Pregnant women in different parts of the world are warned about the dangers of consuming alcohol and/or drugs. While most of them try to stay away from toxic substances completely, oftentimes the aftermath of childbirth means freedom from restrictions. To some new mothers, that means they can eat sushi and soft cheeses again. To others, having a newborn baby means they get a green light to get drunk.

Millennial women in particular drink more than ever before – so odds are that mothers born after 1981 enjoy drinking alcohol. But something that many mothers think will help them relax, like drinking, can actually make their children’s behavior more difficult to deal with.

Researcher Antonia V. Mata, of the Department of Social Work at California State University, San Bernardino, went to the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission (CVRM) to talk to 11 women about their drug and alcohol habits during and after pregnancy, and what kind of challenges they had with their children’s behavior. Mata only interviewed eight subjects, because three of the 11 women denied using drugs or alcohol during their pregnancy.

The information gathered over three visits to CVRM – a Christian non-profit organization in Indio, CA, that welcomes court-ordered and self-admitted mothers with a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse or homelessness – was included by Mata in a recent research project, ‘Do mothers have a more difficult time coping with their child’s challenging behaviors when they were using drugs, than they do when they are sober?’

Mata asked the participants, through questionnaires and interviews conducted in both group and individual settings, whether or not they had exposed their child to illicit or licit substances before or after birth, and what kinds of challenges they faced while caring for their child in the past in contrast to the challenges they faced after enrolling in treatment.

Her research had three major findings.

First… (continue reading)