What’s the Buzz?: The importance of sobriety during pregnancy | Live Well CV: Health and Wellness

Lissette Johnson SAPC

“There is no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” – Jill Churchill

We all go through challenging times, so raising awareness and promoting healthy practices is important, and it becomes even more important to include people who may be pregnant in the conversation.

Without a doubt, both pregnancy and motherhood can be difficult. Coupled with the pandemic and its associated mental health implications, the current climate can seem daunting to an expectant mother. As recent news reports have shown, these factors also contribute to an increased risk of substance abuse. During pregnancy, this risk extends to the unborn child. Alcohol exposure can lead to physical and developmental disorders in children. If a mother drinks while pregnant, irreversible brain damage and lifelong struggles for the child and family are likely.

As a mother and employee in personal services, the negative effects of substance use during pregnancy should be addressed. The effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy on the child’s development are almost certain. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states, “Prenatal alcohol exposure is one of the leading preventable causes of birth defects and neurodevelopmental deficits in the United States.”

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Many people with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) often go undiagnosed. People with FASD often have problems because they do not have suitable accommodation. Later in adulthood, they can struggle to live independently, make a living, and often find themselves in the criminal justice system.

When considering other substances, such as opioids, there is also potential harm to the child. According to the CDC (2018), “Mothers who were prescribed opioids shortly before pregnancy were about 2.5 times more likely to have a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental disorders and some symptoms of autism.”

More research is needed, but the risk is real and completely preventable. A well-known syndrome, neonatal abstinence syndrome, occurs when unborn babies are weaned from certain drug exposure. It can lead to immediate complications such as low birth weight, jaundice, seizures, and even sudden infant death syndrome. Long-term effects are likely, such as B. Developmental delays, vision / hearing problems, behavior problems, and sleep disorders (according to March of Dimes in 2019).

These unnecessary complications can be avoided by avoiding substances during pregnancy. If you know a pregnant person who is pregnant, watch out for the warning signs, offer assistance, and get help.

If you are pregnant and have taken it, it is never too late to stop! Treatment can reduce the chance that a child will develop complications. It can also help prevent further serious and permanent harm to a child.

Every child is unique, important, and loved, regardless of their abilities. But it is important to give children the opportunity to be who they are supposed to be, and that starts in the womb.

Lissette Johnson is a mom, outreach coordinator for the Arc of Cumberland and Perry Counties, a student at Walden University and a member of the Cumberland-Perry Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

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