Setting the Record Straight About Opioid Addiction and Pregnancy

Opioid Addiction and PregnancyOpioid addiction and pregnancy can lead to serious problems for you and your unborn child. Here’s what you can do for a safe pregnancy and birth.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, occurs when a baby is born to an opioid-addicted mother. NAS is a collection of symptoms of withdrawal that can occur when opioid addiction and pregnancy co-occur. When the child is born and no longer shares the mother’s blood, which supplied it with opioids or methadone, withdrawal occurs. The symptoms of NAS include fever, vomiting, trouble eating and sleeping, and trembling or restlessness. These symptoms can be treated to improve the comfort of the baby as well as reduce the intensity of withdrawal. Preventing opioid withdrawal during pregnancy is essential for good prenatal health.

Opioid Addiction and Pregnancy: Getting Help

Opioid addiction and pregnancy are a major concern nowadays, with the opioid epidemic in full swing and little relief in sight at this time. Most pregnant women who are addicted to opioids want to stop using to protect their child, and experts across the board agree that medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is the best option for opioid addiction and pregnancy.

MAT involves administering a safer, less-psychoactive opioid medication, such as methadone or buprenorphine, that prevents the onset of withdrawal symptoms and keeps cravings at bay. In addition to providing medication, MAT requires patients to receive comprehensive treatment that will include counseling, therapy, and other services. These help individuals end their opioid addiction for good by developing essential coping skills and changing dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns. MAT using methadone is the recommended treatment for pregnant women who are addicted to opioids.

Is Taking Methadone While Pregnant Safe?

A large body of research provides methadone and pregnancy statistics showing that taking methadone while pregnant is safe for both the mother and the developing fetus. In fact, studies show that methadone maintenance treatment is preferable to going through detox, because withdrawal is more harmful to the fetus than the medication. 

A fetus experiences the same withdrawal symptoms as the mother, and these can take a toll on the unborn child and increase the risk of premature birth or miscarriage. Methadone maintains stable blood serum levels to prevent withdrawal, reducing the stress on the fetus.

Methadone and pregnancy statistics also show that pregnant women who participate in methadone maintenance treatment are more likely to get the essential prenatal care they need, and they’re more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy, reducing the risk of complications and improving the chance of a healthy baby.

Misinformation and Stigma Can Pose a Risk

Although methadone maintenance is the standard recommended treatment for opioid addiction and pregnancy, misinformation and stigma on the part of medical providers can pose a problem for a pregnant woman addicted to opiates. It’s not unheard of for an OBGYN to refuse to provide prenatal care for a woman taking methadone, even though research clearly shows that detoxing from opioid poses a far greater risk to a fetus than medication-assisted treatment. Additionally, medical staff may not have all of the answers when it comes to questions about whether a baby will go through withdrawal at birth and whether breastfeeding will be an option. There have been cases where the hospital has prevented new mothers from breastfeeding while taking methadone, even though research shows the benefits of breastfeeding on methadone outweigh the risks.

It’s important to know your rights, understand medication-assisted treatment, and choose an OBGYN that supports methadone maintenance in order to get the best prenatal care and promote the best birth outcome. 

Pregnant and Addicted? WhiteSands Can Help

If you’re pregnant and addicted to opioids, WhiteSands Treatment can help get you set up on MAT and find the prenatal care you need for a healthy pregnancy and safe birth. Contact us today, and let us help you make your pregnancy a time of excitement, joy, and anticipation, as it should be.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.