There is an alarmingly high rate of young, childbearing women in the United States who are using illegal drugs during their pregnancy or consuming alcohol. A percentage of these users do stop once they find out they are expecting, either on their own by the help of a drug rehabilitation facility. Because of the ease of access and cost, methamphetamine abuse is high on the list of illicit drugs being used by these women. It has been long-known that it was detrimental to both the mother and fetus during any stage of the pregnancy, but now the studies are finding just exactly how methamphetamine addiction is hurting these expectant mothers and their babies.
A common problem among the most seemingly healthy of pregnant women is a condition called Preeclampsia. This is when the mother’s blood pressure is elevated to a level that concerns her medical provider and she may have an edema level above normal as well. Preeclampsia can cause a woman to have a stroke or even die during her pregnancy or in childbirth, but thanks to advances in medical technology, women with preeclampsia who receive medical care can carry their babies to term with very little complications. Methamphetamine can complicate a pregnancy in the same way that preeclampsia can, by elevating the blood pressure of the mother. If a mother seeks drug rehabilitation in the early stages of the pregnancy (preferably the first trimester) there is a good chance that the unborn child will be born healthy.
Another risk factor in pregnancy associated with methamphetamine addiction is premature labor. Women’s bodies naturally know the right time to give birth, a body with addiction does not sense that perfect time. In fact, though scientists are not 100% sure on what starts those initial contractions at about 40 week’s gestation, they know that when the body senses a problem, those wheels can start to turn early. More than half of the women in the United States who use meth regularly through their pregnancy will not make it to the full 40 weeks. Those who do will more than likely have an underweight newborn. The risk of cesarean section also increases from 23% to 29%.
Another 10% of women who fail to seek proper drug rehabilitation for methamphetamine addiction will suffer placental abruption. This is usually rare in healthy pregnancies and when it does occur, it is most always a partial abruption. It is when the placenta prematurely detaches from the uterine wall, before labor has begun. In a healthy birth, the placenta remains intact until post delivery, then usually detaches within 30 minutes. In a case of accidental abruption, the baby and mother may not survive without an emergency cesarean procedure.
For a baby now outside the womb that was accustomed to meth, withdrawal symptoms will start to set in. These babies often have a difficult time with feeding, making nursing a challenge. They can also have brain and lung development issues that will cause them to spend a great deal of time in a neo-natal intensive care unit. There are a few states that screen every newborn for drugs and alert the proper authorities if illicit drugs are found. Some states, like Texas only test if the primary care physician of the pregnant woman feels the need for it. With all the babies being born in larger, metropolitan cities like Dallas and Houston, it would be very costly to these hospitals to pay for these tests, as not everyone delivering has the means to pay for the services provided.
Methamphetamine addiction is dangerous. Some states have now made it a felony if a pregnant woman uses drugs during her expectant phase. Heel sticks in the hospital can confirm drug use for months, is it worth losing your child to foster care? If you are pregnant and need help, speak to your doctor and contact a drug rehabilitation center like Vista Taos in New Mexico. Be honest and open about your substance abuse problem and counselors will be open about any consequences you might face once the child is born. Both you and your child deserve better than to start your lives together with a methamphetamine addiction.