I recently viewed a video of a woman giving birth and although I have experienced giving birth, nothing compares to actually witnessing a newborn making its way out the womb, most times literally headfirst into the world. There’s so much power in the beginning stages of motherhood.
Working in the behavioral health sector for the last few years I see many pregnant women with addictions to drugs and alcohol. Although often times these women are very aware of their addiction, many continue to make poor decisions for themselves and for the baby.
You would think maternal instincts would kick in and first priority would be to make sure baby is born healthy. However, it’s not as simple as a functioning mind would think. If you’ve ever fought addiction or work closely with someone who has, you know firsthand how difficult recovery can be.
There is also dual diagnosis. Meaning not only is she struggling with addiction but may also be diagnosed with a mental disorder (i.e. schizophrenia, bi-polar, clinical depression). Someone severely depressed who’s often suffering from suicidal ideation is challenged with finding a reason to live, and sometimes pregnancy can exacerbate those thoughts. One would ask, why even have sex or not use contraception, when you know you are challenged in this way? The same reason we all have sex or periodically don’t use contraception. As much as we would like to believe mostly everyone practices safe sex, obviously this is not the case. Not condoning, but even you could probably remember a time or two when your sexual experience lacked protection, let’s be real. These people still work, are in romantic relationships and have sex, have homes to come to, shop for food and clothes, and watch reality TV like everyone else.
Whether you believe in mental health disorders or not the symptoms are real, the imbalance is real, how the symptoms affect everyone close to you is very real.
When I found out I was pregnant I knew nothing about pregnancy, about babies. I had never done any babysitting, so I knew nothing about bottled milk or how to change a diaper. I just knew that I wanted to do everything I could to make sure my little one was healthy. Although addiction and mental illness exist, expecting mothers can recover, live a productive life, and deliver healthy babies with support and treatment.
Please support your local organizations providing a fighting chance for addicted expecting mothers.
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