Substance use and pregnancy know the facts

Pregnancy is a sensitive time for both the expecting mother and developing child in the womb. Most pregnant women go to great lengths to ensure that their pregnancy goes well. This includes consulting a doctor, taking pregnancy vitamins and attending prenatal classes. The last thing an expecting mom wants to do, is compromise the health of her unborn baby. Taking any kind of substance during pregnancy puts the expectant mother and their child at risk. Here’s more.

Using over the counter medication

Medical practitioners advise pregnant women to consult with their doctor or gynaecologist about using prescription or over the counter medication. The reason behind this is that most studies don’t use pregnant women when testing out the medication, so there’s no telling what kind of effects the medication can have on your growing baby and you.

Drinking alcohol

Drinking alcohol during your pregnancy is discouraged by medical practitioners because it can lead to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). This is a condition that causes growth problems, brain damage, behavioural problems and developmental issues in babies.

Some mothers may convince you that they drank and their babies haven’t suffered, but the reality is, any amount of alcohol taken during pregnancy is harmful to you and your unborn baby. You may not see the issues during infancy, but they can show up when the child gets older.


Smoking is bad for you as an adult because it compromises your respiratory system and weakens your immune system. Imagine the effect it could have on an unborn baby. The nicotine and tobacco in cigarettes and other products, can go through the womb and into the blood stream of your growing baby. The worst case scenario is that your baby may suffer from birth defects, you could deliver prematurely, or even miscarry.

Taking drugs

Similar to smoking, drugs have negative effects on adults. Using illegal drugs like cocaine, weed or nyaope during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage or infant death. If you do carry to term, your child is likely to suffer from developmental problems, constant health issues and experience educational problems later on. 

It’s important for you to take care of your health at all times, especially during pregnancy. If you’re struggling to quit any substance, talk to your medical practitioner so that they can assist you. You can also contact organisations such as SANCA and FAMSA for free counselling.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).