It is important to keep yourself healthy during your pregnancy, that includes staying away from smoking, drinking and drugs. Often the cause of continuing these dangerous items is addiction. Addiction is a disease that shows at least three of the following:
- Higher tolerance – you have to use more of the substance to get the same effect or get ‘high’
- Withdraw symptoms after stopping the substance
- Using more of the substance for a longer period of time
- Knowing you want to quit or trying to quit and failing
- Spending a lot of time using or acquiring the substance
- Reducing or giving up on important work, social or recreational activities because of the substance
- Continuing use of the substance even if you know its a problem
- Making excuses so you can continue to use the substance instead of meeting responsibilities
If you meet at least 3 of the requirements above, it is important to get help. Talk to your health care provider about ways you can effectively and safely stop the substances. Prescription medications and some drugs can cause withdraw symptoms that can potentially be harmful for your baby.
Smoking during pregnancy has shown increased risk of of preterm birth, low birth rate babies, placenta problems and SIDS. If you smoke during pregnancy, you will expose your baby to the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. It will also decrease the amount of oxygen that gets to your baby since cigarette smoke constricts the blood vessels.
Second hand smoke can have the same harmful side-effects as smoking yourself, low birth weight babies, increased risk of SIDS and are more likely to have respiratory illnesses than those who are not exposed.
If you are considering getting pregnant or are pregnant you should contact your health care provider about help. You can also call 1-800-Quit-Now. If you are already pregnant, nicotine gum, the patch or a prescription medication should be used with caution and should only be used if other methods were unsuccessful. Smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes and nicotine gel strips are not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking.
Drinking during pregnancy can be dangerous because the alcohol will cross the placenta. Since the baby’s liver is underdeveloped, it makes it hard to break down the alcohol. There is a range of problems alcohol can cause, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a generic term given to the different effect alcohol can have on a developing baby. Fetal alcohol syndrome is the most severe disorder, it can cause growth problems, mental and behavioral problems and abnormal facial features. FAS is common in mothers who drink 3 or more drinks per occasion or 7 drinks per week. Although, it can effect babies whose mothers drank less. Since alcohol can affect people differently, there is no way to tell what amount can cause problems, therefore avoiding alcohol during pregnancy is the safest option.
Illegal drug use can cause problems during pregnancy and far beyond. Use of drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana can cause miscarriage, birth defects, preterm birth, fetal death and many other problems. It can also cause problems if the baby is born addicted to the drug. Drugs can also be passed to the baby through breast milk.
If your healthcare provider suspects drug use during your pregnancy, they can test your urine. In South Carolina, and other states it is considered child abuse and the results will be reported to the proper authorities. Therefore it is important to get help with drugs before you decide to get pregnant.
All information provided by a local OB/GYN
More from BelliesBabies+Beyond:
- Optimizing natural fertility
- Sleep positions while pregnant
- Top questions from dads during pregnancy
- Breastmilk Basics