If you’re pregnant and wondering if it’s okay to have a small glass of merlot or a sip of champagne now and then, the advice you receive may be confounding. Some doctors advise pregnant women to abstain from drugs like alcohol entirely, while others believe moderate drinking is unlikely to harm their child. What exactly are the dangers of drug use and pregnancy?

Drinking alcohol while pregnant can be harmful to your unborn child. Alcohol and drug use during pregnancy is detrimental to your unborn baby and you, the mother. Addiction can be a challenging condition requiring professional assistance and care to achieve and maintain complete sobriety.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drug and alcohol dependency during pregnancy can have long-term and fatal repercussions for your child. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) states that between 2012 and 2013, 9.4 percent of pregnant women aged 15 to 44 were categorized as current alcoholic drinkers, and 5.4 percent used illegal drugs. No level of drug or alcohol abuse can be considered safe during pregnancy.

What happens when a pregnant woman takes drugs?

  • Alcohol

No alcohol is safe to consume during any trimester of pregnancy. If a pregnant woman has a glass of wine, a glass of champagne, or a tiny amount of hard liquor, it passes through to the fetus in the same way as food and non – alcoholic liquids do. Some may wrongly believe that it is safe to drink late in pregnancy when the fetus is nearly fully formed, but the baby’s brain and other body systems are still too young to be exposed to alcohol at any level.

  • Marijuana

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 2 to 5% of pregnant women use marijuana. This figure rises for certain groups of women.

Others may believe that while smoking marijuana is dangerous, other forms, such as edibles, are not harmful to the fetus. The active compound in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). During pregnancy, this compound can cross the placenta and reach the baby.
However, determining the effects of marijuana during pregnancy can be difficult. This is because many women who smoke or consume marijuana also use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. As a result, determining which is causing a problem is complex.

  • Cocaine

Babies born to cocaine-using mothers are frequently prematurely delivered, have low birth weights, and smaller head circumferences. They are also shorter in length than babies born to cocaine-free mothers.
Cocaine use during pregnancy is hazardous to both women and fetuses. It is strongly discouraged due to the significant risk factors associated with cocaine use and pregnancy. A pregnant woman who uses cocaine puts herself at risk for premature birth and a variety of other complications that may arise due to a lack of adequate medical care during her pregnancy.

In addition to low birth weight, there are risks associated with learning disabilities, language development, behavioral issues, and heart defects once the baby is born. Cocaine use during pregnancy is risky and can lead to a variety of unfavorable long-term health consequences.

  • Heroin

Pregnancy heroin use can result in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS occurs when heroin crosses the placenta and enters the fetus during pregnancy, causing the baby to become dependent on the drug and the mother.

If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you should avoid substance abuse and consult with your healthcare practitioner about a balanced diet and lifestyle. If you find it difficult to stop using any drugs, you should seek treatment.

How do drugs affect the baby?

According to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, if you drink alcohol while pregnant, so does your developing baby. Your child has the same blood alcohol level as you. They, however, are incapable of processing alcohol.

Newborns exposed to these drugs during pregnancy frequently exhibit withdrawal symptoms such as jitteriness, difficulty sleeping, and feeding. They may also develop tremors and muscle tone issues later in life. They may also be more vulnerable to SIDS.

Heroin and other opiates, including methadone, can cause severe withdrawal symptoms in babies. Some symptoms can last for weeks. Babies born to opiate-addicted mothers are more likely to suffer from apnea and SIDS. These babies are also having feeding issues.


The truth of drug use and pregnancy is if a woman abstains from using illegal drugs during her first trimester, her chances of having a healthy baby improve.

What if I used drugs before I knew I was pregnant?

We now know we shouldn’t consume any drugs during pregnancy, but what if you drank before discovering that you were pregnant? So many thoughts race through your mind when you’ve just found out you’re pregnant. There’s a whole new world to explore, from when and how to tell people what crib to buy.

With so much going on, realizing that you were probably pregnant when you went out for some drinks can set off a perfect recipe of concern. So, how serious is the health risk to your baby if you drank before you knew you were pregnant?

Early pregnancy symptoms can be difficult to detect, especially if you were not trying for a child in the first place. The fetus has no connection to the mother’s bloodstream before implantation, and organs such as the brain do not develop until after implantation.
Smoking before pregnancy does not affect your unborn child, and if you have been smoking up until now, it is best not to dwell on the past and instead focus on quitting. Of course, quitting smoking for good is the best option, as smoking around a newborn increase the risk of SIDS. At the very least, try to give up until the birth.

Remember that smoking appears to be less harmful during the first four months of pregnancy than it is after that, so quitting as soon as you know you’re pregnant is the best and safest course of action.

Cocaine and marijuana, two prevalent drugs, do cross the placenta and can affect your baby. There is less concern in early pregnancy, but continued use can have negative health consequences.

What if I am hooked, and I am pregnant?

If you are addicted to alcohol or a binge drinker, you and your baby will likely suffer serious health consequences. These can happen throughout pregnancy, labor, and after the baby is born. The NHS’s advice on alcohol in pregnancy is straightforward: “the more you drink, the greater the danger.”
Even with less intense but regular drinking during pregnancy, there can be complications. For example, you could have a bottle of wine multiple times every week. You’d been doing this for a long time before becoming pregnant, and you’d always done well. But you haven’t been able to reduce your pregnancy, and you’d appreciate some assistance in making a change.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant and want a healthy kid, it’s critical to avoid drug usage throughout pregnancy. Illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine aren’t the only ones that might affect fetal development; commonly used over-the-counter medications, as well as caffeine and alcohol, can have long-term consequences on an unborn kid.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant and want a healthy child, it’s critical to avoid drug usage throughout pregnancy. Illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine aren’t the only ones that might affect fetal development; commonly used over-the-counter medications, as well as caffeine and alcohol, can have long-term consequences on an unborn kid.

Feel confident that there is relevant and timely advice available for you as well – to make the changes with alcohol now so that you can enjoy the rest of your pregnancy worry-free.

Drug use and Pregnancy Seeking Addiction Treatment

At Covenant Hills Treatment, we will provide you with a custom-tailored addiction treatment program that can go a long way to help you safely quit drug and/or alcohol use while also supporting your recovery. We are a Christian organization that provides addiction treatment. We have two tracks: one for those looking for a religious option and another for those who are not ready for that but still want high-quality addiction therapy.

We provide a free, confidential alcohol assessment and the most appropriate alcohol treatment recommendations for you. Covenant Hills Treatment can connect you with highly qualified alcohol counselors, detox and rehab programs, and pregnancy specialists. Contact us today to seek addiction treatment to better yourself and ensure a healthy pregnancy.