Due to the fragile development of a fetus during pregnancy, the use of any external substances can cause issues that permanently change how that baby will live. Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are all addictive substances that can lead to potentially life-threatening conditions for infants before they’re even born. Being able to find help for substance abuse while pregnant not only helps give you the best years of your life, but also for your child.
Addiction recovery for pregnant women is extremely important as many women dealing with substance abuse while carrying a child are too embarrassed to seek help. Even those struggling with marijuana use, something many see as “safe”, can benefit from treatment as the drug can still have severe health impacts despite the mother not personally feeling them.
Why Recovery Is So Important While Pregnant
The sooner substance abuse ends, the less damage can be done to the fetus. There’s no early warning system that tells you when you need to stop before your baby is hurt which makes it even more urgent to tackle your addiction as soon as possible. The reason infants are so susceptible to the impacts of drug use is that the placenta readily absorbs and passes through what it can from the mother.
Smoking drugs, taking pain relievers, or abusing prescription drugs can all increase the risk of a stillbirth by 2-3 times. Even understanding the risks, it’s estimated that around 5 percent of women who are pregnant are also abusing drugs or alcohol. This showcases how addiction is more than a lack of will power and that struggling mothers shouldn’t be worried about asking for help.
Symptoms of substance abuse while pregnant can lead to the child being dependent on drugs or alcohol the moment they’re born. Known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, it works the same as normal withdrawals. The baby’s brain and internal processes were altered to accommodate an outside substance and when they leave the womb, they no longer have access and can start showing withdrawal symptoms right away.
The Risks of Substance Abuse for Infants
Since newborns don’t have the same level of speech and motor function of adults, the way they exhibit withdrawal symptoms can differ slightly. The most common signs that a baby is going through withdrawals are:
- extreme bouts of crying and high-pitched screaming
- discolored skin
- fever and sweating
- vomiting and diarrhea
- hyperactivity and increased reflexes
- presence of toned muscles
- inability to properly eat
- trembling and seizures
- congestion and sneezing
The difficult in diagnosing an infant with withdrawals is that the sources of symptoms such as excessive crying or digestive issues can be varied. Unless the mother has informed hospital staff that she was using drugs or drinking while pregnant, they may not be able to provide them with the help they need. Sharing your story with medical professionals is the safest path forward for you and your newborn.
One of the most heartbreaking problems facing soon-to-be-mothers is the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. SIDS can impact any child, but mothers who drink and smoke after the first trimester greatly increase the chances of it happening. Other long-term effects of fetal drug absorption are premature birth, low weight, small head size, and other birth defects caused by the disruption to their development.
Get Help for Your Family Today
America’s Rehab Campus is here to make sure you and your family receive world-class care in comfortable, safe conditions. Our resort-style accommodations are here to make recovery as comfortable as possible for you and your little one. Those close to you can also visit and take part in therapy that brings everyone together in this time of healing. All it takes is to reach out to the ARC team today.