For women who are pregnant, addiction treatment can save both mother and baby. Pregnant addicts have unique needs that must be addressed as soon as possible in order to ensure the best possible outcome for the situation.
Addiction during pregnancy can put both mother and child at risk of serious complications and even death. Substances used by a woman while she is pregnant pass through her bloodstream to the unborn child and can cause lifelong problems in some cases, with different effects caused by different substances.
Risks of Substance Abuse for Developing Babies
In general, babies born to mothers with addictions are more at risk for being premature, low birth weight, and having developmental delays and behavioral problems as they grow. Stillbirth and miscarriage are also more likely. Different substances also have their own risks, such as NAS (newborn abstinence syndrome) for babies whose mothers abused opiates and fetal alcohol syndrome for children of mothers who used alcohol while pregnant.
These risks are all greatest when the mother is still addicted when the baby is born, so mothers who undergo addiction treatment while pregnant are giving their babies the best possible chance of avoiding these risks. Part of the treatment for pregnant women with addictions may be education about these risks and therapy designed to help mothers work through the feelings of knowing that these risks may exist for their child.
Medical Treatment Is Important
Helping women who are pregnant overcome substance abuse can require different treatment methods than ones used for those without pregnancy as a consideration. Besides more involvement from medical practitioners, there are also more restrictions on pregnant addicts when using medication-assisted treatments because of the effects of those medications on the developing fetus and on newborns right after birth. Besides detoxing from the substance they were abusing, proper nutrition is also of paramount importance for pregnant women and needs to be addressed in the treatment situation.
Using methadone may be considered better than continuing to be addicted to heroin while pregnant, but babies may go through methadone withdrawal once they are born and need additional medical treatment to get the drugs out of their systems. On the other hand, buprenorphine, which is a treatment for opioid addiction, has recently been shown to help with NAS symptoms in newborns and lessen the length of their hospital stays.
While pregnant women may find themselves in the grip of addiction, most do not want to hurt their babies and are greatly concerned about their well-being. Getting prenatal care for mother and baby can go a long way toward ensuring the best possible outcome for both.
Treatment professionals should also be on the lookout for co-occurring disorders like depression, bipolar, and other disorders that may have contributed to the substance abuse during the pregnancy. It is especially important to treat these co-occurring issues and to understand that the risk for postpartum depression will be higher for new mothers who have dealt with addiction during the pregnancy. Family therapy may also be needed so that the pregnant or new mom will have support from others during the first exhausting months of motherhood when the temptation to go back to the addiction will be strongest.
Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is a Colorado drug rehab that can help pregnant women with substance abuse and co-occurring disorders and provide comprehensive treatment for all their unique needs. Learn about admissions to Recovery Village and take the first step to better health for you and your unborn child today.