Friday, February 18, 2011

I Took Drugs While Pregnant


Let me tell you another dirty story- but this one is about me.

I have had three children. With two of my pregnancies I have taken a drug. What and why I will not share because it is private but I will say it was a prescribed pharmaceutical drug untested on pregnant women.

This was a difficult situation and decision for me. I strongly believe that NO drug is proven safe for the unborn baby. I strongly believe that part of mothering is sacrifice and a willing sacrifice at that. I am also not a fan of medications if there is any other natural or more holistic way to approach the problem.

But after thought and research and careful consideration I decided to take this drug. I felt, along with my care providers at the time, that the benefit outweighed the risk and that it could eliminate the use of other drugs later on.

Now a few days ago I posted about smoking marijuana in pregnancy. I admit to being surprised at the response I got. It really wasn't that big of a day as far as blog hits or anything like that but definitely got the most heated response I have EVER seen in the few years I have been blogging.

I live in an area where the cultivation of marijuana and its use is both very common, integral to the economy and often legal and prescribed. I admit and admitted in the blog post that I have biases on this subject.
Guess what- if it ticked you off- you are biased too.

I was also told that the post was nothing but my opinion. Well....duh. This is a blog, not CNN. Nobody fact checks me. I can write whatever I want. So can any other blogger out there. That is how it works.

I got a lot of accusations about not understanding why some women NEED drugs (of any type) while they are pregnant.

Now very few of you know me. Actually- I do understand that need. I have been there. I have crossed that bridge and I have made that choice. Guess what. I still think that there is NO DRUG PROVEN SAFE FOR THE UNBORN CHILD. And I have taken them. I do think there are times when it is worth the risk but I think they are rare and should be carefully considered.

When I say I don't really understand what was so offensive about that post I mean it. I mean it because I have been that mom making that choice and that sentence (no drug is proven safe for the unborn child) doesn't hurt my feelings one bit.

I made my choice. I was comfortable with it. It was hard choice. My kids appear to be fine. I sincerely hope that they are and have health their entire lives. I recognize though, that that might not be the case. That is the chance we take and that is the chance I took.

I ONLY made the choice to take a drug while pregnant because I felt that the BENEFIT outweighed the RISK.

If you made that same choice then more power to you. If you know that your choice was right for you, like I feel about mine, then the words of somebody else shouldn't offend you.

In my book, there is a HUGE difference between recreational drug use and a need for a drug. Even a needed drug should be carefully considered from all sides and recognized for what it is, a risk.

And yet it has become blindingly obvious to me that the subject of marijuana in particular, among crunchy moms is a hot button issue. I maintain that this is not a risk (even hypothetical) that anybody should take. I don't get it. I don't understand, and I never will.

My deep wish is that it isn't a risk. My desire would be that those babies whose moms smoke marijuana while pregnant are just fine. Never in a million years would I want any baby to be damaged by that and that is why I wrote the post- to make people think and reconsider if it was absolutely necessary or not.

I also think it is incredibly difficult to prove the safety or lack thereof of any drug, herb, or substance. To do so would require numerous longitudinal studies and even then, with the literally millions of lifestyle and environmental factors related to health, would be difficult to prove. Thus the hard nosed ideas I have about avoidance if at all possible.

What I find strangest of all about this is that I have on numerous occasions posted about the risks and even evils of Pitocin. Pitocin has, without a doubt, saved the lives of thousands of women from one of the true risks of birth, postpartum hemorrhage. I myself have been one of these moms. (I don't find posts about the evils of Pitocin offensive either, despite the fact that it has directly benefited me.)

And yet- I still think that this drug is often used inappropriately. Here is the strange thing- despite the obvious benefits of properly used Pitocin, NOBODY ever gets mad when I talk about what is WRONG with its use. NOBODY.

May we all have wisdom and love for our children as we make the choices that will build them. Peace mamas.

(I am now riding off on my high horse. It is huge. Like in a beer commercial. Ta Ta!)

23 comments:

Archaeology cat said...

I'm with you. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I ended up being on a medication for most of the pregnancy just so I could eat a little (the drug didn't get rid of all nausea, but without it I couldn't even eat dry crackers at times). I had to eat, and so I took the medicine. I hated it, and my GP and midwife were reluctant to prescribe it until I'd tried everything else. I also ended up on antivirals and antibiotics for swine flu and a secondary bacterial infection. My daughter seems fine, and I'm thrilled, but that doesn't mean I think those things are necessarily inherently safe for the baby, since they can't really ethically test to see if they are or not, you know?

melaniek said...

I'm pretty shocked that you got such a heated response about marijiuana. Just wow. About pitocin, absolutely! Unfortunately I think far too many women don't read or understand the dangers of pitocin OR induction unless absolutely neccessary. They blindly take the advice of their doctors and figure the OB knows what's best for them. I used to be one of those women, with my first pregnancy...now I am facing my fourth c-section because I didn't know enough with my first child. And while my kiddos were born healthy and are still healthy, I have to fight the doctors on carrying baby to my due date at least. Ideally, they would let me go until I went into labor and baby decided it was ready. Stick by your guns Momma...you've got great opinions.

