According to this Huffington Post article, 1 in 450 women don’t know they’re pregnant until after twenty weeks have passed – that’s halfway through the pregnancy.
Since I was about twelve, the familiar joke of “You must be pregnant” in response to every known symptom of physical illness has cropped up over and over again. Maybe there’s a frightening amount of truth to that (for one thing, estimates on the rate of miscarriage are as high as 70% – but most of those occur before the woman’s period is even due, so they pass unnoticed).
It seems insane that anyone could fail to notice they were pregnant for more than about a month – and most of us hear a statistic like the one above and immediately think, “Wow, that’s some serious denial.” There’s some truth in that – I am quite close to a man who realised his girlfriend was pregnant long before the thought had occured to her – but apparently in most cases the story is quite different. Apparently the body will very often deliberately hide a pregnancy from the mother by releasing only a small amount of the HCG hormone – the one that causes nausea and stops periods (amd the one that turns urine or blood tests positive for pregnancy). It means a miscarriage is more likely, but it also means that factors like maternal stress or illness are reduced (useful, for example, if the mother is poor and malnutritioned). Ultimately, it gives the baby its best chance of survival.
I like this article because it confirms what I’ve felt all along – the worse I feel, the better off my baby is. It also confirms what several people have said: Bad pregnancy, good birth (because many of the hormones are designed specifically to help with the birth – like relaxin, which is doing horrible things to my back, hips, and digestive system, but useful things to the birth canal).
So that’s. . . nice.