Effective Treatments for Maternal Addiction and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in Chesterfield County

Pregnancy can be overwhelming enough without the added challenges of addiction to drugs or alcohol. Johnston-Willis Hospital offers life-changing and lifesaving care to pregnant women struggling with substance use.

Our Neonatal Evaluation, Support & Treatment Program (NEST) has helped women throughout Central Virginia give their babies the healthiest start possible. With respectful treatment for parents and advanced care for babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), we’re here for your entire family.

How We Support You and Your Baby on Your Journey to Recovery

NEST is a program that addresses substance use and helps you manage your pregnancy. It involves a partial-hospitalization program (also known as a day treatment program). You receive medical and behavioral health services in our facility several hours a day, up to five days a week — but return to your own home in the evening.

We’ll also connect you with the resources you need to proudly and confidently maintain sobriety as a new mom. Our program offers:

  • Safe, physician-guided detox.
  • Goal setting and treatment planning.
  • Daily progress meetings with you and our staff to identify areas of concern and discuss your goals.
  • Structured group therapy sessions with other pregnant moms.
  • Introduction to other local recovery resources, including 12-Step programs.
  • Psychiatric evaluations and care.
  • Medication management.
  • Ongoing obstetric care to monitor your baby’s growth and development.
  • Birth planning, including getting ready for labor and delivery and preparing for any immediate medical care your baby may need.
  • Self-directed assignments focused on self-discovery, behavior insights, and preventing relapse.
  • Family meetings designed to help you create a healthy support system.
  • Continued care throughout your postpartum recovery.

Why Choose Johnston-Willis Hospital and our Maternal Addiction Program

Quitting substance use early in pregnancy reduces your baby’s exposure and risk of addiction and withdrawal symptoms. But we know quitting is easier said than done. That’s why we offer:

  • Intense, focused treatment. Our unique day treatment model means you receive medical care, individual counseling, and peer support tailored to your needs.
  • Long-term, comprehensive support. You have an entire team of medical professionals and substance use experts on your side, throughout your pregnancy and after your baby is born.
  • Courtesy and respect. We treat women of all ages, from all walks of life, in a non-judgmental environment where respect, honesty, and diversity are valued.

And if you choose to have your baby at Johnston-Willis Hospital, we also provide:

  • Leading high-risk pregnancy care. Our maternal-fetal medicine doctors will carefully monitor you and your baby to prevent or treat preterm labor and other problems.
  • Neonatal intensive care. Our Level III NICU cares for Richmond’s most vulnerable babies with neonatologists (doctors experienced in advanced newborn care) on-site.
  • Pediatric emergency care. If your baby needs emergency care after leaving the NICU, it’s good to know we offer pediatric emergency care.

Understanding Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: How Drugs Affect Your Baby

Neonatal abstinence syndrome refers to several problems babies may experience when they go through drug or alcohol withdrawal.

Women who take drugs during pregnancy give birth to babies who are addicted to those same drugs. Cutting your umbilical cord after birth cuts off your baby’s supply of the substance, causing them to go “cold turkey.” They may begin to show painful or challenging withdrawal symptoms anywhere from 24 hours to seven days after birth.

Common Symptoms of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Babies exposed to drugs and alcohol may experience problems in the womb and after birth. These include delayed growth or development, birth defects, and premature birth.

Once born, neonatal abstinence syndrome impacts each baby differently. Factors include the type of drug used, how frequently it was used, the last time it was used, and whether the baby was born full-term. Common symptoms of NAS include:

  • Tremors
  • High-pitched crying
  • Excessive crying
  • Sleep problems
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inability to suck or feed
  • Dehydration
  • Seizures
  • Tight muscle tone
  • Unstable body temperature

Drugs Associated with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Most cases of NAS are caused by drugs called opioids, although symptoms are also linked to other prescription medications, alcohol, nicotine, and street drugs. Talk to your doctor right away if you are pregnant and using any of the following:

  • Hydrocodone (commonly known as Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (also known as OxyContin and Percocet)
  • Codeine
  • Morphine (including the brand-name drugs Kadian and Avinza)
  • Tramadol
  • Heroin
  • Antidepressants
  • Sleeping pills (a class of drugs called benzodiazepines)

If your baby is born ill or early, he or she may need treatment in our Level III neonatal intensive care unit. Learn how we nurture and care for Chesterfield County’s most vulnerable newborns.

Our maternal-fetal medicine doctors specialize in high-risk pregnancies. Learn how we care for women and unborn babies who face potential complications during pregnancy or birth.

Baby on the way? Chances are you have a million questions about feeding, sleep schedules and babyproofing. Our classes provide the info you need to feel confident and well-prepared.