Pregnant woman
Layane Santos claims she woke after having a Caesarean section to find her daughter had disappeared.

A Brazilian woman has accused hospital staff of stealing her child from her womb after she woke up from a Caesarean section and doctors told her she had a phantom pregnancy.

Layane Santos claims that she received prenatal treatment throughout her pregnancy, but when she came round from her surgery her daughter had disappeared.

The 19-year-old said says she was in the 38th week of her pregnancy, but medical staff told her she had never been pregnant and that her symptoms were caused by a psychological condition.

"I wanted to speak to the doctor because I had entered the hospital with a baby inside me but I was leaving without one," Ms Santos said.

Santos, a kitchen assistant, was admitted to Santa Casa de Maua hospital in São Paulo complaining of abdominal pain and blood loss.

She insists that she even had an ultra-sound scan in the final week of her pregnancy, which showed her baby girl weighed 7lbs and measured 42cm.

"I can't believe a child who weighed seven pounds could disappear in blood," she said.

"They stole the baby or the baby died while she was being delivered and they didn't want to tell us what happened."

According to Brazil's Tribunal Hoje newspaper, Santos and her husband Lourival Alves, 28, had already named their daughter Sofia, moved to a larger house and had spent £2,000 on clothes and furniture for their first child.

The couple have now requested that a judge seize Santos's patient records from the hospital.

A spokesperson from the hospital claimed exams they performed before the delivery proved Ms Santos was not carrying a baby, but said they "reserved the right to only present these exams at the opportune moment."

A phantom pregnancy is believed to occur when a woman has an overwhelming desire to have a child. Changes in the endocrine system of the body lead to the secretion of hormones, which translate into physical changes similar to those during pregnancy. Symptoms include amenorrhoea, morning sickness, tender breasts, and weight gain.