Pregnancy should be an amazing and awakening experience. It just goes to show us how incredible the human body is. I mean, you’re growing and nurturing another person through your own body. But that means that your body needs to be clean, healthy, and comfortable for your little one. She’ll be spending nine months in there, after all. Addiction throws a terrible, scary wrench into the situation. Not only does addiction compromise your own health and lifespan, but suffering through addiction while pregnant diminishes your baby’s chances of living or coming out healthy.
If you find yourself pregnant in your addiction, you should seek help immediately. But many people don’t know where to start. We understand; it’s a scary and stressful situation. Your life and your baby’s life are at stake. Just take a deep breath and remember that treatment is the best option for your sake as well as your child’s.
What to do if You’re a Pregnant Addict:
Yes, we know telling someone to remain calm is cliché and generally futile. But it’s crucial in this situation. Nutrients aren’t the only things that are transferred from you to your baby in utero. It has been proven that stress hormones that are released into a mother’s bloodstream can cross through the placenta and reach a baby in the womb. That means if a mother is stressed, the baby can feel it. Anxiety, stress, and fear all trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol. However, stress hormones reaching your unborn child is not the only danger. High cortisol levels can lower immune function, increase blood pressure, and lead to mental illness, all of which can be extremely detrimental to pregnancy.
It’s important that you try to remain calm if you find yourself pregnant while suffering from addiction. It will be hard for you to appropriately make decisions and get help if you’re in a state of panic. Make sure that your mind is healthy so that your pregnancy can be too. This should not only be your first step, but it is also something you should continue to do throughout your pregnancy and recovery. Stress management will never stop being important for your health, your baby’s health, and your overall recovery.
Get Prenatal Care
This is your first concrete step. Prenatal care is important for every pregnancy. But it’s especially important if you’re a pregnant addict. Prenatal care is the healthcare that you receive from a doctor, nurse, or midwife during pregnancy. It’s basically regular check-ups to make sure your pregnancy runs smoothly and stays healthy. This includes check-ups, development monitoring, and routine testing. The typical prenatal care schedule for someone who is healthy is every four to six weeks for the first 32 weeks, every two to three weeks for weeks 32 to 37, and every week from week 37 until delivery. But again, that’s for someone who is healthy.
If you’re struggling with addiction, you’re not healthy. You will be considered a high-risk pregnancy case. That means that getting prenatal care is especially important during your pregnancy, specifically. Your doctor will probably want to see you more often to try and help you and your baby through your pregnancy.
Find an Addiction Treatment Facility that Accepts Pregnant Women
Addiction is a disease. Chronic substance abuse can actually change brain chemistry, which in turn changes the way a person thinks, feels, and acts. That’s why so many addicts pick up other unhealthy habits on top of their addictions. The drugs that you use also pass through the placenta to your baby, just as regular food would. Your baby can actually be born addicted to the drugs you’re using if you don’t get help for your addiction.
A 2012 national survey found that 5.9% of pregnant women use illicit drugs while 8.5% drink alcohol in the United States.
Treatment is the best way to fight addiction. Many drugs require medical detox. Detox safely eliminates the toxins that substance abuse puts into your body. That’s not something that is done independently at home. A treatment facility also helps people manage withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, insomnia, tremors, and cravings. Not only is withdrawal painful or unbearable for the addict, it’s also very dangerous during pregnancy. For example, sudden opioid withdrawal can be fatal for an unborn baby as it can cause respiratory depression for the baby. All legitimate detox facilities understand the complications that addiction and detox can put on a pregnancy. But not all facilities are equipped to handle those complications. It’s important to find a treatment facility that can tailor its program to a pregnant addict so that you receive the best care possible.
If you find yourself pregnant while struggling with addiction, you should seek help as soon as possible.
Carrying, growing, and giving life to a child is an amazing thing. Don’t let your addiction take the joys of the experience away from you. And don’t let it be the thing that takes away your child’s health or life.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, pregnant or not, please call us at 855-737-7363. We want to help.