Substance Abuse in Pregnant Women, comment

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    I can say from a viewpoint of an RN who has worked in an Intensive Care Nursery for 18 years that women who do drugs and alcohol during pregnancy is not new and not uncommon. I work in a large inner city hospital, so it comes as no surprise to me. Even if the baby tests positive, the social service agencies in the community are too understaffed to worry about placing these infants in foster care. These infants are also not any “easy fix”. They require Neonatal Abstinence Scoring and go through a lot of pain and discomfort, perhaps for months, to reach any kind of normalcy. They are in the ICN for months on morphine to help ease them out of their addiction. They cry almost constantly. They sleep very little, vomit, and suffer severe skin breakdown in their diaper area.
     We have to get these infants to the point where they are getting some sleep and eating without problems, all the while, weaning them off the morphine. The parents, in the mean time, know that we will not send them home until the symptoms have subsided. To send these children home to an addict before we thought that they were ready would only make them a different type of statistic.

Original Post:
June 22, 2009
Title: Substance Abuse in Pregnant Women
I currently work on a maternity unit and I am shocked on almost a daily basis by the drug use/abuse of our pregnant women. I live in a small hometown community and work at a level one hospital. A question on our admission assessment is , "When was the last time you used street drugs?" When this was first added to our assessment I thought it was ridiculous as I did not think we had a population that used street drugs, especially not while pregnant. My mind has been changed. Not only are these women using but they seem to be proud to announce it. They also seem to know that there are no repercussions. Even when the baby comes back testing positive, it is not removed from the home. Several of these women and their significant others just laugh and tell us that they know they are going to have to take a parenting class but its worth it if they get to keep the kid and continue to do their drugs. Best of both worlds they say. The most abused drug seems to be marijuana but it is closely followed by heroin. It does not seem to only be the younger generation but spans several generations that consider drug abuse the norm. I try to understand and try to teach/not preach but it is very difficult for me. Even when armed with the knowledge that these drugs are detrimental to their babies they really don’t seem to care. I even had one mother tell me that we as the medical community can just "fix" her baby after it is born due to all of the breakthroughs in modern medicine. Amazing

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