What you need to know about using Heroin while Pregnant

Heroin use during pregnancy is extremely dangerous and requires specialized treatment in order to safely detox both the mother and the baby. Fetal addiction to heroin is very common and babies born to mothers with a heroin addiction will have to be treated for withdrawal symptoms. If you’re suffering from a heroin addiction during pregnancy, it’s absolutely necessary for your health and the health of your baby to get help now. Here’s what you need to know about heroin addiction and pregnancy.

Heroin Use and Pregnancy: The Facts

•    Nearly half of all babies born to heroin users are born with low birth weight, which can lead to serious health issues such as breathing problems and an increased risk of lifelong disabilities.
•    Complications are less likely to occur if methadone treatment is started early in the pregnancy.

Heroin Use and Pregnancy: Effects on the Fetus

•    Increased risk of infection in the fetus
•    Low blood sugar
•    Bleeding within the brain
•    Poor fetal growth
•    Premature rupture of the membranes
•    Birth defects
•    Greater risk of HIV due to the mother sharing needles

Heroin Use and Pregnancy: Effects on Newborns

•    Low birth weight
•    Premature birth
•    Increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
•    Withdrawal symptoms:
o    Hyperactivity
o    Convulsions and/or trembling
o    Irritability
o    Diarrhea
o    Vomiting
o    Fever
o    Sleep abnormalities
o    Still joints
o    Respiratory problems
o    Excessive, high-pitched crying
o    Seizures
•    Behavioral and developmental abnormalities later in life, including poor growth, mental retardation, and impaired motor, perception and organizational skills

Using Methadone During Pregnancy

Pregnant women using heroin or other opioids should not stop taking the drug without seeking medical help. Sudden detox from these types of drugs can harm your baby and can be fatal to both you and your child. Medical detox using methadone is the safest way to detox during pregnancy.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methadone has been used for decades and has been shown to be an effective treatment for pregnant women who are using opioids during pregnancy. It is possible for newborns exposed to methadone prenatally to be delivered at a low birth weight or suffer withdrawal after delivery. Symptoms of methadone withdrawal typically appear within 48 to 72 hours, but may not show up for up to three weeks.

Symptoms of methadone withdrawal in babies include:
•    Restlessness
•    Severe irritability
•    Feeding troubles
•    Respiratory problems
•    Excessive crying

It’s extremely important to maintain professional care for your newborn child until it has been weaned off the drug and withdrawal symptoms disappear. A professional drug addiction treatment facility can safely monitor methadone dosage levels and adjust them as necessary to help minimize this risk withdrawal after birth.

Heroin Addiction and Pregnancy: Getting Help

If you’re suffering from a heroin addiction during pregnancy, it’s absolutely necessary for your health and the health of your baby to get help now. Many women have successfully treated their addiction during pregnancy. The sooner you seek help, the better chance your baby will have of being born healthy and living a normal healthy life. Women who seek treatment within the first trimester greatly increase these chances. If you’re well into your pregnancy, don’t be discouraged. Your baby can only benefit from any help you receive, no matter what trimester you’re in.

In order to safely treat your addiction, including safe detox, during pregnancy, you should seek the help and guidance of a professional treatment facility experienced in helping pregnant women treat their addiction.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.