Soldier Gives Birth, No One Detects Pregnancy (Including Her)

This morning on Channel Two radio show Seder Hayom, host Keren Neubach interviewed Meital, 19-year-old mother of a four-month-old baby called Amitai. Amitai was born while the mother was doing basic training in the Israeli army. Meital had no idea she was pregnant, and none of the army’s doctors considered the possibility despite Meital’s many medical complaints. She was already pregnant when she began her service.

Meital didn’t realize she was pregnant for the following reasons:

  1. She is overweight, and didn’t feel the baby’s movements or notice the weight gain.
  2. She has irregular periods.
  3. She was on birth control pills.

At one point she got off the bus and crawled to the infirmary, where the doctor laughed at her and sent her away. Other times doctors prescribed antibiotics and painkillers.  The army even required her to do another thirty days of basic training because she did not pass the first session. Meital was pregnant when she began her service.

When she began having contractions, Meital called her parents to bring her to the emergency room. The nurse diagnosed a urinary tract infection, and when the membranes ruptured, the nurse claimed it was urinary incontinence. Meital’s mother suggested that perhaps her daughter was in labor. A gynecologist checked her, and the healthy baby was born within minutes.

She received NIS 800 from the army, a release notice, and no further contact.

My husband and I kept waiting for Neubach to ask Meital about the baby’s father but she didn’t. But one of the lawyer’s complaints in his lawsuit against the army is that the father missed out on the pregnancy.

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Comments

  1. strange

  2. Ok, I’m 39 weeks pregnant and overweight… and I gotta ask… how overweight does a woman need to be to not know she’s pregnant? Doesn’t the Army have some sort of ‘obesity guidelines’ (especially for women/girls) that states that if you’re X kilo overweight, don’t call us, we’ll call you?

  3. mominisrael says:

    Devo: Good questions.

  4. Poor girl, I can’t believe they just kept laughing and sending her back out there. I can’t imagine the shock of finding out that you’re going to be a mother just a few minutes before it actually happens!

    I’d say I can’t understand how someone could not know they’re pregnant, but I also could never understand how someone I know could end up delivering her third child on their bathroom floor – until I delivered my own child in the back seat of my car – so I’m just going to keep my mouth shut and give her the benefit of the doubt.

  5. obese, painkillers, spotting and no prenatal care. not a good combination. i hope the baby will be ok.

    isn’t pregnancy something that would show up during an army physical?

  6. and in addition to the above, some antibiotics can be dangerous too.

  7. That is an appalling story.

  8. I know they do STD testing in the army. Wouldn’t this include a gynecological exam for women? Or wouldn’t it show up on a blood test– even if they weren’t specifically looking?

    Either way, more outrageous disregard for the individual’s life and welfare here.

    • mominisrael says:

      Robin, so true!
      LOZ: Me too, although after four months they are likely to have discovered any major problems, and the lawyer would have mentioned even minor ones.
      Maybe you can answer Maya’s question: Would a standard blood test or gyn exam pick up pregnancy? Or does a special test have to be requested?

  9. pregnancy does cause various physiologic changes that can be detected during a physical exam (e.g., changes in blood pressure) or standard blood workup (elevated white blood cell count, decreased hematocrit), but these changes can be attributed to so many causes that (i guess) a differential diagnosis is confusing and it is easy to overlook pregnancy? evaluating these lab numbers also becomes more complicated if she were not in the best of health to begin with (obese?) and there were no baseline values to compare with?
    afaik, hcg (hormone used as a pregnancy marker) is not included in a standard blood/urine workup in america.

    “they are likely to have discovered any major problems”

    define “major”

    in addition to all the risks this woman was exposed to that i mentioned above, there is also possible trauma experienced during the rigors of basic training?

