Even when WUD cannot stop using drugs, even when methadone or buprenorphine are not available, there are some things that can be done to improve their health and that of their babies.
Even when WUD cannot stop using drugs, even when methadone or buprenorphine are not available, there are some things that can be done to improve their health and that of their babies. Many HR strategies can be suggested to improve their lifestyle.
First of all, it is important that they are advised and supported in improving their nutrition: it is crucial that they adopt a balanced diet and take vitamins - especially Folic Acid.
Pregnant WUD should attend early, regular prenatal care, starting as soon as they are aware they are pregnant. Referral to non-judgmental gynecologists and obstetricians is key to avoiding that they refuse to access proper care or decide not to attend follow-up visits. They should be helped to find ways to reduce the stress they experience as women using drugs and to establish better sleeping habits.
Gender-specific HR services should provide their clients with accurate information on the effects of AOD consumption during pregnancy and should support them in reducing tobacco and alcohol use, if possible. WUD should be also supported in keeping drug use at a steady level in order to minimize cycles of withdrawal, which can be very stressful also for the fetus. They should also be made aware that street and Internet drugs are of unknown strength and purity and may threaten their pregnancies and lives.
After delivery, every effort should be made to try and keep the babies with their mothers. Women should be supported in developing parental skills and in taking good care of the newborns. Breastfeeding should be encouraged in all cases in which it is not harmful for the baby. For women taking OST, who do not consume any other illegal substances and alcohol, it is recommended to breastfeed, but every woman must take the final decision individually.