Is it possible to NOT  know you’re pregnant? Sometimes, yes
Ally Opfer

Ohio based cheerleading coach, Ally Opfer, went to the hospital late one night for severe abdominal cramping. Doctors, nurses and techs drew vials of blood, started an IV and did a pregnancy test—which was negative.

She lay on the exam table getting an ultrasound, waiting for the worst. Here's what happened instead, (as told by Ally to Love What Matters):

"Then, all of a sudden, not only did my doctor come flying in the room, but so did literally 10 other people who I had yet to see that night. As all these doctors and nurses filled my room, I was preparing myself for the worst news possible, that I was dying. There were so many doctors and nurses in my room all with a sense of urgency that I knew whatever was happening to me was very serious.

"Then, the doctor said these words to me: ‘Have you ever been pregnant before?’ I, of course, said ‘no,’ very confused. He said, ‘Well, it looks like you’re about 38-weeks pregnant and 10-centimeters dilated. You are in full blown labor, and we need to get you upstairs to labor and delivery now!’"

Ally was rushed into the operating room for a cesarean section—her blood pressure was high, and the team decided that a cesarean birth was the safest option.

She writes, "As I waited for them to tell me the baby was out, it felt like forever. Then I heard, ‘Time of birth: 3:31 a.m.’ and my mom and I looked at each other and were just saying, ‘Cry. Please cry. Please start crying little baby,’ so we knew the baby was okay and healthy. He finally started crying, and so did we. That’s when it finally hit me that I was actually in labor and I had just given birth. I laid there crying (happy tears) and was in shock listening to my baby’s cry. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him."

Ally said, "My whole family was filled with joy to have this unexpected, magical gift. He’s my parents’ first grandbaby. He’s the most amazing Christmas gift I could ever receive."

I meeeaaannnn with that cute little face, we totally get it.

Stories like Ally's are always followed by people asking if it's really possible to be pregnant without knowing it. It's actually quite possible.

In fact, it's estimated that it happens to about one in 450 women. It may not be common, but it's something we should definitely be aware of.

Everyone's story looks different, and there are probably many more factors than these, but here are seven things to consider:

1. Many women have irregular periods

The tell-tale sign of being pregnant is often missing your period. But what if you're used to "missing" your period?

About 30% of women experience irregular periods. Irregular menstrual cycles can happen for a variety of reasons, including polycystic ovarian syndrome, use of hormonal birth control, thyroid issues, over-exercising, stress, breastfeeding and more.

If a woman has irregular periods, she may not suspect pregnancy for some time.

2. Not tracking cycles

Have you ever had the thought, "Ummmm... when was the last time I got my period?" If so, you are definitely not alone.

In a recent study, researchers found that as many as 68% of women were not tracking their menstrual cycles, and 53% didn't know when their next period would be. Between juggling the demands to work schedules, kids and simply life, it's quite easy to lose track of your menstrual cycle, and not realize that you're "late."

3. The menstrual cycle is confusing

Most women have at least some degree of uncertainty about their menstrual cycles. Researchers found that less than one-third of women surveyed knew about reproductive hormones. About 47% of women did not know what ovulation was (when the egg is released) and almost 50% didn't know how long the average menstrual cycle should be.

The laws around sexual education in school vary tremendously by states—only 24 states and the District of Columbia mandate it. So, while some people may have a lot of exposure to the information, many do not.

4. Birth control

With the exception of abstinence, there is no such thing as an error-proof birth control method. Here are some methods of birth control, and the percentage of women using them that become pregnant each year "with typical use:"

  • Spermicide 28%
  • Fertility awareness-based methods 24%
  • Male condom 18%
  • Diaphragm 12%
  • Pills (combined and mini) 9%
  • Depo-Provera 6%
  • IUDs 0.2-0.8%
  • Vasectomy 0.15%

If using birth control, a woman may not be on the lookout for pregnancy symptoms—so it would be easy to miss them, and not know that she's pregnant.

5. But what about the bump?

Women carry pregnancies differently. While some women start showing very early in their pregnancies, others barely show when they are full-term. If, for example, a woman has an anteverted or tilted uterus, she may not "look" pregnant for a while. Tall women tend to show later than shorter women. Every body is just different.

6. And the symptoms?

That varies too. When we think early pregnancy, we think "oh-the-nausea." But it turns out that 20% of (lucky) women never experience pregnancy-related nausea.

And, the symptoms of pregnancy are pretty vague—nausea, tiredness, bloating and headaches could all be caused by so many things, it would be easy to assume that something besides pregnancy was the culprit.

7. What about fetal movement?

Women experience sensations differently. While some women may feel like they have an actual village living in their bellies, others may not be as aware of the movement. And the feelings can be hard to pinpoint. Many times people think fetal movement is just gas or belly rumbles, for example.

Women who have anterior placentas (toward the front of their bellies) often feel less fetal movement than women with posterior placentas (toward the back).

Even women who do know they are pregnant miss the movements. A study found that 83% of women were asked to do fetal kick counts by their providers—that means that 17% were not. The same study reported that only 16% of women actually did fetal kick counts and that many women were confused by how to do them.

(Psst: We love this app for doing fetal kick counts, btw!)

Lastly, many women experience a phenomenon called phantom fetal movement, where they think they feel a baby kicking even though they are not pregnant. If a woman has experienced that, she may not think much of actual fetal movements when they happen.

To sum it up, every pregnancy and woman is different. We all need each others' support as our motherhood stories unfold.

We wish Ally and adorable little Oliver all the best!

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

Keep reading Show less
Our Partners

9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

Keep reading Show less