‘I thought I was dying but doctors discovered I was 8 months pregnant’

Tawana Musvaburi had no idea she was pregnant until she started feeling unwell at 8 months and doctors revealed the news. (Caters)
Tawana Musvaburi had no idea she was pregnant until she started feeling unwell at 8 months and doctors revealed the news. (Caters)

A woman who was rushed to hospital after fearing something was seriously wrong with her health, was told by doctors she was actually eight months pregnant despite not having a bump.

Tawana Musvaburi, now 22, from Buckinghamshire, became concerned for her health when she found herself feeling too exhausted to get out of bed.

While she was unsure what was causing it she also describes something feeling not right with her body, which "made her think she was dying".

Following an MRI at the hospital, Musvaburi was shocked to discover she was expecting a baby having not experienced any pregnancy symptoms, such as morning sickness, or putting on any weight.

The new mum gave birth just four weeks after finding out that she was pregnant, welcoming her surprise daughter, River, on 27 February 2023.

"I was living my life as a normal 20-year-old at the time - going out drinking and partying the whole time, completely unaware that I was pregnant," Musvaburi recalls of the shock discovery.

"I never gained any weight or experienced any other symptoms.

"When the nurse told me I was eight months pregnant, I just kept thinking this can't be my baby and I struggled to accept it.

"I didn't think I wanted to have children, so I was absolutely terrified."

Musvaburi didn't have a bump or any pregnancy symptoms, pictured when she was unknowingly pregnant. (Caters)
Musvaburi didn't have a bump or any pregnancy symptoms, pictured when she was unknowingly pregnant. (Caters)

Musvaburi first realised something wasn’t right when she woke up one morning feeling so tired that she couldn't get out of bed.

She called her mum to explain how she felt like something wasn't right and was worried she could be dying.

Concerned, her mum told her to go to the hospital to get checked over and having explained her symptoms to medical staff she was set to be sent for an MRI scan.

Before the scan, Musvaburi was asked if there was any chance she could be pregnant to which she responded that there wasn’t. However, a nurse was persistent and wanted to do a scan to double-check.

The ultrasound revealed a fully formed foetus and Musvaburi was told she was in fact eight months pregnant.

Musvaburi gave birth to River four weeks after finding out about her pregnancy. (Caters)
Musvaburi gave birth to River four weeks after finding out about her pregnancy. (Caters)

She describes her mind being "totally blown" when she heard the news and struggled to believe it was her baby on the scan as she hadn't experienced any signs of pregnancy. In fact, she says she had actually been losing weight and had no signs of a baby bump.

Following the pregnancy reveal, Musvaburi had to tell her family and friends that she would be welcoming her first child unexpectedly in a matter of weeks, with many of them struggling to believe the news.

"It was such a horrible and stressful time because there was so much to sort out in such a short space of time," she explains. "Babies aren't cheap either".

Thankfully after a couple weeks of the shock news settling, Musvaburi says she started to get to grips with her soon-to-be reality.

"It was like my body just started to catch up which helped me accept it too," she adds.

Musvaburi is now embracing parenthood. (Caters)
Musvaburi is now embracing parenthood. (Caters)

Just four weeks and four days after finding out she was pregnant, Musvaburi welcomed her daughter, River, and, after processing the drastic life change, is now thriving as a parent.

"It was overwhelming being a new mum at first," she explains. "I was slightly depressed because it was difficult to accept how much and how quickly my life had changed.

"However, one day I woke up and got into the swing of things, and I started figuring out our new life day by day.

"Now, we are doing perfectly."

Musvaburi describes her daughter as being "bubbly and sassy".

"She's talking a lot and I am loving being a mum, but I couldn't have done it without the help and support of my family."

Musvaburi pictured with her daughter River. (Caters)
Musvaburi pictured with her daughter River. (Caters)

What is a cryptic pregnancy?

Musvaburi isn't the only woman not to not realise they were haing a baby until the later stages of pregnancy. In fact, the phenomenon, known as cryptic pregnancy, isn’t so uncommon.

"Cryptic pregnancy (when a woman does not realise she’s pregnant until giving birth) is rare, but not as rare as you might think," Liz Halliday, midwife at Private Midwives previously told Yahoo UK.

"Affecting up to 1:2500 pregnancies (according to a study published in The BMJ) it’s a phenomenon that many midwives will have to come across at some point in their career."

According to Dr Vanessa Mackay, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), there are two kinds of unknown pregnancies; a concealed and a denied pregnancy.

"A concealed pregnancy is one in which a woman knows that she is pregnant, but doesn’t tell anyone, while a denied pregnancy is when a woman is unaware of, or unable to accept, the fact that she is pregnant," she previously told Yahoo UK.

How can you be pregnant without a bump?

Although it is unusual to have an entirely flat abdomen in pregnancy, Meg Wilson, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at London Gynaecology says every woman ‘carries’ a pregnancy differently.

"Women who have a long abdomen, may have more space for their uterus to develop upwards rather than outwards which may give the appearance of a ‘smaller bump’," she explains.

"The female pelvis and abdomen is well designed to accommodate an enlarging uterus. As the uterus gets bigger with a developing pregnancy, the loops of bowel which fill the abdomen are pushed upwards and out to the sides."

Your bump could also be influenced by the size of your growing baby. "Some babies may be very small (growth restricted) which means they do not take up much space," Wilson continues.

What about periods?

Some women assume they can’t be pregnant because they continue to have what seem like periods. But it is possible to bleed while pregnant.

"Vaginal bleeding is relatively common during pregnancy," explains Dr Mackay. "In the first few weeks, when the embryo plants itself in the wall of the womb, women may experience light bleeding called spotting, which often happens around the time a period would have been due."

Bleeding can also be caused by changes in the cervix as a result of pregnancy, or a sign of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, however, many women who bleed at this stage go on to have normal and successful pregnancies.

Additional reporting Caters.

Pregnancy and birth: Read more

Watch: Maternity deaths at highest levels in 20 years, study finds