20-year-old Sophie Aldridge was just a normal young woman, balancing her job as a support worker for adults with autism with socialising with her friends.
But five months ago she became a mother - without ever having realised she had been pregnant in the first place.
When Ms Aldridge went to hospital complaining of back pain in November last year, doctors sent her away with a prescription of painkillers, but hours later she went into labour, the Daily Mail reported.
Before she gave birth to her 5lb 8oz son Thomas, Ms Aldridge had been wearing size 10 clothes, had not developed a baby bump and had continued to have regular periods.
It is an unlikely story but a series of selfies taken during the pregnancy prove that her body underwent no noticeable changes.
And in an interview with the Daily Mail, Ms Aldridge defended her story against those who have questioned how truthful it is.
“I know it might sound stupid to some people, but I had no idea I was pregnant,” she said.
“To give birth suddenly and without warning as I did was absolutely terrifying.
“I didn’t have any symptoms. I didn’t get morning sickness. I was wearing my usual size ten clothes. I had regular periods throughout the pregnancy, and I didn’t have any cravings.”
She denied that the remarkable birth was part of an elaborate publicity stunt.
“People are saying I’m doing it for attention, and that Thomas is a burden to the taxpayer. But I was working full-time before my pregnancy, and I’m going back to work,” she said.
“I really didn’t have a clue I was expecting. I’m not stupid. If I had missed a period or had had any sign at all, I would have gone straight to the doctor to have it checked out.”
Ms Aldridge, who lives with her parents in Dover, Kent, said that it was a complete shock for both her and her family when Thomas arrived.
“No doctors have been able to explain it,” Ms Aldridge said.
“They are baffled. To be honest, it’s all been a bit of a blur.”
A 2002 study published in the British Medical Journal found that up to one in every 600 mothers-to-be remain unaware that they are pregnant until they give birth, or just before.
But in 2010, a large-scale Serbian study claimed the figure was more like one in every 7,225.
Unaware of her condition, Ms Aldridge had continued to enjoy nights out with her friend throughout the nine months, but both mother and baby are perfectly healthy.
said the child’s father is a young man she had been dating for around six
weeks, but that the pair are no longer together, having separated in May last
year. She said she had not been on the pill when she fell pregnant but the pair had used condoms most of the
time – “There was probably a one-off. I was stupid,” she said.
When Ms Aldridge began experiencing sporadic cramps on 13 November, she assumed they indicated that she was about to start her period. When they didn’t improve her mum Sylvia, a 48-year-old carer, called the out-of-hours doctor service 111, which advised her to go to the chemist.
"The cramps became
more regular and got worse,’ said Ms Aldridge. "I was rolling around in pain."
Eventually her mother took her to Buckland Hospital in Dover at 10pm to see the on-call doctor.
“He prodded my stomach and asked if I could be pregnant,’ says Sophie.
“I said no. He said I had a stomach bug, gave me some painkillers and sent me home at 10.30 pm.”
But by midnight her mother had to call an ambulance and after paramedics had examined her stomach they took her to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent. Her dad Derek, a 47-year-old cleaner, followed behind in his car.
During the journey Ms Aldridge’s waters broke and her mother realised she must be pregnant. Ms Aldridge was rushed to Accident and Emergency and gave birth to Thomas just 15 minutes later at 1.35am.
“I felt a bond straight away. As I looked into his eyes, I felt an overwhelming rush of love,” she said.
“As terrified as I was by the speed of events, the moment I saw him I just couldn’t imagine my life without him.”
The baby’s father came to visit the duo in hospital and now has regular contact with his son.
Ms Aldridge said the birth has had a huge impact on her life but maintains that she couldn’t imagine her life without Thomas.
“He has smiled from the age of two months, and laughed from three. His eyes follow me around the room and his babbles make me so happy,” she said.
“I’ve had to grow up quickly, but now things have
settled down I wouldn’t change him for the world.”