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Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and CPS Involvement

post #1 of 79
Thread Starter 
Hi all. I'm new to these forums, so I apologize for just jumping straight in and asking a question, but I'm scared to death and y'all seem to be the most logical and non-judgmental set of parents on the internet.

I'm currently 34 weeks pregnant. Throughout my pregnancy and prior to it, I've smoked marijuana almost daily for a number of reasons, primarily severe social anxiety issues. When I found out I was pregnant, I extensively studied marijuana use during pregnancy and could find no conclusive studies one way or the other. At best, studies indicate that marijuana use has no effect or a slightly positive effect on babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. At worst, studies indicate low birth weight and possibly lower developmental scores. To combat possible negative side effects, I've made sure to eat a healthy diet and have kept up with prenatal vitamins, etc. I would say on an average, I probably had 4-5 hits daily.

I plan an all natural birth in a hospital. As this is my first child, I am not quite comfortable with an unassisted home birth, however I've been reading everything I can about it and have started preparations for it just in case. I'm located in the state of Georgia, where midwife assisted homebirth is practically illegal. I was never able to find a midwife who could legally assist me with a home birth and now I'm sort of regretting not searching harder for assistance.

We definitely planned for our home to be completely pot-free in time for the baby's arrival because I didn't want to deal with possible legal issues. Blame my naivety, I suppose, but I never really thought about possible legal issues of using marijuana during pregnancy. It never occurred to me that it would even be possible for them to take my baby away due to my drug use during pregnancy. I stumbled across some research last week which indicates that if I or my baby test positive for illegal drugs, CPS will be contacted and they could take my baby. Thankfully, Georgia is not a state where prenatal drug use is considered child abuse, but that is of little comfort when I know that CPS could get involved.

Out of complete and utter paranoia, I stopped smoking completely last week, when there was about 45 days left until my due date. I've discovered that the baby's first stool sample could indicate marijuana use from the previous 4-5 months. Due to my daily use of marijuana over the years, I am not sure that I would test clean by the time my baby is born. Surprisingly, I have been able to handle my social anxiety issues since quitting which just makes me feel even worse for continuing the drug use during pregnancy. I have noticed that I have no appetite now, though I am not nauseous or vomiting. I've probably consumed no more than 3000 calories over the past week and I haven't weighed myself to see if I'm losing weight.

I've done countless searches for laws in my state to see how they handle newborn drug screening and I cannot find anything conclusive. With a completely natural birth, I highly doubt my newborn will show any signs of drug exposure or withdrawal (especially as I doubt marijuana use would show any noticeably bad side effects at birth to begin with.)

My husband believes that they would only test our baby if they had reason to believe it has been exposed to drugs. I'm terrified that they will slip the test in anyway and that my baby will be kidnapped by CPS. At this point, it's just too late to do anything about it so that we both test clean. My baby will show exposure to drugs if they test him, even if I am clean by then.

I've cried for hours every day over this possibility and I just don't know what I can do. Is there any way I can make sure I come home with my baby at this point? I believe I could handle an unassisted home birth, but I know if something goes wrong and I need to be transfered to the hospital, it will just increase the likelihood that they will test. I know to read carefully over anything I sign at the hospital to be sure I don't unwittingly give consent for them to test me or my baby for drugs, but I'm scared that if that is on their forms and I do decline consent, it will make them suspicious and give them probable cause to do it anyway.

It is slightly comforting to know that many women have used marijuana while pregnant and they came home with their babies. At this point, I don't even care if CPS does get involved in my life as long as I can come home with my child. I just don't know what to do short of packing everything up and moving to Canada to insure my family stays intact.

Can any of you ladies give me a realistic idea of what I'm facing? What my rights are? Any first hand stories of similar experiences other mothers went through in a state that does not mandate newborn drug screening or view prenatal drug exposure as child abuse? I want to be as prepared as possible.

The fact that my baby could be taken away from me for this is just maddening. My husband and I both have great careers; we make good money; we have a stable home and we are generally good people. I use no other drugs, do not smoke, do not drink alcohol. Neither of us have ever been arrested. The worst problems we've ever had with the law are speeding tickets. Would they really take my baby away from me for marijuana use?
post #2 of 79
Wow. I don't have first hand knowledge, but I'm just writing to offer some support. You sound terrified. Like you, I decided after extensive research (including reading a thoughtful article here on MDC) to smoke some during pregnancy. For me it was mostly about m/s though more recently for more stomach issues (having trouble gaining weight!). I'm about as far along as you. I haven't smoked to the extent you have, but it does cross my mind that even so, a hospital-administered drug test could very well register mj.

