Believe it or not, many women don’t have their pregnancy high on their list of priorities when they’re expecting. Here in the states, a pregnant woman with a drink in her hand and a cigarette in the other is unfortunately not an uncommon sight. For many, they just aren’t ready for the responsibility that comes with being a mother. Still, is that an excuse? Some seem to think so.
In other cases, a woman may be partying it up because no one has told her not to. She had friends who drank throughout pregnancy and they never had any issues. Their kids are just fine. So, why wouldn’t hers be? Has it become so unrealistic for women to give up these little luxuries for nine months that we are now trying to find ways to make drinking, drugs and staying out until three in the morning sound normal for expectant mothers?
On the flipside, are all of these women deserving of the judgement we lay upon them? Are they doing their best? Are they struggling to find access to healthcare or educational resources that can help them better care for themselves and their babies while pregnant? Yes, that’s possible — even in this day and age in America.
For the most part, the women who are snorting lines and downing bottles of booze during their pregnancies are not doing so with any concern for their babies in mind. Most would agree these acts are nothing short of selfish, and many of these mothers end up having to answer to their children years later for their poor choices that shaped the outcome of their kids’ lives. Still, don’t think for a second that many of them aren’t armed with excuses to the hilt.
15Oops, I Did It Again
Roughly half of all pregnancies that occur in the United States are unplanned. Hey, accidents happen! But in a day and age where there is a plethora of preventative measures couples can take to prevent pregnancy, there’s no way half of all the babies being born were due to broken condoms. Much of it is due to a lack of trying to prevent pregnancy.
The blame should be placed on the parents here. Instead, many of these mothers think that since they weren’t planning on a pregnancy, they can continue living their life as though they aren’t. Many feel like riding the crazy train until the wheels fall off and continuing to booze it up with friends until the baby arrives. Sadly, most of those pregnant women continue their lifestyle even after they become mothers.
14I Don’t Want A Baby
Not everyone was cut out for motherhood. There are definitely more than enough children being born every year that will end up in foster care because their mothers never really wanted them. Being a ward of the state is certainly not the ideal life, but others would argue that it is — at least — a life.
Many of the children in the foster care system have developmental disorders and disabilities due to poor choices their mothers made during pregnancy with them. Many of their mothers never sought prenatal care or consumed a healthy diet. Far from it, plenty of them engaged in illicit drug use and binge drinking while completely aware of their pregnancies.
Some women may be subconsciously hoping that their behaviors cause a miscarriage. Others might be more concerned with checking out of reality than tuning into it. For a lot of these women, they have nowhere to turn to get help and struggle deeply with mental health and substance abuse disorders. At the end of the day, they tell themselves they shouldn’t be expected to change their ways when they don’t even want this baby, and assume they’ll figure out the details later.
13I’m Giving It Up
We’ve all heard those stories of babies who were abandoned at hospitals by their mothers. They grow up never knowing who they belong to or where they came from, but that’s hardly the worst of it. For many of these babies, their mothers abused drugs and alcohol while they were pregnant.
They knew throughout the entire pregnancy that they weren’t going to keep the child. Adoption was a consideration, but they also knew anyone who wanted to adopt a baby would go through a legitimate adoption organization that would require prenatal care and testing. Most moms who party through their pregnancies avoid doctor visits, because they are worried about substance abuse testing or being reported to the authorities.
Many of these mothers even avoid going to the hospital during labor because of their fear that they could be held responsible for the poor choices they made while pregnant should their child be born addicted to an illicit substance and/or going through withdrawal.
12I’m Not Keeping It
Of course, not all babies who are not wanted are given up for adoption. Most are terminated. Roughly 200 abortions occur in the United States for every 1,000 live births. Abortion is a very personal decision that can most certainly shape the rest of a woman’s life. Many mothers never even disclose their choice to family, friends or partners and choose to carry it with them in silence for the rest of their days.
Part of the reason for such may be guilt or shame, as well as knowing that a lot of people cast judgement on women for aborting and disagree with the very nature of it. But when you’ve chosen abortion merely because you aren’t ready to give up your twentysomething lifestyle, judgement is sure to follow. Women who are contemplating abortion are still encouraged to abstain from drugs and alcohol in the interim. It ain’t over til it’s over.
