Everyone deserves to feel like they belong, and everyone deserves to have a consistent space to call home. Unfortunately, the lack of a stable house has a critical effect on individuals, especially pregnant women. How do these women’s unstable housing conflict with their viability and prolong their suffering? How does their inability to plan according to rational outcomes of “cause and effect”—due to cumulative trauma, lack of support interventions, and transitory housing—reduce their capability of success in motherhood and in life?
Pregnancy should be a thrilling and empowering time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, mental health problems engendered by transitory housing affect the futures of addicted women and their children.
Pregnant women living from dwelling to dwelling—specific sites of poor health production and reproduction—often lead chaotic and disrupted lives. Toxicities emerge from external pressures: stress from structural violence, lack of tranquility from hypervigilance and risky encounters. These collectively take a toll on women’s recurring pregnancies and their babies’ prenatal development. A transitory home develops into severe mental health transience. As women move around, their mental illnesses move along with them—posing physical health risks for them and the baby inside their womb.
Moving from dwelling to dwelling intensifies women’s irrational mentality and behavior. Housing and space is crucial—the lack of a fixed, welcoming home worsens women’s perception of time as they constantly relocate. Homelessness hinders their ability to let their guard down and heal, and does not allow them to be able to nurture their children and themselves. A lifetime of neglect, trauma, and violence produced by toxic environments hinders women from assuming their role of actively present and responsible mothers. It is imperative for providers and systems to consistently extend support for these women.
Homelessness poses tremendous threats towards women’s pregnancies, exposing their children to the risks of a toxic and dangerous environment. Children’s futures—their viabilities—remain in the hands of their mothers who are socially, psychologically, and culturally vulnerable.
For someone who has had the privilege of living far and removed from the circumstances of these women, it is easy to mistake their living conditions as a repercussion of their careless choices. However, it is important to acknowledge the complex web of systemic violence that these women are caught in. As it becomes common for them to move into different dwellings, it becomes increasingly challenging to move out of traumas that oftentimes lead to drug dependency and poor mental and physical health.