Using drugs while pregnant is no one’s ideal situation. However, there are many women who find themselves abusing drugs while pregnant — often because of circumstances beyond their control. They may have had no plans to become pregnant during this time of their lives, they may be coping with an existing drug addiction when they find out they are pregnant, or they may become addicted to a medication prescribed to originally aid them during their pregnancy.
If you are taking drugs while pregnant, know that you are not alone — and there is help for you. Addiction is a terrible disease, and we know that the majority of addicts would change their ways if they only had the support to do so. We do not judge you for the situation you are in now; we want to help you have the healthiest pregnancy possible, no matter how far along you are.
About 1 in 20 women take illicit or street drugs during their pregnancy. But, if you are a pregnant woman addicted to drugs, it’s easy to feel like you are all alone. There is far less support for mothers addicted to drugs while pregnant than there should be, and many women in your situation are too scared of legal repercussions to get the help they want and need during this time. If you truly want what is best for you and your baby, always remember there are options.
Below, we’ve gathered some of the most important information you need if you are a pregnant woman on drugs. We encourage you to use this information to get the support you need to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
For immediate support, please call:
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence: 800-622-2225
- Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator: 800-662-4357
The Dangers of Doing Drugs While Pregnant
You’ve probably heard it time and time again: Abusing drugs while pregnant is dangerous for both you and your unborn baby. We know that shaming a pregnant woman addicted to drugs with this information often harms more than it helps her, so remember this: If you are taking drugs while pregnant, you are not inherently a bad mother. You are simply a woman stuck in an impossible situation. By coming to this website, you’re actually taking the first steps to doing the best by your unborn child.
When you are a mother using drugs while pregnant, you may not know that you are often creating a drug dependency for your child, too. Everything that you take into your body passes through your bloodstream to your baby. When they are born, they will likely be addicted to the substances that you are taking — and they will feel every effect that you do but magnified.
- Heart attacks
- Respiratory failure
- Birth defects
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Stillborn babies
Finding the ability to stop abusing drugs while pregnant can often seem impossible. But, know that however far along you are in your pregnancy, if you take the steps to overcome your addiction, you are choosing to do the best for your child. Whether you are four or 28 weeks along, reducing your drug intake is the first step to providing the healthiest pregnancy for you and your baby.
For more information on how using drugs while pregnant can affect your developing baby, please reach out to your local obstetrician.
Your Options if You are Abusing Drugs While Pregnant
If you are abusing street drugs or prescription drugs while pregnant, you likely have many worries: your legal status should your abuse be reported, your baby’s health while in utero, your own health during pregnancy and after, what you will do once your baby is born and more. This can be incredibly overwhelming. Remember this: You are capable of finding the support you need and, if you wish to stop taking drugs while pregnant, you always have the power to start trying.
You may not know where to start, and that’s normal. Whether you are thinking, “I did drugs before I knew I was pregnant,” or “I’m a pregnant woman addicted to drugs,” here are a few steps to begin whenever you are ready.
1. Seek out treatment centers.
If you are currently taking drugs while pregnant, the first thing you need to do is find a treatment center. Addiction is a seemingly impossible disease, and overcoming it will be so much easier when you have the support of a trained professional.
Finding a treatment center in your area can be tricky, especially if you are using illegal drugs while pregnant. You may be worried that you will be reported and arrested, but remember that these treatment centers are here to help you. If you ever were to find yourself in legal jeopardy, many judges would even offer you the option of a treatment center instead of a jail sentence. You can read more about your state laws on taking drugs when pregnant here.
If you are a pregnant woman on drugs, please consider reaching out to these counseling hotlines to find a treatment center near you:
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence: 1-800-622-2225
- Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator: 1-800-662-4357
- National Drug Helpline: 1-888-633-3239
2. Talk with your obstetrician.
Before taking prescription drugs while pregnant, you must always speak with an obstetrician. No drug is 100 percent safe to take during pregnancy, but your doctor is the one who can determine the safest medical protocol for your personal situation.
Similarly, if you are thinking, “I did drugs before I knew I was pregnant,” seeing an obstetrician is the best way to determine how this may have affected your developing fetus. They will evaluate your health and the health of your baby and provide suggestions to help you make the remainder of your pregnancy as healthy as possible.
Sometimes, if you are a pregnant woman addicted to drugs and further along in your pregnancy, quitting your substance can actually do more harm than good. Your obstetrician (in combination with a treatment professional) is the best person to guide you through this process and keep you and your baby healthy.
3. Think about your pregnancy options.
If you are a pregnant woman doing drugs, it’s common to only think about the present: how you will keep yourself safe, how you can overcome your addiction, etc. But, it’s also important to think about what you will do once your baby is born.
If you are taking drugs while pregnant and leave your addiction untreated, you will still be struggling with addiction when your baby comes into the world. If you have drugs in your system at the time of your baby’s birth, there is a high probability that the state will take custody of your child. You will likely be deemed unfit to be a parent, and your child will be placed in the foster care system until the time when you are ready to parent, if that time ever comes.
If you intend to parent your child, but you are doing drugs while pregnant, you will need to enter a treatment program as soon as possible. You must be able to prove you can provide a safe environment for your baby at the time of their birth. It takes a lot of work to prepare for a baby in an ideal situation; when you are a mother using drugs while pregnant, it is much harder. If possible, you might turn to family and friends for help with a temporary guardianship or find a specific program that assists new mothers like you.
Perhaps you know you can’t provide the life you want for your child. Maybe you have attempted treatment before, or you know that you will need some alone time after childbirth to renew your focus on your recovery. You can give your child the life and opportunities you want for them by placing them for adoption. This path allows you to avoid your child’s placement into the foster care system and gives you more control over your child’s future.
In adoption, you can choose the parents you wish to raise your child, as well as what kind of contact you wish to have with them and your child after the adoption is finished. Your adoption agency will never judge you but instead will work with you to get you the support and treatment you need during your pregnancy. Your adoption professional can also provide financial support for these medical costs and other pregnancy-related costs, depending on your state laws.
If you are a pregnant woman addicted to drugs and worried about your baby’s future, adoption may be the best answer for you.
Using drugs while pregnant is an incredibly difficult situation to be in — but don’t forget that you always have options and there are always resources available to you. Please don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it; you are stronger than your disease.