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Pregnancy Services for Opioid Use Disorder

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Opioid addiction can drastically affect the health and wellbeing of mother and baby, and without treatment, the health of both is majorly at risk. When a woman with opioid use disorder discovers she may be pregnant, it can be an incredibly scary and stressful time. Thankfully, pregnancy services are available for those who need help to treat their substance use disorder using effective, FDA-approved medications as well as counseling and prenatal care.

Opioid Misuse during Pregnancy

During fetal gestation, almost everything the mother ingests is absorbed by the fetus, especially any substance that enters the bloodstream. If an expectant mother misuses opioids during pregnancy, the baby will receive fluctuating doses of the drug, causing it to feel withdrawal symptoms, often disrupting placenta function. Other physical risks of opioid misuse during pregnancy include neonatal abstinence syndrome, stunted growth, preterm labor, fetal convulsions, and sometimes fetal death. There’s also an increased risk for maternal infection of HIV, HBV, and HCV, malnutrition, and tertiary effects like violence or incarceration.

Pregnancy Services and Treatment

Women who seek pregnancy services early on when they discover that they are with child can effectively treat opioid use disorder while carrying their baby to term. Methadone has been effectively treating pregnant women addicted to opioids since the 1970s, and became the routine method of treatment in 1998. Buprenorphine is also an effective medication-assisted treatment method that has helped many expectant mothers treat opioid use disorder while maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Both medicines are supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Benefits of Pregnancy Services

Pregnant mothers who seek out pregnancy services at an outpatient clinic can obtain immeasurable benefits by enrolling in medication-assisted treatment using methadone or buprenorphine. They will be able to speak with a medical provider who will work closely with an OBGYN to make sure that fetal opioid levels are stabilized to reduce prenatal withdrawal, test for infectious diseases often caused by intravenous substance use to prevent or identify transmission to baby, and provide primary prenatal care. Expectant mothers receiving pregnancy services are likely to give birth to infants with less risk of NAS or reduced NAS symptoms that are easier to treat, as well as shorter treatment times and higher gestational age, weight, and head circumference at birth.

Women who find themselves pregnant with an undiagnosed or untreated substance use disorder are at high risk for many dangerous complications that affect them and their unborn child. Because opioid use disorder is a disease that can affect people from all walks of life, pregnancy services have been put in place to treat pregnant women and their developing babies effectively. These pregnancy services don’t stop at prenatal care and MAT; most often, mothers will continue their treatment after they’ve delivered their child and continue to visit the medical providers for post-natal care along with pediatric referrals. Expectant women treating opioid use disorder greatly benefit from the support systems provided by pregnancy services, and can significantly improve their chances of long-lasting recovery into motherhood. Need more information? Feel free to contact us now!


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