Should mums ditch the mind-altering substances?

Should mums ditch the mind-altering substances?

I have a couple of friends with new babies who are already back to the kind of partying they did before parenthood. We’re in our mid-thirties and I find it wrong that they are expressing their breast milk to keep the baby going, then getting on the alcohol and the Charlie and leaving their three-month-old baby at their grandma’s. Is this the new norm, and if so how do those of us who aren’t like that deal with it? Too Straight

As I type this answer, my eyeballs are pretty much hanging out of my head with the sheer exhaustion of tending to my six month old cherub. As delightful as she is, spending time with her doesn’t put me in the mood for all night clubbing and boozing. The only party I want to attend after 8.30pm is held in my bed, snuggled up under my doona with a pair of warm socks as I await my 3am wakeup call. The norm? Uh, no. The very thought that other women my age are snorting coke off their babies’ change tables and heading out for a huge night is simply unfathomable to me. So, yes, I do think it’s wrong. In the extreme. Dealing with it? Get a new circle of friends. My mother’s group is chockers with mums who wouldn’t even touch a drop of booze until their bubs had weaned. And even the mums who bottle feed don’t have the inclination to knock back a six-pack, especially when they know that their baby might need them at a moments notice: to whisk them to emergency, feed them, change them, or give them a cuddle.
Of course, that’s not to say the party’s completely over when parenthood hits – I’m sure there’s room for a big night out every now and again and I intend to dust off my stilettos at some stage. But when you’re lactating and looking after a demanding three month old, you should be catching up on sleep whenever anyone gives you a night off.
Love, reality chick

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  1. Lola 10 years ago

    Hear, hear!!! I wholeheartedly agree with Bron.
    This topic is way too complex, and perhaps it could be looked at from a few different angles:
    – Legal drug use (or rather, abuse): not a good idea, cigarette smoke and alcohol affect a developing embryo. Smokes don’t do it for children after they’re born, at any age. Regarding the risks of drinking, there isn’t much to say, because ALL has been said. From party or weekend drinkers to families of alcoholics, there’s a potential for devastating outcomes.
    – Illegal drug use (in any shape or form): the effects on pregnant mums and their developing bubs can vary from premature birth to miscarriage to stillbirth, not to mention congenital diseases (which may also occur in the case of extreme alcohol consumption… ever heard of PHAS?). Later in the piece, when children are growing up, these parents set an appalling example, and I’m no puritan.
    It’s clear to me that there’s a difference between habits and addictions, but what’s at stake for parents of little (or not so little) children is the bubs’ healthy development.

  2. Bron 11 years ago

    This isnt about whether people in general have the right to potentially destroy their lives using cocaine, this is about parents dumping their baby so they can go out and get high. No one seems to be questioning their right to drink – which is legal, but them making the choice to use a mind-altering illegal drug which is inevitably getting into the babies system in the breast milk from the mother.
    Can the baby end up addicted to cocaine from ingesting it via his mother’s milk? Can the baby end up with brain damage or other injuries from the exposure to cocaine? I don’t know to be honest – but surely the potential is there. Babies are born addicted to drugs because of their mother’s drug use, is this baby being affected?
    And most importantly – is the baby at risk because it’s parents are druggies? Don’t really care if that term offends anyone, because that is what are. No point in sugar coating it, they are drug users, whether or not they are addicted, and this has to be impacting on their ability to look after their baby.
    This isnt about the rights of the parents to do as they please, it is about the rights of the baby to be safe and healthy.

  3. wackyjack 11 years ago

    Right on B!! I totally agree!

    This debate is not about whether parents should have a night out ever again or not, as Jo said a night out with other parents or friends is wonderful time out and a break from the kids, and is a tonic for the soul, but it’s about doing that responsibly. Having a few glasses of red over dinner doesn’t equate to going on an all night clubbing bender with whatever powders might be involved.

    And Rob, breastfeeding is only part of the issue here – when you have kids, you are there for them and their needs, whatever they might be, as B said, it might be a cuddle in the night or you might need to run them to hospital or just be able to play with them at 6am the following morning. It’s a 24/7 job that’s more full-on than any workplace, so you don’t get the weekend off to just do what you please.

    It’s certainly not for everyone, not everyone realises that you should put the rights of the child first and foremost, otherwise really think seriously about whether the commitment to a family is for you.

  4. B 11 years ago

    Welllllllllll, I hate to weigh in again, but I’ve been thinking a lot about this.
    If the party animals in question were taking heroin on weekend benders and welfare dependent, everyone would be up in arms.
    When the partying is being undertaken with expensive, middle class substances like cocaine, cue much chin-stroking about the rights of the individual to decide how they manage family commitments.
    Actually, this is about the rights of the child, who doesn’t have a say. Children should be raised by parents who are alert and able to look after them and their unpredictable needs at any time; whether it’s soothing them at an ungodly hour, changing nappies or rushing a sick child to A & E…

  5. Jess 11 years ago

    Yeah I’m down with the ‘different strokes for different folks’ thing Rob but I don’t think it’s particularly helpful implying that people who don’t drink much or partake in Class As after having kids are necessarily superior goody-two-shoes types.
    Maybe they’ve just sussed out that 3am, 4am, 5am, 6am and 7am wake-up calls from your bundle of joy, particularly when you’re coming down or nursing an almighty hangover, is sheer hell on earth.

