Written by Karli Steenkamp
“You were unsure which pain is worse – the shock of what happened or the ache for what never will.” – Simon Van Booy
It is never easy to cope with loss, never mind losing your own child, which you will never get to hold. Ectopic pregnancy is not a well-known issue and many women are shocked and confused when they experience it. It affects 1 in 120 pregnancies and poses a huge health risk to the mother. Therefore, the pregnancy cannot progress, which leaves mothers in an emotional limbo of unanswered questions and emotions to deal with.
What is an Ectopic pregnancy?
An Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg gets stuck in the fallopian tubes or positions itself outside the womb or uterus. This is also known as a ‘tubal pregnancy’. The embryo can’t survive outside the safe haven of the uterus and it is extremely dangerous for the mother because the tube can rupture and lead to internal bleeding.
Symptoms of Ectopic pregnancies
Many women might not know they are pregnant when these symptoms start.
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting and pelvic pain
- Vomiting and nausea with pain
- Sharp abdominal pains
- Pain in one side of the body
- Pain in the shoulder, neck or rectum
- Dizziness or weakness.
- A positive pregnancy test, which later becomes negative.
Not all these symptoms happen to every woman.
Why do Ectopic pregnancies develop?
There are a few theories that might be linked to Ectopic pregnancies.
Cigarette smoking, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), Infertility treatment or scarring from previous surgeries has been linked to these pregnancies.
The biggest thing you can do is not blame yourself. There is nothing you can do to prevent it from occurring.
Diagnosis and treatment
The doctor will usually perform an ultrasound and possibly an internal examination to confirm the Ectopic pregnancy. There are two possible ways of treatment: 1) Medicine if the pregnancy is in its early stages 2) Surgery. The two most common surgeries are a Laparotomy, where a small incision is made above your bikini-line and the other is a Laparoscopy, where a thin tube is inserted through a small incision. A Laparoscopy is the easiest surgery if the tubes are not ruptured. The ectopic pregnancy will be removed.
It is possible to successfully fall pregnant after an Ectopic pregnancy. However, infertility treatment is advised if a fallopian tube has been removed. Unfortunately, the chances of having Ectopic pregnancy increases. To try and conceive again, it is recommended to wait at least three to six months as well as follow-up visits to the doctor.
How to deal with the aftermath of an Ectopic pregnancy
Women are left with many emotions. Everything happens in a very short space of time. Having to find out that the pregnancy poses a major risk to you is very conflicting and you might not get the answers you’re looking for. It is very hard to not have a choice in keeping the pregnancy and it can make you feel helpless. People don’t really know much about Ectopic pregnancies and might not know how you’re feeling.
One woman describes her Ectopic pregnancy:
“Everyone keeps telling me I can just get pregnant again and have another baby. But I wanted that pregnancy. I wanted that baby.” – Anonymous.
It is important to talk to your family and friends about your feelings. Your partner needs to know how you feel, seeing that they also suffered a loss.
Healing after an Ectopic pregnancy can be a lengthy process and it is important to work through the grief together. Take every day as it comes and know that there is a star shining a little brighter in memory of something that could not be.
- The Ectopic Pregnancy trust