Pregnancy

What Is a Cryptic Pregnancy? Hidden Pregnancy Signs

Team Peanut
Team Peanut7 months ago9 min read
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Hold up. You can be pregnant with no symptoms? Yup. It’s called a cryptic pregnancy, and it’s more common than you might think.

What Is a Cryptic Pregnancy? Hidden Pregnancy Signs

In this article: 📝

  • Can you be pregnant with no symptoms?
  • Is cryptic pregnancy rare?
  • Cryptic pregnancy symptoms
  • What causes a cryptic pregnancy?
  • Is there a difference between a cryptic pregnancy and a denied pregnancy?
  • How long can a cryptic pregnancy last?
  • How do you know if you’re having a cryptic pregnancy?

Can you be pregnant with no symptoms?

Wait a minute. Can you be pregnant and not know? At all?

Well, yes.

For many mamas-to-be, pregnancy is an exciting time of planning, picking out names, and the joy of that very first kick.

But in some unusual cases, mamas miss out on these experiences – because they don’t know they’re pregnant at all.

When this happens, it’s known as a stealth or cryptic pregnancy.

Turns out, sometimes you might only discover your little peanut late into your pregnancy, or even as labor begins.

With TV shows like I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant and cryptic pregnancy stories, awareness of the condition is becoming more widespread.

But it’s often still viewed as a mysterious medical phenomenon.

Is cryptic pregnancy rare?

The most recent cryptic pregnancy statistics suggest that 1 in 475 pregnancies are hidden at 20 weeks (5 months).

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That is, the woman doesn’t recognize that she is pregnant, and the pregnancy hasn’t been spotted by a family member or doctor.

A stealth pregnancy becomes more likely to be revealed after that point, with only 1 in 2,500 pregnancies staying concealed until labor starts.

Who gets cryptic pregnancy?

Well, we don’t mean to scare you, but a cryptic pregnancy can happen to anyone.

Although a cryptic pregnancy is more common in people with hormonal imbalances ‒ whether that’s due to medication, birth control, or perimenopause.

Those who have irregular periods may also not notice a cryptic pregnancy, especially if they’re used to skipping or missing periods frequently.

Cryptic pregnancy symptoms

Essentially, the “symptom” of a cryptic pregnancy is the lack of symptoms!

Early signs of cryptic pregnancy that would normally help you to work out that you’re pregnant may not be there, or you might misinterpret them if they do appear.

A few things that might throw you off the scent are:

  • A negative pregnancy test result: Yep, it’s possible to get a false negative reading on a home pregnancy test and wrongly believe that you’re not pregnant, but there are ways to reduce the risk of this (more on that later).
  • Monthly bleeding: With a typical pregnancy, you’ll no longer get your monthly period. However, in a cryptic pregnancy, it is common to experience some light bleeding (or “spotting”) while pregnant, and you could mistake this for a period – particularly if pregnancy isn’t on your radar.
  • Lack of pregnancy symptoms: You may not get any of the usual early pregnancy symptoms: nausea, tender breasts, tiredness. Or you may assume another cause. For example, cryptic pregnancy nausea could be linked to a stomach upset and tiredness to work stress.
  • Cryptic pregnancy belly: That’s right, a cryptic pregnancy can even disguise the ultimate pregnancy sign: the baby bump. A “skinny” cryptic pregnancy has been known to happen, although usually, at around 12-16 weeks, you may start to notice your baby bump.

Do you get periods with cryptic pregnancy?

You might have seen on I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant that a period every month can happen through a cryptic pregnancy.

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Is it possible to have a period while pregnant? It certainly is.

With a cryptic pregnancy, periods might just continue as regularly as usual, all the way up to birth.

Can you feel kicks with a cryptic pregnancy?

Yes, with a cryptic pregnancy, baby’s position and kicks (quickening) might be felt.

However, later on in the cryptic pregnancy, this baby movement might be explained away as cramps or muscle twinges.

Are cryptic pregnancy babies healthy?

It can be tough, but there’s no guarantee that a cryptic pregnancy will result in a healthy baby.

However, a cryptic pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean that baby won’t be healthy, either.

Every pregnancy, even a hidden pregnancy, is unique, with different bodies, different circumstances, and different lifestyles.

But the cryptic pregnancy statistics do tend to point to stealth pregnancy babies measuring on the smaller side.

What causes a cryptic pregnancy?

A cryptic pregnancy becomes more likely if you have another condition or medication that’s interfering with your hormones, causing other symptoms that disguise the signs of pregnancy.

For example, if you use hormonal birth control, such as the pill or an IUD, you might be used to not having periods.

Or if you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), you may not be expecting to become pregnant and your periods might be irregular.

