Stigma and Pregnant Women With OUD
Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it's stressful, too -- even in ideal circumstances. It can be especially difficult for women who are expecting a baby while managing a chronic condition like opioid use disorder (OUD). It's a situation in which an increasing number of women find themselves.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the number of women with OUD at delivery quadrupled between 1999 and 2014. Babies born to mothers who were using opioids, even ones a doctor prescribes, are at risk for certain conditions and serious complications. It's more important than ever for us to support and empower pregnant women who are doing the work to get treatment for their OUD.
Societal Norms Around Pregnancy
Pregnant women may sometimes feel pressure to be glowing reflections of the idealized stereotypes of pregnancy portrayed in magazines and on social media. But life is often not like that. Many women face struggles when they're expecting, including OUD, and they shouldn't feel ashamed or discouraged to admit what they're going through, especially if they're taking positive steps toward better outcomes for themselves and their babies.
If you're pregnant and seeking treatment for OUD, we understand that it's taken tremendous courage to start on your recovery journey and that it takes dedication to continue on that journey. The work you're doing is immensely important and selfless. At Confidant, we feel fortunate to be part of your care team, and we recognize the positive choices you're making for yourself and your family.
Unfortunately, our perceptions aren't universal. Not everyone else will see the effort and the time you've dedicated to caring for yourself and your baby. Not everyone will understand the challenges that you face when managing your OUD during pregnancy
. We get it, though. And we are here to help you and your baby through all the ups-and-downs of your journey, including dealing with social pressures and stigma.
Fighting the Stigma With Education
We understand that overcoming societal opinions around opioid use and pregnancy can feel like an uphill battle. To help fight the stigma, we've developed some modules to educate and empower you. The goal is to learn to advocate for yourself with health care providers both inside and outside of the Confidant Health ecosystem, including your obstetrician, pediatrician, and lactation consultant.
We don't want you to feel like you have to go it alone, so we've also built a care team of individuals who have had specialized training in a person-centered, harm reductionist approach to medication for OUD (MOUD). We're not perfect, though, so we offer a way to report any stigma or bias you might face from any Confidant Health team members, too. We're committed to tackling this stigma one provider at a time, including those within our practice.
What's Best for You and Your Baby
As you move forward with your pregnancy and your OUD treatment program, it's so important not to let perceived, or real judgment -- even from yourself -- lead you to feelings of despair. By choosing to get treatment, you've already demonstrated a strong commitment to doing what's best for you and your baby, and we want to help you feel empowered in your journey.
It's natural, however, to experience feelings of guilt, shame, or doubt. Talk about these feelings with your care team and work together to develop strategies for dealing with them. We're committed to supporting you and helping you celebrate the joy of this time in your life.