The Dangers Of Using Opioids While Pregnant

Written by Jackie Calkins

It is no secret that opioids are dangerous. They are highly addictive and can cause serious health problems. But did you know that using opioids while pregnant can be especially dangerous for both you and your baby?

Opioids can cause a number of problems during pregnancy, including:

  • Preterm labor
  • Low birth weight
  • Birth defects
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

NAS is one of the greatest risks to your unborn child. It is a condition where babies experience withdrawal symptoms after birth because they are addicted to the drugs their mothers took during pregnancy. NAS is serious and can be deadly.

Let us repeat this. NAS can be deadly— but there is help, and you don’t have to go through this alone.

If you are pregnant and using opioids, please get help right away or give us a call. Below, we’ll talk a bit more about the dangers of using opioids, including heroin, Vidodin, and Oxycontin, and what you can do to recover— for your health and the health of your child.

What Do We Mean When We Say Opioids?

Opioids are drugs that are used to relieve pain. They are typically prescribed by doctors to patients who are suffering from moderate to severe pain. However, opioids can be addictive and dangerous, especially when abused and used during pregnancy.

Opioids include the drugs:

  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Oxycontin
  • Fentanyl
  • Vicodin
  • Carfentanil
  • Methadone
  • Codeine
  • Daludad

Opioids work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This action blocks pain signals from being sent to the brain, providing a temporary reprieve from pain. However, opioids also have other effects on the body, including slowed breathing and decreased blood pressure. These effects can be dangerous, particularly for pregnant women and their unborn babies.

Pregnant women who use opioids are at risk for a number of complications, including premature birth, low birth weight, and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

As mentioned earlier, NAS is a condition where newborns suffer from withdrawal symptoms after exposure to opioids in utero. Symptoms of NAS for your baby can include:

  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Poor feeding
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Problems with breathing
  • And death

NAS is often treated with medication and therapy.

Opioids should only be used as directed by a medical professional. If you are pregnant and taking opioids, it is important to speak with your doctor about the risks and potential complications involved.

How Do Opioids Affect Pregnant Women And Their Babies?

Gynecologist doctor checking up a pregnant patient -

While pregnant, a woman’s body goes through many changes as her baby grows. These changes can cause problems with how the woman’s body metabolizes drugs, including opioids.

During pregnancy, opioids can cross the placenta and enter the fetal bloodstream. This can cause the baby to become dependent on opioids and experience withdrawal symptoms after birth.

Additionally, taking opioids during pregnancy can increase the risk of:

  • miscarriage
  • premature labor
  • Stillbirth
  • Low birth Weight

It’s also possible that babies exposed to opioids and other drugs during pregnancy can have other birth defects and learning disabilities. It is important to talk to your doctor about taking anything while pregnant, including drinking and smoking cigarettes or marijuana.

How To Get Help If You’re Struggling With Opioid Addiction

The first thing to know is that addiction is a disease and diseases can be managed. There is help out there, and people who understand addiction is a disease won’t judge you, they will help you.

Addiction can be effectively treated, but time is a factor. Getting help today will dramatically increase the chances that your baby will be born healthy and alive.

These are a few options to get help if you need it:

  1. Talk to your doctor or another healthcare provider. They can help connect you with treatment and support services. It’s essential to get professional help in this situation. You don’t have to go through this alone.
  2. Reach out to family and friends. Pregnancy is a hard time, and while it’s vastly important to seek professional help, your friends and family may be willing to help support you in this.
  3. Call a helpline like the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This is the helpline for the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and they can help find you resources as well. Information is free and confidential.
  4. Contact a treatment center like ours. We understand addiction is a disease and can help people struggling with addiction with all kinds of resources to get you sober and help you stay sober.

If You’re Pregnant And Addicted, Get Help For You And Your Baby

We hope that this article has shed some light on the dangers of using opioids while pregnant. Using opioids during pregnancy is exceptionally risky and can have serious consequences for both the mother and baby, so it’s important to be aware of these risks and make informed decisions if prescribed opioid medications.

If you are addicted to opioids while pregnant, talk to your doctor or contact us at (615) 410-9260  and we can likely get you the help you need. Remember: when in doubt, always speak with a healthcare professional before making any decisions regarding your health— especially when expecting.