October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Infant or pregnancy loss can happen for a number of reasons, like miscarriage or SIDS. One rare occurrence of pregnancy loss is an ectopic pregnancy.

The word ectopic means “out of place.” An ectopic pregnancy is when an embryo implants and starts to grow in the wrong place, or outside the uterus. In most ectopic pregnancies, the embryo implants inside a fallopian tube, but they have also been observed on ovaries, the cervix, or even in the abdominal cavity.

This can cause severe pain, heavy bleeding, and eventual organ rupture. It may also cause permanent damage or loss of the fallopian tube and, without medical treatment, may lead to death in the pregnant woman. There is no way to save the baby from an ectopic pregnancy—an ectopic pregnancy always ends in pregnancy loss.

Thankfully, ectopic pregnancies are extremely rare, occurring in less than 5% of natural & ART assisted pregnancies.

Anyone who goes through an ectopic pregnancy will lose her baby and maybe part of her fertility, as well as deal with the risks it now poses to her own life. It’s understandable how the emotional aftermath can be truly devastating!

Afterwards, many women experience feelings of fear, sadness, anxiousness, anger, grief, and guilt. These feelings often lead to depression if not dealt with. It is important for women who have experienced an ectopic pregnancy to recognize their feelings of grief and guilt before it becomes a problem that could overwhelm and consume them.

One thing to remember is ectopic pregnancies are never anybody’s fault. Speaking with friends or family you trust, or even a counselor, has helped many women come to terms with what happened. And most importantly of all, please be gentle with yourself and allow yourself the time you need to grieve.

The good news is that many women who have experienced an ectopic pregnancy have gone on to have normal, healthy pregnancies and babies in the future. And several of these women have successfully carried pregnancies to full term through embryo adoption. To learn more, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.