The Need for Pregnancy and Addiction Help
Anyone who’s struggling with drug and alcohol addiction needs help, but if you’re pregnant, the need for immediate treatment is even more crucial. It’s not just your life at stake anymore — you also have a baby to look out for. Everything a pregnant woman puts into her body is shared with her child. For this reason, proper nutrition during pregnancy is vital. Avoiding alcohol and drugs is part of this. If you’re coping with pregnancy and addiction issues, look into treatment options today, for your health and the health of your unborn child.
Pregnancy and Addiction: Get the Treatment You Need
Above all, expecting mothers want their babies to be born healthy. Pregnancy is an exciting time for many women. If, however, you have a substance abuse disorder, you may be overwhelmed with anxiety. You know you need to get clean. You desperately want to quit using it. But addiction is powerful, and even the best of intentions aren’t enough. No one wants to expose their child to such substances, but going through an uncomfortable withdrawal is not a pleasant thought either. Most women know what the drugs and alcohol do to their bodies, but not all of them understand what it truly does to their unborn baby.
How Do Certain Drugs Affect an Unborn Baby?
The following information will give you a better understanding of the different substances’ effects on a baby:
How Marijuana Affects an Unborn Baby
Marijuana crosses through the placenta to the baby Like any substance you smoke, the toxins lower the oxygen supply to the baby. If you had been using marijuana and found out you were pregnant, you should stop immediately. Stopping as soon as you find out in the first trimester, you should not have caused any harm. But if you continue to use marijuana during the remainder of the pregnancy, it can lead to miscarriage, developmental delays, premature birth, learning, and behavior issues.
How Cocaine Affects an Unborn Baby
Cocaine crosses through the placenta to the baby. Cocaine leaves a baby’s body at a much slower rate than an adult. The use of cocaine during the first trimester significantly increases the chance of miscarriage. Using cocaine later in pregnancy can lead to severe bleeding/placenta abruption, a 25% increase in premature birth or the baby could die. The more a woman uses cocaine while pregnant the higher the risk of birth defects. A baby exposed to cocaine in the last trimester will experience horrible withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, spasms, sleep issues, and eating issues. As well as damage to the brain, kidneys, and genitals. No amount of cocaine is safe for an unborn baby so it is very important to stop before getting pregnant or at least the second you find out you are pregnant.
How Opioids Affect an Unborn Baby
Opioids also cross through the placenta to the baby. Opioids are such addictive drugs; the unborn baby can become dependent very easily. Opioid use can cause premature birth or low birth weight and even death. Babies can be born with breathing problems, bleeding in the brain, and low blood sugar.
The withdrawal symptoms of opioids that a baby has to suffer through are convulsions, joint stiffness, fever, diarrhea, irritability, sleep issues. And mothers who inject the drug run the risk of passing HIV to the baby. If you are addicted to opioids and find out you are pregnant, it is vital to seek help immediately in order to get the safest and healthiest path to recovery.
How Methamphetamines Affect an Unborn Baby
Methamphetamines cause an increased heart rate in mothers and the unborn baby. The effects of meth are very similar to the effects of cocaine. It causes the baby to receive less oxygen than normal. Meth can cause premature birth, miscarriage, and placental abruption. Withdrawal symptoms that a baby will have to suffer through include feeding issues, tremors, sleep issues, and muscle spasms. Heroin use during pregnancy also leads to learning difficulties as the child ages. If you are addicted to meth and are pregnant, please get help immediately.
How Drugs Combined with Alcohol Affect an Unborn Baby
A woman who drinks alcohol in combination with drugs while pregnant can cause these additional problems for the baby:
- Heart defects– Combining alcohol and drugs can cause heart defects, mainly septal defects, also known as a hole in the heart.
- HIV and Hep C– When combining alcohol and drugs, the chance of using dirty needles increases. The use of dirty needles runs the risk of passing HIV or Hep C on to the unborn baby.
- Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome(NAS)– This syndrome defines the withdrawal symptoms a newborn goes through when the mother was an opioid addict. With the right treatment, the baby will show improvement in a few days but will suffer long term health issues.
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD’s)– FASD’s are a group of conditions that a baby who is born to an alcoholic mother has to suffer. Some of these conditions will affect the baby for the rest of their life. This includes physical problems, as well as learning and behavioral issues.
Although there are many addiction treatment facilities throughout the U.S., finding programs that cater to pregnant women can be more beneficial for you.
Specialized Care for Pregnant Women With Addiction Issues
A pregnant woman who is also an addict will have special concerns and needs compared to the average pregnant woman. These questions include:
- Where do I go?
- What can I do without hurting the baby?
- Is the baby ok?
- How do I get sober?
- How am I going to be a mother and focus on my sobriety?
Don’t worry. There is an addiction specialist that can answer all those questions for you and help you down the safest path to sobriety and delivering a healthy baby.
Pregnancy and Addiction Programs
Because of the increased need for services for pregnant women, more rehabs are offering specialized programs to meet this need. Addiction specialists understand the importance of treating pregnancy and addiction issues. They’ll provide appropriate detox options as well as ongoing rehab treatment. While a healthy, full-term pregnancy is a priority, it’s also imperative to give mothers treatment that leads to lasting recovery. The care that we provide for pregnant women with addiction issues takes into account both conditions.
Addiction Detox for Expecting Mothers
Detox is the scariest part of getting sober and should be done under medical supervision. Every addict has gone through withdrawals of some degree, but this time you can not run back to what put you here in the first place. When struggling with pregnancy and addiction the process is more complicated. Detoxing a pregnant woman also requires detoxing the unborn baby. Depending on the substance that the woman is addicted to depends on the method of detox.
