Avatar universal

taking vicodin and smoking while pregnant

First of all, I know that most of you are wondering if you're reading the title of my question correctly....yes you are, and I am very ashamed of myself.  This is a very hard thing for me to admit to, because I know that I am opening myself up to being condemned by many of you.  I know that what I'm doing is totally wrong, so I'm asking those of you that just want to tell me how horrible I am, to please refrain from doing so.  That's not why I'm here....

I am 28 weeks pregnant with my 4th child.  I became hooked on pain killers roughly 2 years ago when my husband was prescribed for having 2 herniated discs.  I started taking them occasionally as a "stress reliever," and now it has become completely out of control.  It started with percocet, but now I only take vicodin.  I was taking approx. 5-10/325 vicodins and a day during the first 4 months of my pregnancy, but I have cut down to 3 a day.  I want to quit all together, but am finding that very hard to do.  It also doesn't help that my husband takes them, so I have to be extra strong to refuse them while I know they are in the house at all times.

I am also a smoker, but have wanted to quit for YEARS now, and have just recently cut down to about 5-6 cigarettes a day.  I know I sound like a hypocrite here, but I am very, very concerned about my baby's well-being.  I just had an ultrasound last week, and she looks great.  Her heart, organs, and physical appearance look totally normal, but I still am worried sick about her.  I feel guilty every day of my life.  I lose sleep at night to think that she might come out with mental or physical problems.  I will NEVER forgive myself if I have ruined her shot at a good, healthy life.  I want to quit everything now, but especially the pills before she is born because I do not want her to suffer from withdrawals.  I know that pregnancy is a precious, fragile, beautiful thing, and there are women out there that can't get pregnant, and here I am being stupid and selfish with my pregnancy.  I'm not looking for anybody to tell me that it's "perfectly okay" to be a "pill popper", but I do want to specifically hear stories from women that can relate.  Were your babies born healthy??  Did they have problems??  I'm not trying to justify my actions, and no matter what, I am on the road to quitting.  I am just desperate for some information from those of you that know what I'm going through.  None of my family or friends know this, and I absolutely hate having this skeleton in my closet.  My doc knows that I take them from time to time for the back pain I have associated with pregnancy, but he doesn't know the extent of my problem.  Please, Please help me if you can.....  

Thank you so much
32 Responses
Avatar universal

I appreciate the fact that you went out of a limb and opened yourself up here. That said, I believe that your need to tell your doctor everything. No matter how embarrassing it is, no matter what consequences you may have to endure it is imperative that your doctor knows the extent of your drug problem. This information will help him treat your baby when she is born.
148691 tn?1260194903
The question is: what if you find someone that 'can relate' to you...? and she happens to have a 'healthy' child.....
Is that gonna give you 'peace of mind' that YOUR unborn child will 'possibly' be fine too and then that will only  motivate you to keep popping pills and smoking?

'Trying to quit' is nothing less than NOT quitting smoking. It's just a way to justify the damage you are doing, not only to your lungs, but to your innocent baby, that has no say in this life yet.

With that said: here are some 'interesting' statistics that might 'help' you with your 'trying' and may not only make you 'lose sleep' at night, but actually give you the braveness you need, and the strength you need to quit your nasty habits.

When a woman continues to smoke during pregnancy, the risks to the unborn child are great. These statistics come out of the 2004 Surgeon General's Report on Smoking*:

