(Pixabay.com)

B.C. guidelines focus on mother and baby fighting opioid addiction

Recommendations include keeping an addicted mother with her newborn immediately after birth

A new set of guidelines issued this month aims to help new moms and their babies overcome addiction to opioids side by side.

The BC Centre on Substance Use and Perinatal Services BC compiled five care principles and eight treatment recommendations from prenatal to postpartum stages of pregnancy for women who use opioids.

Recommendations include offering the full scope of harm reduction supplies and services, as well as all kinds of treatment options, including methadone and suboxone, and encouraging breastfeeding while safe.

The biggest change is recommending to no longer separate an addicted mother from her newborn immediately after birth. Instead, the baby’s crib is kept by the mother’s bedside. It’s called rooming-in.

“Historically, these babies were taken from delivery and rushed off to neonatal care units, and titrated on morphine in a dark, warm box away from mom – and this was the standard care,” said Dr. Eric Cattoni, the medical lead at FIR Square, a BC Women’s Hospital unit that provides specialized services for women with substance use issues.

FIR Square offers 12 beds for pregnant women who use illicit drugs, and those beds are rarely empty, with the unit often relying on overflow beds.

“I don’t know if there’s a patient population in Canada that has changed more drastically or more quickly than the opioid substance use disorder patient population, and the same has happened in pregnancy,” Cattoni said.

Left untreated, pregnant women with opioid addictions are not only at risk of overdose and injection-related infections, but also face a higher likelihood of adverse outcomes for the baby, including poor fetal growth, increased mortality risk, and neonatal opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Meanwhile, babies too go through withdrawal. They have difficulty eating, sleeping and gaining weight.

When women and their babies undergo treatment next to each other, Cattoni said, resilience kicks in like a switch turning on.

“What’s been shown is these babies actually do far better when they stay with their mother. And that statement seems obvious in itself, but for a long time, this was not what was being done clinically,” he said.

“What we’re finding now, is when mom is staying with baby, baby is on mom’s chest, [doing] skin-to-skin care and breastfeeding when safe and appropriate, babies need far less treatment with morphine, they stay for less time in the hospital they do much much better … and mom does much better.”

Cattoni acknowledges the guidelines are harder to attain in rural regions.

In Nelson, for example, it’s common for a woman to travel as far as Kelowna to deliver her baby. This can make treatment for opioid use more complicated.

The provincial government needs to build capacity for programs focused on pregnant woman and their partners facing problems with substance use, he said, but the changes start with attitudes among frontline healthcare workers and clinicians.

“You don’t need a big fancy hospital, and you don’t need all these fancy facilities to provide effective care for these women and their babies,” Cattoni said.

“You need to have an understanding of what it means to establish a meaningful therapeutic rapport with these patients… and to work towards a healthy family unit as early as possible instead of alienating these patients and making them afraid to present to care cause they are afraid their baby is going to be taken away or they’re afraid of being treated poorly.”

The guidelines are integral, he added, especially as the opioid epidemic shows no sign of letting up.

Just Posted

Bevy of remarkable birthdays celebrated in Aldergrove

Maudie MacPherson (age 101), Vera Banner (91) and Alice Utas (95)

Pond hockey banned in public parks under updated Township bylaw

Public spaces bylaw imposes new restrictions on smoking, possession of drug paraphernalia, geocaching and more

Golfers tee up for Langley Memorial Hospital

Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation’s 22nd annual charity golf tournament sells out

Election 2018: Kim Richter withdraws from mayor’s race, runs for council instead

In a Facebook post, Richter announced she will seek another term on Township council

More office, retail space planned for Willoughby Town Centre

Fourth phase now underway as Township council grants third and final reading

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Mt. Hicks fire 15% contained, continues to burn north of Agassiz

The fire, suspected to be caused by a vehicle with a flat tire, not threatening any structures

Police responding to ‘unfolding’ incident in Maple Ridge suburb

Helicopter, dog team, guns drawn and 16 police vehicles at Maple Ridge property

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

Most Read