An extremely bloated mother is constantly mistaken for being pregnant due to a condition dubbed ‘endo belly’.
Amelia Veitch suffers from endometriosis, which occurs when cells in the lining of the womb grow outside the uterus.
In her case, the cells have developed in her ovaries, causing severe bloating below her stomach and leaving her in excruciating pain.
Bloating is common during women’s menstrual cycles, but for those who are battling endometriosis, it is more severe and tends to worsen throughout the day
Ms Veitch, a bank worker from Southend-on-Sea in Essex, is forced to take time off work when she becomes so bloated her clothes don’t fit.
Amelia Veitch suffers from endometriosis, which occurs when cells in the lining of the womb grow outside the uterus
The condition, which affects one in 10 women with varying severity, causes her stomach to bloat, particularly when she’s on her period
The mother revealed her symptoms get worse when she’s on her period, causing her immense embarrassment.
She said: ‘There were times at work when my uniform wouldn’t even fit, and that’s when I have had to call in sick. People would say ‘congratulations’ and ask me when my baby is due.
‘Even random people in the street look at my stomach and say congratulations. Sometimes I correct them, but it drags me down – it’s confidence knocking.
‘I bloat when I’m tired, after sex, when I’m ovulating, on my period. It affects everything I do, it affects my partner. The only clothes I fit into are pyjamas.’
Ms Veitch was diagnosed with the condition in November 2018, despite suffering with debilitating symptoms since the age of nine.
Endometriosis is a condition and affects one in 10 women in the UK. Symptoms include migraines, chronic fatigue, heavy periods and severe constipation.
Ms Veitch said the misplaced pregnancy comments have hit her especially hard as she has suffered three miscarriages because the condition also affects fertility.
She said: ‘Correcting people who think I’m pregnant mentally gets me down. It really takes its toll. I have difficulty conceiving. With endometriosis you’re at higher risk of miscarriage.
‘People should think before they ask when it’s due because they don’t know my personal struggles.’
Due to her endometriosis, the mother has been hospitalised four times this year.
It is even starting to ruin her career as she was forced to quit because the disease leaves her bedridden for up to one week at a time.
She said: ‘I was working towards a promotion before I quit, but now I look unreliable and it’s left us under financial strain.
‘I know the paramedics because I have to call them out so often.
‘My bladder goes into retention and I have to be catheterised at the hospital.
‘I rely on pain relief every day to get me through the day due to the constant unbearable ache that I have in my lower tummy.
‘I get a shooting pain up my rectum that’s so painful I have to go to hospital and I’m on daily doses of morphine.’
The illness has left Ms Veitch struggling to take care of her daughter, Ava-Grace, five, at times.
She said her daughter suffers with separation anxiety because she spends so much time either in bed and in hospital. Ms Veitch credits her partner for keeping the family functioning.
The mother added: ‘If I’m in pain, I also can’t run around after Ava and I can’t always pick her up from school.
‘I’m lucky I’ve got Chris, but it puts pressure on him and our relationship. He’s working, cooking, doing housework and I’m saying ‘get me a hot water bottle, get me this and that’.’
Despite her struggles, she plans to go back to work next month and hopes to have another child in the future.
She now works with charity, Women with Endometriosis, who support women living with the little-understood condition.
Ms Veitch said: ‘People don’t understand the pain that it causes. It’s invisible. If you lose a leg people can see, with invisible illnesses it’s a touchy subject to talk about.
‘I felt like I wasn’t believed before and I felt so relieved when I was finally diagnosed.’