Young mother’s birth surprise

Megan Bradford and son Theodore. Photo by Dewi Sherry.
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Megan Bradford was 19 when she unexpectedly gave birth to her son Theodore without knowing she was pregnant. Dewi Sherry reports.

By Dewi Sherry

Megan Bradford thought she was suffering from menstrual cramps when she was rushed to hospital nearly two years ago.

Instead Bradford, 19 at the time, gave birth despite not knowing she was pregnant for the last nine months.

“When the doctors told me I was going to give birth, my partner and I were both silent for ages, then we cried,” Bradford said.

Before the birth to Theodore, Bradford took a pregnancy test and it came back negative. There were no big signs of being pregnant throughout her trimesters. “I was on the pill the whole time so I was choosing to not get my period and that’s normally your first big warning sign of pregnancy,” she said.

“There were a few tiny, little indications but it was never anything that I could connect the dots to.”

Doctors say Bradford had an anterior placenta. An anterior placenta is where the placenta is between the women and the baby, it stops any kicking or movement that the mother should feel and also lessens the visibility of a baby bump.

Throughout her pregnancy, Bradford gained only five kilograms in weight. “I was on uni holidays so I wasn’t really exercising and not eating right so I thought I was obviously just doing the wrong thing,” she said.

“I had a few really small bouts of morning sickness but they were never consecutive days, so because it was winter I thought I had some bug,” she said.

“I was studying and I was working, I felt like I had a normal life until then.”

A Royal Women’s Hospital health nurse, who declined to be named, said: “People who don’t know they’re pregnant are quite a mystery.”

“Most women get woken up by kicking from the baby and these women can’t feel anything so it’s very unusual, very odd,” she said.

According to the nurse, having a completely concealed pregnancy is very rare, however having an anterior placenta, which may hide some aspects of the pregnancy, is not.

“An anterior placenta is when the baby grows towards your back so major signs of pregnancy, like a baby bump, may be concealed,” she said.

The nurse added being unaware of a pregnancy could be very dangerous for the baby.

“Generally you have check-ups which minimize problems, so if you didn’t know you were pregnant there is more of a risk to the baby.”

“Most people are very healthy when they are pregnant, they give up things that can harm the baby so if the pregnancy is unknown they may still smoke or drink which can have negative affects on the baby in the future,” the nurse said.

Despite not being prepared to have a baby, Bradford strives to be the best mother she can to Theodore and doesn’t dwell on the past.

“It doesn’t matter who you are and if you’ve had nine months preparation or none, no one really knows what to do with a baby until they have it,” she said.