To put it plain and simple, you just cannot be allowed to smoke, consume alcohol or take drugs without consultation when pregnant. In fact, you should try to give it up from the very moment you’re trying to conceive. Here is why:
Drugs, alcohol or tobacco (smoking) harm your mind and body. They also harm your baby. They enter your baby’s blood through the placenta and can cause serious harm to your baby before, during and after the birth. Substance abuse can even cause life-long problems to your baby.
ALCOHOL: If you consume alcohol during your pregnancy, it enters the blood of the fetus through the placenta. Earlier, it was believed that the placenta filters out the impurities from the mother’s blood and takes in only the nutrition from it. However, later it was discovered that such is not the case. Your baby’s liver is too weak and underdeveloped to handle alcohol and as a result, the fetus has a very high chance of being afflicted by the fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which can lead to mental retardation, growth retardation, behavioral problems, facial distortions, pre-term birth, low weight birth or can even cause a miscarriage. The baby may have speech and language delay and other learning disabilities as well.
CIGARETTES/TOBACCO: Smoking, both active and passive, is injurious to the mother as well as the baby. A mother whether an active or passive smoker exposes her child to dangerous chemicals such as tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels so the baby receives lesser nutrients and oxygen. Carbon monoxide also decreases the oxygen supply to the baby. A mother who smokes is at a higher risk of miscarriage, premature labor, and still birth. The babies of women who smoke, may be under-weight, have lifelong disabilities, and health concerns. Smoking also increases the chances of, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
STREET DRUGS: Any street drug, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth, LSD etc. is very harmful to the mother and her baby. The consequences can range from miscarriage, still birth, premature birth, and growth retardation. After birth, the baby may show withdrawal symptoms or lifelong physical, behavioral, and emotional problems. The baby may have brain, liver, kidney, or bone marrow damage. A baby exposed to street drugs may be very fussy and may have uncontrollable body movements. Drugs can also cause premature separation of the placenta, which can lead to hemorrhage. This internal bleeding can be life threatening both for the mother and child.
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: If you have any infection or illness or are undergoing any treatment, make sure your doctor/caregiver knows about it . It is not advised to take any medication without the approval of your doctor. Prescription and non-prescription drugs should be taken during pregnancy only after the approval of your doctor/caregiver as they can be dangerous to your baby’s development and health.
The horrifying list of the side effects of alcohol, smoking and drugs can go on and on and if you are even planning a baby, you should stop their consumption immediately. If you are already pregnant, you should stop right away. If you need professional help in cutting-off from substance abuse, please feel free to discuss with your doctor/caregiver. Do not put yourself in any situation where you may be tempted to drink, smoke or use street drugs. Have a safe pregnancy!