Stealth pregnancy or cryptic pregnancy is just as it sounds, that is the woman does not realize she is pregnant. They do not experience any of the symptoms of pregnancy or mistake the symptoms to be signs of temporary illness.
Who can have a cryptic pregnancy or how does pregnancy not get detected?
Missing your period is an indicator in most cases that you may be pregnant, but some may misinterpret them for the following reasons.
- If you have given birth recently, your periods will take time to return. And most believe that during breastfeeding you may not ovulate and there are no chances of getting pregnant.
- Those who have PCOS, as periods are irregular for them and may not realize, they have missed their periods.
- Women who are in the perimenopause stage (late ’40s), may mistake the pregnancy symptoms as signs of menopause
Other reasons include
- They have never been pregnant and hence are not able to recognise the symptoms
- Women who had difficulty getting pregnant or dealt with infertility, and believe that they cannot have children
- Having stress affects hormones. Women undergoing high stress may have their pregnancy symptoms affected.
- For those who have an anterior placenta, that is the placenta is across your belly in front of the uterus, in such cases, the mother may not experience baby movement and mistake any slight feeling as gas.
- In some cases, pregnancy causes spotting or implantation which may be mistaken for periods.
- Some may take the pregnancy test too early, which gives a negative test hence making them believe that they are not pregnant.
Symptoms of cryptic pregnancy
The symptoms are like that of normal pregnancy. Nausea, fatigue, and heartburn are common but may be misunderstood as an issue related to the food they have taken. An increase in weight is common but, in some cases, the baby’s growth may be small(as proper care was not provided as they do not know they were pregnant), or the weight may be distributed differently based on the body type and hence a prominent baby bump might not be evident. Missing your periods is another common symptom but those who have irregular periods, are breastfeeding, or are in their menopause stage may not take this into consideration.
How to confirm a cryptic pregnancy?
- Take more than one pregnancy test
- Consult with your doctor and take a combination of ultrasound, blood test, and urine test.
What are the risks of having a cryptic pregnancy?
You may not have received the prenatal care or support that was necessary for having a healthy pregnancy and chances are this can affect your baby. If you were smoking or having alcohol this could have harmed the fetus. Babies born from cryptic pregnancies are likely to be underweight and small as compared to their gestational age. There is an increased risk of premature birth and stillbirth in cryptic pregnancies
Cryptic pregnancies are rare. Among them, most go unnoticed till the 20th week. Only around one in 2500 pregnancies are unnoticed till delivery.