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How Could They Not Have Known?!

Experts weigh in on how women might not realize they're pregnant.

How could they not have known?

It’s what we all think when we hear about women who deliver babies and they didn’t even know they were pregnant. Still, it’s happening all the time.

ABC recently featured several women who had babies after undiscovered pregnancies. Their stories are fascinating. And, unlike I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant on TLC, their stories are not filled with overly dramatized reenactments. In fact, listening to them tell their tales, you could actually wrap your brain around how not knowing you’re pregnant could actually happen.

31-year old Andrea Curry says when she gained 10 pounds last year she thought it was stress. She even continued to have her period.

“I had my period every month, so nothing shot up as a red flag in my mind,” she tells ABC News. “When I was pregnant with my first son, I found out I was pregnant because I stopped getting my period. I had morning sickness for the seven or eight of the months I was pregnant with him. I definitely felt pregnant.”

When her mother suggested she looked pregnant Curry told her there was no way, that she was just getting fat.  Even when she went into labor Curry couldn’t wrap her brain around the fact she was pregnant. “Both of us wondered, ‘How could we have not known?’” her husband Brad says.

Although the couple says they feel immense guilt for not having realized Curry was pregnant, Dr. Ashley Roman, a clinical assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine tells ABC News surprise pregnancies aren’t so implausible. “There really doesn’t seem to be much scientific data on this topic, but I think if you were to poll every obstetrician, we’ve all seen it at some point in our career. We’ve seen the woman who comes in at term or near term and who didn’t realize she was pregnant, and gives birth.”

Some of the reasons women don’t realize they’re pregnant:

Their body disguises the baby bump: Many women don’t gain much weight during pregnancy and those that do gain more than a few pounds attribute the weight to stress or eating too much.

Inactive fetus: Some babies aren’t that active in the womb. While pregnant with my daughter Violet, I didn’t really feel that much action until the last two months. Had I not known I was pregnant I could have attributed the movement I did feel to other things. Maybe. But I can definitely understand another woman not feeling movement or recognizing what the movement is if she did happen to feel a flutter.

Irregular Menstrual Cycles: Many women have sporadic periods or, like Curry, continue to menstruate throughout the pregnancy. Strange but true. Not getting your period is a major sign of pregnancy, so what if it just kept coming?

Denial: Even if the signs are staring you in the face, some women, for various reasons, just can’t wrap their brain around the fact they might be pregnant. Each symptom can be chalked up to something rational. If you aren’t looking for it and the signs aren’t obvious it isn’t all that outrageous for someone not to know they’re having a baby.

Below you can listen to a woman who didn’t know she was pregnant talk about what it was like to go into labor:

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