Pregnancy and Addiction
When women become pregnant they must make a number of sometimes tough changes to their lifestyle for the health of the baby including giving up things like alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine. This can be a difficult shift in their usual habits for most women but what about for those who struggle with a serious addiction? Women with either an alcohol or drug problem who suddenly become pregnant must make the choice between quitting their addiction or risking their child’s health. Pregnancy and addiction is unfortunately not an uncommon combination.
Any substance that a woman consumes while pregnant can be transferred to her baby by passing through the placenta which is the organ that provides nutrition and oxygen in the womb. Toxins from alcohol and tobacco can interfere with the baby’s development and certain illicit drugs transfer to the baby and cause them to develop a dependency. Unfortunately many children are born dependent on drugs due to their mother’s substance abuse while pregnant.
In order to have a healthy pregnancy women must be very careful about what they eat, making sure to have a healthy diet and get enough rest and light exercise. Even adhering to a strict healthy regimen, there is still a chance for pregnancy complications. Needless to day, drug use and addiction while pregnant can dramatically increase the risk for these kinds of complications.
Possible Complications Due to Addiction
Having a healthy infant can a challenge in many situations but drug use while pregnant can lead to a lot of potential issues.
– Miscarriage and Stillbirth
Health problems and other issues can cause a child to pass away inside the womb before coming to term. A miscarriage occurs when a baby does not survive before the 24th week of pregnancy. A stillbirth occurs when a baby reaches the 24th week but is born with no sign of life. Drug and alcohol abuse as well as smoking can greatly contribute to the chances of a miscarriage or stillbirth.
– Placenta Abruption
This is a condition in which the placenta separates from the uterine wall before labor causing serious developmental problems. It is infrequently caused by a sudden impact to the abdomen but is much more commonly caused by smoking or drug and alcohol use during pregnancy.
– Premature Labor and Birth
Health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and drug addiction can cause a baby to be born about 3 weeks earlier than the due date. Babies that are born prematurely have many complications with their health including difficulty breathing, eating and drinking. Premature babies require intensive medical support for weeks or even months after they are born.
– Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to a number of disorders caused by alcohol reaching the baby through the umbilical cord. Babies can be born with various physical deformities and learning disabilities due to alcohol use.
– Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
Opioid use during pregnancy has become a growing problem in the U.S. and can cause the baby to be born with a dependency. Neonatal abstinence syndrome occurs when the child is born addicted to opioids and experiences withdrawal symptoms after birth including vomiting, sweating, seizure, trembling and more.
Recovering from Addiction while Pregnant
Not only does alcohol and drug use cause serious health risks to the child, addiction while pregnant can also be dangerous to the mother. Pregnant women need to take special care of their health to cope with the physical stress and strain of carrying a child. Women who abuse drugs while pregnant are more likely to experience serious health issues that can put their life at risk.
In order to have a safe and healthy pregnancy, it is crucial for any woman suffering from addiction to get professional help. Health professionals can assess the situation and develop a treatment plan that will improve her physical health and allow her to stay abstinent from drugs and alcohol. They can help place the mother in the right detox center and treatment program that will meet her physical and emotional needs.
It is important for a pregnant woman to be closely monitored throughout detox to prevent seizures or any of the more dangerous symptoms of withdrawal that could affect her health. By going through detox, they can rid their body of any chemicals or toxins that could harm the baby and avoid any type of dependency for the child. Click here to learn more about what to expect from the process of detoxification.
Most specialized addiction centers will treat women who are pregnant and give them the care they need to remain sober throughout their pregnancy. After their child is born, women in recovery should continue to attend support group meetings or an aftercare program to ensure that they can avoid relapse in the early months of motherhood. With the right kind of treatment pregnant women can avoid any drug use and safely give birth to a healthy and happy child.