A 37-year-old woman from Brazil showed up at a hospital, stating that she was 41-weeks pregnant and in labor. Complaining of “sharp pains,” doctors rushed her in for an emergency caesarean section, especially after they could not locate the baby’s heartbeat.
As it turns out, according to Yahoo! Shine on Friday, the reason doctors could not find a heartbeat for the fetus was because there was no baby to begin with.
The woman, whose name was not released, had all of the signs of an advanced pregnancy – including a distended belly, proof of mid-wife care and even evidence that she had received pre-natal treatments.
The hospital's director, Rosalice Almeida, claimed their staff was completely duped.
“She'd done her whole pre-natal and was already overdue,” Almeida said. “Because the doctors couldn't pick up the heartbeat, they decided there wasn't time to request an ultrasound. They did the surgery then had the great shock of not finding any baby at all.”
Incredulously, the woman’s husband, who is only 23, said this is his wife’s second “pregnancy.” Last year, she again went into the hospital, but told her husband she had lost the baby in a miscarriage. He remained skeptical, and now believes she never was pregnant.
The woman was released from the hospital and referred to psychiatric care.
According to WebMD, a woman purporting a false or “phantom” pregnancy may suffer from a condition called pseudocyesis – a firm belief you are expecting a baby when in fact you are not carrying a child.
People with pseudocyesis have many, if not all, the symptoms of an actual pregnancy – including weight gain, backaches, nausea, interruption of the menstrual period and even milk production in the breasts.
“Only recently have doctors begun to understand the psychological and physical issues that are at the root of pseudocyesis,” says WebMD. “Although the exact causes still aren't known, doctors suspect that psychological factors may trick the body into ‘thinking’ that it's pregnant.”