When Victoria Elizabeth Acierno came into the world, she made a grand entrance.
Little Victoria was born on Sunday morning at her parents’ home in Geneva-on-the-Lake. Weighing in at 6 pounds, 14 ounces, Victoria was delivered by village police officer Sandy Davis. Mom McKenzie Acierno had no idea she was pregnant.
McKenzie Acierno’s day began much like any other Sunday, except for some lingering abdominal pain. As the morning wore on, the pain became unbearable. Her husband Mike dialed 911.
“I had no idea I was pregnant,” Acierno said. “I had no side effects, no morning sickness or anything. Suddenly, there was a lot of pain and then there was a baby. Two pushes and that was it.”
Mom to Dylan, 9, and Gianna, 2 1/2, she said she had very “typical, normal pregnancies with the typical, normal signs” with her two oldest children.
Assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UH-Case Medical Center Justin Lappen said women may not know they are pregnant for a number of reasons.
“There are no hard and fast numbers, but it is certainly something we see,” he said. “There are lots of reasons why someone may not find out they are pregnant until they give birth. I have certainly delivered babies of patients who came into emergency room unaware that they are pregnant.”
There are medical reasons why a woman might not suspect she is pregnant, Lappen said.
“The most common sign of pregnancy is the missed menstrual period,” he said. “However, not everyone has a monthly menstrual period like clockwork, so they may not know because they don’t have the typical signs.”
A woman who is breast-feeding or has been recently pregnant may not have a menstrual period and some forms of birth control may limit the number of periods a woman has each year, Lappen said.
Roxanne Ackroyd is a labor and delivery nurse at Ashtabula County Medical Center, where she also teaches childbirth and delivery classes. She said ACMC staff sees several women each year who had no idea they were pregnant until delivery began.
“We see this two or three times a year, when women come in unaware they are pregnant with a full-term baby,” she said. “Actually, we just had a patient in a week ago that was the same story.”
Ackroyd said it doesn’t matter if the woman is petite or heavy — some just don’t realize they are carrying a baby.
“Some women, and it doesn’t happen very often, will actually have their periods when pregnant, so they may not realize they are pregnant because they have had their periods. Sometimes, that bleeding that they attribute to their menstrual periods is actually regular spotting that occurs with pregnancy,” she said. “Some women suspect they are pregnant early on and take pregnancy test and it comes out negative because they took it too early, so they just assume that initial negative test is accurate.”
Ackroyd said women may think they are having an ovarian cyst, bad gas or a severe gall bladder attack when labor begins.
“Some women come into the emergency room in a lot of pain and they don’t know what is wrong and then there is a baby,” she said.
Lappen said a woman should feel the baby moving and kicking by 24 to 28 weeks.
“The fetal movement clues are typically there,” he said. “A lot of patients who are overweight may not notice their abdomen growing, but by the third trimester there should be consistent fetal movement.”
Ackroyd said sometimes the pregnancy symptoms, or lack of them, are a woman’s way of dealing with stress.
“Sometimes I think people are under a lot of stress, and maybe they are in denial a little. They just aren’t allowing themselves to accept that they are pregnant, or to be accepting of what is happening with their body,” she said. “It is natural to block things out of your mind when you are stressed and to blame symptoms on something else.”