Finding out you are pregnant is a wonderful and happy moment for most people, but sometimes it can be a scary and lonely time for others. The problem can be made worse by an addiction the mother might have to drugs, alcohol and smoking. Being pregnant means that you are now drinking and eating for two, everything you consume can have a direct effect on the growing baby.
Alcohol and drugs are dangerous to both mother and baby. The baby is connected to the mother by the placenta and umbilical cord and everything you consume will be shared with the baby. The chemicals and toxins can have devastating effects on the unborn child.
The risks involved also depend on the type of substance used, how often it is used and also at which time during pregnancy was the substance used. Obviously using any addictive substance at any time during pregnancy is not a good idea, but the early developing stages are particularly dangerous for the unborn baby.
Heroin and cocaine are some of the drugs that can be dangerous, but there are also the over the counter drugs and prescription drugs that can be a problem. What are some of the general affects that can occur while pregnant?
- Having a miscarriage
- Bringing the child to term but being stillborn
- The baby can be much smaller in size and weight
- May cause the mother to have a premature birth
- Some babies may suffer from various birth defects
- The baby can become drug dependant and even experience the withdrawal symptoms after birth.
After a child has been born and the mother is still using drugs, it can still be passed onto the baby via the breast milk and cause even more harm.
Let’s look at two of the more general addictions of alcohol and smoking.
Alcohol and pregnancy
It is important to eat and drink healthy when pregnant, drinking alcohol like any other liquid, will reach the baby. The developing baby cannot handle or process the alcohol like an adult can. The alcohol builds up and becomes concentrated, this in turn prevents the necessary nutrients and oxygen from getting to the baby. One of the main concerns for the unborn child is known as Foetal alcohol Syndrome, this is a congenital syndrome that can produce both mental and physical defects. The baby may also have to endure withdrawal symptoms like, irritability which results in poor feeding a few hours after birth.
Next time you are thinking of having a glass or two of wine while you are pregnant, think again. This is especially true in the first three months of growth, where important organ development is taking place.
Smoking and pregnancy
Smoking can have various detrimental effects on the smoker, like cancer and other health issues. Smoking while pregnant can also have negative effect on the unborn child. Some of the problems that may arise are:
- Just like alcohol or drugs, smoking can increase the chances of a miscarriage or premature birth.
- If you are trying to fall pregnant, smoking might be the cause you are finding it hard to get pregnant.
- There is an increased chance of the baby suffering from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- The chances increase for the baby to be born with birth defects.
- The unborn baby is not getting enough oxygen and therefore nutrients, which can slow the baby’s growth and cause other unnecessary complications.
By taking the positive step towards quitting smoking, you can provide a better and healthier life for your baby and yourself. The problem is, it is not that easy to quit. An addiction is very difficult to put aside even if you have a huge incentive. Don’t try quitting on your own, talk to your GP and ask for help. Involve those around you and ask for their support, it won’t be easy but it will definitely be worth it.