LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A troubling survey finds women with a history of mental illness are more likely to use drugs or alcohol in the months after giving birth.
It highlights the need for mental health support during and after pregnancy.
3 a.m. feedings. Dirty diapers. Learning how to care for a newborn baby can be some of the most stressful times in a mother’s life. And that stress, when paired with previous mental illness, can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
A recent CDC report surveyed new moms about their alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use — up to 10 months after pregnancy — in the states most affected by the opioid epidemic.
They included Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Utah, and West Virginia.
And the survey tracked prescription opioid misuse, tobacco use, unhealthy alcohol use, heroin, marijuana products, and cocaine. It found around a quarter of women used these substances in the 10 months after delivering their baby.
New mothers with a history of anxiety and depression were two-times more likely to use or abuse substances. That’s risky because about 11% of pregnancy-related deaths are attributed to mental health conditions.
Other stressful life events also contributed to increased risk of substance use.
Close follow-up and support for new mothers may help limit risky behavior — especially for those with previous anxiety or depression.