    * Research has shown that women's smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy complications, premature delivery, low-birth-weight infants, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
    * The nicotine in cigarettes may cause constrictions in the blood vessels of the umbilical cord and uterus, thereby decreasing the amount of oxygen available to the fetus. Nicotine also may reduce the amount of blood in the fetal cardiovascular system.
    * Nicotine is found in breast milk.
    * Babies of mothers who smoked during pregnancy have lower birth weights. Low birth weight is a leading cause of infant deaths, resulting in more than 300,000 deaths annually among newborns in the United States.
    * In general, pregnant smokers eat more than pregnant nonsmokers, yet their babies weigh less than babies of nonsmokers. This weight deficit is smaller if smokers quit early in their pregnancy.
    * Smoking by the mother causes SIDS. Compared with unexposed infants, babies exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are at twice the risk for SIDS, and infants whose mothers smoked before and after birth are at three to four times greater risk.
    * Mothers' smoking during pregnancy reduces their babies' lung function.
    * In 2001, 17.5% of teenaged mothers smoked during pregnancy. Only 18% to 25% of all women quit smoking once they become pregnant.
    * Smoking by children and adolescents hastens the onset of lung function decline during late adolescence and early adulthood.
    * Smoking by children and adolescents is related to impaired lung growth, chronic coughing, and wheezing.

So...., even IF your baby makes it to the delivery table (apparently) safe and healthy.... that innocent baby has FOUR TIMES the risk of DYING IN HER/HIS CRIB on a night when mommy is sound asleep... because she had popped a 'feel-good pill'.

I am not gonna attack you. You know what you are and you know what you're doing to him/her. But I would honestly be scared too, if I were you...... I would never EVER in my worst nightmares wanna wake up to find a dead baby in his/her crib, because of me.

Hope this helps. And good luck.
Avatar universal
Hi, I agree with both of the ladies above.  I honestly can't imagine being in your situation.  The only advice I can give you that hasn't been given already is to know that going "cold turkey" can do more harm than good to your baby.  Your baby is already "addicted" to the vicodin and cigarettes because he/she is getting just as much as you are a day.  I think that you need to get professional help in coming off of the vicodin and cigarettes so you don't do more harm to your baby.  Please call your doctor today.  Please also tell your husband about your problem so that he can either get rid of his pills or hide them where you will never find them.  Babies that are born addicted to drugs may appear normal in all respects-many of them grow to develop learning disabilities and other problems that aren't apparent at birth.  Like Vanessa said-I hope this helps and good luck.
Avatar universal
Wow....well, I appreciate and respect the blunt honesty.  To answer your first question; no, I am not going to feel like I can continue doing what I'm doing if I hear a positive story about a mother delivering a healthy baby.  Like I said in my first post, I am on the road to quitting....I am cutting down on both day by day, and that is a fact.  

Yes, I will feel some peace of mind if I hear that babies are still born healthy.....but I'm not going to take it as 'permission' to continue my use.  I am quitting regardless.  It will just relieve some stress to know that there is some hope that my baby is okay, and will be born healthy.  So with that said, thanx for the info.
Avatar universal
Another thing....I honestly thought that the placenta filters some of the toxins out??  Does it not??  I'm not being ignorant and saying that I think it totally protects my baby from everything, but I really thought that it shields the baby from some of the bad stuff.  I'm freaking out....I am worried sick.  I know I need to quit, and I am going to work on it harder than I ever have.  Opening myself up to your comments and opinions has made me a nervous wreck, but I guess I deserve it.  I should not be doing this to my unborn baby.  I have never had a drug problem before in my entire life, and it feels awful, especially during my pregnancy.  Please pray for me to have the strength to quit, and please, please pray for the health of my baby girl.  God knows that nothing in this world matters more to me than my children, and I hate to have my baby suffer from my addictions......this is soooooo awful
766296 tn?1248270406
You are 28 weeks and are just not cutting down? Brain developement starts early. There could be some kind of brain damage, I hope not. My mom smoked a little when she was preg. with me and my sister, we were both healthy. I know you dont want any rude remarks, so I am trying to refrain. But as a woman that has had 2 miscarriages and has very little chance of carrying a healthy preg. because of medical reasons this really upsets me. I would do anything, quit anything to have a baby (In fact I have done so much, and am still praying). You now have 4 wonderful reasons to stop, I know addiction it a very hard thing to stop, but think of your children, please. Do it for them atleast.
134578 tn?1614729226
Honey, open up to your doctor, and see also about finding professional help with the quitting smoking.  There are good smoking-cessation programs out there.  You don't have to struggle with this alone, help is as close as reaching out your hand.
134578 tn?1614729226
184342 tn?1282588750
I agree with opening up to your doctor-  your doctor is not there to judge you and can not share any of what you tell him/her with anyone else-  I wouldn't want to talk to my husband about something like this, esp if he doesn't know-  not that I am encouraging hiding things from your spouse, but there are times when you need to deal with things on your own, and having the feeling that you are being judged doesn't help---  but the doctor can HELP you and as an above poster said will need to know about when the baby is born, in case there are any complications, etc...  please at least tell your doctor about it-  even if it doesn't help you quit any quicker, it will at least give them a head up about what they might have to deal with at birth...  
883151 tn?1245514509
I did not read all the reply's. Too many, but it's a good thing to open up about it and talk about it. I too smoke and am 26 weeks tomarrow. I feel horrible about smoking, especially because birth defects run in the family, it is hard to quit. I have gotten down to, on average about six a day I think. I don't know, I do have a tracker. I suffer from anxiety and depression and it's hard to get through the day without a few cigarettes. You really need to talk with your doctor about it. Your doctor can offer you some help. I was recently given a brochure about a hotline to call to quit but it's just for Kansas, but I'm sure other states have the same kind of programs available. I have also talked with my doctor about wellbutrin. I was on it once before for depression but heard it can help you to quit smoking, and am looking into that if I can't quit by the time baby comes. There are all kinds of prescriptions that can help with quiting both smoking and the addiction to vicodin. You really should talk to your doctor and work out a plan to quit. It may take a while. I have come up with a plan and been working with my doctor for a few weeks now and still am smoking, so yeah it takes a while to quit completely but that would be the first step.

