'I found out I was pregnant when I gave birth on the bathroom floor'

Toni Brown had no idea she was pregnant until she gave birth to her son on the bathroom floor. (Gary Brown/SWNS)
Toni Brown had no idea she was pregnant until she gave birth to her son on the bathroom floor. (Gary Brown/SWNS)

A woman has revealed how she only found out she was pregnant when she gave birth on her own on her bathroom floor.

Toni Brown, 42, a food and beverage supervisor, from Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, went through labour at home after not knowing she was expecting a baby.

Toni initially thought she was suffering from a genetic thyroid problem, but medical examinations and blood tests came back negative, as did multiple pregnancy tests.

She went on to give birth to a son last month, with baby Theo arriving several weeks premature when Toni was 34 weeks pregnant.

Thankfully, both mum and baby are now doing well.

Toni says she initially started feeling bloated and described having a lump in her stomach that wouldn't go away.

"I was constantly in pain after the original symptoms started," she explains.

"I did pregnancy tests but they were all negative.

"That's why I went to the GP."

Read more: Dad delivers his baby in Land Rover after partner gives birth on the way to hospital (Yahoo Life UK, 5-min read)

Brown was suffering from pain in her stomach, but pregnancy tests were negative. (Gary Brown/SWNS)
Toni Brown was suffering from pain in her stomach, but pregnancy tests were negative. (Gary Brown/SWNS)

Having changed her diet in the hope it might improve her symptoms, Toni found the lump in her tummy was still really painful.

She returned to see the doctors and was diagnosed with faecal impaction, for which she was given laxatives.

Still suffering from pain, Toni admitted herself to The Princess Alexandra Hospital last week in the hope further tests might identify the issue.

After an examination and being given an enema - an injection to cause the intestines to empty, she was sent home, but that evening Toni's husband, Gary Brown, 41, heard her screaming in the bathroom.

He opened the door to find his wife lying across the tiles covered in blood and placenta, with a baby boy lying next to her.

Watch: Alexandra Burke reveals she suffered from 'moments of panic' shortly after giving birth

Gary, an air conditioning installation engineer, said the experience was "traumatising" and is still coming to terms with his son's shock arrival.

"I had to scoop Theo up and wrap him in a towel," he explains of the moment he found out he was a father again.

"I was so taken aback at what was happening.

"I called the ambulance who took Theo to hospital and it turned out he was born six weeks early. He was very premature at 3lb 7oz."

Gary says neither he, Toni nor any of the doctors she had seen had any idea she was pregnant.

"Her stomach was slightly raised but we thought it was just swelling from her stomach problems," he explains.

"Thankfully Theo is doing well now and he is out of the incubator. There have been no complications and we expect to have him home in a week."

Read more: Mum and daughter gave birth to their babies two weeks apart (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)

Gary Brown, 41, Toni Brown, 42, with newborn baby Theo and their teenage twin daughters. (Gary Brown/SWNS)
Gary and Toni Brown with newborn baby Theo and their teenage twin daughters. (Gary Brown/SWNS)

Despite their son's traumatic arrival and trying to "get their heads around" how Toni's pregnancy was missed the couple are looking forward to bringing Theo home.

"We love Theo very much, and he's part of our family now," Gary adds.

Sharon McNally, chief nurse and deputy chief executive at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, said: "Congratulations to Ms Brown on the birth of her baby.

"We are unable to comment on individual cases and encourage Ms Brown to contact our patient experience team for further support."

Read more: 'My caesarean scar got infected, I was in agony for months': New mum on her birth trauma (Yahoo Life UK, 5-min read)

What is a cryptic pregnancy?

Toni isn't the only women to not know they were pregnant until they go into labour. 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."

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 SWNS.