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Inside Pages

Heroin

Women are advised not to use heroin whilst they are pregnant.  It can be particularly harmful if injected. But, if you regularly use heroin or any other opiate, such as codeine or methadone, it can be harmful for your baby if you suddenly stop.  You should seek advice from your doctor or midwife to cut down and stop these drugs safely.

Using heroin or other opiates during pregnancy can have the following effects on you and your baby:

  • Your baby may be smaller than normal. This can mean your baby will have trouble staying at the correct temperature, it may get too hot or too cold.
  • You may go into labour early.
  • Your baby may be born addicted to heroin and suffer with withdrawal symptoms.
  • Injecting drugs whilst you are pregnant can expose you and your baby to the risk of hepatitis or HIV.

Cocaine, Crack and Amphetamines

Women are advised to stop using all cocaine, crack cocaine and amphetamines (speed) while they are pregnant.

It is safe for you and your baby to stop using speed and cocaine/crack as soon as you find out you are pregnant.  There is nothing that you can be prescribed to help you cut down or stop.

When you stop you may have withdrawal symptoms for a week or so – sleepiness, feeling low in mood and feeling hungry.

If you continue to use cocaine and amphetamines whilst you are pregnant, it can have the following effects on your baby:

  • Your baby may not grow properly.
  • You may go into labour early.
  • Higher risk of the placenta separating from the womb before the baby is born.
  • Your baby experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Some research shows that using amphetamines and cocaine while you are pregnant can lead to your child having mild learning difficulties.

Crystal Meth

Only one dose of this drug during pregnancy can have serious, long term consequences for your baby.

Crystal Meth has the following effects on a pregnant woman;

  • Anxiety.
  • Increased blood pressure .
  • Increased sweating and heart rate.
  • Sleeplessness and paranoia.
  • Irritability.
  • Mental and physical exhaustion.
  • Deep depression and suicidal tendencies.
  • Memory loss, impaired judgment, reasoning, and verbal learning

Using crystal meth during pregnancy can have the following effects on your baby.

  • You may go into labour early.
  • Your baby may have mental and physical disabilities.
  • Increased chance of miscarriage.
  • Your baby may not grow properly.
  • Facial deformities such as cleft palate.
  • Later issues can occur for male babies. Male babies exposed to crystal meth who later take meth themselves develop brain disorders much quicker than if their mother had never taken the drug during pregnancy.

Benzodiazepines

Also called benzos, this group of drugs includes, valium – diazepam, oxazepam and temazepam.

Taking these drugs during pregnancy can be harmful to both mother and baby. BUT if you regularly take these drugs it can lead to convulsions or “fits” if you suddenly stop them. You should seek the advice of your doctor or midwife to cut down and stop these drugs safely.

If you continue to use benzodiazipines while you are pregnant, it can have the following effects on your baby:

  • Increased risk of miscarriage.
  • Floppy infant syndrome – this means as a newborn, your baby may have muscle weakness, have difficulty regulating their body temperature and have breathing and feeding difficulties.
  • Neonatal withdrawal syndrome.  This syndrome may be hard to recognize as it starts several days after your baby is born, for example, as late as 21 days. The symptoms include shaking, tightness and rigidity of muscles, overactivity, inability to settle and vomiting. This may last for up six months. Tapering down the use of benzodiazepines during pregnancy may lessen its severity in the newborn baby.

Cannabis

Women are advised to stop using cannabis whilst they are pregnant.

It is safe for you and your baby to stop using cannabis immediately.  You may get some mild withdrawal symptoms but these will only last a week or so.

If you continue to use cannabis whilst you are pregnant, it can have the following effects on your baby;

  • Your baby may be smaller that usual and smaller babies are more likely to get infections.
  • Some research shows that using cannabis while you are pregnant could lead to mild learning difficulties in children.