Mother's contraceptive coil lodges itself in her baby's PLACENTA

Mother's contraceptive coil lodges itself in her baby's PLACENTA

March 1, 2021

Mother who fell pregnant despite having a contraceptive coil reveals how she faced the ‘scariest’ months of her life to see if her baby son would survive when device lodged in her placenta

  • Claire Cowen, 34, from Penicuik, Scotland, had been using coil for three years
  • She discovered she was 13 weeks pregnant with little boy, Lewis, now 15 months
  • Doctors said couldn’t remove coil in case it accidentally ruptured amniotic sac
  • Doctors couldn’t guarantee baby would survive if the coil moved into the sac
  • They welcomed their little boy at 39 weeks in November 2019,  weighing 6lb 3oz

A mother who fell pregnant despite having a contraceptive coil inserted reveals she faced months of anxiety waiting to see if her baby would survive when the IUD became embedded in her placenta. 

Claire Cowen, 34, from Penicuik, Scotland, had been using a non-hormonal coil for three years when she discovered she was 13 weeks pregnant with her little boy, Lewis, now 15 months.  

The mother-of-three was told that the coil was sitting tilted above her cervix and doctors couldn’t remove it in case it accidentally ruptured the baby’s amniotic sac. 

Claire was closely monitored during her pregnancy but doctors couldn’t guarantee her baby would survive if the coil worked its way into the sac – all she could do was ‘wait and see’. 

Claire Cowen (right), 34, from Penicuik, Scotland, had been using a non-hormonal coil for three years when she discovered she was 13 weeks pregnant with her little boy, Lewis (left), now 15 months

After a stressful nine months, Claire and husband David, 38, a courier, were delighted to welcome their little boy at 39 weeks in November 2019, at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, weighing a healthy 6lb 3oz. 

To the couple’s shock, after their little boy arrived so did Claire’s contraceptive coil – which had become embedded in her placenta. 

Claire, a social worker, said: ‘It was the most stressful, scary few months of my life. We had no idea how it would go or if my little boy would survive.

‘All the stories I could find were about women losing babies when they fell pregnant with the coil.

The mother-of-three was told that the coil was sitting tilted above her cervix and doctors couldn’t remove it in case it accidentally ruptured the baby’s amniotic sac. Claire was closely monitored during her pregnancy but doctors couldn’t guarantee her baby would survive if the coil worked its way into the sac

‘It didn’t fill me with hope but I remained positive and Lewis arrived safely – he’s my little miracle.’

Claire already had two children, Craig 16, and Lucy, six, with David and had been using a coil as contraception for three years. 

The mother had still been experiencing periods but when they stopped suddenly in March 2019, she decided to take a pregnancy test.

To her shock, it came back positive, and a doctors appointment confirmed she was 13 weeks pregnant.

After a stressful nine months, Claire and husband David, 38, a courier were delighted to welcome their little boy at 39 weeks in November 2019, at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, weighing a healthy 6lb 3oz

The mother had still been experiencing periods but when they stopped suddenly in March 2019, she decided to take a pregnancy test. To her shock, it came back positive, and a doctors appointment confirmed she was 13 weeks pregnant (pictured: Lewis)

She said: ‘I couldn’t believe it, I knew there was a tiny chance of falling pregnant but you never think it will happen. 

‘I was sent to pregnancy support and offered an abortion but the baby was healthy so I wasn’t keen on the idea.

‘We didn’t plan to have more children but we were excited when we found out. However I didn’t realise there could be complications because of the coil.’ 

Claire discovered that the coil was tilted at the top of her cervix and the baby’s amniotic sac was sitting just above it.

Claire discovered that the coil was titled at the top of her cervix and the baby’s amniotic sac was sitting just above it. She said that she felt like ‘a bit of a guinea pig because the doctors at the hospital had never cared for a pregnant woman with the coil still in’

At 39 weeks, Claire was induced at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and she gave birth to her little boy Lewis on 26th November 2019. Despite the odds stacked against him, he arrived safely – weighing healthy 6lb 3oz

How effective is the Intrauterine Device (IUD)? 

The Intrauterine Device (IUD), otherwise known as the contraceptive coil, is more than 99 per cent effective when it is inserted properly. 

This means that less than one out of every 100 people who have an IUD will become pregnant and all types – hormonal, non-hormonal and copper – all have a similar failure rate. 

In a small number of people using the IUD – between two and 10 per cent – the IUD can slip partly or completely out of the uterus. 

If this happens, they can become pregnant as they might not realise it has fallen out of place. 

In other cases, pregnancy can occur if the IUD hasn’t started to work. For example, hormonal coils can take up to seven days to become effective, while the copper IUD protects against pregnancy immediately. 

The IUD may fail if it has been in place for longer than the manufacturer recommends. 

IUD pregnancies are slightly more likely to be ectopic or occur outside of the uterus.

Other risks associated with IUD pregnancies include:

  • miscarriage, when pregnancy ends within the first 20 weeks 
  • premature delivery, when the mother goes into labour before the 37th week of pregnancy 
  • premature rupture of membranes, the amniotic sac breaks before labour begins 
  • placental abruption, when the placenta partially or completely separates from the uterine wall 
  • placenta previa, which is when the placenta partially or completely covers the opening of the cervix 
  • pelvic infection 
  • low birth weight, which occurs when a baby is born at less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces  

Source: healthline.com 

Doctors at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary warned the expectant parents that removing the coil ran the risk of rupturing the sac – so they left it there.

They also had no way of knowing if it could work its way in there organically so Claire was closely monitored throughout her pregnancy.

She said: ‘It wreaked havoc with my nerves and my anxiety was through the roof.

‘I went in for scans every four weeks to check the baby and make sure it hadn’t moved.

‘I felt like a bit of a guinea pig because the doctors at the hospital had never cared for a pregnant woman with the coil still in.

‘They couldn’t give me a guarantee that the baby would survive if the coil moved – it was a waiting game.’

At 39 weeks, Claire was induced at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and she gave birth to her little boy Lewis on 26th November 2019.

Despite the odds stacked against him, he arrived safely – weighing healthy 6lb 3oz.

Claire said: ‘He was absolutely fine which was a relief. Straight after he arrived the nurse spotted the coil stuck in the placenta – it was quite a shocking sight.’

Since giving birth to Lewis, Claire hasn’t had a new coil implanted.

According to the NHS website, Intrauterine devices (IUD) or the ‘coil’, are more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.

She said: ‘There’s a higher risk of miscarriage or premature birth while pregnant with the coil.

‘Every story I could find was quite scary and negative – women losing their babies or complications.

‘I want to share a positive story to show women it is possible for there to be a happy ending when an unexpected pregnancy happens on the coil.

‘I know we were one of the lucky ones but babies can survive and Lewis is doing well.

‘It’s incredibly scary but babies can survive and we were so lucky with Lewis.’

Claire said she read a lot of negative stories about mothers who became pregnant while using the coil and said she ‘wants to share a positive story to show women it is possible for there to be a happy ending when an unexpected pregnancy happens on the coil’

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