Believe it or not, pregnant women with substance use problems are more common than you think. That’s why rehab for pregnant women is important. Unfortunately, women who suffer from addiction are more likely to have unprotected sex and experience an unplanned pregnancy. In other cases, some women develop substance use disorders during pregnancy.
Once a woman that suffers from addiction accidentally becomes pregnant, her addiction doesn’t go away though. In fact, the stress of going through an unplanned pregnancy might drive a woman who suffers from addiction to want to drink more or use more substances.
Unfortunately, drinking alcohol or using substances while pregnant can cause adverse effects on an unborn child. To help maintain the health and well-being of pregnant women that suffer from addiction and their unborn children, pregnant women that suffer from addiction must attend rehab for pregnant mothers.
Pregnancy and Addiction: The Statistics
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, between the years 2011 and 2013, one in 10 pregnant women reported that they were drinking alcohol. On top of that, 1 in 33 pregnant women reported binge drinking in the past 30 days.
Furthermore, in a 2012 national survey, 9% of pregnant women used illegal drugs, 5% of pregnant women drank alcohol, and 9% of pregnant women smoked cigarettes. Altogether, that makes over 380,000 babies being exposed to illicit substances, over 550,000 infants being exposed to alcohol, and over 1 million infants being exposed to tobacco.
The Impact of Pregnancy and Addiction: Danger for the Unborn Child
When a pregnant woman abuses substances, whether through swallowing, drinking, snorting, injecting, etc., the substances could easily pass directly through the placenta and umbilical cord to the unborn baby. Thus, any substance that a woman consumes while pregnant, her unborn baby will consume as well.
In fact, the individuals that often suffer the biggest consequences when pregnant women abuse substances are their unborn children. This is because there are countless risks that an unborn fetus can experience when his or her mother chooses to abuse substances while pregnant.
The particular risks that an unborn fetus is likely to experience when his or her mother chooses to abuse substances while pregnant will depend on certain factors. These factors include the specific substances that the mother is abusing while pregnant, how often the pregnant mother is abusing those substances, and at what point into the pregnancy did the mother start abusing those substances.
Depending on these factors, the following risks may occur to an unborn fetus:
- Premature birth
- Small head size
- Low birth weight
- Placenta abruption
- Slower growth rates
- Developmental defects
- Postnatal withdrawal syndrome
- Infections such as hepatitis C or HIV
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Heart defects, in particular, a hole in the heart
- General behavior or learning deficits later on in life
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
When a pregnant mother chooses to chronically abuse alcohol, her unborn baby can develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). FASD causes lifelong cognitive and developmental issues in the children of women who abused alcohol while pregnant. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder can also cause the children of women who abused substances while pregnant to experience the following effects as they grow and develop:
- Poor memory
- Stunted growth
- Small head size
- Low body weight
- Poor coordination
- Learning disabilities
- Hyperactive behavior
- Trouble paying attention
- Abnormal facial features
- Vision or hearing problems
- Speech and language delays
- Intellectual disability, or low IQ
- Heart, kidney, or bone problems
- Poor reasoning and judgment skills
- Troubles sleeping and/or sucking as a baby
- Difficulty learning things in school (especially math)
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
When pregnant women chronically abuse substances throughout their pregnancy, their unborn babies may even consume such a large amount of substances that they come out of the womb experiencing withdrawal symptoms. When a newborn baby experiences substance withdrawal symptoms due to the chronic substance use of his or her mother during pregnancy, that baby has neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
Neonatal abstinence withdrawal syndrome often occurs in newborn babies whose mothers abused opioids while pregnant. Common neonatal abstinence syndrome withdrawal symptoms include:
- Blotchy skin
- Rapid breathing
- Slow weight gain
- Increased heart rate
- Poor feeding abilities
- Excessive or high-pitched crying
It also doesn’t help that women who are on drugs while pregnant and ready to give birth often receive delayed, limited, or prenatal care that could also cause their unborn children to experience more complications. Due to all the adverse effects that abusing substances while pregnant can have on a mother’s unborn child, it’s imperative that pregnant mothers that suffer from substance use disorders attend detox and rehab for pregnant women.
Detox: The First Step in Rehab for Pregnant Women
Detoxification is necessary to rid the body of substances prior to attending rehab. Detox is particularly necessary for rehab for pregnant women because it rids the unborn baby’s body of substances as it does the mother.
