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Trish Staine And Surprise Births, How Do Women Not Know They’re Pregnant?

trish staine

Marathon mom Trish Staine was, along with everyone else, surprised when back pain led to the birth of a baby she had no idea she was expecting — but now that this phenomenon has another clear example as well as a whole entire TV show dedicated to it, can we accept sometimes women don’t know they’re pregnant?

Trish Staine is 33, and believed she was done adding to her family when baby Mira (short for “miracle”) was born after she felt back stiffness. (A circumstance that will probably strike fear into the hearts of back crampy women everywhere.)

Much has been made over the fact Trish Staine’s husband had had a vasectomy, but the procedures are, as we know, not always successful. Clearly not in this case.

The claim a woman didn’t know she was pregnant as Staine says is always met with skepticism and anecdotal tales of how noticeable everyone else’s pregnancies were. But given the frequency with which this claim has been arising since the TLC show I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant began airing, it’s probably safe to say it’s actually not entirely uncommon to go the full length of a pregnancy without knowing that you are with child.

Not knowing you are pregnant isn’t unheard of, says Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper of Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. In fact, Horvath-Cosper says she’s seen women arrive for treatment only to give birth to a surprise baby … seven times in seven years, she says, and that’s just births the doctor was present during.

Horvath-Cosper explains:

“I think people look at it and say, ‘How can that possibly happen?’ I can assure you it does … There’s a wide range of what’s normal in a normal pregnancy.”

Of course, the doctor admits, “know” can be an operative word here — and while women like Staine may not know they’re pregnant, some others may not “believe” they are pregnant:

“Denial is quite strong … They just convince themselves they’re not pregnant. … Usually people make the best of it.”

But how common is it for a woman like Trish Staine not to know she’s pregnant until the baby is crowning? A 2010 LiveScience article provides a shocking statistic — not only is it pretty common, it’s more common than triplets:

“A 2001 study found that a phenomenon called denial of pregnancy, in which a woman is unaware of her pregnancy until soon before her due date, happens about one time in every 475 births. And the same study found that cases in which a woman is unaware of being pregnant all the way up until labor begins occur about three times more often than triplets.”

Do you know anyone who has been in a situation like Trish Staine and not known until labor that she was pregnant?

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