11Withdrawal Is Worse For The Baby
There are a few very limited studies on this topic. Yes, withdrawal is difficult on a developing fetus. So is substance abuse. The truth is, we don’t really know which one is more difficult. Women will often try to justify their choice to continue smoking — insisting they are slowly cutting back — because they heard that going cold turkey is too difficult on the baby because of all the stress is puts on the mother’s body. But there are a multitude of other ways moms can cope with stress aside from smoking.
Here’s what we do know. Withdrawal is temporary and leads to total cessation of substance abuse, while continued substance abuse has no end in sight and often leads to dependency. So, only one of these paths actually has a good outcome that is best for the baby and mother, regardless of which is best in the short-term.
10The Doctor Said It's OK
Some women actually assume that the risks of withdrawal are greater on their developing baby while in utero than they are when the baby is born. In other words, they go to great lengths to convince themselves that it would be riskier to go through withdrawal themselves while pregnant than it would be to use drugs throughout the pregnancy and let the baby go through withdrawal after they are born on their own while hospitalized.
The number of babies who are being born addicted to drugs or alcohol continues to soar. This is largely common among babies who have been exposed to opioids during development. While just 1.5 per 1,000 babies born were struggling through NAS in 1999, that figure jumped to 6 per 1,000 in 2013.
Despite the fact that the United States accounts for just 4.6 percent of the global population, we consume two-thirds of the planet’s illicit drug supply, and opioids are the largest class of drugs being abused. In a society where doctors tell women that drugs like Codeine are safe for use during pregnancy, women are becoming more and more inclined to using and abusing them.
9They’re Doing It In Europe
Nah, this goes deeper than peer pressure and teenagers. We’re talking about other developed nations that condone the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. Women in America often think a glass or two of wine on occasion won’t harm their babies, because women in other countries are said to do it all the time.
While there are indeed nations in Europe full of women who drink a glass of wine with their dinners while pregnant, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. First, we must recognize that while we have a lot in common, comparing our food supply with that of Europe isn’t exactly comparing equals. The fermentation and crop maintenance processes differ quite a lot between the two nations.
More importantly, there is zero scholarly data that shows us alcohol in any amount is safe during pregnancy. We know it causes developmental damage, and we do not know at what threshold this occurs. So, abstinence is still scientifically best. And in case you didn’t know, rates for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are 2.6 times higher in Europe than the rest of the planet’s average rate.
8My Friend Did And Her Baby Is Fine
Ah, yes. This classic argument is potentially the most widespread across all pregnancy and parenting related topics. If a friend fed her baby infant rice cereal in a bottle at two months old and that baby turned out okay, then your baby will be, too, right? Wrong. Your baby may develop gut dysbiosis and malnutrition.
If you didn’t have smoke alarms in your house growing up and you were fine, that must mean it’s safe, right? No. It means you likely didn’t have a fire while you were in the home. No one knows when that fire will occur. No one knows why some women can use drugs throughout their pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies while others can consume only moderate amounts of wine and have a baby with FAS. There are no guarantees. Anecdotes are not evidence.
7I’d Have No Friends Otherwise
Pregnancy is a lonely time for a lot of women. Even when the baby is wanted, women still find that they feel isolated and blue, having had many of their friends scatter to the winds upon the news of their impending arrival.
It’s true. Mom friends can pretty much only count on other mom friends. While there are exceptions, they are just that — exceptions, not the rule.
When a friend gets pregnant, she’s seen as out of commission for wild Saturday nights on the town. There’s no use in calling her to go shopping, because you won’t be frequenting the same stores anymore. For the next nine months, she’s useless. I mean, hey, if that’s the kind of friends you’re looking for, by all means go for it.
A true friend would stick by you throughout pregnancy and look forward to meeting your little one. A real friend would call you on your shit if you tried to still go out and party next weekend with her. It’s time to find friends that you would be proud to have as aunties for your kid.
6It Mellows Me Out
A lot of women struggle with anxiety. It can be crippling, and it’s still not an excuse to drink or use illicit drugs while you’re pregnant. While some evidence is coming to light that marijuana may be a beneficial form of medicinal treatment for women with mental health concerns during pregnancy — even more so than the prescription pharmaceuticals we have and employ now, there remains no evidence that using drugs like opioids, cocaine, methamphetamines, and more are safe. In fact, it’s just the contrary.
