Falling pregnant while on the copper coil – Rebecca’s story

When Rebecca fell pregnant whilst on the copper coil she experienced many difficulties, eventually giving birth at 23+3 weeks. Read her story here.

Eight years ago, I had my beautiful daughter Bonnie at full term. After having Bonnie, I decided to go on the copper coil but a few years later had the same feelings of morning sickness I did when I was pregnant with her. Unlike the Mirena coil, when you are on the copper coil, you still have your periods. When my next one was late, I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. I was in total shock and although the baby was not planned, a part of me felt like it was meant to be.

I didn’t know anyone who had fallen pregnant while on an IUD so asked my doctor how the coil would affect the pregnancy. The GP was unsure and so I was booked in for a scan at seven weeks which revealed a heartbeat. The sonographer couldn’t see the coil and so it was assumed that it had fallen out. I was told to return to the hospital for my 12 week scan.

At nine weeks, I had the first episode of heavy bleeding. Initially I thought I had a miscarriage and rushed to the hospital. By the time I reached the waiting area, I had lost so much blood that I passed out. When I came round, I was lying in a bed in the ward, attached to a drip with my worried partner sitting next to me.

I was given an abdominal scan and this time the IUD was spotted just above the foetus in my uterus. The doctors told me that they would not be able to remove the coil as its positioning would cause a miscarriage. I was advised to do minimal activity because my chances of miscarrying were 50 per cent higher than other women because of the presence of the coil. This news was absolutely terrifying.

The episodes of heavy bleeding returned at 11, 15 and 17 weeks. Each time I rushed to hospital thinking the worst but then was reassured things were ok. It was horrible – I was in tears every single time.

At 20 weeks, my scan showed the baby was growing well and was a good weight. Shortly after the scan, I began to bleed every day and was admitted to hospital. I felt totally exhausted, missed my family and was so worried about the baby.

Whilst staying at the hospital, a consultant revealed that the scan had also shown that there was a massive blood clot above the sac – right where the coil was. He said that it was likely that I was going to have a late miscarriage and it would probably be within a matter of weeks. I refused to believe it. We had come so far - I prayed that I could keep this baby safe.

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Whilst I was in hospital, my older daughter had a Christmas dance show. My bleeding had been very light that day so I was allowed a temporary discharge to see her performance. As soon as the show ended, I started bleeding heavily again. This time, the blood appeared watery so my mum rushed me back to the hospital.

When I got to the triage, a test was done which showed that my waters were leaking. I was 22 weeks and had no idea what was going on. The doctors told me that there were now major complications with the pregnancy and advised a termination. I asked if they could do a scan to see how much water had been lost. I still refused to lose hope.

The scan confirmed that there were very reduced waters, as the doctors had predicted. All I remember is being pushed back to my room in a wheelchair in floods of tears wondering why this was all happening to me and my baby. I was told that since I was not in active labour I could have some rest and they’d continue to monitor me over night.

The next morning, at 22+5 weeks of pregnancy, the consultant told me my pulse was racing. I was going to need a blood transfusion and was again advised to terminate the pregnancy – this time for my own safety. I knew I was just over a week away from viability and begged the doctors to let me give the baby a chance. The doctors agreed and said that if the transfusion went well and I was stable, I would be transferred to a hospital with a level 3 NICU.

I was deemed well enough for transfer and was given steroids for the baby’s lungs before I left. When I got to St George’s Hospital, I didn’t go into labour straight away. At 23+3 weeks, my son Charlie arrived.

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Charlie spent 116 days in neonatal care. He faced a number of complications associated with extreme prematurity. He needed to be ventilated, had a PDA, sepsis, suspected NEC and was transferred three times. The neonatal journey was full of so many twists and turns but I am so proud of how Charlie battled his way through all of them. When we were finally able to bring our son home on oxygen we were simply over the moon. I know that discharge from hospital will not be the end of our journey but after a traumatic pregnancy and so long in neonatal care we are just so happy to be starting our life as a complete family.

After this experience, I would not use the coil as contraceptive again. It worked very well for the first eight years but I wish I knew in advance the extra complications it could cause.

If you have found out you are pregnant whilst on the coil, I would recommend a consultant led pregnancy and regular scans. I think more research needs to be done on IUD pregnancies. There were so many different opinions among the doctors because no one really knows the best course of action at the moment. I was told though that not every IUD pregnancy was as complicated as mine – a lot of the time the coil can be removed or it can be positioned in a place that doesn’t have any problems.

Although the coil was spotted in a scan days before delivery, the IUD seems to have disappeared. I am still going through health checks to find out what has happened to it.

The experience was terrifying for myself and my family but now we are home and have the most amazing baby boy who is completely worth every part of it.

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If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this post and would like support, you can call our helpline on 0808 801 0322 or view our online support pages.

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