labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I don't get it...

Did anyone see the segment on GMA this morning about women who didn't know they were pregnant until they were giving birth? I didn't catch much of it, other than a clip of a woman who was explaining how she went to an emergency room with the complaint of terrible stomach cramping from what she contributed to the flu.

Let me just start by saying I don't get it at all. I really don't. Now, I can understand a woman not gaining weight or just a few pounds. That happens, particularly for larger women. And I can understand that many large women don't appear pregnant until much later stages due to their body habitus. I can even understand thinking you are having your periods still; some women do have vaginal bleeding in pregnancy that can be chalked up to subchorionic hematoma, friable cervix, or placenta previa. But how can you explain fetal movement? Perhaps you can pass it off as gas around 20 weeks or so, but what about 35 weeks when the fetus is causing the abdomen change shapes or pushes their body parts out with their movements?

I've only met one woman who didn't know she was pregnant until 34 weeks or something like that. She was a college student, who had bulemia and anorexia but was in complete denial about her disease. She weighed 92 pounds at 34 weeks, when I met her. The reason she even learned of her pregnancy was because she was being worked up for abnormal abdominal pain and severe gas that caused her abdomen to visibly roll and move. Huh.... go figure.

I am sure that I will meet more women in my career who don't know they are pregnant until later stages or even birth. But I don't know if I will ever understand it.

15 comments:

PE Mommy said...

My primary care dr didn't know she was pregnant till she was 28 weeks. She had her baby in May. She found out on Feb 29th when she ran a blood test for kicks. It was awful hearing the story from her as I had JUST lost my baby and she was telling me how devestated she was to find out she was pregnant. This is what she said...

Her and her dh had tried for several years and it never happened for them. Her periods were 3-6 months apart. She was 42. She thought she was gaining weight due to her age and that she was entering menopause. She thought the horrible heartburn she was having was her acid reflux acting up bad. She never felt movement. Not even at 36 weeks. She felt what she described as flutters. I was blown away. She said she called my obgyn devestated and crying and he got her in and squared away. She ended up being 28 weeks. It was THE talk of the hospital for a while.

Honestly, I was devestated to hear she had been devestated because I had JUST had a miscarriage at 13 1/2 weeks. Anyway, I am pregnant again (12 weeks on Friday). You know, this is the FIRST pregnancy I have had where I have had literally no symptoms and it scares me to death. Literally, bigger belly but I could attribute it to gaining weight even though I have lost 5lbs. Heartburn. Tired. Oh and peeing a lot, but I have had constant UTIs due to a kidney stone being stuck. I didn't believe my pcp when she told me she had no symptoms. With my girls, I puked my guts out for one the whole pregnancy and the other for 14 weeks. After talking with my ob about how little symptoms I have and how that worries me (he assured me very normal), he said he could prescribe something to make me puke if that would make me feel better. Um no thanks. :)

So I guess it can happen.

may said...

i watched a show in discovery health a few weeks ago that featured three women who never knew they were pregnant until they gave birth. the last one had twins, with the first baby she delivered in the toilet bowl in the ED when she went and pee, not aware she was even pregnant.

even seeing these women explain everything, the whole thing was and still is beyond me.

Jennylou's Projects said...

I'm new to your blog, but I have to say I agree!

I'm currently 33weeks pregnant and the way this belly dances around (even as a heavier woman) - well, it's like having an alien in my belly. I could see not knowing until 20 or 25 weeks, but not full term.

In addition to not knowing right away thinking you were having periods, women who have abnormal periods (like PCOSers) might also not know at first. But again, I think by 20-25 weeks you'd be thinking SOMETHING was up.

Anonymous said...

There was show on Discovery Health last night about this very subject. It was pretty interesting. You should check their website and see if it comes on again. It was called...*drum roll please*..."I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant"

womantowomancbe said...

A friend of mine didn't know until 5 months along. She had been diagnosed with incurable infertility and had wildly irregular periods. When her baby started moving so much she couldn't dismiss it as gas, she went to the doctor, who patronizingly said, "I know you want to have a baby, but you know it's impossible!" She absolutely insisted on an ultrasound, because if it wasn't a baby, she needed to know *what* was going on inside her. Sure enough, it was her son, kicking away! :-)
-Kathy

razorbackmama said...

