Dear Ed, I first published this article years ago when there was almost no information on supporting cryptic or stealth pregnancy on the internet. Today there is more information but most of it is too general to be of real help. So here is the article all over again and updated.
What happens to a woman’s body when pregnancy hormones that usually stay in the body for just 9 or 10 months, stay on for years even? These are hormones that make muscles loose, and bones release calcium, powerful hormones. It is a unique situation, one there is no information about from the medical system.
A stealth or cryptic pregnancy is one in which the usually accepted proof of pregnancy like the stopping of menstrual periods, are not available or present only irregularly.
An extended pregnancy is one which has all the usual signs of pregnancy but continues beyond the socially acceptable 40 weeks.
Cryptic or stealth pregnancies often tend to be extended pregnancies as the rate of growth of the baby is usually slower and the gestation time required for the baby to fully develop, quite longer.
These days, as the movement to give birth as naturally as possible, and fully holistically experience natural birth, gains steam, more and more women are carrying babies longer than the medically acceptable 38-40 weeks. It is rarer but it also happens, that some pregnancies last for years even.
How common this is cannot be said as the medical establishment enforces the 38-40 week deadline so rigorously that women are forced to accept they had a wrong date of conception to start with, rather than claim to be pregnant for a longer time.
On the other hand, the establishment is known to manipulate, suppress and ignore any data that isn’t particularly useful to them, which could be a challenge to accepted stereotypes and their blatant exploitation of women (and our families!) through the birth process.
For example, imagine the chaos the world would go into if the doctors accepted that a woman could very well be pregnant even if the HCG, blood tests and ultrasounds all point to no baby in there and she has her period regularly every month. This has indeed happened, and has made the headlines many times already, with even a reality show “I didn’t know I was pregnant” dedicated to the subject, but the doctors insist it’s very rare.
If a woman goes to a doctor claiming to have a cryptic or stealth pregnancy she is likely to be told cryptic pregnancies are rare, that she’s not rare or different from others (the doctor would know if she was), and referred to a psychiatrist to be convinced she ‘cannot’ be pregnant.
As an observer of a Facebook group on the subject I witnessed on a daily basis the struggle to maintain dignity and body confidence women go through when they are accused of being crazy or deluded or worse – selfish – for risking their own or their baby’s life if they don’t agree to have a ‘procedure’ done immediately to ‘get whatever it is, out’. That sort of cruelty and criminal suppression of human rights, disguised as ‘sensible advice’ is so common that in general the trust people have in the medical system’s ability to provide any sort of guidance in a situation that is different from the norm, is gone.
Holistic methods to support women going through cryptic or extended pregnancy
When pregnancy lasts for just 9 months, the effect of the pregnancy-triggered hormones is limited to those 9 months and the effects wear off as new ones triggered by birth and breast-feeding take over.
For those carrying and nurturing a baby for longer, the body’s metabolism and processes continue being affected by the pregnancy hormones. This is the difference between taking a strong medicine that changes body chemistry in one go, and taking it in smaller doses over a long period.
Some of the conditions women with cryptic and extended pregnancy grapple with are:
1) Loose joints for month after month due to the constant presence of Relaxin, the hormone that prepares the body for birth.
Muscles, tendons and ligaments are more affected by hormones than we realize. During pregnancy, the hormone Relaxin and other pregnancy hormones keep the chemistry in the body different from the otherwise, by getting muscles and connective tissue to be extended – in preparation for the opening of the pelvic cage joints so the baby can come out. This however does not affect just the pelvic area, but all the joints of the body from the fingers to the elbows to the ankles. Many pregnant women feel like their bones ‘float’ in the joints because of the loose connections.
This means the chance of muscle and ligament tears is higher as it the chance of rheumatoid arthritis type symptoms like joint pain.
Herbal teas and tonics that support muscle and joint health could make a big difference as would herbal massage oils that deliver muscle toning and pain relief locally.
As herbal teas very few could beat the support a combination of Rosehips, Horsetail (Equisetum), Nettle and Saw Palmetto (specifically a herb that supports connective tissue) tea thrice a day.
If you cannot or do not like to have herbal teas, you can get a herbal tonic with these and other similar power herbs for muscle, joint support.
As a massage oil, anything with Arnica and Wintergreen should do the job. Adding a few drops of distillate of pine resin, also called ‘Spirits of Turpentine’ or ‘Spirits of Gum’ will help the oil penetrate further.
