Drug use during pregnancy is a serious matter. Mothers who take drugs during pregnancy can cause severe congenital disabilities or even miscarriage. So it's essential to understand how substance abuse affects the growing fetus and what you can do to help your baby.
In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 2 million women in the U.S. have used illegal drugs while pregnant. That's about 5 percent of all pregnancies.
It's a growing problem for both mother and baby: NIDA reports that between 2002 and 2014, there was a 31 percent increase in babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). NAS occurs when newborns withdraw from exposure to addictive substances in utero or through breast milk; symptoms include tremors, seizures, and difficulty sleeping or feeding.
The more you know about pregnancy and substance abuse, the better equipped you'll be to make informed decisions. Even if you've been drinking or using drugs before getting pregnant, stopping as soon as possible is crucial. Some of the effects of substance use can continue for generations after exposure. In addition, your child may be affected by your decision to drink or take drugs while pregnant, even if they don't have any physical symptoms.
Substance abuse during pregnancy can cause problems for both mom and baby:
Alcohol can have several effects on your developing baby:
For example, the U.S. Surgeon General recommends that pregnant women limit their alcohol consumption to one daily drink. However, that recommendation was later removed from their website after evidence showed no benefit in doing so and a risk of harm to the baby by increasing vulnerability to alcohol-related congenital disabilities. Why is this important? The health of your baby is at stake.
Your doctor may tell you that it's okay to have an occasional glass of wine or beer during pregnancy because it won't harm your unborn child—but that's not true. There are no known safe levels of alcohol exposure while pregnant.
You may be wondering how opiates are becoming more common during pregnancy. Opiates are a class of drugs that include heroin, prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet, and synthetic versions of these drugs. When you use these substances during pregnancy, it can cause serious harm to the developing fetus. This is because these substances travel through your bloodstream to your baby, slowing their development or even preventing them from being born. In addition, if a pregnant woman uses an opiate with other drugs—including alcohol—it could also lead to complications for both mother and baby.
There are several issues related to methamphetamine use during pregnancy. First, it's essential to know that methamphetamine is a stimulant that speeds up the nervous system and heart. Methamphetamine can also cause an increase in blood pressure and body temperature.
Methamphetamine is dangerous because it has many potential side effects that can harm you and your baby if used while pregnant. For example, it’s been linked to severe congenital disabilities in newborn babies whose mothers had used meth during their pregnancies, including heart problems (transposition of great vessels), cleft lip or palate, clubfoot deformity, and other limb malformations of the arms or legs.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the US, and it’s also the most popular among pregnant women. Unfortunately, pregnant women who use marijuana are more likely to have complications during pregnancy and labor, such as having a C-section or developing anemia.
Marijuana use is also linked to lower birth weight, leading to problems later in life like lower IQ scores and higher rates of childhood obesity.
It's not just alcohol that can affect your unborn baby. Other drugs can be harmful, too. According to the Office on Women's Health, smoking marijuana during pregnancy could cause your baby to have a low birth weight and even a lower IQ than average. Cocaine use can also lead to premature birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth, especially if done in large amounts or over time. Methamphetamines may cause similar problems during pregnancy as cocaine and may lead to developmental delays or mental disabilities in children exposed before birth.
Talk with your doctor about how to do this safely and under supervision. You might also want help from a mental health professional or support group. Receiving support from loved ones and friends can also be necessary for your recovery.
If you find yourself in a situation where you're struggling with addiction and want to get help, there are several resources available. Get in touch with Passages today if you need drug or alcohol addiction treatment. Our admissions team is standing by to take your call and answer all your questions. Most insurance is accepted, so please do not hesitate to get the help you need.
Remember that your baby is still developing and doesn't have the same protection as an adult. Seizures and heart and respiratory issues are among the most severe withdrawal complications. Brain damage can occur as well. In addition, because infants' systems aren't as hyperthermic.
While the effects of substance abuse during pregnancy can be devastating, it's vital that you know that help is available. In addition, if you have a loved one who's struggling with addiction and is pregnant, there are things you can do to support them in their recovery from substance abuse. Call Passages Malibu today for a free consultation and speak with an admissions coordinator who can provide detailed information about our non-12-Step addiction treatment facility in Malibu, California. Most insurance is accepted.