I've never understood the movement thing either. The ONLY explanation that almost makes sense to me is that some women simply have such a large layer of fat between their uterus and the outside that they can't really see/feel the movement like a thinner woman can.

But I still don't get it either.

Rixa said...

Yeah, I don't get it either. The feeling of a baby moving around is, in my experience, impossible to mistake for anything but a baby. Sure, the little bubbles and flutters when it's 15 or 20 weeks along might be confused with gas, but a baby nearing full-term is doing things that only a baby can do!

I knew a woman who didn't figure out she was pregnant until she was 7 months along. She had a history of abnormal and infrequent menstrual cycles, so it took her a long time to suspect something was up.

KEM said...

In defense of women who don't see their belly move...

With my first pregnancy, I had an anterior placenta and probably saw my baby move a handful of times while I was in the bathtub. I could feel movement, of course, but I think a lot of it was padded by the placenta.

This pregnancy, my placenta is posterior and boy does it make a difference! Sometimes I think an alien is going to burst forth from my belly!! I feel a lot more of the movement, too.

So, as a mama with a chubby stomach, it is possible in the right circumstances to not see your belly move (though I'm hung up on the not being able to feel it - just like the rest of you)

Anonymous said...

I know of someone who didn't know until very late in pregnancy. Like previous commenter, this woman was definitively told she was infertile and would never be able to have children. She had not had a period in over 18 months and so it was a real shock when she went in to her doc complaining of shortness of breath and bad heartburn. She was a heavier woman as well, and an anterior placenta meant that she didn't really feel as much movement.

I think that if you told me I was infertile and I had no period or indication of ovulation, I'd write off any symptoms as anything but pregnancy - because I'd been told that was an impossibility.

But I think her situation with spontaneous ovulation after more than a year with no period is pretty unique.

Most women are probably in denial.

Anonymous said...

I had an anterior placenta this last time and it did change how it felt with kicks. I was worried often that the baby had died or was slowing down, unless the movement was on the side or right up at top I rarely felt it. However, I took a pregnancy test at 9 weeks because I kept feeling ill and was dropping things. Even with my anterior placenta, the contractions in the last 2 months would have given it away, and the kicks were more noticable those last weeks.

Blessings!
Dawn

Ethel said...

I will say that with celiac disease the amount of intestinal movement and direction of movement easily resembles a baby moving in the uterus. Honestly! It's incredibly weird that even while living gluten free my guts will move enough to look like a baby in the belly, and feel that way - and don't worry I've freaked myself out enough to take a pregnancy test, and nope, just fecal matter moving in my intestines. Oh the joy of a successful bm....

Oh yeah, you mean "attributed" not "contributed to the flu.".

Labor Nurse said...

ethel, thanks for pointing out my error- yes I did mean attributed!

rachel said...

Yes, these stories always baffle me, too. They must be so disconnected from their bodies. They aren't always overweight women, either. There's usually a news story about this every year. Fascinating. At the other end of the spectrum are the women who have imaginary pregnancies.

Basiorana said...

My older sister, when my mother was pregnant with her, did not move at all until about 34 weeks when she promptly flipped over at about 2 AM (nearly giving my mother a heart attack), then didn't move again until her birth. The doctor said she was just a lazy baby, no health problems. Sure was a surprise for my mom when I started kicking like crazy.

My point is, some babies simply do not move except very rarely. If it's a kick every few hours, yeah, it would be hard to miss, but when the baby moves ONCE in 9 months, and in the middle of the night? Easy to pass that off as stomach pains or a bad dream.

Jesse Gray said...

I was going to say the same thing as Ethel - I also have Celiac disease, and although it wasn't diagnosed until I was in my early 20s (or it was latent until then), ever since I was a little kid my belly would roll and churn. When I was in elementary school I would lie in bed at night and watch little golf-ball sized bumps move from one side of my belly to the other! It didn't hurt, and I eventually made up a story about having circus mice hurling themselves around in there.

I'm now 31 weeks pregnant and although I don't know if I understand not recognizing all the other symptoms of pregnancy, I can say that even with all the bumping and turning this little one is doing, it really isn't all that much different from those little circus mice!