2) Bone and tooth enamel loss and ‘softness'(due to the hormones from the pituitary that tell the body to let let stored calcium more easily into the blood stream for the the baby)
I remember a documentary on neanderthals that said they knew a skeleton was a woman’s because she was missing a few teeth. They said that women in those times lost an average of one tooth per pregnancy. I don’t know how dependable the statistics about that would be, but it is a fact that babies need calcium, and the constant need of the baby over the months could take quite a toll on mother’s bone and teeth (storehouses of calcium) if the mother’s ability to absorb calcium from food is not as robust as it should be.
Not all calcium that is available as a supplement is usable by the body. If it is, it should be used for a short time or the body will start depending on it instead of honing up its own calcium absorption skills from every day food.
In an emergency, when your bones and teeth are feeling brittle, beer can help immensely. Dandelion Leaf powder is also source of natural calcium.
How to support absorption of calcium in the body:
1) If you don’t drink enough water, start now.
How do you know if you’re hydrated enough? Tap the skin on the back of your hand, if it springs back immediately you’re hydrated, if not, start drinking (water!). Supporting the kidneys which play a big role in calcium synthesis is important – more about this in this article.
2) If you’re already drinking a lot of water, check that it is indeed pure water.
Real water doesn’t have additives in it – these burden and could even cause harm to the kidneys.
3) Get your Vitamin D.
Vit. D is required for calcium absorption and a natural way to get it is to get sunlight. It is also in good-fat foods like cold-processed oils, nuts, meat.
4) Tone up your digestion with natural prebiotics and probiotics as these support the absorption of calcium.
Prebiotics are natural sugars that the gut ready to absorb nutrition, yes natural SUGARS like those in sweet fruit. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that have the skills to break down food and get the nutrition out for the body.
Click here to read a quick concise primer on natural prebiotics and probiotics and how to have them. (PDF file)
5) Magnesium is vital for calcium absorption.
Ideally, you should get magnesium from your diet, from leafy greens especially, but as a quick short-term supplement, a pinch of food grade magnesium sulphate (epsom salt) in water once a day, or a good epsom salt soak every day will help.
Both RLS and swollen feet and hands are signs of stressed kidneys and circulation.
Pregnancy puts an increased load on the water filtration systems of the body as maintaining the amniotic fluid in which the baby lives requires filtration as well. The circulatory system needs help as well because there is more blood in the body now.
If you have high blood pressure along with the swollen feet and RLS, you need to ensure you have a lot more SALT in your diet. Yes, salt actually draws water out into the circulatory system to keep it going – this is very important when you’re pregnant. You can read about it in detail at this link.
If you’re already having a lot of salt, try supplementing your salt intake with some natural salt like sea salt or rock salt. The table salt sold in the supermarket has iodine and who knows what else added.
Supporting the kidneys with herbs is a great way to start feeling better. I use the following five herbs either as teas taken thrice a day or a strong herbal extract taken thrice a day. The herbs are: Rosehips, Celery, Juniper, Equisetum (Horsetail) and Alfalfa . This same 5 herb combination has been used for decades now to prevent preclampsia (placental stress) and toxemia in pregnant women.
If you can’t get all of them, start off with what you can get immediately. Rosehips, Alfalfa and Celery are usually available at supermarkets.
You already know this, but I’ll say it anyway because it is help so much – keep your feet up as much as possible.
A cryptic pregnancy follows an unpredictable cycle with growth spurts, and calm times when nothing seems to happen and it might be easy to forget there’s a baby in there. The hair seems to reflect these changes sometimes dramatically. Chances are, giving your self a stable nutritious diet and sticking to a not-so-frenetic schedule that includes a more-or-less fixed sleep schedule will help things settle down. The key word here is ‘stability‘.
That’s something that might seem to be elusive with any pregnancy let alone a mind-bending cryptic one but you got to do what you got to do.
Things that help minimize hair loss during hormonal shifts are using gentle shampoos and using a scalp spray with Bach Flower Rescue Remedy and Arnica in it. All you need a spray bottle, let’s say 4 or 8oz – 100 or 200 ml. You put in, say 10 drops of Rescue Remedy and the same of Arnica and St.John’s Wort. Fill up the bottle with spring water or distilled water. I use Colloidal Silver water because it’s has it’s own benefits – especially cooling the scalp down – great for the hormonal rushes.
Now when you start feeling the hormonal heat coming up, you spray your scalp with the Calm Down spray.