  10. and remaining on birth control pills probably didn’t help either (fda category x and contraindicated in pregnancy, but i’m not sure what fetal risks are posed by the newer pills that are used today)

  11. This isn’t the first time the news tells about a teen who didn’t know she was pregnant. Even if she knew, she was in denial. The army basic training for girls is not very difficult, no reason that would cause any trauma at all. The most difficult thing is a hike, which a lot of pregnant women do. The blood pressure in pregnancy is just a bit lower than usual, but teens have low blood pressure anyway. They don’t do a real physical, and certainly not a gynecological exam to the girls. Also- no blood tests (unless if she wants to be a bone marrow donater) and only the basic urinalysis. In other words- the army easily would miss it.
    Ellen

  12. Jeez, I thought I was oblivious for not noticing dust bunnies underneath my bed.

  13. I head this story on the radio today too. As much as the army is to blame, the doctors in the hospital are even more at fault. The army AFAIK doesn’t do blood tests, plus, medicals are performed months before soldiers actually go into the army, so she might not even have been pregnant when she did her medicals. Of course the military doctors should have noticed something as basic as pregnancy but if there were no other symptoms – periods, weight gain, fetal movements, perhaps it was easy to overlook.

    However the hospital doctors are guilty of huge malpractice. How could THEY not have noticed a full term pregnancy? Especially in a patient presenting with contractions. How could they not distinguish between waters breaking and urinary incontinence? I am completely flabbergasted.

  14. “The army basic training for girls is not very difficult, no reason that would cause any trauma at all.”

    even for magavniks or other girls serving on the front lines?

  15. Magavniks don’t do the regular girls basic training, but rather a special one. I understand that this girl was not in “kravi”, which would have been much more than a month long.
    Ellen

  16. Puzzling story even if I know it’s not unusual.

  17. I’m close to 100lbs overweight.
    I don’t get how you could miss fetal movements.

  18. All I can say is “Wow!!!”

  19. crazy story! I had a conversation with a friend about this awhile ago and she was incredulous. I’ll have to send her this link so she can see it does happen! I didn’t know I was pregnant the last time until I was 3-4mos along. What mom isn’t tired, a little overweight, etc etc. No morning sickness, nursing so no period. I could see it happening! I’ve even heard of some ladies having spotting monthly throughout their pg.

  20. anonymous poster says:

    The article doesn’t say she was spotting throughout her pregnancy; it just says she has irregular periods. So it’s possible she didn’t have any spotting/ bleeding but simply attributed this to her irregular menstrual cycle.

    I agree with previous posters that it’s very much contrary to the standard of care for a doctor not to consider pregnancy as a possible differential diagnosis in a female patient presenting with pain, particularly abdominal pain. Even if the patient doesn’t “look pregnant” the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy should be considered, as this is life-threatening if not treated promptly.

    • mominisrael says:

      Thanks for all of the comments. Unless there is something major missing here, I think the soldier will lose the lawsuit. It depends what symptoms she complained of.

  21. Pregnancy does tend to come with its little hints. I knew I was pregnant with my last kid, when I had an overwhelming urge to fish through the kitchen garbage can for whatever was making that enticing aroma – which turned out to be an empty can of pickles. LOL

    Still, as obvious as the various signs of pregnancy are to someone who’s been pregnant before (OK, aside from the garbage thing, which I guess may not be the most standard of signs), they are not necessarily so obvious to someone who does not expect to be pregnant.

    Imagine if a woman always has digestive problems and usually feels things moving around in her abdomen. If she has no reason to think she’s pregnant, and she doesn’t know what pregnancy feels like, she may very well interpret a baby’s kicking to be some major digestive issues.

    In any event, I wish I could say that the hospital’s stupidity surprises me. I’ve had kidney sand diagnosed as ovulation pains by a male doctor at a local hospital.

  22. i really don’t understand how she did not notice the elbows , knees, hands, feet and rotation/ movements of the baby. i mean those little guys really move around !

  23. relaxation music says:

    Luckily most babies in utero can survive an awful lot of trauma and be born unscathed. Nevertheless how can a woman showing such classic signs of pregnancy, however overweight she is, slip through the net like this? Incredible.

  24. I just finished basic and it sends your body through a bunch of crazy changes and the ppl in charge aren’t sympethetic to health issues but I’m pretty sure I woulda noticed if I were pregnant. I never had a period at basic but was tested for pregnancy 3 times before beginning basic so…

  25. If the placenta is in front, then you usually can’t feel the baby moving.

  26. Just saying says:

    Call me crazy, but people go with 6 months in getting their period (regular or iregular) and show up negative on a home pregnancy test. For the most part everyone is diffrent and the way one can tell if they’re pregnant is unique in it’s own way. I just know that blood work is alot more accurate then a urine test!!!
    & entering basic yes you take a blood test, but you can’t detect a pregnancy if you’re not looking for one, they just check for any STD’s

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