The Effects Of Drugs in Pregnancy

The effects of taking drugs in pregnancy, cannabis in pregnancy, taking drugs when pregnant

Drugs and pregnancy are often regarded as a taboo subject. Women suffering with addiction during pregnancy are worried about both the effects on the unborn baby but worried about being on the wrong side of the law means many pregnant women are scared to ask for help with drugs.

As there is so little research about the effects of drugs in pregnancy and the effects on the unborn baby, drugs are best avoided in pregnancy. If you take drugs it is best to try and stop before you start trying for a baby.

Drugs cross from the mothers blood stream to the unborn baby’s via the placenta. Having no filtering system of their own, the baby is at risks from the effects Drugs may cause a reduced amount of oxygen to be able to get to your baby. Drugs in pregnancy, especially the first trimester may cause growth and development problems.

If you have taken drugs in a one off occasion before you knew you were pregnant then you will more than likely be ok, but you should talk to your healthcare provider.

Commonly taken in drugs in pregnancy and their effects –


Cannabis is acknowledged as the most commonly used of Illegal drugs.  Smoking cannabis in pregnancy runs all the same risks as smoking tobacco. There is conflicting reports on the effects of cannabis on the unborn child, but may include behavioural and learning difficulties in the future as cannabis effects the child’s developing brain.


There are minimal amounts of research about the short and long term effects of ecstasy on an unborn baby. It is best to avoid ecstasy and all other drugs in pregnancy.

Amphetamines (speed) or Methamphetamines (Crystal Meth)

Not a lot is known about the effect of speed or crystal meth in pregnancy. It will, however, stop oxygen and vital nutrients reaching the unborn baby which may result in miscarriage or poor growth and development. Stopping taking these drugs suddenly can be dangerous if you are pregnant as it may cause miscarriage, so this is best done with the help of a health professional.


Heroin withdrawal should always be undertaken with the supervision of health professionals whether the addict is pregnant or not. A baby can become addicted to heroin in the womb and can suffer from withdrawal symptoms after it is born.

Cocaine and Crack Cocaine

Both cocaine and crack cocaine carry risks of miscarriage and placental abruption. As with other drugs low birth weight is a common side effect and other respiratory and heart problems. An infant who has been exposed to stimulants such as these may suffer from hyper excitability and need medication to combat this after birth. This can be very distressing for both mother and child.

If you are taking drugs and you are pregnant then you must tell your doctor or midwife. They are not there to judge you and have experience in helping people who take drugs in pregnancy, and helping them stop.  There are different treatment options available both on the NHS and privately should you need it.


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UK Addiction Treatment Group.

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