Substance use & medication

Harmfull substances while pregnant

Alcohol

While pregnant it’s advised to not drink alcohol at all. The reason for this is that alcohol can cause damage to a developing baby. Alcohol gets to a baby through the placenta if a pregnant woman drinks alcohol. A baby cannot process alcohol very well. So, any alcohol in your baby stays in its body much longer than in you. This is known to be a risk for causing serious problems. At worst, babies can develop a syndrome of severe abnormalities, called fetal alcohol syndrome. In others, alcohol can cause problems for the baby such as poor growth, premature labour and physical and mental disability. Guidelines in the Netherlands advise that women should drink no alcohol at all during pregnancy.

 

Smoking

Women who are pregnant should avoid smoking, due to the damage it can cause the unborn baby. It can also have long-term effects on the health of your child after birth. Tobacco smoke contains poisonous chemicals which pass into your bloodstream when you smoke, and then on into the growing baby’s blood. You and your baby will get most benefit and the risks will be most reduced if you stop before you become pregnant. Planning to become pregnant is a good incentive to stop smoking for many women. It is also often a good time to persuade partners to give up too. However, your baby will still gain benefit if you stop at any point during pregnancy. Smoking when you are pregnant gives a higher risk of:

  • Having a miscarriage.
  • Having a pregnancy which does not develop in the normal place (ectopic pregnancy).
  • Slow growth of the baby leading to a low birth weight.
  • Premature labour.
  • Bleeding towards the end of pregnancy, due to the placenta coming away from the wall of the womb (uterus) early. This is called placental abruption.
  • Stillbirth.
  • Your baby having abnormalities such as a cleft lip or palate.

Even after the birth, children of smoking parents have an increased risk of:

  • Chest infections
  • Asthma
  • Cot death (sudden infant death syndrome).
  • Doing less well at school.
  • Behavioural problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Stopping smoking reduces all these risks. Of course, there are many other risks with smoking, such as the increased risk of developing chest and heart disorders. Do you need help stopping smoking? Please let us know and we will guide you through.

 

Recreational drugs

The effects of all the different types of recreational (illicit) drugs on pregnancy are not fully known. However, there is an increasing amount of evidence to suggest that they are likely to pose a risk of damage to the baby. Therefore it’s advised to stop taking drugs when you want to become pregnant. If you have any questions concerning drugs during pregnancy, don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

Medication

During your pregnancy it is advised to be careful with medication. Some can have an influence on the development of the baby. During your initial consultation we will ask you if you use any medication. We will tell you if it’s safe to use during pregnancy or not.

Paracetamol is safe to use. However if you need to use it for more than three days in a row or if you have a fever, please let us know. Local anesthetics at the dentist is also safe during pregnancy.

 

Other chemicals

Some environmental chemicals are known to lead to congenital abnormalities. Therefore we advise to read the leaflet of chemical products you use while renovating or cleaning your house. It’s also important to ventilate your house frequently.

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