How Do Drugs Affect Pregnancy?

Consider how drugs affect babies and what options mothers have in getting out of the drug epidemic.

You’ve just found out you’ll be a parent. You feel thrilled and maybe a little nervous. You wonder what your child will look like—their eye color, their hair, even their smile. Maybe you imagine what they will grow up to be. Then you are hit with the realization that your life hasn’t turned out how you planned it. Drugs or alcohol have become a habit in your life lately, and it isn’t stopping. Then you question whether you feel ready to be a parent. Your intention has always been to quit, but it hasn’t happened yet.

You are not alone. Substance abuse is a reality for thousands of families in the United States. Unfortunately, drug use can affect children in many ways, and it is your choice, as a mother, what to do for the baby and for yourself.

How drugs affect children, before and after birth.

Babies, while still in the mother’s womb, share blood, food, and just about everything else with their mother. That means that whatever mom puts into her body will likely be shared with her baby’s body. That goes for everything from carrots and soda to alcohol and meth.

If an expecting mother uses drugs, the baby has a much higher likelihood of having a drug addiction after birth. The baby’s body, brain, and emotional health are also at risk of damage in the form of diseases, birth defects or developmental issues.

Unfortunately, the consequences of a parent’s drug use don’t end there. Children who have a parent who uses drugs are at a much greater risk of entering the foster care system due to abuse and neglect. Federal and state public agencies share that over the last three years, more and more children are entering foster care, and parental substance use “is likely a key driver in the uptick in the number of children entering foster care.”

So, if you are caught in the drug epidemic and find that you are pregnant, you have some very important choices to make that will affect your life and the baby’s life.

What can I do?

1. Quit the substances and keep the baby.

Quitting is hard. You probably know that already. But if you want to keep your baby healthy throughout the pregnancy and after they’re born, your best choice will be to quit. Plus, if you do quit, you’ll increase your chances of staying with your child throughout their life. You can see them reach milestones like taking their first steps and graduating from high school.

2. Place the baby with an adoptive family.

You might not be ready to be a parent, yet. Maybe you’re still in school, or you just don’t have the right support to start a family at this time. But even if you’re not prepared to raise a child, you may still want to give the baby the best life possible. That’s when adoption might be right for you.

Throughout the pregnancy, it would be wise to stop using drugs. But, by placing your baby with an adoptive family, you can give the baby life and provide the baby with an opportunity for the kind of life you want for them. There are a lot of families who are ready and able to bring a child into their homes, so you can have full confidence that wherever your child is placed, they will be taken care of.

3. End the pregnancy.

Choosing to terminate the pregnancy is an option. Some mothers choose this route because they don’t feel ready to raise a child and they don’t know about adoption, or they don’t want to go through the adoption process. Whatever the case, it is a decision each mother must make with careful consideration.

Want to talk to someone?

We’ve been talking to birth mothers for decades, and we want to help you figure out what’s best for you. We’re happy to talk about your options and the benefits of each path. Give us a call; we’re here for you.

If you need help with quitting any addictions, start by contacting the National Helpline for substance abuse. Once you have all the information on what it would take to quit, you can start making the choices you want to make.