Abusing Prescription Drugs During Pregnancy

How can prescription drugs harm my baby?

Everything that a pregnant woman ingests has the potential to affect her baby in either a positive or negative way. Oxygen and nutrients that are positive reach the fetus by crossing the placenta. Any drugs taken by a pregnant woman will also cross the placenta to reach her baby. The effects of any drugĀ  on the developing fetus are largely dependent upon the stage of a woman’s pregnancy. Prescription drugs can cause the following problems and complications during pregnancy:

  • Contraction of the uterus which can affect the blood supply to the baby or cause preterm labor and birth
  • Interference with normalĀ  prenatal development that can lead to birth defects or fetal demise
  • Interference with the function of the placenta which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the baby causing some babies to be underdeveloped and underweight

How would I know if I am abusing prescription drugs?

  • You consume larger doses than prescribed.
  • You use them more frequently than prescribed.
  • You take the medication for reasons other than originally prescribed.
  • You take medication prescribed for someone else
  • You use medication with alcohol, narcotics or other addictive substances.

What should I do if I am pregnant and abusing prescription drugs?

The most difficult step is admitting that you have a problem. When you become pregnant your lifestyle habits will need to change for the sake of both yourself and your baby.

At your first prenatal visit, your health care provider will ask you a series of questions about your lifestyle. He/she will ask if you smoke, drink, and/or are taking any prescription drugs. Be completely open and honest with your health care provider.

If you find it too difficult to stop taking your medications, you should seek help by calling the National Alcohol & Drug Dependence Hopeline at 1-800-NCA-CALL (622-2255) for help.

Last Updated: 05/2011

Compiled using information from the following sources:

National Institute on Drug Abuse, http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/PainMed.html

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, http://www.fda.gov/

Merck Manuals; Women’s Health Issues; Drug Use During Pregnancy, http://www.merckmanuals.com