A woman who fell pregnant with a contraceptive coil in place has told of her baby’s astonishing battle for survival.
Baby Misty weighed only 1lb 10oz when she was born by emergency section at 25 weeks after the coil turned septic and almost claimed the life of her mother as well.
Alice McLoughlin, 22, from Ruthin, in north Wales, had initially been told her surprise pregnancy was doomed when three attempts to remove the coil had failed.
But her daughter proved them all wrong despite being born 15 weeks premature.
Ms McLoughlin, a chef, said: ‘For the duration of my pregnancy it was like there was a war being waged in my tummy, my baby versus my coil.
‘It could have pierced her amniotic sac killing her at any moment and I feared every day would be the last. The coil was a constant threat but they just couldn’t get it out.
‘Everyone thought the coil would win and we would lose our baby to it. But my little girl was a fighter and kept battling.’
Doctors only managed to retrieve the contraceptive device after baby Misty was delivered after the coil triggered potentially deadly septicemia in Alice.
She said: ‘I was told every day the coil would probably kill my baby but in the end it nearly took me too. When they rushed me into theatre I thought that was it. Another two hours later I would have been dead.’
Alice says the ‘war of her womb,’ started when she discovered she was pregnant in January 2011 and assumed the copper coil she’d had fitted 18 months previously must have fallen out. Although surprised she said she was delighted to be expecting.
Her GP arranged a scan just to make sure the coil had become dislodged, but while she was waiting for the appointment Alice started bleeding and rushed to hospital fearing a miscarriage.
An ultra sound revealed the cause of the bleeding. The coil was still in place and dangerously close to her growing baby. The bleeding had been caused by it irritating the neck of the womb.
‘They told me they needed to get it out immediately before it killed my baby but there was a 50 per cent chance removing it would cause a miscarriage’, she said.
‘It was a no win situation because they told me if I left it in the complications would most likely kill my baby anyway.’
Only the threads that usually hang outside the womb had tucked themselves in meaning doctors couldn’t reach it and Alice was sent home to let nature take it’s course.
She suffered regular bleeding – a constant reminder of the battle being waged in her womb between the coil and the baby – but scans showed she had not miscarried.
Doctors tried to remove the coil once more but with no success.
When Alice reached 12 weeks she hoped it meant her baby was safe, but instead the risk of miscarriage became a risk of early labour, again with little hope of survival.
‘I was terrified because my partner and I desperately wanted our baby yet there was nothing I could do to protect her from the danger inside me. The one place she was supposed to be safe had become a minefield,’ Ms McLoughlin said.