A child might believe that a magical stork swoops down and drops babies down at the doorsteps of expecting and hopeful parents to be, however, it is known that that is not the case. Pregnancy is such a delicate matter. It is a blessing to give birth to a healthy baby. However, the horrible truth is that not all women who get pregnant get to enjoy the experience of carrying their baby and giving birth to their child.
Overview of ectopic pregnancy
A baby is formed when a sperm makes its long journey and finally meets an egg. Usually, the fetus attaches itself in the uterus and starts to develop there over nine months. Ectopic pregnancy is when the fetus attaches itself outside the uterus and develops there instead. (Web m.d, 2014) The most common form of ectopic pregnancy is when the fetus attaches itself inside the fallopian tube. (Web m.d, 2014) This is also known as a tubal pregnancy. (Web m.d, 2014) In extremely rare cases, the fetus can attach itself to an ovary, an organ in the abdomen, or possibly the even cervix. (Web m.d, 2014)
Types of ectopic pregnancy
Approximately one in one hundred thousand ectopic pregnancies, the fetus can actually make its way out of the fallopian tube and can attach itself anywhere inside it’s mother’s abdomen. (BBCnews, ‘Miracle baby grew in liver, 2003) In extremely rare cases, such as baby Nhlahla, who was born in South Africa in 2003, the embryo attaches itself to the liver which is a very rich blood source for the fetus. (BBCnews, ‘Miracle baby grew in liver, 2003) Doctors knew that the baby was not inside the uterus and was growing inside the liver due to a previous scan that had been done. (BBCnews, ‘Miracle baby grew in liver, 2003) The doctors found a small ‘window’ where they were able to proceed surgically in order to deliver the baby; this small window was where the amniotic sac connected to the outside of the liver. (BBCnews, ‘Miracle baby grew in liver, 2003) Baby Nhlahla was truly a miracle baby.
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Most extrauterine (out of the uterus) babies will not survive even just a few weeks. (BBCnews, ‘Miracle baby grew in liver, 2003) Even though this can be an extremely grim subject because it is rare that the fetus can survive, it is an interesting topic and paints a picture of one aspect of pregnancy that could go airy for any woman.
Ectopic pregnancies happen in close to one out of fifty pregnancies. (Healthline, 2012) The cause of ectopic pregnancy is not clear in all cases; however, there are some possible causes such as inflamed and scared fallopian tubes that resulted from a previous medical condition or surgery, abnormal hormone levels, genetic abnormalities, birth defects, and medical conditions that could possibly alter the shape and condition of the fallopian tubes and reproductive organs. (Healthline, 2012) Smoking also increases a woman’s chance of having an ectopic pregnancy. (Web m.d, 2014)
In ectopic pregnancies, symptoms usually do not start to appear until the pregnancy reaches a dangerous point. (ourfamilyworld.com, 2013) Some of these symptoms include: pelvic or abdominal pain, light bleeding, which could be mistaken as spotting. (ourfamilyworld.com, 2013) Lightheadedness could also occur, which could lead to fainting; If this happens, the woman should get to an emergency room right away. (ourfamilyworld.com, 2013)
There is no way to fix an ectopic pregnancy to turn it into a standard pregnancy and a lot of damage can be done. (Web m.d, 2014) If not treated, the fetus will continue to grow inside the mother’s
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fallopian tube until the tube bursts and causes severe damage to the tube resulting in a much lower chance for having another child. (Web m.d, 2014) That is why a woman should visit her doctor as soon as she starts to feel symptoms. Treatment options include one of two routes: Being treated with a series of injections of a drug called methotrexate, which is primarily sufficient if the woman happens to be diagnosed in the early stages to dissolve the pregnancy. (babycenter.com, 2007) If a woman is treated early enough and her fallopian tubes are not damaged, she can try again after a period of time that can be dictated by her doctor. (babycenter.com, 2007) However, if not early diagnosed, the last chance option would most likely be laparoscopic surgery. (Web m.d, 2014) In most cases, medical therapy is favored over surgery due to chances of morbidity resulting from the anesthesia involved during surgery, impending less tubal damage to the patient, and a lower cost because of fewer hospital fees. (emedicine.medscape, 2014) However, according to a study done by the University of New Mexico over a six year period, the success rate of the methotrexate therapy for ectopic pregnancy was lower than that of laparoscopic surgical treatment. (ncbi.nim.nih.gov, Medical vs. Surgical treatment of ectopic pregnancy, 2001)
No woman would want to hear that the child she already is in love with is developing outside of her uterus and that there are little to no chances of the child surviving. There are many support groups full of women who have gone through an ectopic pregnancy. (throughtheheart.org) Throughtheheart.org is one of many sites that would be considered helpful for a woman going through an ectopic pregnancy. This site features tools in: ‘What not to say’ to someone dealing with this, ‘Supporting others’, ‘Starting over after a loss’, and ‘Parenting after a loss’. No woman should ever have to feel alone with the loss of a child. There is always someone willing to give a helping hand, even if that just means listening.
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Ectopic Pregnancy is when the fetus attaches itself outside the uterus, which can be dangerous and most likely lead to the fetus not surviving. There are multiple causes of why ectopic pregnancy could occur, such as previous damage to fallopian tubes, hormone levels, birth defects, smoking, etc. There are two paths for treatment options: medicine or surgery. In rare cases the fetus could survive but chances of that happening are slim to none so there are many helpful resources such as support groups that are willing and eager to encourage distressed women.
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Blog: Mom answers, (2007), Ectopic Pregnancy.
Retrieved September 11, 2015 from http://www.babycenter.com/400_ectopic-pregnancy_1295283_270.bc.
James Walker, Professor, (2003), BBCnews Miracle baby grew in liver.
Retrieved September 11, 2015 from http://www.news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2932608.stm.
Kecia Gaither, MD. MPH, (2014) What to know about Ectopic Pregnancy. Retrieved September 11, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/pregnancy-ectopic-pregnancy.
Karen Kelly, President & CEO (2015), Through the heart: Helping mothers with child loss. Retrieved September 10, 2015 from http://www.throughtheheart.org.
Marissa Selner, medically reviewed by George Krucik, MD. (2012), Ectopic Pregnancy. Retrieved September 9, 2015 from http://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/ectopic-pregnancy#Definition1
Nicole Etolen, (2013), Our Family World: Pregnancy Concerns: Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms, Treatments, and Prognosis. Retrieved September 10, 2015 from http://www.ourfamilyworld.com/2013/03/25/ectopic-pregnancy-symptoms.
Vicken P Sepilian, MD. (2014), Etopic Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms. Retrieved September 10, 2015 from http://www.emedicine.medscape.com/article/2041923-overview