Maria said...

I took zantac 2x a day while pregnant with my son, adding a 40mg Prilosec presctiption in the last month or so. My acid reflux was so bad that even water made it flare up, and I wasn't getting any sleep.

At the time, I felt the benefits outweighed the risks, largely because I couldn't find any risks, and the doctor assured me it was safe (not that I trust doctors.)

The other day, my son (20 months now) turned the TV on and before I could turn it off, I saw the usual daytime lawsuit TV commercial, but this time for women who took prilosec during pregnancy, and their babies had a heart defect!!

I am hoping my son doesn't have some sort of issue we don't know about. If I got pregnant again, I could say right now I wouldn't take anything, but I don't know that I could have made it through the pregnancy, let alone taken care of my daughter, if I hadn't taken it.

mommyto6 said...

Great post!

Melanie said...

Well done!

Marli said...

Fantastic post (as was the original that prompted this one), thank you.

Anonymous said...

I guess that marijuana is more polarizing than pitocin... I'm sure it depends on your "circle" ~ in the medical community it would almost certainly be the other way around. By-the-way, that "beer commercial" horse is typically a Clydesdale. ;o)

~CB

Brandy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brandy said...

Just so you know, when you said you're riding off on your high horse, I pictured you with the guy from the Old Spice commercial.

I'm not really sure what was offensive about the marijuana post either. I'll admit, the most drugs I've taken in pregnancy are antibiotics and Robitussin (and a little caffeinated tea every once in a while), but I didn't find it offensive. I think there is a lot of benefit vs. risk considerations in pregnancy and birth. You have to weigh those risks and benefits and make decisions you are comfortable with. But I can't really see much benefit to recreational drug use when you consider the possible risks. Thanks for the great post. I always enjoy reading your posts.

Ali G said...

I am glad you posted this blog, it was important to follow up on the last one, as it was a veritable can of worms.
What bothered me about your last post, and i commented underneath it, was your pictures of brain function and the conclusions you drew. I said it then, and ill say it again... everything alters our brain function... sex, drugs, laughter, stress, depression, human interactions, smells, everything! Just because something affects our brain function doesnt mean its bad! If our brains were supposed to remain static, we would probably all be veggies.
Re Pitocin - i do find the use of pitocin offensive - yes, it can be useful, but damn, its so overused. And the discourse around pitocin is governed by its context - used in a medical setting and administered by so-called professionals, quite different to the discourse and context of pot. That is perhaps why the discussion is so different - and the reaction.
Thanks for the follow up!
sincerely, one openly biased medicinal user of marijuana.

Kiza said...

<3

We all make the choices that we have to, and it would be awesome if other people could understand that. It would also be kind of awesome if people understood that sometimes they can make choices - good or bad - that they don't necessarily HAVE to make.

I'm in the took-an-untested-prescription-drug-while-pregnant camp and I'm with you on understanding how hard of a decision it was/is.

Wonderful post!

CrunchyHeart said...

Oh man...I didn't even read the post about marijuana, but I can tell you that as one of the crunchiest moms around I must be in the minority b/c I DO NOT think that it is ok to smoke while you are pregnant, ever! There is not one situation in which smoking it while pregnant could save you or your baby's life. In fact, it is a mind altering substance...and we can only guess at it's effects on a tiny DEVELOPING mind. Considering how many current adults (probable children of hippies) are now taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds my humble opinion is that it can permanently and negatively alter a baby's mind. It has already been proven to do so in adults. I am sorry that so many unenlightened, uninformed, and uncaring mothers are harming their unborn babies that way :(

CrunchyHeart said...

And by alter, that means change forever. Connections and pathways that were once there, healthy and normal, are no longer. That is not a simple passing effect, like eating, laughing, or having sex. It is a irreversible change in the way a brain works.

CrunchyHeart said...

Anonymous-read what I wrote on the previous post if you think I am judgmental. We are all sharing our opinions and beliefs, and my belief is in a higher power that is in control of the miracle of life-and that that miracle should not be intervened upon during creation or birth. Not everything that is "natural" is good or safe, and as humans we will never know the truth. All we can know is in our heart, and in my heart I know that some things DO NOT help create a life. They are not necessary, just as interventions during birth are not necessary.

Peace

CrunchyHeart said...

I don't need a study to tell me what is loving and peaceful and what is not. Maybe it surprises some to hear that from someone who doesn't partake :)

Brie said...

I'm totally confused as to how you got bad response about marijuana. I should have commented then, bravo - and thank you!

GlitaGrrl said...

My dream was to have a natural birth, preferably in water. But at 38 weeks I was induced to due to high blood pressure, and received epidural, magnesium drip and was monitored with all sorts of machines. At the time I did everything to save my baby's life so I knew that not getting my dream birth was fine as long as my baby lived.
Now this is what pisses me off and really hurts my feelings, even though I know I did the right thing pro-Natural birth mothers who managed to get their natural birth experience have repeatedly put me down. One even said I hadn't really given birth, in her opinion even though I didn't get a C section I didn't really experience birth.

