Drug & Alcohol Abuse During Pregnancy - Why It's Not Okay

Pregnancy can be such a beautiful experience and many expecting mothers look forward to giving birth after going through the many stresses and changes that occur during this period.

Expecting mothers have to pay keen attention to what they consume as they can be transferred to their unborn child. Staying away from drugs will help to protect you and your baby’s life. You may be thinking that alcoholic beverages, marijuana, and cocaine are the only no zone drugs, but they are not. Taking certain over the counter drugs can harm your unborn child.


Effects of Alcohol use on the Fetus

Drinking too much alcohol can result in dangerous consequences on both the mother and child. Besides, there is no amount of alcohol that is said to be safe during pregnancy; so, it’s best to stay away from it.

Many do drugs and see it as an escape from reality as they experience some form of relaxation. However, whenever a child is involved, expecting mothers have to work assiduously to break the drug and alcohol addictions or consumption.


Here are the main reasons why you should avoid alcohol usage during pregnancy.


Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

One of the main effects of alcohol on the fetus or an unborn child is Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) which is a physical and mental defect or abnormality in fetal development. Infants with this condition are usually irritable and have a lack of desire to feed. They may also develop the following signs and symptoms:

  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Restricted growth
  • Difficulties seeing or hearing
  • Heart problems
  • Small head
  • Poor social skills
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Frequent changes in mood

The list goes on. We know the desire to drink can be overpowering but say no to alcohol and protect your unborn child.

Marijuana

Marijuana also known as pot or bud, can be very harmful to an unborn child. Whether by first had or second-hand smoking, marijuana can harm you or your unborn child. Smoking marijuana during pregnancy can affect your unborn child’s brain development which can further leads to other health, physical and social problems. These include poor academic performance, difficulty focusing and your baby might be born dead.

Cocaine

Using cocaine during pregnancy can have serious implications on the unborn child’s health. The child may develop heart problems, respiratory failure and seizures. If the child survives pregnancy, he or she may experience difficulty reasoning and focusing and the inability to perform tasks well.

Tobacco

This drug is considered to be one of the leading causes of lung cancer. Mothers, you can’t afford to allow your desire to smoke tobacco cause you to harm your unborn child. Tobacco contains nicotine which is a substance that causes the blood vessels to get narrow and reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that the baby receives. Nicotine can also permanently damage the fetus’s organs such as their lung and brain.

E-Cigarettes

Go with the time an age they say right? Not so with a pregnant woman. While E-cigarettes are the talk of the town and seem to be millennials favorite, it should be viewed as a pregnant or expecting mother’s worst enemy. While the media creates a beautiful and faultless image on e-cigarettes, studies have shown that it can harm your unborn child as it contains nicotine.

Opioids

These are medications that are used to relive pain. If you are given opioids by your doctor, you must both discuss the risk and benefits involved. Prolonged opioid use can lead to addiction and this can harm your unborn baby.

Bottom Line

If you are an active drug or alcohol user who is pregnant or who is planning on getting pregnant, you may want to consider holding off from drug and alcohol use to protect your child. If you are having difficulties in avoiding drugs or alcohol use, get medical help. Save you and your baby!

References

ACOG. Women's Health Care Physicians. ACOG. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Tobacco-Alcohol-Drugs-and-Pregnancy?IsMobileSet=false. Accessed October 9, 2019.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC Health & Wellbeing. Alcohol in pregnancy: why experts say no - Health & Wellbeing. https://www.abc.net.au/health/thepulse/stories/2014/04/22/3986116.htm. Published April 21, 2014. Accessed October 9, 2019.

CDC. Alcohol Use in Pregnancy | CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/alcohol-use.html. Accessed October 9, 2019.

Department of Health & Human Services. Alcohol and pregnancy. Better Health Channel. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Alcohol-and-pregnancy. Published December 29, 2016. Accessed October 9, 2019.

Healthline Team. Pregnancy, Alcohol and Drugs. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/alcohol-drugs. Published February 28, 2019. Accessed October 9, 2019.

IHS Gov. Alcohol and Substance Use During Pregnancy: Maternal and Child Health. Division of Clinical and Community Services. https://www.ihs.gov/dccs/mch/alcoholpregnancy/. Accessed October 9, 2019.

Mayo Clinic. Fetal alcohol syndrome. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fetal-alcohol-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20352901. Published January 10, 2018. Accessed October 9, 2019.

Pregnancy Birth and Baby. Alcohol & Pregnancy. Pregnancy Birth and Baby. https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/alcohol-and-pregnancy. Accessed October 9, 2019.

Wallace C, Burns L, Gilmour S, Hutchinson D. Substance use, psychological distress and violence among pregnant and breastfeeding Australian women. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 2007;31(1):51-56. doi:10.1111/j.1753-6405.2007.00010.x.

WebMD. Effects of Drugs & Alcohol During Pregnancy. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/baby/drug-use-and-pregnancy. Accessed October 9, 2019.

Nicolette Tomlinson

Nicolette is a Registered Nurse who is very passionate about health care and mental health. She's a contributor for a number of publications and loves to write about Travelling, Health, Nursing, Fitness, IT, Gardening, Academic Writing (APA), and Natural Hair Care.