Compassionate Care - NOWS

Compassionate Care - NOWS

With a secure attachment after adversity, the chances of recidivism by relapse and repeating history decreases significantly. 

When I worked at a Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) center (methadone/suboxone/subutex), I was the Maternal Opioid Maintenance Support (MOMS) counselor. My caseload of 70 patients had an average of 30-40 women who were either pregnant or had given birth while on MAT. 

Some mothers were still using methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, cocaine, alcohol and other opiates in addition to the opioid replacement therapies. 

Some completely stopped using illicit substances early in their pregnancy — and, some stopped right before birth. 

I’ve seen mamas be able to take their babies home within days after birth and I’ve seen babies removed from their mamas right there in the hospital. 

Babies experience withdrawal from illicit substances and synthetic opioids alike. They are given morphine and other medications to help lessen the effects of the withdrawals when needed. 

The babies are affected not only by the withdrawal of the substances but also from the absence of their mothers. Many babies born affected by illicit substances require a hospital stay. Despite the circumstances, by design, they still need their mother. Skin to skin with the provider whose heartbeat cradled them. Sometimes babies stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) which removes them from the natural bonding experience and can have lasting effects if a loving, secure attachement is not fostered. 

Mothers who are addicted and babies born affected should be given the same provisions as any other mother who gives birth as long as it is beneficial to both mother and child. Salem Hospital NICU does an amazing job at providing compassionate care through their Neonatal Opiate Withrawal Syndrome (NOWS) program. 

I have heard it said, “How could they do that to their baby? They don’t deserve to have them. It’s too late, they had their chance.” 

I have also heard those very same words come out of these mother’s mouths. “How could I have done that to my baby? I don’t deserve to have him. It’s too late, I had my chance and I blew it.” 

Believe me, I have yet to see a drug dependent mother who was unaffected by their actions while pregnant. The pain is real and significant. It is also a glaring reality of the power of addiction. Addiction: the obsession and compulsion to do something despite the consequences. 

It is heartbreaking to witness a SiStar, a creatrix, a womban doubt her own power and resilience. She has forgotten who she is along the way. Or, perhaps she was never empowered to know. To really, really know who she is. 

This is where the power of compassion from other women comes in. It is potent beyond measure. 

We get to hold the mandala of beauty, compassion, passion, elegance, love, and most of all, Grace. This mandala is a net, a cloak, a blanket we wrap the shoulders of our sisters in when they are suffering. We get to be present for each other as pure reflections when we forget who we really are. 

I have watched babies and mamas flourish when they received the support of the sacred village. This support makes it possible for babies and mamas alike to live healthy, happy, and holy lives. 

What are your thoughts?

Sat Nam.