We’ve known for a long time that drug and alcohol abuse leads to birth defects, low birth weights, poor fetal lung and brain development and much more. Substance abuse is not the only way to manage anxiety. It’s not even really management, but a crutch that is holding you back from truly taking charge of your health. Exercise, dietary regimens, pregnancy-friendly supplements, meditation, therapy and more can help.
5I Just Can't Stop
There are actually pretty clear lines between substance abuse and addiction. One does not always blur into the other. Some people can drink themselves into oblivion throughout their college years and still come out on top of their game after graduation. Others will keep nose-diving into an abyss of substance abuse until they have no grasp on reality anymore.
Some expectant mothers convince themselves that they aren’t responsible for their choice to use drugs or drink during pregnancy because they’re dependent on them. Wrong again, ladies. We aren’t here to blame the addict instead of the addiction, but the addict does need to take responsibility. If you’re aware you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, then you’re aware you need help. It’s your job to seek it, not brush it off and claim you have no stake in the game because you can’t help yourself.
4It Helps Shed A Few Pounds
It’s no secret that our society judges women for every single shape that they’ve ever come in. Whether it’s cup size, a pear-shaped figure, birthing hips, or broad shoulders, women are accustomed to being sized up based on their appearance. A lot of women try their best to shed some pounds before they get pregnant in effort to balance out what they will gain during the gestation period.
The problem with this is that many women don’t stop when they get pregnant. They continue to assume it’s safe to diet while expecting — something that should only be done in terms of portion control and smart eating choices under the direction of a doctor, and namely only for obese women whose weight could impact their or ther baby’s health.
Nonetheless, a lot of women resort to drug use or the abuse of diet pills to try to quickly drop the pounds they weren’t intending on carrying with them throughout a pregnancy. It’s not only reckless and not safe for your baby, but these supplements are made to ramp up metabolism and interfere with hormones like insulin and estrogen — both of which need to stay in correct working order during a pregnancy for mom and baby’s health. Don’t go there.
3I’ll Quit After Christmas
Look, we live in America. There’s always a reason to drink that beer or toke up if we go looking for one. Americans consume around 6.3 billion gallons of beer each year — yes, that’s just in beer. That Labor Day picnic; that Thanksgiving dinner; that New Year’s Eve party — the calendar year isn’t that long and we have enough holidays and get-togethers now to assure we are regularly getting lit if we’re open to it.
There are many sacrifices we make in order to be good parents. It starts during pregnancy. We can no longer engage in the same activities that we did before. We must give up roller coasters and wine for a little while. It’s not a permanent commitment, but foregoing it can have permanent consequences. Pass up that cocktail this holiday season. There will be more.
2My Partner Is A Partier
There are a few ways this scenario tends to work out. A lot of men are so supportive of their partners that they will abstain from alcohol and drugs throughout their woman’s pregnancy in solidarity alongside her. Others think that’s nonsense and feel they need a stiff drink more than ever to calm their nerves about becoming a father.
What women should really be analyzing is not that they cannot continue to do something that their husband can. Rather, it’s important to consider why they are in a relationship with someone who isn’t interested in settling down when they have a baby on the way. Furthermore, if your partner is okay with you drinking or lighting up while you’re pregnant, maybe it’s time to question just how invested he is in your health and that of your baby.
1Soon I Won’t Have Any Me Time
A lot of mothers worry about this, but they don’t reach for a line of coke to cope with it. It can be discouraging to wrap one’s head around just how much their life is going to change when they become a mother. It’s hard to fathom that there won’t be time for adequate sleep and eating dinner while it’s still hot — let alone time for manicures and root touch-ups.
Some women look at pregnancy as the last nine months they get to themselves before they have to devote nearly all of their energy to another person for the foreseeable future. But the truth is, that commitment starts at the point of conception. Women should already be abstaining from drugs alcohol while trying to conceive. For those who do so without trying, it’s time to hang up your dancing shoes and say sayonara to the barkeep as soon as you see those two pink lines.
Sources: Shriver Report, CDC, VHHA, Stat News, Science Daily, CNS News
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