Detox can be dangerous though, as many people going through detox experience severe withdrawal symptoms that they sometimes have to use prescription medications to overcome. That’s why pregnant women attending detox must attend a medical detox with 24-hour medical supervision. That way, if something goes wrong during detox, there is a team of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals that can help.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Pregnant Women
When pregnant women that are going through detox experience severe withdrawal symptoms, they too can use certain prescription medications to help manage them. For example, pregnant women that are experiencing severe opioid withdrawal symptoms can safely take methadone.
Such pregnant women just need to beware, as taking methadone while pregnant can cause newborn babies to experience methadone withdrawal symptoms. Some studies show that replacement therapy with buprenorphine can cause less acute infant withdrawal than methadone though.
Other prescription withdrawal medications, such as benzodiazepines, can only be taken by pregnant women in detox if absolutely necessary. This is because research shows mixed reviews when it comes to the safety of pregnant women using prescription withdrawal medications such as benzodiazepines. For example, using benzodiazepines to help treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms can lead to certain fetal/neonatal risks such as oral clefts or floppy-infant syndrome.
Prescription Medications That Aren’t Used During During Detox for Pregnant Women
When there is little to no research on the effects of prescription withdrawal medications on pregnant women, those prescription withdrawal medications shouldn’t be used. That’s why other prescription withdrawal medications that are sometimes used to treat health conditions such as alcohol dependency are not used when the recovering addict is pregnant.
For example, disulfiram (Antabuse), naltrexone, acamprosate, topiramate, baclofen, and ondansetron are all alcohol dependency and addiction withdrawal medications that individuals cannot use while pregnant due to the little research that’s behind the safety of doing so.
Due to the risk of miscarriage during detox, all expecting mothers that suffer from addiction should attend inpatient detox followed by inpatient rehab for pregnant women. That way they can receive 24-hour medical attention, care, and supervision.
Rehab for Pregnant Women
As we just mentioned, pregnant women that suffer from addiction should attend inpatient rehab. That’s because inpatient rehab for pregnant women can improve the health and well-being of both the mother and the child. For example, in a study done by the American Journal of Perinatology, pregnant women attending substance abuse therapy while in rehab have increased fetal growth and lowered chances of experiencing negative neonatal outcomes.
Methadone treatment can also create positive effects on pregnant women suffering from substance use and their babies. This is evident in the fact that methadone treatment can lower the risk of relapse in pregnant substance users, help pregnant mothers become more attached to prenatal care, and help improve the health and well-being of all newborn babies.
Within inpatient rehab for pregnant women, there should be certain amenities and services. For example, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), model rehab for pregnant mothers should include pregnancy and parenting education, medical, mental health, and addiction treatment staff, continuity with counselors, health and psychiatric services, child care services, transportation services, and housing services.
Comprehensive rehab for pregnant women also includes the following features:
- Prenatal care
- Medical detox
- Parenting training
- Aftercare planning
- Life skills workshops
- 12-step programming
- A specialized treatment plan
- Job training and replacement
- Individual, group, and family therapy
- Pregnancy education and counseling
- Assessment and therapy for co-occurring disorders
Forms of therapy that are effective during rehab for pregnant mothers include contingency management, motivational interviewing, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Incorporating therapy in rehab for pregnant women is important. This is because studies show that women that abuse substances are more likely to also suffer from medical problems, mental health problems, and physical or sexual abuse.
Percentage of Rehab Programs for Pregnant Women
As important as rehab for pregnant women is, it isn’t that common. In fact, according to a 2017 study done by SAMHSA, only 22.4% of rehab facilities offered rehab for pregnant mothers. Therefore, treatment centers that offer rehab for pregnant women, such as Florida Center for Recovery, are gems that you shouldn’t overlook.
Attend Rehab for Pregnant Women at Florida Center for Recovery
Florida Center for Recovery (FCR) provides a safe and empowering environment for women as well as expectant mothers. This is because such safety and empowerment help women recover from substance abuse and addiction. Our inpatient rehab for pregnant women program is individualized to address each woman’s needs with the added focus on addressing the challenges of motherhood and substance abuse.
In addition to our core addiction treatment and therapy programs, we also provide recovery support groups for expectant mothers who wish to seek extra help from the community and/or from outreach programs. Our experienced staff is here to help expectant mothers with anything from OBGYN Care to Parenting Classes.
We here at FCR take pride in providing the treatment and the support that expectant mothers need to achieve sobriety. To learn more about our facility and the detox, addiction treatment, and therapy services that we offer, contact us today!