If the woman is addicted to opioids, they may be prescribed methadone in order to detox safely, in cases like these, the baby will still go through withdrawal symptoms after birth.
If the woman is addicted to alcohol, the risks of detox are higher. The medicines used to help with detoxing off alcohol come with severe side effects by themselves. Medicines like benzodiazepines can cause cleft-lip or floppy infant syndrome (ragdoll appearance). During detox, women will start learning tools to keep them on the path of sobriety and to prepare them for the next phase of rehab. Detox alone will not keep a pregnant woman clean and sober. After detox, you should be immediately enrolled in an inpatient rehab center.
Prenatal Services for Expecting Mothers
It is important for the unborn baby to start healthy habits as soon as possible. Expecting mothers will be prenatal care and check-ups, nutritional plans, and structured daily schedules along with their schedule and commitments to their sobriety. Services like these improve the health and well being of the mother and the baby.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT can be extremely beneficial for those struggling with pregnancy and addiction as it re-teaches them healthy choices and behaviors. If life stresses were too overwhelming when you only had to care for yourself, adding a helpless baby to the mix can be more than a recovering addict can handle. In CBT, mothers will learn healthy coping skills and how to turn negative thoughts and actions into positive ones. Women will learn the tools they need to stay sober and not travel down the road of addiction again.
Peer Support Groups
Peer support groups are not considered a “treatment” program because they are not led by a therapist. Peer groups are normally led by a selected longtime member. Alcoholics Anonymous is an example of a peer support group. The friendships and the support systems made in groups like these are vital to a recovering addict’s continued sobriety. In support groups, conversations range from the little things that happened during the day to “Something triggered me today, and I almost relapsed.”
For pregnant mothers, they create a special bond because they are not only trying to stay sober for themselves but also their baby. They exchange advice about morning sickness and swollen ankles to what sparked a craving to the fears of becoming responsible for another human.
Group therapy can be intimidating when you think about talking in front of a bunch of strangers. Just remember everyone has been the new person once, and you are in a judgment-free zone. A licensed therapist will lead the group in exploring individual experiences, and with the support of the group will find healthy ways to process these experiences.
4 Group Therapy Topics
- Triggers- The key to staying sober is knowing what triggers you to use. Members of the group will share their triggers, and for those who have found helpful ways to handle those triggers, they will offer what worked for them. As time passes, you may find underlying triggers you didn’t know about. Having a great support group to turn to for support and advice is beneficial for continued sobriety.
- Self Care- Taking care of yourself is an important aspect of sobriety. There should be time every day devoted to self-care. For some, that means meditation and self-discovery, while for others, it could be pampering themselves or taking a hike through the woods. Members of the group will share what they do for themselves, and that could inspire others to try the same things.
- Negative Influences- Treatment is not only designed to help you get sober but also to help keep you on the sober path once you leave. It is important to be prepared to handle any and all negative influences in your life and how to handle them without sacrificing your sobriety. These negative influences could be friends or family members to places or jobs that could influence you to relapse. By sharing these influences between members of the group, it may give insight to another member that they never considered before.
- Coping Strategies- While in treatment, it is important to develop and build strategies of how to handle situations that may tempt you to relapse. Having mock situations in a group setting allows multiple views and solutions to the situation. The old saying is, “Two heads are better than one,” and in the fight to stay sober, the more tools in your arsenal, the better.
Whatever your idea of family is, these counseling sessions are to educate the family, rebuild bonds that have been broken and heal sadness and hurt. When some people think of family, they think of blood relatives. For others, they think anyone inside their circle, family, and friends that became family.
One of the biggest focuses of family therapy is education. Family members will develop a better understanding of why the addict behaved the way they did. And will get answers to questions like why can’t an addict just stop. The therapist will help educate the family members and may direct them to their local Al-Anon or Nar-Anon for more support.
For a lot of addicts, they do not have the greatest connections with family anymore, and some never did. And for others, members of their family have enabled their addiction. In family counseling, it will require brutal honesty for the therapist to help fix the deepest of issues. A woman who has been addicted for a long time has probably destroyed any bit of trust from her family. After years of lies, trust can not be repaired overnight. But with hard work to prove that you are committed, trust can be rebuilt.
All addicts need a 24/7 support system, but a pregnant addict is going to need even more support. Not only will she be fighting a battle for sobriety, but she will also be scared about the future of raising a baby. In the past, she was only concerned with feeding her addiction. The fear of having a helpless little human, depending on her to survive, can be overwhelming and can cause her to relapse. Having a strong support system, especially a mother or mother figure, can help greatly in easing these fears. Family therapy is vital to not only the sobriety of the addict but the health and wellbeing of the baby.
A Comprehensive Approach for Pregnancy and Addiction
A women’s drug rehab program may provide specialized care that pregnant women need. Professionals know that some women are stuck in domestic violence situations or codependent relationships. The right rehab plan takes a comprehensive approach to their care.
It will address underlying issues and give you the coping mechanisms that will help you avoid relapse. Not only can you be a sober parent, but you can also be a more stable one, too. Make the best decision for you and your child and get started on your path to sobriety.
Supportive and Compassionate Addiction Treatment for Expecting Mothers
Crest View Recovery Center is an addiction treatment facility in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. We promote reality therapy, which prepares clients for life after rehab. Here, in our intimate setting, you’ll take part in real-life scenarios, under supervision, and develop vital life skills and coping techniques along the way.
The addiction therapy services we offer for pregnancy and addiction include:
Are you ready to experience a healthier future? The professionals at CVRC can help you or a loved one overcome addiction and change your life for the better. Contact us today to learn more.