My plan consists of an average time I would like to quit completely, how I would like to meet that goal, steps I'm going to take to meet that goal, a back up pland incase the first plan doesn't work, what to do if i have a relapes, like go from 6 a day to a whole pack a day suddenly. I also keep a journal. I have an addiction tracker, that you can't see unless you are on my friends list because I don't want a bunch of people getting on critisizing me, but I have one and keep a journal and it helps.  Open up yourself an addiction tracker. THat may help a lot. Then work on a plan with your doctor.
Avatar universal
Well, I am down to 1 vicodin left, and I am not going to get anymore.  I'm not too concerned about the withdrawals because I don't take very many to begin with, so my body shouldn't completely freak out....I'm hoping.  I think it's more psychological than anything.  I don't want to talk to my doc about it because I live in a small town, and I'm afraid he might fire me as a patient.  The reason I think he would be upset is because I actually got a prescription from him a few weeks ago, because I told him that I wake up with back pain every morning at about 3 am.  That is the truth, but I'm afraid he might think I fooled him, and get upset and not want to see me anymore.  So I'm going to do this on my own.  My husband knows about this problem, as it is a problem for him as well, and he is willing to quit to make it easier on me.  We have eachother for support so that is a good thing.

I just want to make it clear to everyone that this isn't just a choice I made....it's an addiction, and for anyone that understands addiction, knows that it's not easy to give up.  Like I said before, I have never had a drug problem before....never.  I don't smoke pot, I've never used meth or anything like it, so please don't label me as some junkie-drug user.  My kids do not know that I take pills, and when it comes to smoking, I do not smoke around them.  If you saw me on the street, you would never know that I smoke or take pills....I am very discreet and secretive about it.

