A false pregnancy - also called phantom pregnancy - is something that leaves doctors baffled even today. It is different from when a woman fakes her pregnancy by acting like she is pregnant. Faking a pregnancy is when a lady knowingly hides the fact that she is getting her periods and wears a fake baby bump as well. But a phantom pregnancy is when the woman herself believes she is pregnant and gets all the symptoms to show she is pregnant as well. Sounds a bit crazy right? Don’t know what false pregnancies are?
What is a phantom pregnancy?
So false pregnancies, popularly known as phantom pregnancy, is caused by psychological factors. Perhaps the woman in question has been thinking about pregnancy a lot either because she really wants to become a mom or because she dreads the thought of getting pregnant. Or maybe she really did get pregnant but later had a miscarriage without realising it and now thinks that she is still carrying a baby.
It could also be caused due to dysfunctional family relationships. The woman’s mind is so convinced of her false pregnancy that she actually starts experiencing the pregnancy symptoms. The clinical term for this is pseudopregnancy or pseudocyesis and there is no treatment for this except for a session with a psychotherapist. Although most women come out of this false pregnancy in the first few days or weeks, there are moms who have gone into false labour as well.
1. You may miss your periods
The first thing you would notice is that your periods grow scanty over time and then just stop. This is what gets most women to believe that they may be pregnant.
2. A false positive pregnancy test
After missing your period, the woman might get a test done that shows a false positive result. As bizarre as it may sound, the woman’s mind has convinced her body so well that she is now producing hormones that actually caused the false positive test result.
3. Your ‘bump’ keeps growing
A phantom baby bump may also start growing and the woman won’t know that it is a false pregnancy until the later stages when she goes for a scan (in the 18th-24th week). Till then, the bump will keep growing as though she really is carrying a child.
4. You may start lactating
Due to the changing hormones, her body will prepare for the baby in every way. This means storing that extra weight and producing colostrum or first milk of the baby.
5. You may feel actual movement in the womb
In a few rare cases, the women have reported that they experienced actual movement in the womb. This could simply be caused due to gas since it gives a similar sensation.
6. You could go into (false) labour
In the final stages of the pregnancy, the woman may experience contractions. She may experience Braxton Hicks and think that she is actually going into labour. It is only when she is taken to the hospital that she will find out that there was no baby in the womb.
7. Symptoms may last from days to years
It is definitely less hurtful if the woman finds out that it is a false pregnancy within the first few days. Mary I, who was the Queen of England in the sixteenth century is believed to have experienced a phantom pregnancy. She missed her periods, experienced morning sickness, and started to gain weight in September 1554. The baby was expected to be delivered in April or May but there was no baby. In July 1555, her bump deflated and all was back to normal.