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Cocaine Use During Pregnancy

Monday, March 18th, 2013

When most women find out they are pregnant, they become total health nuts. Everything they eat and everything they do is centered around the proper development of their child. Unfortunately, some women suffer from problems with addiction and cannot jump into a healthy lifestyle so easily. Women who are addicted to cocaine when they find out they’re pregnant have a long way to go. The best option is to never start in the first place. However, if you find yourself using regularly and hoping to have a healthy pregnancy at the same time, here is why you need to quit immediately.

Studies show that cocaine use during pregnancy causes low birth weight, preterm birth, and babies who are born too small for their gestational age. These problems can all create developmental disabilities that last a lifetime. Basically, having a baby too early cuts off some of the most important stages of his or her development, so it’s really important that you try your best to bring a baby to full term by staying healthy.
When you use cocaine while pregnant, you are restricting the flow of oxygen and blood to your baby. Basically, you are suffocating your child. When your child cannot receive oxygen and nutrients in utero, development is slowed down, which is why these babies are usually born too small. They did not grow sufficiently because of the restricted flow.  Also, the effect of cocaine on the placenta (the organ that nourishes the baby) often causes it to abruptly separate from its foundation, i.e. your womb, thus resulting in a medical condition known as “placental abruption”.  This is life-threatening to both the fetus and the mother.  There is no longer any support (or oxygen) for the baby because the placenta has separated from its bed.  Along with severe pain in the mother, massive bleeding may occur behind the placenta where it is hidden but still deadly or can be seen as hemorrhage causing exsanguination of the mother.  The baby dies and often the mother dies unless there is an immediate cesarean delivery.  Often, cocaine-using pregnant women never make it to the hospital in time.  Several pregnant celebrities have been whisked off to the hospital for emergency cesareans.  I just wonder whether or not they had been using cocaine before  they had pain and started bleeding.

If you are struggling with a cocaine addiction and have found out that you’re pregnant, get help immediately. If you wait any longer, you will only make your baby’s problems worse. Find a support group or a rehab center where you can find ways to cope with the addiction and discontinue your cocaine use. For women who use cocaine recreationally, I hope the results of this study serve as a warning sign against using it at all. Not only is it bad for your own body, but if you conceive at any point during your use, you could ruin your baby’s entire life. Give your baby a fighting chance and say no to cocaine during pregnancy.

 – Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.