Another thing I'd like to make clear is that I have 2 very close friends that took pain killers throughout their entire pregnancies, and both delivered healthy babies.  So I guess I told myself for the last 6 months that it was okay, and I wasn't harming my baby.  Call it stupid, but that's how I've justified my use all this time.  If I ever really felt like I was causing serious harm to my baby, I never would of continued with it.  I would of quit right away.  But as an addict, I searched for anything that told me I wasn't in the wrong.  I looked at how my mom smoked while she was pregnant with me and my siblings, and how I have many friends and family members that did the same thing, and everybody has come out okay.  So why would I worry??  But for some reason, I now feel really concerned, and I don't want to risk my baby's health any longer.  So I am taking action....wish me luck, and again, please pray for my little one.....
167 tn?1374173817
Well, just a story to share from you that I was told just on Sunday from the person it happened to herself. She was at my in laws anniversary party. She was holding the tiniest baby I have ever seen, yet she didn't look like a newborn. She is nearly THREE months old and is eight pounds. The reason I say she was the tiniest baby I have ever seen, is because she wasn't a newborn. Her placenta stopped functioning in the last few weeks of pregnancy and had complications before that. The baby wasn't getting nourishment like she should have been for the last month or two of pregnancy. She came just TWO weeks early and wasn't even FOUR pounds. She was in the three pound range and has struggled to catch up. Not even nine pounds at almost three months old! She has had breathing problems and is at great risk of SIDS. She has had a few episodes where she has stopped breathing for a few moments...and there is no guarantee that it won't happen when she is sleeping and never wake up. The reason for these complications?? SMOKING. She did this to her baby and it will cause lifetime problems, if she even makes it through infancy. I thought of her story, and how so many people smoke while they are pregnant and say they know this person and that person who had a healthy baby even though they smoked...well, that is not always the case! It is a serious risk not only to yourself but to your baby. I just don't understand why you or anyone can't just put them down. Addiction or not, it is also mind over matter and it IS a choice.

I used to smoke. I quit 11 years ago, but also quit through each of my pregnancies. I never picked it up again after my fourth pregnancy and I have never looked back. I could not live with myself knowing that I CHOSE to continue smoking despite the risk. Especially with the increased risk of SIDS. Not worth the gamble if you ask me.
145992 tn?1341345074
I'll add another story.  Just so you don't think it's only going to have an effect on your baby alone.  My fiance's sister was pregnant with her first child.  She had tried to get pregnant in the past and wasn't able to.  Irregular periods and the man she was with at the time had a low sperm count.  When she got pregnant it was a miracle, of course it was with someone else and not her ex-boyfriend but she was able to get pregnant.  She smoke and drank throughout her pregnancy.  She tried to hide it but we all would catch her.  When she went into labor, she stopped dilating at 7 cm and the baby's heartrate dropped so much that they had to do an emergency c-section and she wasn't even numb so she felt every bit of the pain of them cutting her open.  Baby is fine but perhaps if she didn't do all these things to her body, she may have had a natural birthing experience.  She came very close to losing her baby as well.  
914086 tn?1247737867
SIDS is a hard thing to live with always wondering.  It has been found that babies who are born to mothers who have been taking opioids regularly prior to delivery will be physically dependent, and will suffer withdrawal symptoms after birth. In mothers who are taking narcotics shortly before delivery, there may be a degree of respiratory depression in the newborn baby, especially if higher doses are taken

When given to pregnant hamsters, a single dose of hydrocodone (one of the components of Vicodin) increased the risk of birth defects, including cranial defects. Limited human studies also indicate that Vicodin may increase the risk of similar birth defects. Hydrocodone is a narcotic, and using this drug during the end of a pregnancy may cause narcotic withdrawal in the infant after delivery. Such withdrawal symptoms may include:

Irritability and excessive crying
Shakiness (tremors)
Hyperactive reflexes
Fast breathing
Increased stools
883151 tn?1245514509
Well as I had said in my previous reply, I do smoke, I am ashamed but it's extremely difficult to quit. I am down to about 6 a day and feel I'm not doing too bad with quitting. I did smoke with my previous two also.

My first was a little underweight, 6 pounds, 14 ounces but the doctor didn't think it was because of smoking but just becuase I am so small. He was Jaundice when he was born which was because of smoking and was born two weeks early with respiratory problems, but they said the respiratory problems were because he was early. So really it was just the jaundice caused by smoking. But I was EXTREMELY stressed with him and never did cut back. Was smoking quite a bit and I do feel horrible about it and am scared it will happen again so I am trying to quit. He has no problems now though. He's perfectly healthy. He is four will be five in August.