Also, if you’re over 45 years old, you may explain away cryptic pregnancy symptoms (like weight gain or mood swings) as signs of menopause.

The shape of your body can also play a role in concealing your baby bump.











If you’re super athletic, the tight muscles in your abdomen can stop your bump from becoming prominent.

Or, if you fall pregnant soon after giving birth, your cryptic pregnancy could go unnoticed as you’ve still got a little bit of a bump from your previous little one.

Is there a difference between a cryptic pregnancy and a denied pregnancy?

Sometimes a cryptic pregnancy isn’t hidden because the woman hasn’t noticed she’s pregnant, but because she doesn’t want to accept the situation.

In these cases, it’s more common to refer to a cryptic pregnancy as a “denied pregnancy”.

A denied pregnancy can be triggered or caused by:

  • Mental health: You may be unable to acknowledge your pregnancy in your mind, even if you’re aware of the physical symptoms. Or it could be that you feel mentally and emotionally unprepared for a baby, so you push it to the back of your mind and try to forget about it.
  • Life challenges: Certain challenging situations might motivate you to hide your pregnancy. For example, if you’re in an abusive relationship, you’re afraid of your family’s reaction to your pregnancy, or if you’re young and not sure how to handle the fact of being pregnant.

If you’re in a situation like this, it’s important to seek support and get the care that you need during your pregnancy.

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Talking to your doctor would be a good first step.

How long can a cryptic pregnancy last?

We can’t be sure how long a cryptic pregnancy lasts in comparison to a “normal” pregnancy, as there isn’t much scientific evidence in this area.

One problem with a cryptic pregnancy is that you may miss out on some or all of the usual prenatal care, and this could have an impact on the length of your pregnancy.

Researchers in Hungary, for example, found that a lack of prenatal care increased the chance of going into labor early with a cryptic pregnancy.

Of course, it’s also crucial for mamas to get the essential care and medical attention they need during birth.

But with a 9-month cryptic pregnancy, there’s a risk of giving birth on your own or in an unsuitable place, as you’re not expecting to go into labor.

A “stealth baby”, such as the little boy in this study, can be born perfectly happy and healthy.

However, it’s still so important to pick up on those cryptic pregnancy clues early, so you can get the best medical advice and plan the birth experience you really want.

How long can a pregnancy hide itself?

A 9-month cryptic pregnancy isn’t unheard of, although it is rare.

A full-term cryptic pregnancy, when the mama doesn’t know she’s pregnant until labor, happens in around 1 in 2,500 pregnancies.

Is cryptic pregnancy real?

It certainly is. A cryptic pregnancy is when a person is pregnant but doesn’t find out until, at the earliest, 20 weeks (around 5 months).

Some mamas don’t know they’re pregnant until even as far as 30 weeks, 35 weeks, or 40 weeks ‒ a pregnancy with no symptoms.

How do you know if you’re having a cryptic pregnancy?

Finding out that you’re pregnant early on is ideal – not just so you can get prenatal care lined up, but also so you can make any lifestyle changes that are helpful during pregnancy.

For example, getting all the right nutrients in your diet and cutting down on the caffeine (chamomile tea anyone?).

But if you have a cryptic pregnancy, even detecting it a little before the birth will still give you time to make a plan and get in some extra health checks.

If you want to find out how to detect a cryptic pregnancy, or you suspect you might be expecting and you’re after proof of cryptic pregnancy, here are some useful tips:

  • Take care with the pregnancy test: You can avoid overlooking a pregnancy early on by buying a good-quality home pregnancy test and following the instructions carefully. If you get a negative result and you’re not convinced, try another. It’s also worth taking a pregnancy test with your first pee of the day, when your hCG levels will be at their highest.
  • Consult your doctor: Your doctor can use different methods to detect your cryptic pregnancy, including a blood test and a pelvic exam. You may be offered an ultrasound scan, too, to try and identify how far along you are in your pregnancy.
  • Know your body: Yes, it might just be gas or stress or a couple of extra pounds – but if there’s any chance you could have a stealth pregnancy, don’t just dismiss the signs. Taking a test could put your mind at ease.
  • Seek support: Pregnancy and the prospect of a new life to care for can be a challenge – particularly with a hidden pregnancy, or other things making your life difficult right now. But it’s so important to look after yourself and get the support that you need.

To all you surprise mamas out there, we’ve got you.

Keen to find out more about cryptic pregnancies or hear other mamas’ cryptic pregnancy stories? Join us on Peanut ‒ you’re not alone.

💡 More from The 411:
Your Pregnancy Week by Week Guide
What is a Phantom Pregnancy?
What Is a Chemical Pregnancy?
Birth Control Methods for Every Stage of Motherhood
Can You Get Pregnant Right After Your Period?
Can You Get Pregnant Right Before Your Period?
Can You Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding?

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