Mum left fearing for baby’s life after contraceptive coil lodged in placenta

A mum was left fearing for her unborn baby’s life after she fell pregnant despite using a contraceptive coil which ended up being lodged in her placenta.

Claire Cowen, 34, had been using the non-hormonal birth control for three years when she discovered she was 13 weeks pregnant.

The social worker and her husband David, 38, already had two children – Craig, 16, and Lucy, six.

But when she found out she was expecting for the third time, doctors told her the coil was sitting dangerously close to the baby.

The intrauterine device – which sits at a T-shape in the womb – was tilted above her cervix, where the baby comes through during birth.

The position meant it couldn’t be removed in case it pierced the baby’s amniotic sac, which protects the foetus until birth, on its way out.

But terrifyingly medics could not guarantee the tot would survive if the coil worked its way into the sac – all she could do was “wait and see”.

The mum was closely monitored during her pregnancy to make sure the baby had a safe arrival.

Claire, from Penicuik, Scotland, 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.”

After an agonising nine months the parents were delighted to welcome Lewis in November 2019, at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

He was born at 39 weeks 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, from Penicuik, Scotland, said: “He [Lewis] 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.”

The mum 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.

“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.”

Describing the pregnancy, Claire 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.

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

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

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

Doctors at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary warned the expectant parents that removing the coil ran the risk of rupturing the sac.

They also had no way of knowing if it could work its exit the womb organically – so they left it there.

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.”

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

If you do fall pregnant on the coil the website states there is a small risk of ectopic pregnancy.

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

But she wanted other mums-to-be to know that if they do have an unexpected pregnancy with a device implanted, it’s possible for the baby to arrive healthy.