancy. "There was nothing to see. I did not feel it. I had no symptoms, no desire, no nausea – nothing. I was out of the loop of my pregnancy.
The first thought of being pregnant came to mind for the first time when she was born. At that time, it was clear that this was not a period. "My body has just told me to push the pain away. Then I saw a head coming out. "What did she think? "I honestly could not tell you. I was in absolute shock. Last week, there were reports worldwide of an extreme case of a woman being surprised by her own full-time pregnancy: A Bangladeshi woman only gave birth to a healthy and expected baby. Almost a month later, she learned she had twins in one second uterus (they were also born healthy 26 days after their first child). The physical circumstances in this case, and the fact that the woman knew she was pregnant with a child but not with three children, clearly makes it unusual. But the phenomenon of a woman giving birth to a baby without knowing that she is pregnant is more common than you think. As Dollan found out after the birth of Amelia, this is called a "cryptic pregnancy". A paper published in the British Medical Journal in 2002 estimated that it occurs in approximately every 2,500 pregnancies, suggesting about 320 cases in Britain each year.
"This is not a particularly unusual phenomenon," says Professor Helen Cheyne Midwife at the University of Stirling Research Center for Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Care in Glasgow. "It's rare – but so rare." In Obstetrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology circles, she says: If you have not found a cryptic pregnancy yourself, it is not unusual to know someone – or someone who knows someone – who
At the beginning of her career as a clinical midwife in Cheyne, In 1982 or 1983, she recalled looking after a woman in the postnatal ward of the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Glasgow, who did not know she was pregnant until she went into labor. She had already given birth to a child – her children were teenagers at the time – and she had brought her irregular periods and her weight gain to an age. Cheyne remembers that she and her husband were totally shocked. "I never forgot that. She was absolutely believable. "
And yet it was" very, very difficult to turn your head around ". "The feeling of a baby moving in you – if you have children, it's very hard to imagine, as you may not realize. Having an 8-pound baby in you … "She laughs. She adds that this is not only possible for significantly overweight women, as widely believed.
Although research is sparse – as might be expected – given the elemental element of surprise, Cheyne says that cryptic pregnancies have been registered worldwide for centuries. In fact, it was more understandable if gestational diagnoses were dependent on indicators such as period loss and nausea. Cheyne says, "It's very easy to diagnose a pregnancy – if you're expecting a pregnancy."
But the phenomenon can not be explained because women simply do not feel or perceive the signs of pregnancy, even though they are variable. "Many people who do not expect to get pregnant become pregnant and acknowledge that they are," says Cheyne, adding that this is even true for women in war zones, refugee camps and other difficult situations where there may not be access exists to tests or health care. "If pregnancy symptoms were generally foggy and not easily recognizable, [cryptic pregnancies] would happen all the time, I think it must be more specific to the symptoms of these particular women."
A cryptic pregnancy has been reported as "a psychological phenomenon," says Cheyne, but she does not think that is true in any case. "Pregnancy is obviously a physical thing, but becoming a mother is also socially and psychologically – maybe even pregnancy."
Understandably, when cases make headlines (a representative example: "Woman had no idea that she was pregnant – until she was born on the toilet "), they tend to be incredulous, skeptical and received with great interest, such as soap operas and low-rent documentary series. The 15-year-old Sonia surprise baby over EastEnders in 2000 gave a vivid impression to a generation of young women, while the US television series I did not know was pregnant ran four seasons. (In 2015, it was reproduced again for special episodes about women with two cryptic pregnancies entitled "I did not know yet that I was pregnant").
That a Woman Can Experience a Physiological Experience Without Pregnancy Any awareness seems to provoke profound unbelief, especially among those who have had a pregnancy. Dollan says people have questioned their common sense, their connection to their own bodies, and even the truthfulness of their story. She has found that some mothers are especially judgmental.
"When I tell them I have no longings or morning sickness that I have not had a bad job – that I only walked through the pregnancy, if you will – they are like," How could you not know that? " And almost: "How could you live with yourself without knowing it?" She says. "There is a big stigma, not just a young woman who is pregnant, but also a young woman who does not know she is pregnant."
What about the reaction of men? "I do not think they even understand it. Every man I told was like "yeah, cool" and seemed to have forgotten instantly.
