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A popular Mormon TikToker who went viral for her "mom content" in 2020, says she's pregnant again after suffering an ectopic pregnancy last year.
Taylor Frankie Paul, a 28-year-old from Utah and a mom of two, took to Instagram on Monday to share the happy news about her "rainbow baby" — a term used for a baby that comes after a failed pregnancy.
"One year later we've been blessed with our rainbow baby," Paul captioned the post. "Floods of emotions have came through along with a different kind of excitement and worry you feel after losing, however so far everything is healthy and on track and my heart is full."
Doctors first thought it was a miscarriage, but she remained hopeful after bloodwork showed normal HCG levels. She said she continued bleeding and was "struggling not only physically, but definitely emotionally and mentally."
After a few weeks, Paul did an ultrasound and the ectopic pregnancy was diagnosed. She said in a second video, it was caught in time to treat without surgery.
Even though she felt grateful for the process that wasn't very painful, she bled for seven weeks and fell into a postpartum depression. "I didn't realize how traumatizing that experience was until I was out of it," she admitted.
What exactly is an ectopic pregnancy and what are the risks? Read on for everything you need to know.
What is an ectopic pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy refers to a pregnancy in which an embryo grows outside of the uterus. It occurs when a fertilized egg travels to attach itself to the uterus but fails, and attaches itself to a fallopian tube, the cervix or an abdominal cavity.
A pregnancy test can show up positive, but an embryo cannot grow anywhere but the uterus.
Dr. Diane Francoeur, CEO of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, tells Yahoo Canada, “it's a pregnancy that is starting, but not at the right place.”
The Quebec expert gynecologist explained the "serious condition" unfortunately "happens oftentimes."
According to data released in 2020 by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), ectopic pregnancy occurs in between one to two per cent of diagnosed pregnancies in the country.
What are the symptoms?
Francoeur said women will come to the hospital with pain and bleeding after a positive pregnancy test, ahead of what could likely be an ectopic pregnancy diagnosis.
She said symptoms will most commonly show up about six to seven weeks since the last menstrual period.
“Pain is the most common symptom,” she said.
When you're pregnant, you shouldn't have any bleeding and you shouldn't have any pain.Dr. Diane Francoeur
According to Healthline, nausea and breast soreness are symptoms of both ectopic and normal pregnancies, but an ectopic one could also cause dizziness or fainting, rectal pressure and sharp waves of pain in the abdomen, pelvis, shoulders and neck.
The diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy is made after bloodwork shows hCG levels consistent with normal pregnancy, and an ultrasound confirms there is no embryo in the uterus.
What causes an ectopic pregnancy and who is at risk?
An ectopic pregnancy is generally caused by inflammation or scarring of tissue in the fallopian tubes which, according to Francoeur, often comes from STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea, or endometriosis. Surgery and fertility treatments also slightly increase the chances of an ectopic pregnancy, she added.
According to Healthline, the following factors can also increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy:
pregnancy at 35 years or older
history of pelvic inflammatory disease
conception occurred despite tubal ligation or intrauterine device (IUD)
conception aided by fertility drugs or procedures
previous ectopic pregnancy
structural abnormalities in the fallopian tubes
How is it treated?
Francoeur explained once you have the diagnosis, “if it's early on and there's no cruciating pain,” the patient can receive an injected medication to end the pregnancy. The drug is called methotrexate, initially developed to treat arthritis.
In some cases of late diagnosis, surgery might be needed, as well as a blood transfusion if too much blood is lost.
It's really a serious medical condition.Dr. Diane Francoeur
“In obstetric gynecology we used to say, when I was in training, you never let the sun down on an ectopic pregnancy – you diagnose it.”
Are there any long-term impacts?
The expert said sometimes tests are done, especially in first pregnancies, to examine the fallopian tubes and see if they’re functioning properly. “If you have one tube that is working very, very well and the other one is not so good, it's better to remove (the first) because you can choose where the pregnancy (occurs) in the tube.”
Once a person has an ectopic pregnancy, the chances of another one are higher. Though it usually goes well, a second tube might also cause one.
“Unfortunately, some women are not lucky in reproductive life, and sometimes they will find another ectopic pregnancy on the other side,” Francoeur said. “Then we have to remove the other tube, so then the only option for them to have a baby is through IVF.”
What expecting moms can do
Francoeur advised it’s important to see a doctor if you’re concerned.
“If you are anxious and you have pain or bleeding, it's not normal – you need to be seen and reassured that everything is going well.”
She noted, even though ectopic pregnancy cannot be diagnosed before six weeks, it’s still advised to see a doctor.