YES even when you know you have done the right thing, it HURTS when people judge and attack you about it.

Bri!!! said...

I laughed a number of times in this post. Especially about you riding off on your high horse! Great post. I am shocked that people can justify smoking during pregnancy...wow.

cleanHeart said...

Thank you for your article on marijuana and pregnancy... I love weed....I mean LOVE weed.. and I am right there with you that women need to consider their babies health and safety before their own needs, comfort or habits...I mean...really..just the hypothetical chance that it could be detrimental to your childs; well being should cause you to stop dead in your tracks and re-evaluate your choices! What a precious gift to carry a child...why would you take a chance of changing the natural course of events...I admit, that with my first pregnancy, I was on the fence about smoking... so I imbibed a few times during my second trimester...I was too sick to even SMELL weed my first and by the third I was too paranoid that my baby would be taken away from me if my midwife caught on that I was smoking weed so I refrained,,,but something never sat right with me when I did smoke... I didn't enjoy it, and it actually gave me greater anxiety just thinking and questioning if it was harmful or not...Once I gave birth to my Daughter, the situation became very real to me... she was a REAL person, who was very affected by MY choices... and the answer was blatantly obvious to me... NO SMOKING!!!! I quit smoking herb throughout breastfeeding (over 14 months!), and with my subsequent pregnancy I have not as well... This is not to say that I am looking forward to the day when I am free to choose to smoke again! But i REFUSE to make the choice that may harm my children... Maybe it will not harm them, but I cannot take the chance! It is a shame that our society is so self centerd and needy that we assume our own needs can outweigh the needs of an innocent child, who is unable to voice their own opinion...I do understand that at times, medications or therapies must be used for the mother's (and ultimately the babe's) safety and health...but so much is superfulous...When you become a mother (from conception!) it is time to assess yourself and be stronger than you have ever been before. To rise to the occasion and be selflessly invested in your kiddos...To love fully and completey... Rationalizing your habits is just that...Making excuses for your comforts... I hope I haven't offended anyone but opened eyes to the pleasures and self fufilments of becoming a strong, responsible mother... a true WOMBAN!

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to add that I had a friend who smoked weed heavily through all three of her pregnancies and each child ended up in the NICU. Super sad.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your entry~ just for sharing your truth. I must comment here, as a naturopathic physician with additional training in obstetrics- and a mother. I have also periodically taken zofran during a pregnancy with similar rationale - and even coffee (gasp!). So~ I am not a zealot here at all.

That said, it bewilders me that anyone could believe that regular marijuana use is healthy for a developing child, given what we know about how it affects adults and how small our babies - and their livers, therefore the ability to detoxify drugs - are. A recent birth in my community resulted in an unresponsive baby who was flown to a high-level hospital and treated with an ice cap, essentially freezing her brain to protect the child from further inflammatory brain damage (current standard of care in cases like this). Unfortunately, the midwives did not send the placenta to the lab for a toxicology study; if they did, I imagine child protective services would be involved, and should. This baby girl is now on anti-seizure drugs. While we'll never know cause, both parents used marijuana before and throughout the pregnancy. The parents are still oblivious, calling what this girl is going through "her own path." This lack of responsibility is infuriating. I wonder how this child will grow? How will her children and grandchildren be affected from an epigenetic perspective?

While learning from our mistakes is wise, there's no use in being hard on ourselves for anything chosen in the past. But future parents, please think twice before using marijuana during your pregnancy.

TorreyMomma said...

As a doula, a student/apprentice midwife, a PTSD sufferer, a mother, I have looked at the "research" and studied this extensively. I agree with you, 100% that no drug (let me clarify *no drug*) has been proven safe in pregnancy. Alfalfa and rasberry leaf tea are included as drugs, because anything that has a therapeautic effect is classified as a drug.
With that caveat, I also have had pharmaceutical (prescription for) marijuana...because at the time it was the only effective treatment for my PTSD.
Which brings us to this post. Absolutely I agree that habitual (and especially recreational) use of marijuana is an unacceptable risk to an infant. But if a woman is in a position of needing a prescription, and after evaluating all of her options and weighing thee risks against the benefits, I also believe that in some cases marijuana is a safer alternative to other, known to be harmful, medications.
There is a Canadian study that was of a larger scale, that identified smoking as being the most offensive (to the body) method of utilizing medical marijuana. (I had a paper copy in 2009 in WA, Canadian Medical Journal) I have spoken with women (clients) who have prescriptions for marijuana during pregnancy and given the women and the physicians the paperwork, and the final verdict is: if you must use *any* medication during pregnancy, look for the absolute lowest dose needed for therapeutic effect. Be aware many foods can inhibit absorption, requiring a higher dosage. And if medical marijuana is needed, do not inhale. Find a compounding pharmacy or a really good cookbook and utilize the absolute minimum amount to ease symptoms. Every baby deserves a healthy birth, and everything you consume will probabaly cross the placenta, affecting your baby in some way, shape, or form. As moms (and moms to be) we need to have access to as much information as is available, so we can make the best choices possible. Thaknks again Momma!

kate parker said...

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CYNTHIA.

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