Pregnant women who use or misuse tobacco, alcohol, opioids, and other substances often experience stigma at multiple levels. People with substance use disorder are more stigmatized because their illness is seen as a result of their own behavior.
Additionally, pregnant women have to cope with self-stigma and feelings of guilt or shame about the related risks of substance use to the health of their baby.
Societal beliefs frame SUD as a personal flaw or failure.
This framing may influence how healthcare professionals perceive and treat pregnant women with SUD, sometimes using language that makes pregnant women feel blamed or shamed.
Source: (White, 2009).
Fear and judgment of this stigma (blame and shame) cause pregnant women with SUD to be less likely to seek help and stick with treatment.
Lack of or delayed prenatal care and treatment for SUD put the developing baby and pregnant mom at a greater risk for negative health outcomes.