Phantom Pregnancy Results in Emergency C-section

Pregnancy

Doctors in Brazil reportedly performed an emergency C-section on a woman this week, only to discover that she was really never pregnant at all.  Instead, she had what is commonly known as a phantom, or false, pregnancy.

The 37-year-old reportedly sought medical treatment when she became fearful that her pregnancy was at risk. Doctors at the hospital examined the woman who apparently looked pregnant as she had an enlarged abdomen. She reported nausea and sharp abdominal pain. The woman had apparently sought prenatal treatment prior to the hospital visit as well, having reportedly shown documentation that she was under the care of midwives and was actually overdue. When doctors were unable to find a baby’s heartbeat, they performed an emergency C-section, only to find that there was, in fact, no baby at all.

The woman’s husband reportedly told doctors that this was her second false pregnancy within a year. The woman has apparently been released and provided with psychiatric care.

In a strange coincidence, this is actually the second case of phantom pregnancy to be widely reported out of Brazil in about a year. Last December, a 19-year-old Brazilian woman also reported receiving medical treatment throughout her pregnancy to the point of 38 weeks, at which time she sought emergency medical treatment due to concerns about complications. In that case, an emergency C-section was also performed, and upon the absence of the presence of a baby was ruled a phantom pregnancy.  Upon being told that she had not been pregnant at all, the woman accused the hospital of having stolen her newborn baby.

Phantom, or false, pregnancy known technically as pseudocyesis, is a little understood condition. It is exceedingly rare occurring in as low as one to six of every 22,000 reported pregnancies.

Women with phantom pregnancies typically show the signs and symptoms of pregnancy. They may have distended abdomens, likely the result of gas, which may also provide explanation for claims of movement in the womb. They may also cease menstruating, feel nauseous, suffer fatigue and have engorged breasts. Some women have even reported experiencing actual contractions, while others have been diagnosed with pregnancy related complications such as preeclampsia.

For some women, a medical condition unrelated to pregnancy may be to blame for the signs and symptoms associated with a phantom pregnancy. Ovarian tumors can account for some of the symptoms associated with pregnancy as can severe depression in rare cases.

For most women with a phantom pregnancy, however, the cause is strictly psychological. Women who have suffered previous miscarriages and infertility are much more likely to have phantom pregnancies. Phantom pregnancies are also more common in women in their thirties and forties who have been unable to have children and may perceive that time is running out for them to do so.

Women with phantom pregnancies absolutely, positively believe that they are pregnant. This belief, combined with their traumatic experiences, stress and exceedingly strong desires to be with child can account for the presence of some pregnancy-like symptoms. Essentially, it is thought that for some of these women the brain tricks the body into believing that it is pregnant.

Women who have had a phantom pregnancy should receive careful and intense psychological treatment and counseling. Intense grief and psychological disturbance can occur once a woman is told and convinced that she was never pregnant at all.

Phantom pregnancy is less common today than it has ever been before, perhaps because of the modern widespread availability of over the counter pregnancy tests and early ultrasound technology. In most cases, a woman will be convinced upon viewing results of either of these tests that she was not pregnant. Fortunately, a resulting emergency c-section is not the typical path to the identification of a phantom pregnancy.

By Michele Wessel

Sources

Fox News
UK Daily Mail
Baby Center
Yahoo Voices

RSS Guardian Express

  • Phoenix Suns Playoff Hopes Ends With Promising Future April 16, 2014
    A year ago, the Phoenix Suns had the worst record in the Western Conference and the fourth worst record in the entire NBA. As a result, not many expected them to have a good season. As a result, the Suns  put in a solid season showcasing they have a promising future, but unfortunately their playoff […]
    Simon Mounsey
  • Is Ebola Virus Getting Under Control? April 16, 2014
    Health experts report that deaths from the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa are slowing, which is a sign that the latest outbreak of the deadly virus may finally be getting under control. The current outbreak has killed more than 120 people and, unlike previous outbreaks, has spread beyond the forested rural villages into a […]
    Dyanne Weiss
  • Ukraine and the Spillover Effect April 16, 2014
    Worries over Ukraine tend to focus on the very immediate concerns of the conflict. These include potential economic downturns, the increasing influence of Russia in the world, and most obviously, the potential for Ukraine to be invaded aggressively by Russia, among many others. However, these concerns are part of what should be greater worries about […]
    Brett Byers-Lane
  • 100 Schoolgirls Kidnapped by Terrorists: Nigeria April 16, 2014
    Boko Haram Islamist group entered a government secondary school in Nigeria heavily armed, in a night raid and abducted more than 100 schoolgirls. Boko Haram Islamists are a known affiliate of al Qaeda militants in the Sahara. The group has made no statement as of yet after the terrorists kidnapped the 100 schoolgirls. Boko Haram, […]
    Jabar Morarend
  • Clemson Kicks Nephew of NFL Great Jim Kelly off Team April 16, 2014
    Clemson University head coach Dabo Swinney has kicked redshirt sophomore quarterback Chad Kelly, the nephew of former NFL great Jim Kelly, off the team for conduct issues, Swinney announced Monday. According to reports, Kelly has exhibited a pattern of behavior inconsistent with the aim of the Clemson program. The departure of star quarterback Tajh Boyd […]
    Rick Sarlat

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 630 other subscribers

Quantcast