After publishing her story about This Morning four and a half months after giving birth, Dollan says she's in contact with many women who embarrassingly did not comment on her own cryptic pregnancies, evidence of her cryptic pregnancy is "I can only tell anyone who thinks I was hiding, why should I. Not only would I endanger my health, I would also endanger my child's health."
That Amelia was born involuntarily and born healthy was a "miracle" saying Dollan had worked 12 hours in her entire pregnancy, 60 hours in her hospitality job. "I had not lived the life of a pregnant woman for the past eight months. I was a bar manager, For heaven's sake, I carried boxes of alcohol up the stairs until I was eight months pregnant. "
The risk is one cryptic pregnancy, in the gestation period, but most acute at birth. Women can go to work without medical help, sometimes in dangerous situations or on their own. Tragic cases in which the child was born dead or died shortly after birth have led to a criminal prosecution of the mother, says Cheyne historically. "In a less understanding society, a woman could be charged with child killing. People would say, "You must have known that you are pregnant – how else could this happen?"
Even a relatively simple birth of a healthy baby can be very traumatic. "Most parents have nine months to prepare," says Dollan. "I had two seconds – maybe a minute. Immediately, my life changed forever. "
Unlike Dollan and the mother of the Bangladeshi mother, trauma in the past can be a major factor in preventing pregnancies from being recognized. Sylvia Murphy Tighe, Midwifery Instructor and Instructor, Department of Nursing and Obstetrics, University of Limerick, Ireland. For her doctorate, Tighe studied hidden pregnancies: where women hide their babies from others and often at a certain level themselves. Given the context, she renounces the term "cryptic pregnancy" in favor of the more general "denied pregnancy", which includes the possibility of both conscious and subconscious refusal (though she considers the first much more common).
The 30 women she interviewed pointed to a "wavering awareness" of her pregnancies, Tighe says. Some told her years later that "they absolutely knew it," even though they said then that they had not. Others had entrusted to one person – often a partner, a family member or a health professional – before refusing it to anyone else, sometimes in response to that reaction.
The main motivator was fear: these women were often scared for their own survival. There was also a close connection between hidden pregnancy and trauma, such as child sexual abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence, which affected eleven of their 30 respondents.
The remainder reported that he was feeling the social stigma of an unplanned pregnancy of mute retribution or loss of control over her life. (Although not all of her case studies were Irish, Tighe said the country's cultural resistance to unplanned pregnancies was a factor, since such a hidden pregnancy could be "communicated externally and internally," Tighe said, one answer was avoidance "They could get that awareness of" Could I be pregnant? "but they have closed it because pregnancy is a really big crisis under their current circumstances."
Often, the effects were only fully demonstrated and, in many cases, therapy. "Her interviewees had been thinking, Tighe says," Whether it was six or thirty years after the event, they looked back and were ready to talk … it's like a process of understanding. "But at that time, only could One case study claimed that she had not known she was pregnant until her third interview.  "We can avoid thoughts – we can push them out of our thoughts," Tighe says, especially when there are factors such as contraception or other medical factors that can support this rejection. A case study, a rural Ireland nurse, recalled "blocking the thought." "She said," If I thought I felt a movement, I told myself, maybe I have an ovarian cyst. "She did not want to go there to acknowledge that she was pregnant."
These desperate measures by these women, says Tighe, point to the need for a sensitive response to hidden pregnancies, especially by health professionals, that takes into account the lasting effects of trauma on individuals' maternity approaches. Even the sensational media coverage has not helped women feel that they can fight back.
For women who had not experienced any significant trauma but hid their pregnancies, Tighe says having a baby was simply not part of her "life plan".
Dollan says it was not part of her plan to have a baby with her 22-year-old ex-boyfriend. But she is also clear: she did not know she was pregnant until she was in labor. "I would not have hesitated if I had told my family. Obviously, I would have been nervous to tell them – but there would have been a party, you know?
She also radiates the joy that Amelia brought to her and her mother's life. "It's weird that she's so lively," she says. "Considering that I did not move her."
• In Britain, Samaritans can be contacted at 116 123 . , In Australia, the crisis relief service Lifeline on 13. 11. 14 . In the US, the lifeline for suicide prevention is 1-800-273-8255 and the domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Further international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org