Substance abuse during pregnancy is not only dangerous for the health of the baby, but the mother, too. Moms can suffer from a myriad of side effects due to prenatal substance abuse, including but not limited to high blood pressure, heart troubles, endocarditis, seizures, bacterial infections, psychoses, and more. The risk of contracting an infectious disease like hepatitis C or HIV is always heightened among injection drug users – something that should seriously be considered by pregnant women who could pass such onto their unborn child. In one study, of 4 million American women who gave birth, 5 percent had used drugs during their pregnancy, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states.
Pregnancy and Alcohol
One of the most commonly abused substances among pregnant women is alcohol. To date, there is no clear evidence of just how safe or not safe alcohol is to a developing fetus or baby. However, as the years pass, more physicians are getting more lax about the need for 100 percent abstinence for the entire nine months. Some go as far as permitting patients to drink one alcoholic beverage a day while pregnant while others endorse total abstinence altogether. We are all too aware of the potential side effects of alcohol consumption on an unborn baby, but we don’t know how much alcohol is too much. The most common problem resulting from alcohol use is fetal alcohol syndrome, classified by mental retardation and physical growth abnormalities, and prevalent in 0.2 to 1.5 out of every 1,000 babies born to American mothers, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since the exact amount of alcohol consumption that could be deemed “safe” is unknown, it is recommended that pregnant women abstain from alcohol altogether.
Pregnacy and Smoking
Tobacco is another culprit of birth-related defects and health problems in infants born to mothers who smoked during their pregnancy. Science has taught us that nicotine indeed crosses the placenta and robs the growing baby of oxygen and nutrients that it needs. The risk of stillbirth doubles and even triples in some cases for babies of smoking moms, per the National Institutes of Health. The American Lung Association notes that sudden infant death syndrome — SIDS for short — is 2.6 times higher if the mother smoked during pregnancy. Infant death was nearly two times as common among babies whose mothers smoked when compared to those whose moms didn’t in one Oxford Journals published study. Low birth weight is another side effect of smoking, which is thought to be more severe in correlation with how much the mother smoked while pregnant.
Illicit Drug Use During Pregnancy
Substances like heroin, cocaine, MDMA, marijuana, spice, and others haven’t been researched quite as heavily among the pregnant and infant population as alcohol and nicotine have. That being said, we do know they’re certainly not good for a developing child. They can:
- Delay brain development
- Inhibit motor skills
- Induce behavioral problems in the child
- Restrict growth altogether
- Cause miscarriage
- Cause stillbirth
- Inflict the formation of heart defects
Regardless of the drug of choice, drugs abused during pregnancy can lead to preterm labor, respiratory distress, fetal distress, malnourishment, a low birth weight, and other issues. Further, you run the risk of losing custody as soon as your child is born. In the US, the state is generally permitted to intervene when an infant is born with drugs in their bloodstream.The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes drug abuse among teens aged 15 to 17 was pretty much the same in one survey whether the teen was pregnant or not, with pregnant teenagers tallying at 15.8 percent and non-pregnant teens coming in at 13 percent.
Get Help With Addiction
Many mothers face a tough choice of picking between abstaining from all medications while pregnant or continuing to treat a mental health disorder. Approximately 45.9 million Americans have at least one mental illness and the majority of them are females. If you suffer from a mental health issue, you should speak with a medical professional regarding maintaining your mental health during pregnancy, and this will include a discussion about any medications you might be taking. Whether you’re a first-time mother or a mom to multiple children, the importance of getting clean before your child is born and being a sober parent cannot be emphasized enough.
There is help available to you. We understand the stigma that pregnant moms face and know how hard it can be to come forward and admit to a substance abuse problem when you’re supposed to be putting your issues aside now to care for someone else. For now, stop worrying about what other people might say and focus on the health of your baby. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters, and getting help is the best choice you can make for him or her. Education sessions received during treatment can greatly aid you on the path to sobriety. In addition, you’ll find that therapy and a hefty dose of support from fellow group members may carry you through to childbirth and beyond.
At Futures of Palm Beach, you can learn to be the mother you always wanted to be while nurturing yourself and your baby back to good health. Call today for more information.