CABO FRIO, Brazil – Brazilian News site Globo G1 reported that doctors performed an emergency C-section on a 37-year-old woman only to discover that she was not pregnant. Doctors bypassed an ultra sound and performed the surgery at the Women’s Hospital in Cabo Frio, Brazil, after being unable to detect a baby’s heartbeat. They believed the woman to be 41 weeks pregnant, saying the patient arrived at the hospital with what she said was proof of her prenatal care, was “showing” and complained of sharp pains.
The doctors concluded the woman was suffering from a condition known as pseudocyesis, or false pregnancy. People with pseudocyesis believe they are expecting a baby when they are not actually pregnant and can exhibit many symptoms of a real pregnancy including, weight gain, nausea and back aches.
The patient’s husband reportedly told a medical staffer that this was his wife’s second “pregnancy” in the past year. His wife allegedly told him she lost the previous “child” at birth without ever presenting a death certificate.
The woman was released from the hospital and advised to seek psychiatric care.
It is thought that psychological factors play a role in phantom pregnancies as they often occur in women with a history of infertility or miscarriages. These factors can actually influence the hormonal pathways in the brain, increasing levels of pregnancy hormones and stimulating the reproductive organs. In some cases, this phenomenon can lead to the stimulation of milk producing cells in the breasts.