With my second son, I smoked about 6 a day and he had absolutely no problems from it. He did have a heart defect but it was genetic NOT from smoking.

I'm not saying smoking is okay but some people try to make people who do smoke while pregnant feel like they are horrible people. I do feel horrible but for people who have never smoked before or had any other addiction, really don't know what it's like to try and quit and I am trying. Have wanted to for years and tried several times without success. Now I have a plan and am working with my doctor on it.

littlemama----you really should talk to your doctor about it. If it was your OB who gave you the meds, talk to your primary physician if you feel uncomfortable about it. Just stopping could cause serious withdrawal symptoms that could harm the baby. Even with smoking, the stress that comes with quitting "cold turkey" as they say, could harm the baby more than the few cigarettes a day. My doctor urged me not to just quit smoking suddenly if it was causing a lot of stess so I am trying to cut back more and more each day until I am completely off. It would be best to talk to a doctor about both doing it while pregnant and quitting while pregnant. I have a step sister who is addicted to all kinds of pain pills and when she doesn't have them she gets horrible diarhia and vomitting and this whole detox process starts even if she's a day without them. I have a feeling these symptoms would not be good to an unborn baby if it starts happening to you by stopping the vicodin completely all at once. Please talk to your doctor.
Avatar universal
I get it, and thank you to all of you that have posted your comments.  It's hard to take all of this in.....frightening and humbling to say the least.  I wish I could just delete my post.  My husband asks me everyday why I even did this, because it has made me just completely freak out after reading everything everybody has to say!!!  I know your intentions are good, but it's just hard to take in all the criticism, and to hear all the depressing stories of all these poor babies that have suffered from their mothers doing the same thing I'm doing.  I guess that's the point you're trying to make....to scare me straight.  Well, it's working!!!  

Anyway, I am on day number 1 with no pills.  It's not going to be easy, but I know it's the right thing to do, so I will just try to keep myself busy to keep my mind off of it.  I am going to cut back 1 cigarette a day, so that puts me at 4 cigarettes today.  I will keep you posted on what tomorrow brings!!!  Wish me luck!!

megmil---thank you for offering your warm support and understanding.  Good luck to you with your battle.  Maybe we can beat the smoking together and keep eachother posted on our progress.  May God Bless our babies!!!
148691 tn?1260194903
OMG, I guess I'm gonna be the first one to say this, but I am VERY proud of you. I know I was blunt in my first post..... I cannot say I'm sorry though, because, in my heart, if I can save the life of a tiny little being, just like my daughter... I WILL!!!! no matter what it takes.
I am so happy you are cutting back ...ehem... NOW! and have set your mind on quitting. THIS, is the real mind of a winner, in life. Not the loser 'but, I'm trying to quit' c.rap!!!!!

I can speak for myself. I used to smoke. AND YES, IF I QUIT, ANYONE CAN QUIT.
I used to be an overweight girl.... AND YES, IF I COULD LOSE THE WEIGHT, ANYONE CAN.

There is no excuse to this. An addiction is something YOU CHOSE, to begin with. But it takes a BIG PERSON to step off it. I admire your will, and PLEASE don't give up. It's the life of your child that is in risk.

Yes, smoking/drugs while pregnant is horrible, and I certainly quit before even TTC'ing.... I can't imagine living with that in my heart... but that's just me.
You are about to make the difference. You are a strong woman and can take this..... can't you? I dear you to defeat this weakness..... and I know you are in the VERY RIGHT path.

