Marijuana is the most widely used drug amongst women who are at the age where they can reproduce, and pregnant women. Researchers have yet to identify how marijuana affects unborn children, but they strongly recommend not using any form of drugs or alcohol during pregnancy. The potential for a negative result is too large. Most research has discovered the effects of abusing other types of illegal drugs or excessive drinking while pregnant, but little is known about how marijuana may affect pregnancy. Poor fetal growth and a smaller head circumference are believed to be the results of smoking marijuana during pregnancy. It is also believed to increase the risk of problems with thinking, memory, and behavior in childhood.
Marijuana is popular because of its immediate impact. Soon after smoking marijuana, the heart begins beating faster and blood pressure is lowered. It can increase the heartbeat by 20 to 50 beats per minute. If mixed with other drugs, marijuana can increase the heartbeat even more.
Whether smoked, or otherwise consumed, whatever a woman takes into her body while pregnant passes along the placenta to the developing child. The element of marijuana that passes to the unborn child is known by the acronym THC (delta-9-hydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana). It is possible for smoking to interrupt the flow of oxygen, which both parent and unborn child rely on to live. Absence of oxygen, at any time, can lead to significant and unhealthy results.
In the first month of life, if the mother continues to smoke marijuana, THC is passed into the newborn child through breast milk. Being around marijuana smoke can also lead to early childhood breathing disorders like asthma, wheezing, and other problems with the chest.
Often times, marijuana is not the only drug being used. Sometimes other drugs and alcohol are being used. Pregnant women who use marijuana in combination with other drugs increase the possibility of birth defects. Some babies are born at low birth weights, delayed commencement of breathing, tremors, poor eyesight, and facial deformities. The use of some of these drugs, and even drinking excessively, while pregnant, can be the reason for a premature birth, and in the most extreme cases, the birth of a stillborn.
In some cases, medication will be given to reduce the severity of withdrawal and its affects on the mother’s body and baby’s health. Withdrawal, if done without medical supervision, can be so severe that it causes loss of life for the baby. In other cases, the medication given to the mother can result in the baby being weaned off the medication after birth.
Since everything taken into the body by the mother will ultimately pass along to the baby through the placenta, it is important to be cautious about what you eat or what drugs you take, even when prescribed by doctors. New Directions for Women is one of the few places in the nation where a woman can receive treatment during any trimester of pregnancy. We have had over 100 sober babies born at our facility and many more who have gone through treatment with their mother. We are proud of the multigenerational work we do. We serve women of all ages, pregnant women, and women with children, ages 0-13. Know of someone who needs treatment? Contact our loving Admissions Counselors at 800-93-WOMEN or find us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. We can help.