Substance Abuse and Pregnancy
Addiction is a disease that has no known cure and it does not discriminate. It can happen to any individual race, religion, age group, and even mothers of unborn children. Having the disease of addiction does not make you a bad person; it simply means you need help. This includes women who are pregnant. A mother who abuses drugs does not want to hurt her baby, she just doesn’t know how to stop. Sherri is a mother of two and abused drugs during both pregnancies merely because she didn’t have the tools and knowledge to maintain her disease. Although her first born suffered no repercussions of her using the consequences of using drugs while pregnant are significant.
How can Drugs and Alcohol Affect your Pregnancy?
Drugs and alcohol can cause problems before pregnancy occurs, including:
- Infertility, which means a woman is incapable of having children.
- Placenta problems. The placenta is produced in a woman’s uterus and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Drug and alcohol abuse can cause a woman to be incapable of feeding a fetus before it is even conceived.
Alcohol and drug use by the expecting mother can lead to long-term effects on the unborn fetus, including:
- Miscarriage. A miscarriage is when an unborn child dies in the womb.
- Stillbirth. A stillbirth is when a child is born or had died in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
A baby born to a mother who has abused drugs and alcohol can have fatal problems, including:
- Low birth weight.
- Premature birth is when a baby is born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.
- Heart defects.
- Birth defects. A birth defect is a condition that presents itself at birth. Birth defects can deform one or more parts of the baby’s body. They can cause problems with how the baby develops, how his or her body works, and their overall health.
- NAS or Neonatal abstinence syndrome. This is a fatal health condition where the baby has, unfortunately, become addicted the drugs and/or alcohol. NAS can happen to the baby in the womb and when he or she is born, he or she will go through withdrawals.
- Infectious health conditions, including Hepatitis C and HIV. These health conditions can occur when the mother has used and shared needles with others who have the infection. A mother can pass the infection to the unborn fetus during pregnancy or at birth.
Abusing drugs and alcohol can also cause problems for the child later in life, including:
- Sudden infant death syndrome, also called SIDS. This is a condition where the child dies unexpectedly in its sleep.
- Slow growth rate.
- Learning and behavioral problems.
There is a multitude of ways drugs and alcohol can affect the unborn, just born, and growing child. It is vital to get treatment to save your baby from health and even fatal conditions that can occur during pregnancy or after birth. Sherri had to experience her child going through withdrawals first hand. This also caused Sherri trouble with the law. She got her children taken away and fought for a long time to get them back after she cleaned herself up in treatment.
Treatment while Pregnant
Getting treatment for addiction is vital when it comes down to your health and your baby’s health. It’s important to go to your health care provider because a sudden stop of drugs and alcohol can cause a miscarriage or a stillbirth. You will need to ween yourself off properly in order to have a safe and effective treatment. If you or a loved one is pregnant and looking for treatment- you do not have to go through this alone. We are here to help. Just call the addiction hotline and we ca guide you in the direction you desire. Addiction Hotline: (866) 578-7471.