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Cryptic pregnancy, also known as stealth pregnancy or denied pregnancy, is a pretty rare condition where a person is pregnant but has no idea about it. It can happen for a variety of reasons, like not having any physical symptoms, psychological denial, or lack of access to healthcare. People with cryptic pregnancies may not have any of the typical pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, weight gain or even a growing belly. They may not have missed a period or have irregular periods, which can make it hard for them to realize that they are pregnant until it's too late or even until labor begins.
It's hard to say exactly how common cryptic pregnancy is, but it's considered pretty rare. It's been reported in about 1 in every 475 pregnancies. This can have serious implications for both the mother and the baby, as the mother may not receive appropriate prenatal care, and the baby may be born prematurely or with other health complications.
There are a number of potential causes of cryptic pregnancy, including psychological denial, lack of access to healthcare, and physical symptoms that are not typical of pregnancy.
An interesting fact is that one of us at Anja Health has actually had a cryptic pregnancy and their story is fascinating! Here’s Zatoria’s story about her cryptic pregnancy.
“One summer, me and the kids were having a lazy day of watching movies when I started to have period-like cramps. I shrugged it off and finished our movie, then went to bed. Well around 1AM I had a severe pain in my side that went from uncomfortable to slightly painful. I called my husband who was in out of town at the time for work to just let him know what was going on.
I managed to make it through the night and woke up the next morning feeling like my stomach was being ripped in two. I called my husband again to tell him I needed to go to the ER and to see if our friends could watch the kids. After a few phone calls, our friend was on the way and I was headed to the ER. She dropped me off and told me to just call her when I was ready.
I checked in, told them that I felt like my appendix either had ruptured or was starting to rupture so they took me back to do triage and get my vitals and got me in a room. When the nurse came in and did the ultrasound, she told me that what I thought was a ruptured appendix was actually a baby that was head down. I immediately burst into tears and called my husband as they were wheeling me up to labor and delivery.
Once I got up there, the nurses were all hands on deck and started working as fast as they could because we didn’t know how much time we had until I gave birth. I texted my family and let them know what was happening and texted my husband who was working with his chain of command to get on the first available flight. We let my friend who was watching the kids know what was happening so they would be in the loop.
I asked the nurses if once everything was good if I could get an epidural and she said yeah I just had to wait for my blood work to come back. Little did I know an epidural wasn’t going to happen. I looked at the nurse and told her I needed to push ASAP! She told me to hang tight and try not to push while she went to get the doctor. The other nurses came rushing in to help get things prepped and I fought the urge to push.
Finally I told them I couldn’t hold off any longer. All the nurses just surrounded me and after 2 hours and 2 pushes, our baby girl was earthside. She was completely healthy with no signs of any issues. The delivering doctor came in just as I was pushing my placenta out and was amazed at how fast things went. They asked for a name and I told them I would have to get back to them on that. So straight to Pinterest I went and the first name that popped up was Brielle. Naturally, I have her take my mom’s middle name. We got discharged after two days and it worked out so perfectly because my husband landed the day we went home & got home about 20 minutes after we did to meet his new daughter.”
So, as you can tell - cryptic pregnancy is definitely a hectic experience, so this is why it is essential for healthcare providers to have a high degree of suspicion and to consider the possibility of cryptic pregnancy in individuals who present with a lack of typical pregnancy symptoms. Prenatal care, including ultrasound, can help to confirm the diagnosis. It is important to be aware of this condition and take appropriate precautions to ensure the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby.