Can You Have a Phantom Pregnancy?

Image via iStock/Moncherie
Image via iStock/Moncherie

Even though a 37-year-old woman was “heavily pregnant” and “in labor,” her C-section left doctors baffled.

Even with medical proof that there is no pregnancy, a woman suffering from a phantom pregnancy remains convinced of the baby, growing within her womb.

Why?

Her womb was empty!

According to this article, “she reportedly arrived at the town's women's hospital with a large belly and proof of her pre-natal treatment, which showed she was 41 weeks' pregnant … When doctors were unable to detect the baby's heartbeat, they rushed her to into the operating room for a caesarean.”

But upon performing the C-section, they found no baby. Her womb was empty.

This phenomenon, called a false or phantom pregnancy, had happened to her before. Her husband claims that she was pregnant a second time, earlier in the year; but she allegedly lost the baby (once she was at the hospital), and was never able to prove it to him with a death certificate.

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Is this phenomenon – a phantom pregnancy – real? Can a woman actually appear pregnant, experiencing all of the symptoms and signs that come with it, without actually being pregnant?

According to the article, yes, it can. This “rare condition occurs when a non-pregnant woman convinces herself she is pregnant, often even exhibiting all the classic symptoms of pregnancy.”

“The first thing a woman with a phantom pregnancy will probably do is visit her GP or antenatal clinic complaining of all the usual symptoms and minor discomforts of early pregnancy such as absence of periods; breast enlargement; nausea and vomiting; weight gain and abdominal distension. If a urine sample is tested at this stage it will rule out a pregnancy, but a woman suffering from a true pseudocyesis will continue to insist that she is pregnant, regardless of medical opinion … These women will normally be quite stable emotionally but will have a tendency to become very emotional over the whole question of pregnancy … Nobody has yet come up with an explanation as to why a very small percentage of women actually exhibit all the classic symptoms of pregnancy such as weight gain, breast enlargement and abdominal distension when they are not pregnant at all. The fact that a woman actually looks pregnant makes the job of her GP even more difficult when he has to try to explain to her that all her urine samples are testing negative for pregnancy.”

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I can’t even begin to imagine going through something like this. Can you? What if you’ve already purchased baby clothing and furniture, or have picked out your baby’s name? How do you and your partner cope, upon learning that it was all in your head? Can you recover from something like this?

What do you think? Do you know anyone who has experienced a phantom pregnancy? 

What do you think?

Can You Have a Phantom Pregnancy?

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

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2 comments

  1. LIZ says:

    i never heard about this good to know

  2. gfeld says:

    So interesting! Never before have I heard of this phenomenon. Definitely unsettling to discover its all in your head but it does prove the term “mind over body”.

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