Overlooked Drug Abuse During Pregnancy: 7 of the Most Commonly Abused Substances During Pregnancy

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Published Jan 12, 2017

Drug abuse during pregnancy can be obvious. It can also be much less obvious, where you don't even realize you're doing it...

Everyone knows that cigarettes or alcohol during pregnancy will impact the baby in a negative way, but what about other types of drug abuse during pregnancy?

I teach prenatal classes, and my students are often shocked at the negative impact that seemingly harmless, everyday substances can have on baby.

To help get your mind thinking along the lines of what is best for baby, listed below are a few of the most common things which constitute inadvertent substance and drug abuse during pregnancy.

1. Hidden Drugs

I had one student tell the story of her cousin who brought her a box of fancy chocolates as a souvenir of a recent trip to Europe. With all the vigor of a pregnancy-driven craving my client ripped open the box and dove right in, only to find the wonderful chocolate mixed with liquor. The amount of actual alcohol in these candies is unlikely to do any harm to the baby, but it illustrates the dangers of hidden drugs. An important rule of thumb while pregnant is to always know what you are putting into your mouth. Not knowing about a dangerous ingredient will not prevent it doing harm.

2. Cough Medicine

At any other time, if you get a cough or cold you can reach for that ‘so you can sleep’ medicine and it’s all good. When you are incubating the baby bun, it is a whole different story. I advise you to try a natural carrot cough syrup. Your baby’s tiny body reacts to the active ingredients differently than mom’s full size body does. The amount of medication that readily crosses the placenta is enough to overdose baby’s tiny body. It is best to avoid cold medication when you can.

3. Pain Killers

Many pain killers contain active ingredients that don’t mix well with baby. This is especially true during the first trimester. At that time baby’s main growth is the development of all vital body systems. These processes are vulnerable to the harmful effects of the active ingredients in many over the counter medications. To be safe, talk to your doctor and follow dosage guidelines religiously.

4. Prescription Meds

Medication that is guarded by a doctor’s prescription pad might be great for mom, but very dangerous to baby. Doctors are human, and don’t always put two and two together. To be safe, as soon as you know you are trying to conceive, discuss your pregnancy plans and prescription medications with your doctor to be certain these are not mutually exclusive.

5. Vitamins

Too much of a good thing can end up being a bad thing. Vitamins, especially those fat-soluble vitamins E, A and K, can build up in the system to toxic levels in a hurry. When you are pregnant taking your prenatal is enough.

6. Herbal Supplements

Herbs are not some innocent, feel good harmless substance. Herbs can have a distinct effect on the body for good or ill. When you are the size of a dime, it is really easy to cross the line of beneficial amount and wander into the world of dangerous doses. If you take herbal supplements, be certain to discuss them with your care provider. They will help adjust doses and identify herbs known to cause problems with gestation and pregnancy if needed.

7. Sugar

Who would think that too much sugar could be considered drug abuse during pregnancy? A spoonful of sugar might help the medicine go down, but since you are pregnant, you don’t need as much. Sugar leads to increased nausea, morning sickness, insomnia, overly large babies, excessive weight gain and difficulty during childbirth. It may seem like your life right down to your meal time menu has turned topsy-turvy by pregnancy, and in some instances you are right. But these little changes make a big difference in the overall healthy outcome of gestation and childbirth.

How much would you pay to ensure that your dreams of a perfect baby come true? Sacrificing your cough medicine or a little sugar seems like a small price to pay when you keep your eyes on the outcome.

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Isabelle Clover

Written by Isabelle Clover

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