Babies can bring joy and happiness to new parents. But imagine if 72 hours after birth, your baby was constantly in pain and experiencing symptoms like body shakes, seizures, high-pitched crying, diarrhea, and breathing problems. Sounds painful for a newborn baby right?
It is. These are all symptoms of a condition called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) a condition on the rise if a mom takes opioids, antidepressants, or sleeping pills during her pregnancy. Some other dangerous drugs include codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, tramadol, heroin, and benzodiazepines.
The United States and Canada are the largest consumers of pain pills in the world. So it should be no surprise that in 2014, 32,000 infants were born with NAS. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one baby with opioid withdrawal is born every 15 minutes.
Since a pregnant mother and her baby share the same blood, any drug the mother takes will enter the baby’s bloodstream as well. Which may cause the fetus to be dependent on the drug(s).
Babies who show signs of NAS can take weeks or months to be treated depending on the severity. Severe withdrawal symptoms have to be treated with doses of medicine like morphine or methadone in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Babies with NAS also have to get fluids through a needle into the vein because they become dehydrated when they are throwing up a lot or having constant diarrhea. When babies are being treated for NAS they can often be hard to soothe. It has been shown that breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact, swaddling in a blanket, and dim rooms can help with calming.
If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant you should talk to your doctor about the prescriptions you are currently taking to make sure your baby will not be affected. However, if you are using drugs that can cause NAS do not stop taking the drug without getting treatment from your provider first. Suddenly stopping these drugs can cause severe problems for your baby, including death. The best prenatal care is being a happy, healthy mom!