False Pregnancy (Pseudocyesis)

  1. Have any of you encountered women who have false pregnancies?

    I've been reading up on this of late because I suspect a nurse friend might be going through this. She's in her late 50s and told us all that she's pregnant. She appears pregnant. She believes in homebirth and reported to us that she is planning this and found a lay midwife. She has had several homebirths in the past and all her children are grown. She has not had a pregnancy test.

    She announced the pregnancy last December, and she totally looks pregnant. We were all worried about her desire for a homebirth since she's older. Now, though, we're wondering if she's having one of these false pregnancies. She has a new husband who has never had children. She has strong spiritual beliefs and believes God is communicating with her and allowed her to become pregnant because of certain life choices she made. Her husband is also on this spiritual path. Now she keeps pushing back the due date, always saying "anytime", this has gone on since May or June.

    I did research into what used to be called hysterical pregnancy. A woman's desire for a baby can be a contributing factor, but it can happen to animals as well.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/05/he...seud.html?_r=0

    What Is False Pregnancy?
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    About Emergent, RN

    Joined: Dec '13; Posts: 2,500; Likes: 18,196

    12 Comments

  3. by   quazar
    I'm so sorry, amazingly I've never seen it in almost 2 decades of L&D nursing. I don't have any advice to offer, but it does sound suspicious. Hopefully one of the midwives who post here will come along and address this.

    Usually I see the opposite: full blown labor, water broken and/or crowning, and screaming that there's no way they're pregnant, they can't be pregnant, it's just gas, etc. etc.. Seen THAT a few times.
  4. by   LibraSunCNM
    Wow that's really strange! I seem to remember you posting about her awhile back, when she mentioned she was trying to conceive and she wanted a homebirth despite serious cardiac problems? Something along those lines.

    We've had women come into triage claiming to be in labor, who we quickly realize are not pregnant at all, but those were like actively psychotic patients who needed psych admissions, and who I assume had some kind of traumatic past histories with pregnancy/childbirth. I've definitely never encountered what you describe---someone who maintains a professional career, has a pregnant-looking belly, who is faking it. Sounds fascinating although very sad. I'm curious how she will resolve the issue---one can only keep saying "any day now" for so long, and then what will she say?
  5. by   Emergent
    If you read the articles in my links that I posted you'll see that the women with this condition do believe that they are pregnant. They also have all the signs of pregnancy, and can even have a positive pregnancy test. They aren't fakers.
  6. by   quazar
    Quote from Emergent
    If you read the articles in my links that I posted you'll see that the women with this condition do believe that they are pregnant. They also have all the signs of pregnancy, and can even have a positive pregnancy test. They aren't fakers.
    Wow, even a positive pregnancy test?? That's nuts. I wonder what the physiology behind that is....(yes you can tell I didn't read the articles, sorry I suck).
  7. by   klone
    How does one "wish" a positive pregnancy test?

    OP, why do you think she's not pregnant? I guess it's a self-limiting issue, regardless. Giving her the benefit of the doubt that she found out at the latest date in December, and announced her pregnancy the day her menses was late, that would make her around 39-40 weeks now. So you'll know, one way or another, in the next couple weeks.
  8. by   klone
    Quote from quazar
    Wow, even a positive pregnancy test?? That's nuts. I wonder what the physiology behind that is....(yes you can tell I didn't read the articles, sorry I suck).
    Just read the article. The only place that's stated is a quote from a family practice physician in Nebraska saying "A few of them even have positive pregnancy tests." There was no scientific corroboration of that. So I'm very skeptical that this actually occurs. If I had a dollar for every time a teenage girl has come into my clinic for her first OB appointment, stating she had a positive home pregnancy test, and then we do one and it's negative, I'd be rich. I chalk it up to a combination of wishful thinking and not following the test instructions.

    I even had a post-menopausal woman who had a history of psychosis accuse me of switching her urine with my own, when I told her the pregnancy test was negative.
  9. by   martymoose
    Omg i'm 50 and cant imagine even entertaining that thought. That is crazy to even consider at that age!!!

    Well, time will tell soon.

    Then a psych eval . will be warranted.

    I feel bad for your co- worker
  10. by   AvaRose
    Couldn't it be a hydatidiform mole..also known as a molar pregnancy? From what I remember from Maternal Child the women will have all the presumptive signs of pregnancy and will test positive since there is a cyst growing in the uterus with or without embryonic tissue.
  11. by   lifelearningrn
    I find this fascinating. Please keep us updated!
  12. by   NurseNora
    A hydatidiform mole is a pregnancy. The placenta just takes over and grows abnormally into small white grape-like clusters. They grow quickly and the uterus becomes much larger than it should be according to dates. Since there is no fetus, she wouldn't be feeling fetal movement.

    martymoose, I've taken care of a 52 year old woman in labor. She was not amused. Her teenaged children were horrified that mom and dad were still doing it.
  13. by   martymoose
    Quote from NurseNora

    martymoose, I've taken care of a 52 year old woman in labor. She was not amused. Her teenaged children were horrified that mom and dad were still doing it.
  14. by   babynurse101
    One of my "favorite" deliveries was a 53 year old woman who was having a son and refused to believe it until we literally dropped the baby on her chest. After the baby went to the NICU and she'd been with us a day or so to recover, I went to ask her about birth control options. She yelled, "I don't need no birth control! I'm 53 years old!" Well, clearly, that's irrelevant at this point in time.

    Edited to add - on a side note, the history nerd in me can't help but comment that your (OP) story is eerily similar to Queen Mary I's in regards to her "pregnancy."

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