Emergency Surgery Reveals Empty Womb

In an unusual case, doctors in Brazil brought a woman back for an emergency C-section, only to find that there was no baby.


You’ve probably heard the term “phantom pregnancy,” but the condition is quite rare. However, doctors in Brazil experienced it firsthand recently when they operated on a woman who reported she was 41 weeks pregnant, only to find her womb was empty.

Phantom pregnancy

The phrase “phantom pregnancy” describes the medical condition pseudocyesis, which means that a woman not only believes she is expecting a baby, she also demonstrates symptoms of pregnancy as well. A woman who is suffering from this condition will insist on the presence of a pregnancy despite medical evidence stating otherwise.

This woman had been receiving prenatal care from midwives from the beginning of the pregnancy she thought she was experiencing, and was brought into the hospital at 41 weeks pregnant, complaining of sharp pains. She received an examination and when her baby’s heartbeat couldn’t be detected, she was rushed into the operating room. The hospital director said that since there was no heartbeat, the team caring for her felt that there was no time to perform an ultrasound, so she was brought into emergency surgery.

I can only imagine how shocking it was to the physicians when they discovered that her uterus contained no baby. It was reported that she had a large belly and also carried prenatal records that showed that she was 41 weeks pregnant.

It turns out that this is the second time she’s been “pregnant” this year — the last time, she went to a hospital by herself and told her husband the baby died, but never showed him a birth certificate. This is very sad, and as the woman was released from the hospital into psychiatric care, I hope that she gets all the help she needs.

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