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Addiction, Rehab, and Pregnancy

On most occasions, pregnancy is a jovial and exciting part of any woman’s life. There’s nothing like the joy that comes when you’re bringing your own into this world. As great as this may be for most women, it’s not all rosy for women struggling with addiction. Once a physician is presented with a pregnant woman, their primary aim is to keep her and her child from harm away by trying to avoid disease.

Addiction can be classified as one of the factors that pose a danger to the mother and her unborn child. Help is readily available to pregnant women who wish to get off their addiction. For a long time, pregnant women had first to give birth and then start rehabilitation. Most of them never came back to the rehab centers.

However, more rehab centers are not incorporating services that suit women who are pregnant to care for the mother and the child.

Addiction Recovery and Pregnancy 

A woman who has fully recovered from addiction is in every way possible, a normal healthy member of society. Recovered addicts can take up jobs, go to school and even start a family as they wish. More often than not, people blow the relation between addiction recovery and pregnancy way out of proportion.

Relapse is undoubtedly a threat that is ever-present for any recovered addict. However, with the right amount of support from family members and discipline on the individual’s part, anything is achievable. In most cases, when an addict becomes pregnant, this also acts as an incentive to finally gain and maintain sobriety for the sake of the child’s health. No woman wants to ever put her child in harm’s way.

Dangers of Pregnancy and Substance Abuse

There is no question that substance abuse during pregnancy is harmful and should be avoided. Many factors come into play when assessing the dangers of drug use during pregnancy. The severity of the effects depend on the drug being used, the time during the pregnancy, and how often the drug is used or the degree of addiction.

Risks to the Baby

The one who is most affected by drug abuse is the unborn child. Drugs in the mother’s bloodstream pass directly to the child through the placenta and affect almost all growth processes.

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Risks to the unborn child include:

  • Premature birth
  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth
  • Low birth weight
  • Heart defects such as septal defects
  • Infections such as HIV as a result of sharing needles and syringes
  • Neonatal abstinence syndrome. This is as a result of withdrawal symptoms after birth which is more severe to an infant
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: This is mostly associated with alcohol abuse during pregnancy
  • Behavior and learning deficits including slow mental growth rate

Rehab for Pregnant Women

Rehab during pregnancy involves an approach that helps to cure the addiction and to ensure the delivery of a healthy child. It mainly involves round the clock inpatient support and care plus use of specific medication on some occasions. Unlike other rehab programs, pregnant women are also under the 24-hour surveillance of a medical doctor who monitors vital signs of birth the fetus and the mother and alleviates discomfort. This process of monitoring and occasional use of drugs is known as medical rehab.

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Any drug that a woman takes during pregnancy has the potential to harm her baby if it is not well regulated. However, the effects associated with withdrawal are more likely to kill the mother and her unborn fetus compared to the side effects of using drugs during pregnancy. Both the child and the mother experience withdrawal symptoms, and if the proper regimen is not applied, rehab can often lead to a miscarriage.

Drugs commonly used for rehab under normal circumstances are often substituted with other less potent ones so that the process is slower than usual but still as effective. In cases such as opioid addiction, drugs like Naltrexone are often substituted with Methadone and Buprenorphine, which alleviate withdrawal symptoms for both baby and the mother.

While medical rehab is the best option for pregnant women, it should also be accompanied by therapy and counseling during and after the rehab process. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to relapse after giving birth to deal with what has just happened to them.

Rehab will not be successful if the woman is not guided on how to live a drug-free life and also care for her child at the same time.

Tips for Recovered Mothers Who Want to Have a Baby

Once one has fully completed the recovery process, they can live like normal individuals and thus are free to have children of their own. This is just as long as they have the right support system and care as pregnancy can be a stressful time for any woman. Women who have been addicted to drugs should be extra careful before, during and after the pregnancy. Here are some pointers to help former addicts deal with the prospects of motherhood:

Some advice would be along the lines of:

1. Exercise and Stay in Shape for the Pregnancy 

Exercise is advised generally for all women who are planning on getting pregnant regardless of whether or not they have suffered from addiction. Exercise helps to release “feel good” hormones that go a long way in elevating mood. It is also advisable to exercise with a partner or loved one just so the woman can feel that she’s not in it alone. The exercise doesn’t necessarily even have to be high-intensity exercise. The goal here is not to lose weight. That is why simple exercises such as swimming, walking, and even fun activities are highly recommended.

When one becomes pregnant it is then advisable to speak to a doctor on what is safe for the unborn child and what is too much exertion.

2. Good Nutrition 

Proper nutrition is also something that all women trying to conceive should look out for. One of the essential requirements of pregnancy is Folic acid, which should be taken at least six months before conceiving. Proper nutrition helps prevent congenital disabilities and promotes general health and well being of the child and the mother.

Pregnancy can take a toll on one’s appetite, and it is the initial eating habits that were developed months prior that will ensure that the woman doesn’t become weak and malnourished. Regarding vitamin supplements, it is good to consult a doctor to get more information on what is important for that particular pregnancy.

3. Avoid Relapse Triggers 

Before considering pregnancy, any woman who has suffered from addiction should ensure that the environment in which she is in is conducive for her and the unborn child. A relapse trigger is any person or event that makes an individual likely to get back into drug use. It is usually something that causes much stress to the individual and is present for an extended period. Such stressors include work issues, marriage and relationship problems, and too many events taking place at once. Drugs usually seem like the best option to get out the said stressful situation.

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When there is ever a time a woman needs support, it’s when she is about to be or is already pregnant. Pregnancy comes with many changes. The body treats pregnancy as some trauma. A woman needs to know that she is in an environment where she is loved and appreciated. It may even be useful to arrange for some help during the last trimester and after the baby is born. Over 50% of women suffer from postpartum depression after giving birth, and thus someone needs to be there to continually reassure and take care of her.

4. Start the Journey to Recovery at Ebb Tide Treatment Centers

Ebb Tide Treatment Centers is a rehab center located in Palm Beach, Florida, on Burns Road. It is a rehab center that helps individuals from all walks of life receive treatment for all sorts of addictions.  All the treatment programs are geared towards making treatment as unique as possible based on individual needs. Pregnant women also have a place at Ebb Tide and are treated with the utmost care. Treatment of addiction in pregnant women is a holistic process that ensures quick recovery while also maintaining the health of the unborn child. Ebb Tide aims to alleviate the stress associated with childbirth and ensures the process is as smooth as possible.

Final Word

Anyone can bring a child into the world as long as they feel like they are capable of taking care of the said child. For a woman who has recovered from addiction, childbirth is normal and acceptable with the right support, just as is required for all pregnant women. Women who find themselves pregnant and still in addiction can also give birth to healthy children. They just need to seek the right treatment that also considers the effects drugs have had on their unborn child.

At Ebb Tide Treatment Centers we offer addiction treatment geared towards healthy living, contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs.

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