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National Birth Defects Prevention Month: Tips to ensure healthy pregnancy during addiction recovery

Motherhood is a blessing. Holding a healthy baby in the arms can wash off all the stress and bring in immense happiness. However, giving birth to an infant with defects could be heartbreaking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), birth defects are common and critical, affecting one in 33 newborns in the United States. They contribute to the highest mortality rate of infants (20 percent).

The month of January is observed as the National Birth Defects Prevention Month. The theme for 2018 is “Prevent to Protect: Prevent Infections for Baby’s Protection.” The month is dedicated toward the dissemination of knowledge about different types of birth defects, prevention and management. It’s also the time to make pregnant women aware about preventing infections and reducing the risk of giving birth to a baby with defects.

Effect of substance abuse on newborn

Birth defects could manifest because of genes, environmental factors and various other known and unknown factors. The environmental factors comprise exposure of fetus to chemicals like alcohol and drugs. Early exposure to alcohol during pregnancy can result in the development of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) which is marked by physical anomalies, as well as behavioral and learning disabilities that can last a lifetime. Consumption of marijuana during pregnancy can result in developmental delays, depression and certain types of cancer in the newborn, while abusing cocaine can lead to infants born with deformed urinary or reproductive organs and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) develops in those infants who are exposed to opioids during pregnancy. Upon birth, they suffer from serious withdrawal symptoms. Even though it is not possible to prevent all the birth defects, the expectant mother can ensure that she enjoys a healthy pregnancy. For a woman who has had a history of addiction, it is extremely important to take safe measures and avoid her child from being infected. Some of the ways through which this can be achieved are:

  • Taking the first step: As soon as the woman realizes that she is pregnant, she should stop consuming any harmful substance like alcohol or tobacco. If quitting seems harder, then she should enroll for treatment immediately so that the addictive habits do not affect the baby.
  • Sharing with someone: It might not be possible for the expectant lady to stop using alcohol and drugs on her own despite knowing its harmful effects on her unborn child. It is then important to reach out to someone and discuss the next steps. It could be the spouse, a good friend or a relative who can give genuine advice and encourage the woman to seek treatment at the earliest.
  • Opting for counseling: Counseling can help a pregnant female break her old habits and develop new and healthy ones. Counseling can empower her with essential coping skills and help her navigate through tough times without having to depend on alcohol or drugs.
  • Joining a support group: Associating with pregnant females who have a record of addiction and are currently in recovery can act as a sense of a solid support system. Attending meetings and interacting with fellow members can constantly remind the woman about her goals.
  • Taking care of the self: It is important to take nutrition-dense food throughout pregnancy. To combat stress, one should do some yoga and meditation. This will improve the health of the fetus and reduce the risk of any ill effects.

Recovering from addiction

Sometimes, despite trying our best, we cannot seem to break free from our old habits. Sovereign Health is one of the leading mental health and addiction treatment provider in the country that has healed many people and helped them lead a sober life. Our patients have self-reported a marked improvement in their symptoms and functional deficits from admission to discharge. To know about our therapeutic treatment programs for holistic recovery, call our 24/7 helpline 855-969-5557 or chat online with one of our experts. Remember, you are not alone in your journey to live a drug-free life.

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