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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Ectopic Pregnancy: How to deal with the trauma

An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilised egg implants outside of the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube

April 1, 2021 12:55:25 pm
ectopic pregnancyEctopic pregnancy can lead to bleeding in the mother and is a life-threatening condition that requires emergency treatment. (file)

By Dr Shalu Gupta

Sujata & Vikas, 34 years old, married for three and a half years, had conceived naturally within 18 months of their marriage but unfortunately had to terminate the pregnancy by undergoing a laparoscopic procedure because it was a tubal /ectopic pregnancy on the right side. The trauma of conceiving and terminating had left the couple with lots of questions like “How soon will we be able to conceive next?” “Will I be able to conceive only through the left tube?” “What if we have another conception which is tubal/ ectopic again?” The couple since then has been trying to conceive and now consulting a fertility specialist to pursue other available treatment options like IUI and IVF.

Everyone is different and like Sujata and Vikas, for many, ectopic pregnancy is an upsetting and frightening experience. There is no right or wrong way to feel after an ectopic pregnancy but many try to find answers to the diagnosis and outcome, from getting the pregnancy news to getting operated under emergency, what will happen in the future and how soon they will be able to conceive. There is a permanent feeling of shock, loss, grief, anxiety about the future, a feeling of limbo and acute depression with repeated attempts to conceive not succeeding.

What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilised egg implants outside of the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube. The fallopian tube is not made to hold a growing embryo and can’t stretch like a uterus. This condition can lead to bleeding in the mother and is a life-threatening condition that requires emergency treatment. This treatment can be medicinal or surgical depending on the individual condition. Such pregnancies cannot be carried to full term (till birth) and can be dangerous for the mother if not treated right away.

The Psychological Trauma

Did you know, out of 10, at least one of the partners experience post-traumatic stress after miscarriage, pregnancy loss (miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy before 12 weeks) and the stress of future conception if they are trying to conceive. Couples are often left with questions on the loss of the unborn child and there are questions related to one’s own fertility.

Post-traumatic stress can have a toxic effect on all elements of a person’s life – affecting work, home and relationships. How can you recover fast?

Get on with life and invest in your future conception: Women need to be brave and talk to a gynaecologist. It is important to remember that the ectopic pregnancy was not your fault and that there was nothing you could have done to prevent it happening. Physically you may also need to give yourself time to recover and it may not be possible to return to daily activities straight away. There is no time limit to recovery from an ectopic pregnancy. It is common to think that you should get back to work and get “back to normal” as soon as possible. Understand the treatment options and plan a way forward.

Meditate: Doctors and scientists have studied the benefits of meditation and it has been a proven fact that it can help manage high levels of stress or anxiety if you are planning a pregnancy.

Pamper yourself: Book a haircut, massage, manicure or pedicure if that will help you feel good. A massage not only helps you to relax by calming the nervous system but increases oxygen flow in the body, encouraging healing and also helps to balance the endocrine system that controls hormone levels. If you’re well enough, you can go to a salon or spa, and there are mobile therapists who will come to your home. If you’ve had surgery tell the therapist and they will avoid the areas affected.

Eat well and have a balanced diet: A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any time but is especially vital if you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

Take up a hobby or physical activity: Your body is likely to go through a whole process of recovery following an ectopic pregnancy and it is important that you be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to heal. Pursue your hobbies or engage in a physical activity that will help you divert from the current circumstances.

Consult a specialist at the earliest and start planning your pregnancy on time.

(The writer is Senior Fertility Specialist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Gurgaon.)

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