  6. rob 11 years ago

    I’ll be honest. It’s everyone’s own individual opinion whether they drink or do drugs. it’s everyone’s own individual opinion as to whether they can mange their family and personal commitments at the same time. it isn’t however wise to do drugs whilst breastfeeding.
    but remember, not everyone is the same. not everyone is as good or as sensible as “you” are. that’s what balances the world out. it’s nature’s own selection.

  7. Lorna 11 years ago

    In all honesty I never partied with anything harder than wine and vodka even in my non baby days so maybe have always been a bit straight laced. Personally I am all up for a good night out still (have 6 month old) but agree that a baby and hangover don’t mix – for their and my wellbeing! Screaming baby and Mummy with headache don’t mix. Saying that a night out with the girls knowing that Daddy is on duty the next day still appeals.
    I am not really sure whether ‘Too Straight’ is referring to friends she’s met post having a baby, in which case ditch them and find a new group who are more your thing, or pre baby friends, in which case surely you can be honest with them and say what’s on your mind.

  8. B 11 years ago

    From the comments above, I can tell I’m not alone in finding this behaviour really disturbing. Apart from needing to ditch your partying-whilst-parenting mates, I really think there’s a case for intervention.

    My overwhelming feeling is that while I don’t generally judge people’s lifestyle choices, I also think having a child when you’re not really ready to parent is totally irresponsible. They really should have considered staying child-free, but as that’s no longer an option they should really leave the ‘lost weekends’ behind…

  9. Bron 11 years ago

    Personal opinion – if you have kids you don’t have to right to use drugs. Simple. You are responsible for the health and wellbeing of another person and you have to grow up.
    As for alcohol, as a parent who could count on two hands how many alcoholic drinks i’ve had in the last 22 years since my eldest was born, the occasional drink is fine – getting off your face every weekend is not.
    But then i was never one to get drunk every weekend even before i had kids.
    Their behaviour is not normal, not ok and obviously not acceptable to you, so, in a nutshell, if you don’t like the way your friends are acting, look around for new friends who have similar values.

  10. Leo Wiles 11 years ago

    I know I may come off as a bad 1950’s film script but burning my braincells for a few hours pleasure doesn’t seem quite as much fun now as it did in my twenties or early thirties. Back then I could sleep it off or go for a Bloody Mary breakfast as I only had myself to consider.

    These days I am a single mum of two with a third on the way and I can’t imagine anything worse than dealing with little children on a hangover, bacon sarnie or no.

    Don’t get me wrong I love a glass of good red and paid big time for my New Years champagne binge seeing in 2010 but the knowledge that I am the sole guardian of my children is always present.

    That’s why I try and eat well, sleep well and keep myself physically and mentally healthy which means drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and even late nights don’t enter the equation.

    From another angle I really don’t want to be a hypocrite down the track. How could I moralise and tell my children to behave in a way that I don’t live. As they say monkey see, monkey do.

  11. Jo 11 years ago

    I do think a night out every now and then with your partner and/or friends is important for everybody’s well-being in a new family. My mothers’ group would get together for a dinner (just the mums and/or dads, not the bubs!) every month or two in the first year of our babies’ lives. It was a chance for us all to unwind at a restaurant or bar and remember we had identities beyond being parents (even though we all adored our relationships with our children). These nights did involve lots of good wine, but nothing that rendered us incapable of caring for our babies. (There was some expressing of milk going on, but I don’t see a problem with that.) So I do think partying in moderation and socialising as much as possible is a very healthy thing.

  12. wackyjack 11 years ago

    In fact, I have just discussed this with said DoCS person and they have said you could/should put in a report (just call 132111). Alcohol might only stay in your system for 24 hours, however cocaine can stay in your bloodstream for 72 hours and is one of the most dangerous drugs for bubbas to be exposed to.

    Good luck!

  13. wackyjack 11 years ago

    I agree with Bron, if you have kids, you are responsible for them and it’s time for you to grow up. These people are in their 30s, well old enough to know that their behaviour is childish and selfish. Having the energy to deal with kids the next day, you need to be as rested as you possibly can, not coming down from a massive night out. In fact, their behaviour would be frowned upon by DoCS (having a family member who works for them), so it is actually very serious, especially when the baby is only 3 months old. I mean the mother particularly I would think would still be recovering from the birth?! It took me, and most mums I know, that long just to get their heads above water again and feel somewhat normal.

    No, it’s not normal, and no, you’re not too straight. Ditch these friends, even better, if you have the courage one day to tell them why, it might just get through their addled minds that perhaps the only child in their house should be the one they are supposed to look after.

  14. kate 11 years ago

    I did my share of partying before I had kids, and on very rare occasions my husband and I will get ‘on it’ if we can leave the kids for a weekend with my sister or his parents. But for the most part, we are pretty straighty-180.

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