Taking Spikenard regularly can help support the body through the hormonal ups and down of pregnancy.
5) Increased and prolonged hyper-reactivity to chemicals (just like with normal pregnancies but lasting longer and becoming more and more intense)
Pregnancy is a good time to find out what your body doesn’t actually get along with because now the body reacts faster and more emphatically than otherwise. There’s precious little you can do to stop being hyper-reactivity. It’s like a tussle between a salesman and a customer. The customer is always right. In this case, the body is always right. If your body doesn’t like it, let it go.
If you’ve a history of hyper sensitivity, and autoimmune or histamine disorders some herbal rehabilitation will do a world of good. It’s good to get this addressed as quickly as possible because sensitivity increases as the pregnancy progresses.
Prodromal Labor is something like Braxton-Hicks contractions which are the uterus doing some testing without actually getting ready to give birth. Prodromal labor however is more all-encompassing than just contractions. It actually is real labor, except it seems to start and stop at around the same time every day, usually late in the evening and goes on for hours at a time.
Some women can feel the baby changing his or her position and perhaps that is one reason for the labor.
Supporting the body with herbs that raise vitality taken before the labor usually starts can help. Rosehips is one such herb. Take care not to have too much of herbs like Parsley which could stimulate a uterus that does not need any extra stimulation right now.
To reduce the cramps – Viburnum Opulus or Cramp Bark is great. As the cell salt Magnesium Phosphorica.
Herbs which support uterine function would help a lot – Pulsatilla, a beautiful flower helps and should be the first thing you take whenever you go into any sort of labor. Black Cohosh or Cimicifuga is uterus strengthening, so if you’re weak, have some of it.
Herbs to support the nervous system and keep the body relaxed – St. Johns Wort, Valerian, Skullcap taken every 30 minutes will help.
Bach Flower Rescue Remedy, a homeopathic anti-stress remedy made of the energies of flowers can help.
Rhus Tox, also available in homeopathic stores is a dilution of the extract of the Poison Ivy plant. In its diluted form, it helps taut muscles relax, and that greatly reduces any pain involved. It also has a gentle stimulating effect on the digestion so that helps lessen the pain as well.
Prodromal labor could alter your sleep schedule, so make sure you catch up on sleep if you’re losing any.
Pregnant women go through immense strain as it is. It gets compounded when there is uncertainty of any kind. Between defending our human right to know whether we’re pregnant or not by instinct, and defending our right to bring our baby into the world only when our body and baby are ready, is job enough for the best of anyone and very often nervous and adrenal exhaustion set in. Fortunately for us, nature supplies us with some wonderful herbs that calm over-heated nerves, relieve head aches, and soothe aching muscles.
Passion Flower (tea or herbal extract) is an amazing nervous and adrenal balancer. You can make your own herbal extract at home by covering a cup of passionfruit pulp with organic Apple Cider Vinegar in an airtight jar and letting it sit in a dark cupboard for a month or two. You simply put a t-spoonful in a cup of water or into your tea whenever you need some calming.
Then there’s the aforementioned Bach Flower Rescue Remedy, excellent for recovery from stressful episodes, but it doesn’t do the nervous rehabilitation Passionflower or fruit does or have the nutrition for the nerves that herbs have.
There are lots of herbs for nervous and emotional support you could use, Passionflower is just the one I’ve noticed working for most people.
If you continue to have your period as most women with stealth pregnancies do, and find yourself requiring support, there are herbs to help keep the bleeding down to the minimum and support the body in recovery from the period, without endangering the baby in any way or over-stimulating the uterus.
If you have had severe trauma or stress and you sense that that is playing a big role in your experience of the pregnancy, you’d do well to actively support yourself in facing buried emotional pain, and supporting your nervous system with herbs.
Pregnancy is a spiritual experience more than anything else. Don’t let the physical symptoms hog your attention. This spiritual experience is a healing one even when it’s difficult. As the time nears for the birth of the baby, there is a profound change in us and every area of our lives and being, as our energy concentrates more and more in the center of our bodies to enable the birth of the baby. As this happens, the emotional energy locked in, in these primal places of us, is released.
This can be overwhelming and even traumatic in labor, for those who are in the habit of holding in pain and tension. So one of the best things you can do, is honor your emotional experience right through the pregnancy and support the release of old buried emotions – whether happy or sad, building up or breaking down.
This will lessen your load of emotional baggage to deal with through labor and birth. And your baby will find his or her welcome a lot less stressful.