New Program Includes Mom in the Care of Opiate Addicted Newborns

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lately, I’ve read and listened to stories about many aspects of the opiate epidemic. Our hospital was even contacted by a local reporter for comment about the CDC’s recently released recommendations for doctors on prescribing opiates. The effects of this epidemic are far reaching. Over the weekend, I heard a story on NPR about the smallest casualties–babies who are born addicted to opiates.

A story like this evokes strong emotions, not only from you and me, but also from the nurses who provide medical care for these newborns. Women addicted to opiates have continued to use despite being pregnant, and, once born, their babies have to go through withdrawal and detox during their first weeks in the world. A Connecticut hospital is trying to change the culture of negative judgement and the adversarial nature of the relationship between nurses and new mothers.

Recent research has shown that these recovering babies benefit from being held for long periods of time, ideally by their own mothers. The Hospital of Central Connecticut is beginning with education for their nurses that addiction is a disease and not a moral failure on the part of these women. They are also providing private rooms for mother and baby to encourage Mom’s participation in the newborn’s care. This is going a long way in making the shift from a protectionist attitude toward the babies and against the mothers. It may be our first inclination to blame the mother for this sad situation, but including the mother, rather than alienating her, provides a better chance for Mom and baby.

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