23-year-old ballet instructor Lizzie Quah shared her surprise pregnancy story in a viral TikTok video, according to Buzzfeed. In the video, Quah describes driving to the hospital with her mom for “the worst period cramps of [her] entire life” at 2:30 a.m. Initially, Quah believed the pain was caused by a kidney stone like the one she had three years earlier. Instead, doctors informed her that she was “eight centimeters dilated, in active labor, having a baby that night.”
According to Quah, two hours later, she gave birth to her full-term daughter. The video has nearly 900,000 views.
In her interview with Buzzfeed, Quah said of her delivery, “[i]t was severe cramping/searing pain in my lower back and lower abdomen, it really felt like someone was pulling me apart from the inside out, which ironically was kind of what was actually happening!”
Cryptic, or Surprise, Pregnancies May Affect As Many as 1 in 475 Women
A cryptic pregnancy is a pregnancy in which a woman is not aware that she is pregnant until the third trimester or the actual birth. Medical News Today suggests that 1 in 475 women deny their pregnancy at 20 weeks or more, making it a significantly more common occurrence than most people realize. Women who have cryptic pregnancies often don’t experience typical symptoms like nausea, missed periods, or abdominal swelling.
Cryptic pregnancies fall into two different categories: a psychotic denial of pregnancy is often linked to mental illness, while a nonpsychotic denial is not linked to a history of mental illness. Instead, nonpsychotic pregnancies have a number of classifications. Women with pervasive denial don’t experience the significance of the pregnancy and so they are unaware they are pregnant. Women with persistent denial become aware of the pregnancy in the third trimester and avoid seeking medical attention. Affective denial is the most common kind of cryptic pregnancy, in which women acknowledge they are pregnant but don’t prepare.
Quah is pictured on Instagram just over two months before the birth of her daughter in a crop top and high waisted jeans. Quah said, “I gained a little bit of weight, but only enough where I felt like I needed to get back into my workout routine… I had stopped going to the gym because I was so busy, so I attributed that to my slight weight gain. I was more tired than normal and wanted to take more naps than I used to, but again I attributed that to working all the time.”
Quah adds that she thought she had every period during her pregnancy, but she may have experienced regular bleeding because of placenta previa, which occurs when the placenta partially or totally covers a woman’s cervix.
After her TikTok went viral, Quah told Buzzfeed that she’s been “messaged on Instagram several times by other women sharing their stories about something similar, and there are dozens of comments on my original video of people saying something like that happened to them or someone they know.”
“Whether you knew you were pregnant or not, women deserve respect, understanding, and support while birthing and postpartum,” Quah said. “I was lucky to have an amazing support system and I still struggled. Advocate for yourself, find support, and don’t try to struggle alone.”
In the Video, Quah Describes Her Pregnancy As ‘High Risk’
Quah also described the surprise pregnancy as “high risk” because she had “placenta previa, toxemia, and preeclampsia.” Placenta previa likely caused the regular bleeding throughout Quah’s pregnancy, and can cause severe bleeding during delivery. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy condition characterized by high blood pressure. Typically, preeclampsia appears at or after the 20-week mark in women who did not previously have high blood pressure. According to the Mayo Clinic, when left untreated, preeclampsia can have serious and even fatal consequences for a woman and her pregnancy, and the most effective treatment is delivery.
Quah describes the birth as traumatic, adding, “I still refer to it as the most traumatic experience of my life. I found out I was pregnant in the ER with a judgmental doctor’s hands up my vagina, then four hours later I gave birth. I didn’t get an epidural because it was too late to help me. I was in excruciating pain, I had no idea if I was having a girl or boy, full-term or premature, healthy or sick baby…It was a lot to process while also in labor.”
Quah’s daughter, Winnie June Quah, was born on June 23, 2019. At the time of her birth, she weighed six pounds, seven ounces. Quah regularly posts photos of her daughter, who is now 11 months old, to her Instagram page.