What Is Pshychological Pregnancy Denial?

By (embryologist) and (fertility counselor).
Last Update: 03/15/2016

Women may suffer from this syndrome or psychological disorder when, despite being pregnant, they manifest none of the common symptoms linked to the gestation period. There is no belly growth, nausea, or bloating. In extreme cases, monthly menstruation continues.

Provided below is an index with the 5 points we are going to expand on in this article.

Types of pregnancy denial

Two possible situations can occur:

  • Partial or incomplete denial: women become aware they are pregnant when they are 6, 7, or 8 months pregnant.
  • Total or complete denial: women don not even know they are pregnant until the moment of childbirth.

It is estimated that one in every 500 pregnancies are denied, either partially or completely. In Spain, half a million children are born every year. Calculations show that out of these, 200 pregnancies are totally denied, although this phenomenon has not been studied well enough yet.

There is no profile able to define the predisposition to this rare psychological disorder. It can occur among teenagers but also more mature women may develop it as well. First-time mothers and women who already have children are also included in this group.

Pregnancy without symptoms and menstruation

According to a study by Dr. Felix Navarro, expert in Public Health in France and president of the Association for the Recognition of Pregnancy Denial, about 60% of women with this condition continue to have monthly or genital bleeding.

According to Dr. Navarro, most of these women do not get fat or just gain a few pounds, and misinterpret small symptoms. For example, they associate fetal movements to simple stomach or bladder pain.

Denial of pregnancy is a disease without specific symptoms. The main problem linked to this disorder is that women continue with their normal lives and can put the baby's health at risk. Particularly serious are the cases when women continue with unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking or ingesting other toxic products, which can alter fetal development.

Denial disorder

Pregnancy denial is not a new pathology. Until recently, little was known about it and its recognition by the European society was uneven between countries. However, its widespread recognition is becoming a reality.

The cause of this pathology is still unknown, but most theories associate it with psychology. In fact, most women with this disorder only manifest psychiatric pathologies and, as a general rule, they continue to have a normal life after having suffered from the pregnancy denial syndrome.

What happens after childbirth?

In this regard, disparities can be found. There are cases when women, even if they have denied their pregnancy, see the arrival of their baby as a gift from life. Other women take time to create a mother-child bond, but finally feel happy about it and end up adoring their baby.

Finally, the saddest and most problematic cases associated with the pathology are those in which mothers abandon their babies after childbirth. These cases are usually connected with total denial and can be life-threatening for the baby if the mother gives birth by herself.

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 Andrea Rodrigo
Andrea Rodrigo
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia along with the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Postgraduate course in Medical Genetics. More information about Andrea Rodrigo
Adapted into english by:
 Sandra Fernández
Sandra Fernández
B.A., M.A.
Fertility Counselor
Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting (English, Spanish, Catalan, German) from the University of Valencia (UV) and Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus (Edinburgh, UK). Postgraduate Course in Legal Translation from the University of Valencia. Specialist in Medical Translation, with several years of experience in the field of Assisted Reproduction. More information about Sandra Fernández

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