I'm having a home birth, also in a state where midwives can be prosecuted for practicing. Based on the level of concern in your post, I wonder if it's still possible for you to seek out a midwife, even if that midwife isn't strictly "legal." Although midwifes aren't legal here, they are definitely tolerated/respected in my town. I don't know what the climate is like where you are. Perhaps you would be less worried if you went that route?

Like you point out, it's too late now for you to change the circumstances. Don't beat yourself up too much. You're doing right to educate yourself on what you could face. Read all paperwork, know that you can decline any test, and have confidence that you have been doing and continue to do all you can to insure the best birth (and least stressed-out mama) possible for your baby.
post #3 of 79
Have you posted in FYT area for anyone in your area of GA who knows of a midwife? At least that way you would avoid the hospital, which really, from what I hear about GA hospitals, sucks.
post #4 of 79
post #5 of 79
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Justthatgirl View Post
Have you posted in FYT area for anyone in your area of GA who knows of a midwife? At least that way you would avoid the hospital, which really, from what I hear about GA hospitals, sucks.
What is "FYT area"? I can't find it.

If I needed to transfer to a hospital, though, wouldn't having a homebirth make them suspect me even more of "suspicious behavior" and make a drug test more likely? After a homebirth, how long can I wait before I bring the baby in to see a pediatrician? Doesn't it take several days for the baby to pass all the meconium? I'd think only then would it be considered safe to bring the baby in because there shouldn't be any trace of THC in its urine or blood at birth, just in the placenta and meconium.

Aside from the possibility of a drug test, I am not too worried about having a natural birth at a hospital. At this point, I don't want to do anything that is going to raise suspicion for us. We're middle-class, responsible people who no one would suspect of illegal drug use. The office I go to for prenatal care hasn't done any drug tests (or if they have, they haven't informed me of them, which I would consider odd.) I wonder what the chances are of them testing to begin with and if they do, what the chances of CPS/DHR taking custody. Don't they need a court order to take custody of the child? Wouldn't they need to show evidence of some sort of long term drug abuse or instable home environment to get such a court order? It seems like with one drug test of the baby (especially if I test clean) they wouldn't be able to prove that I was a long term abuser or anything.

God, I just really hate this country.
post #6 of 79
Ok, I don't know what the laws are, but I'm going to say something to you based on the fact that I have a history of social anxiety and alcohol abuse, for which I am now sober.

I know this was not your question but I just want to urge you to find someone to talk to about your issues... if your anxiety issues are so bad you are self-medicating (especially using drugs or alcohol) I want to assure you that finding a decent therapist/ counselor can help you work THROUGH these issues and let them go, and be FREE of them. I used to have social anxiety so bad that I couldn't go to work some days, but I got sober anyhow and TALKED it out. It's possible. But you have to be brave enough to face it head on, rather than just thinking it's something you have to deal with or medicate.

I am not judging you AT ALL in fact I have compassion for you because I know how it feels to be in your shoes, feeling how you feel. However, your last comments about how it seems unfair that you could be punished for this point to a slight bit of denial in my opinion. It does not matter if you have good jobs, are upstanding citizens, etc. If you are using illegal drugs you have broken the law and may have consequences to face. Them's the facts.

That said, if you look as good on paper as you say, there should be no reason for them to test you or your baby, so please try not to worry too much cuz that's no good for baby either.

I hope nothing I've said comes across as judgemental, believe me I do not think you're a bad person. I feel for you and your situation. I just wanted to chime in and stress that, once you're through this situation (and I apologize, again, that I have no helpful advice to you for your actual question as I'm new to this and having my first as well)... that you address the feelings that got you into the situation to begin with. Otherwise, it will crop up again, in some other way.

If you want to talk about the anxiety or anything feel free to PM me... I want you to know it's possible to be free of those feelings.

, I hope everything turns out ok.
post #7 of 79
If you have your own insurance you're much less likely to have a problem. Unfortunately, if you're on medicaid, then that is, itself, often enough to deem you worth testing. But, it would likely be a blood or urine analysis on you, and neither of those will show up positive if you haven't smoked in at leas 30 days.

So, I'd continue not smoking, anyway, until the birth. And, please, don't stress out. Odds are, you'll be fine. I know a couple of people that smoked up until the day before they went into labor, that didn't have any trouble at all... in TEXAS, which has some of the strictest anti-mj laws in the country.

