Newborn Holds Mom's IUD in First Baby Pictures

A newborn boy's first photo this month was like no other: It included the birth control device that should have prevented his mother's pregnancy. Paula dos Santos Escudero Alvarez, 32, put her intrauterine device (IUD) in her son's hand while a professional photographer snapped away.

Alvarez gave birth to her second child, Bernardo, in Rio de Janeiro on July 4. Bernardo was born healthy at 36 weeks, weighing 7 pounds and measuring 19 inches.

Baby Bernardo
Baby Bernardo, born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, pictured with his mother’s intrauterine device placed in his hand. @mi_oliveira_photography/Zenger

Birth photographer Michelle Oliveira described the newborn as a "miracle" because his mother had been using an IUD for three years.

"I've been a birth photographer for over five years. My inspiration is to make moments into memories for the family, especially for the baby, build stories, and create fond memories," Oliveira said. "The IUD was placed in his little hand to represent his arrival. The baby was born, the IUD was removed straight away, and the doctor placed it in his little hand."

The pregnancy rate for women using IUDs is just 0.6 percent, according to Rio de Janeiro obstetrician Beatriz Tupinambá.

In most pregnancies involving the devices, doctors try to remove it at the earliest possible opportunity. Strings attached to IUDs are usually visible from the cervix, giving a doctor an easy way to remove it.

But in Paula's case it wasn't visible so doctors couldn't retrieve it until the delivery.

Paula dos Santos Escudero Alvarez
Paula dos Santos Escudero Alvarez, 32, gave birth to her second child, Bernardo, in Rio de Janeiro on July 4, 2021, despite having an IUD for the previous three years. Her first child was conceived while she was taking oral contraceptive pills. @mi_oliveira_photography/Zenger

The risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, and infection before delivery is significantly higher when IUDs are kept in place during a pregnancy, compared to pregnancies where the device is removed, according to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

While IUD removal generally improves a pregnancy's outcome, there is still a much higher risk of complications compared to patients who never had one.

An IUD's strings can curl up into the cervix, making it less visible. When that occurs, doctors use a small tool to grasp the strings, or use an ultrasound to guide an instrument to the device. But as the uterus grows along with the fetus, sometimes the IUD remains out of reach.

Newborn IUD
Bernardo was born healthy at 36 weeks, weighing 7 pounds and measuring 19 inches. @mi_oliveira_photography/Zenger

In that case, the only option is to leave it in place to avoid injuring the mother or the fetus.

This was not Paula's first "miracle" child: Her older son Gabriel was born when she was taking oral contraceptive pills.

If used exactly as instructed, the estimated risk of getting pregnant while on a typical combined oral contraceptive pill is just 0.3 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

Oliveira said on her Instagram that Bernardo was determined to enter the world despite his mother's contraceptive practices. "When he wants something, nothing will get in his way. This arrival was beautiful and exciting. What a joy to share this rarity! Welcome, Bernardo!"

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.