While you’re exploring your many options for your pregnancy—whether planned or unplanned—it is important to effectively deal with any drug exposure. Because drug exposure can be both harmful to you and your growing child, it is crucial to take the necessary steps to ensure a healthy mother and child—even if you decide against parenting your child. This may not be an easy process for some expectant mothers. It may feel intrusive and unnecessary, but it is absolutely necessary.

Getting help is your first step. You should never feel ashamed, weak, or embarrassed about seeking help. It takes courage and commitment. It takes strength. It requires you to gain a better perspective of yourself and your situation. If you need to admit yourself into a treatment center, do it. Make a commitment to get better and to stay healthy—both for your sake and your child’s sake. It is important to take charge of your health and your drug exposure or addiction as soon as possible. As your pregnancy progresses, your drug exposure will become increasingly more dangerous to the health of your developing child.

Depending on the length of your treatment program, you will need to see a doctor either during or after your pregnancy. A doctor needs to check on the health of your baby. If you’re far enough along, the doctor can do an extensive check-up on the baby and address any concerns that he or she may have. Your doctor will be able to tell you if your child needs medical attention. Sometimes you won’t know of the effects of drug exposure until after labor and delivery. Some effects may not even manifest until a few months after birth. This is why it is best to stop the drug exposure as soon as you can. The long-lasting negative effects can be extensive.

After you’ve finished your treatment program and been examined by a doctor, it is time to continue progressing. Consider attending a local support group. This is a fantastic way to build and strengthen your growing support system. And it’s important to actively participate. Participating in your support group will help you create bonds with other group members. These bonds will continue and grow as your life progresses. The support system you gain through your attendance and participation will continue to support you through many other life events, triumphs, and difficulties. You won’t regret it.

If you feel that you need additional support or help, consider meeting with a professional counselor or therapist. He or she can help you understand where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you need to go in the future. Visiting with a professional counselor provides you with a safe place to openly discuss your history with drug or alcohol exposure. He or she can help you move forward. Your counselor can help you see that you do have options in life. You don’t have to follow the road you once chose. Life is about exploring your options and making a decision. If you’re ever unhappy about the path you’re currently on, choose a different path. Your professional counselor or therapist will help you do just that.

Exploring your options is an important and integral part of pregnancy. Even if some people in your life begin to pressure you toward one specific decision, make sure it is your own choice in the end. Whatever option you decide, you’ll have to live with it for the rest of your life. Take as much time as you need to decide which choice is the best for your specific situation. Attending and participating in your support group can also help you while you’re exploring your options. You’ll be able to hear and understand potential outcomes or consequences for each choice from people who have been in your exact situation.

If you decide that placing your child with an adoptive family is the best decision for both you and your child, then it is important to inform any and all adoption professionals you’re working with about your drug exposure. While you may find it embarrassing to talk about your past, all parties involved have the right to know because of the problems and health conditions that your child may experience. This is to ensure that your child will have the proper care, and the adoptive parents will be able to provide for his or her medical care.

Now it’s time to move forward and progress through your life. Remember that your past is just that—the past. Don’t dwell on it. Move forward. Find peace and happiness. If you need to continue your support group meetings or your therapist appointments, do so. These available resources will help you tremendously for many years to come. Take advantage of the help readily available. Soon, you will emotionally and physically heal. You’ll find joy again. You’ll be ready to enjoy life and find happiness in how far you’ve come.