I know someone here at MDC tested positive (falsely, she said) for narcotics a while back, and had some trouble, but I can't find the thread.
post #8 of 79
I know nothing about Georgia, but here in CA, I have never heard of a random drug test for infants!

My guess is that everything will be cool.. baby will be responsive and no tests recommended.

I wish i had more info, but they really CAN'T randomly draw your DCs blood or stool without your knowledge - especially if you never let your child out of your sight! If they suspect drug use, they still have to come and get the baby.

IMO, you'll be fine.. but have you and DH go to the hospital looking like what they consider "upstanding citizens" (lose the Marley tye-dye if that's your thing) and it'l be OK

I will add my best wishes for good luck and the hopes that you take some previous posters opinions and get help....

and of course pot in BM may continue to be a concern to you after birth - so i wish you luck in getting your anxiety under control!

http://www.kellymom.com/health/lifestyle/marijuana.html

whatever you chose, may your family thrive!
post #9 of 79
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grace24 View Post
However, your last comments about how it seems unfair that you could be punished for this point to a slight bit of denial in my opinion. It does not matter if you have good jobs, are upstanding citizens, etc. If you are using illegal drugs you have broken the law and may have consequences to face. Them's the facts.
Thank you Grace. I have seen a professional for these issues who only wanted to medicate me with drugs that have side effects much more severe than marijuana which didn't help nearly as much. Talking through my issues has done nothing to change my personality or anxiety levels. I am willing to live with them and force myself to cope for the sake of my child. I do wish I would have had the courage to do that sooner though.

I realize now how freakin' stupid I've been about it. I should have quit cold turkey when I realized I was pregnant for the simple fact that what I was doing was illegal. I can't really change how stupid I've been though. I can't change the past.

Right now I'm just trying to figure out what I can do to insure my baby isn't taken from me during the most critical time period in its life (after birth). I understand I've broken a law, but taking my baby away especially when I do not plan to have marijuana in my system or in my home until after the child is 18 and out of my house (if EVER again) seems VERY extreme and would do nothing but forever damage my child and my chance to bond with it. I don't think I'm in denial over what I've done, but I am in denial that a system could do so much more damage to my child and my family than my drug use during pregnancy ever could.
post #10 of 79
While I have no experience with this in particular, I have found that when declining tests (or anything else "routine"), it's best to do it with a smile on your face.

"No, thanks" to fetal monitoring we don't want.
"No, thanks" to the bath in the hospital we don't want.
"No, thanks" to the formula we don't want.
"No, thanks" to the HIV test we don't want.
"No, thanks" to the vax we don't want.

"No, thanks!" but don't forget to smile.

If they want to know why, I just say "we've done our research, and this is the decision that we feel is right for us and our family, thank you."

And remember, you do not ever have to let CPS into your house without an order from a judge. Just get the babe home, and chances are it will never be an issue. Early discharge from the hospital may be your best friend.

Good Luck
post #11 of 79


Read this case:

http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/99-936.ZO.html

In Ferguson v. City of Charleston, decided by the Supreme Court in 2001, the Court held that the state of South Carolina's mandatory drug testing of birthing women violated the Fourth Amendment because the searches were not based on individualized suspicion.

Not 100% identical to your situation, but close enough to give you some idea of the legal landscape.

Depending on where you are giving birth, the Fourth Amendment may or may not apply. It only applies to state actors, i.e., doctors/nurses who work at public hospitals and/or hospitals that are funded with public funds.

As a legal question, it's fairly hairy on several fronts. Honestly, as a criminal defense attorney, I would say you're fine UNLESS you give someone reasons to suspect something. I can tell you that I certainly don't see or hear of criminal or DHS/CPS cases arising from *routine* drug testing of either mama or baby in my jurisdiction. Don't know about GA.

HTH.
post #12 of 79
I'm sorry, I should have been clearer about the FYT area. It means Finding Your Tribe. Link below.

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...splay.php?f=77
post #13 of 79
Thread Starter 
Thank you all. It's especially nice to know that there have been people who've had no problems in Texas and California, states where prenatal drug exposure IS considered child abuse.

We do have our own insurance, though it's an HMO. We don't look like hippies or anything and they should have absolutely NO reason to suspect us.

I'm trying to calm down about it, but I'm a worrier (I suspect it's part of my anxiety issues). I'm trying to convince myself that even if they do test, they will act in the best interest of my child and allow my child to remain in my custody.