145992 tn?1341345074
You shouldn't want to delete the post, you should print it out and put it on your fridge as a daily reminder of why you are quitting.  Yes, criticism is harsh but it's not because we think you're a terrible person, because we want that little baby to have a chance at a life.  Glad we've some how pushed you into making the decision to quit.  Good luck, I know it won't be easy but think of how different your child's life will be now that you are deciding to quit.
Avatar universal
Okay.....here we are at day #4....NO PILLS!!  I have overcome the sluggish, weak feeling I've had over the past few days, and it's been really hard to get a full night of sleep without them.....BUT, it's better than losing sleep because of the guilt!!  Every day is becoming easier, and it's becoming a distant thought.  I am struggling a little more with the smoking, however......(sigh)

Just to be honest, I am not down to 4 or less a day....back to like 6-8...........I have been a smoker for the past 11 years, and yes, I did smoke with my previous 3 pregnancies, and thank God, I had big, healthy babies....and I mean BIG!!  BUT, I know that it's still a risk, and every pregnancy is different, and I feel guilty every time I light a cigarette.  I'm kickin' myself and really trying to find the strength within myself to be done with it!!!  I don't even like smoking anymore.....it's just routine.  Any tips that you ex-smokers can offer me would be great.  I really, really, honestly want to be a non-smoker for the rest of my life.........help
134578 tn?1614729226
Good work, littlemama -- you said a mouthful when you said "it's better than losing sleep because of the guilt."  In fact, almost anything is better than living with guilt, or, the converse is true -- no matter how hard something is, if it is positive forward movement, it is deeply satisfying too.  Good luck, hon.
Avatar universal
I just want to say thank you to the sweet, sweet lady who sent me a private email..... you know who you are. You are the first person to give a 'soft' approach, rather than a harsh one, and I truly appreciate it more than you know....in fact, you made me cry.

Thank you for congratulating me, and telling me that I am a good mom....I really needed to hear that.  You have inspired me more than anybody here, to fight my battle a little harder.  I'm so thankful, and so glad that you could see and understand how this forum I posted makes me very vulnerable to others' attacks.....even though not one of these women are perfect, and it's so easy for them to criticize and judge me.  You helped me see that I did a great thing by asking for help, and exposing my biggest secret.....something most people would not do.  

Thank You!!!!!
276983 tn?1308574048
Tips from an ex-smoker (smoked for 6 years... been smoke-free for 5 years):

(FYI:  a lot of these may seem silly, but I'm just listing what worked for me)

~ buy lots of hard candies, tootsie roll pops, basically any kind of candy that takes about as long to eat as it does to smoke a cigarette (and eat one of these candies whenever you get a craving... so you get a cavity or two... better than the alternative)

~ during any of your "ritual" times (ie: morning, with your coffee, after every meal, when you're bored, etc) as soon as you would normally pick up a cigarette, do ANYTHING else.. I know this seems vague, but literally do something to keep your mind away from the fact that you're not having that cig (this was an important one for me... when it was "time" to have a cig, I would go do something as silly as stepping outside or picking up a book and reading 2 pages)

~ snacking is always helpful... if you're worried about packing on the pounds, snack healthy (small things... grapes, strawberries, nuts, etc)

~ mentally... TELL YOURSELF THAT YOU'RE GOING TO QUIT... I attempted to quit 4 times in one year before I finally managed to do it for good, and that final time that I actually quit, I was my own personal "Cig-quitting-drill-sargent"... I told myself that this was going to be the final time, no questions, no excuses!

~ find a quitting-cig forum (medhelp might even have one)

Good luck... you should quit for your own health... but given the circumstance you're currently in, more importantly you should do it for the health of your baby.  She's well worth the agony of quitting any addiction.  
148691 tn?1260194903
Hun... I don't think anyone here attacked you....

What you are gonna find here is people who give you advice differently when you are doing something really wrong, specially affecting the life of an innocent unborn child: some people will 'sugar coat' it for you, most people won't.....

Either way, I am SOOO glad to hear about your progress!!! =) and I'm so proud! you are a strong woman, seems like, and can over come smoking as well.... much good luck to you!
127124 tn?1326735435
I missed this post until now.   Just wanted to say good luck. You've made a huge step by stopping the pills and now you can focus on the cigarettes.  I know you don't want to tell your Dr because you live in a small town but you really should just in case there are complications with the baby.      

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