You’ve probably had that one friend who exaggerates their pregnancy. They can feel the baby kicking at two weeks old (when it really takes about six months). They start wobbling with one hand on their back before they experience any back pain and they swear up and down their baby said its first word before it’s even born. Well, that friend might not sound so crazy after we tell you about the friend who goes into labor and doesn’t learn that she was never pregnant until the doctor comes in to deliver her bundle of… nothing.
It’s hard to believe that a woman can think she’s pregnant all the way up until “labor” and non-delivery. But, it definitely happens and it is a very serious concern for the women who experience pseudocyesis and the OBGYNs who have to deliver the news.
What is it?
“Pseudocyesis is when you feel like you’re pregnant. You feel like you have some symptoms of pregnancy, anywhere from nausea (morning sickness) to breast tenderness, bloating, and back pain,” said Dr. Diana Ramos, Co-Chair of the National Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative (PCHHC).
Around 1-6 per 22,ooo women experience pseudocyesis, also known as phantom or false pregnancy. The first sign of pregnancy is usually a late period.
“When you’re late with your period, you are hyper-alert to your body. You think ‘Oh, am I pregnant?’ and then you start thinking ‘Ok. What else am I feeling?’ then you realize your breasts are tender or that you’re feeling a little nauseous or tired…,” said Dr. Ramos.
Women who experience pseudocyesis carry out the same attitudes of women who are pregnant because they are experiencing the same symptoms. But, those symptoms are often caused by premenstrual syndrome, or PMS.
“One thing to be aware of is the progesterone, or hormone in the second half of the menstrual cycle, causes those symptoms,” said Dr. Ramos.