Edited to add: I also want to state that I am SO happy I found this community and wish I'd found it earlier on in my pregnancy. I cannot wait to explore it and become a true member of it. It has been so hard to find support of natural birth and natural living outside of my family, even in other communities on the internet which supposedly revolve around it.
post #14 of 79
I had a baby in GA 3 years ago. At that time I was on a form of Medicaid called "right from the start" especially for expecting mothers whose income was higher than regular Medicaid would allow but had no pre-natal coverage. I was not tested for any drugs and dd was definately not tested (no stool sample taken).

Hope this helps ease your worry.
post #15 of 79
Wow you sound terrified. I would be too if I had a slight chance at losing my baby to cps. I guess we all sort of do and as a UC-er myself I should be ready for that hmm.

My thought was if you *did* do home birth or UC, *if* you did need to transfer in, couldnt you just keep it quiet that you were trying to do it at home?
I think thats what I will do if I need to go to the hospital. Just show up in labor and say : "it all happened so fast."



Good luck with everything!
post #16 of 79
I'd suggest you attempt to find a like-minded midwife as well. You would feel so much better about the potential for drug testing if you did. GA midwifery is undercover, so you will have to work a little harder to find a midwife. But, they exist. An acquaintance of mine had one last month in northern GA area, around Dahlonega.

Good luck!
post #17 of 79
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hetaera View Post
My thought was if you *did* do home birth or UC, *if* you did need to transfer in, couldnt you just keep it quiet that you were trying to do it at home?
I think thats what I will do if I need to go to the hospital. Just show up in labor and say : "it all happened so fast."
That is my current line of thinking as well, but I'm still sort of scared to try it (my pregnancy has been perfect so far and there's no reason to think anything would go wrong if we tried it at home.) As far as my provider's know, we will definitely be going to the hospital to have the baby.

I am a little scared about having the baby at home unassisted, but I've been reading up on it and i know it's a natural, normal process which shouldn't scare me. My mom's going to be there, but I don't know how much help she'll be. She was in nursing school for a while and my grandmother was a labor/delivery nurse. My mom knows a lot about natural childbirth in theory, but not in practice. She had me via c-section due to a breech position where I refused to either turn or come out.
post #18 of 79
I live in Canada, so can't give any advice on how to deal with the laws in the States.

I just wanted to let you know I too have seen some reports regarding mj use during pregnancy, and support your decision at the time to continue use until recently. Certainly hindsight makes you want to do things differently, but you were making informed decisions at the time, as far as you knew, so try not to beat yourself up about it!

I agree with the previous poster about if you do decide to go with a homebirth (whether UC or midwife-attended). If you end up at the hospital, just say 'wow, things are/were progressing fast!è - they canèt prove or wouldnèt usually suspect otherwise.

I too am about the same amount of weeks as you, and wish you all the best in the coming weeks!
post #19 of 79
I just wanted to give you a hug mama cause you sound so scared! I would recommend not letting your baby out of your sight the entire time you're in the hospital. I would recommend that to anyone, regardless of circumstances. Question everything the staff wants to do, and don't just give in cause they are the experts. From what I understand, CPS doesn't take kids away for mj usage alone. Wishing you a peaceful and healthy birth of your child. Don't beat yourself up. Everything should be fine.
post #20 of 79
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cfiddlinmama View Post
I just wanted to give you a hug mama cause you sound so scared! I would recommend not letting your baby out of your sight the entire time you're in the hospital.
Thank you! We do NOT plan on letting our baby out of our sight. I see no need for the baby to be taken out of my room at all (labor, delivery and recovery all one room). At my next prenatal appointment, I'm going to ask for a list of all tests and shots they routinely perform on newborns. I am pretty sure I'm going to decline all of them at birth. I want my baby's birth day to be about our family and bonding, not being poked and prodded by complete strangers my baby will never "see" again. I hope they accept this as a valid reason. I also hope it decreases the amount of time we need to stay in the hospital and doesn't raise any additional flags for us.

I do plan on doing the hearing test and PKU test shortly after birth and will see if it's possible to do that at the baby's first post-birth exam.

I definitely want to discuss all these tests with my provider soon to explain my logic behind declining them at first and express my desire and willingness to perform the tests or procedures I see as beneficial shortly after birth.

I don't even want anyone on the hospital staff to hold my baby. I'd prefer it if they didn't touch the baby at all. I think it's sad that a bunch of strangers force their way into a baby's life before the parents have had time to bond with the child.

UC is looking better and better every single moment.
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