Substance Use and Pregnancy
Our goal is to keep you and your baby safe, healthy, and together.
Your Women’s Health Connecticut maternity team is a confidential source of support and guidance during your pregnancy and beyond. We understand that every woman’s journey to motherhood is different, and we promise to listen and treat you with compassion. No matter your experience with drugs and alcohol, you can expect to receive the best possible medical care.
During your pregnancy visits, your provider may ask you about prescription medications as well as drug and alcohol use. While this can be a scary and stressful topic to talk about, it’s important to be upfront and honest with your provider so that they can develop an appropriate care plan and work with you to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
Sadly, substance use during pregnancy can cause babies to be born too early or too small, to develop physical and mental birth defects, and in severe cases, to be born in withdrawal (where the newborn’s body craves the substance). Children born to mothers who struggle with substance use during pregnancy may also face additional health challenges as they grow up, including learning disabilities and behavioral health problems like depression and anxiety.
Your maternity team is here to listen. Not only will they work with you to avoid or reduce risks to your growing baby, they will provide personalized resources to help address the issues that lead to substance use so you can be a happier, healthier mom.
As a routine part of your prenatal care, your provider will perform urine tests to screen for substances (including marijuana) that may negatively impact the health of your pregnancy. We want you to know that your Women’s Health Connecticut provider will never disclose the results of these screenings to anyone without your express, written consent per HIPAA laws.
However, Connecticut hospitals are required to submit an anonymous notification to the Department of Children and Families if a newborn is believed to have been exposed to substances or displays withdrawal symptoms. We will work with you throughout your pregnancy to develop a plan of safe care and to help prevent any situation that would lead you to be separated from your baby.
Personalized care options
If you test positive for a harmful substance during your pregnancy, different treatment options are available depending on the substance and your own unique experience. Your provider may recommend medication-assisted treatment (MAT), prescribing a safe medication to help you reduce or quit substance use gradually. Your provider will also offer convenient and confidential behavioral health resources to help you address the issues that lead to substance use.
If needed, your provider may recommend a local women’s and children’s residential program or outpatient service. The ultimate goal is to help you heal so it will be easier to avoid the substance in the future.
After your baby is born
Avoiding drugs and alcohol after pregnancy is recommended, both for your own postpartum recovery and because the substances can still affect the baby through your breastmilk. However, if you started a MAT program while pregnant, it’s ok to continue with your treatment if you choose to breastfeed. Check in with your provider about medications that are safe to use when breastfeeding.
At Women’s Health Connecticut, our providers and staff care about you and your baby and we hope that you will feel safe confiding in us. Thank you for choosing us for your important prenatal care and treatment.
Resources we trust
24/7 Addiction Help Line: DMHAS has established the 24/7 Access Line to facilitate access to treatment for substance use disorders. Individuals from anywhere in Connecticut may call to help with linkage to residential detox. The Access Line is able to prioritize transportation services for detox. The Access Line may also be able arrange transportation to DMHAS addiction residential treatment (although transportation services are prioritized for detox).
Child Development Infoline: Child Development Infoline (CDI) is a specialized unit of United Way of Connecticut. Messages can be left 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are returned promptly. This service is free and confidential, with multi-lingual and TTY capacity. Care Coordinators are available to answer the phone Monday through Friday from 8am-6pm, except on holidays. Phone:1-800-505-7000 Fax: 860-571-6853
CT Birth to 3: Birth to Three supports families when they have concerns about their children's development
CT Community for Addiction Recovery: CCAR is a centralized resource in CT for all things recovery. Whether you are contemplating a life in recovery, are new to recovery or are in long-term recovery, CCAR is here to help you to navigate the recovery community, by connecting you with others in recovery and providing access to area support services.
CT DMHAS Addiction Services Bed Availability: The Connecticut Addiction Services website was developed to help people in Connecticut get timely access to detox, residential addiction treatment and recovery house beds. The information on this site is updated daily in an effort to keep the public informed on the availability of DMHAS funded treatment facilities.
Family Care Plan Template:A Family Care Plan lists services and resources you and your family could use to support your infant’s ongoing health, development, safety and well-being. The plan also includes your family’s physical, social and emotional health; substance use disorder treatment; parenting skills; and readiness to care for your infant.
Live Loud: LiveLOUD supports coordinated efforts to confront and prevent the increase in opioid addiction across the state of Connecticut
NORA: NORA (Naloxone + Overdose Response App) is a free app from the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Use NORA to prevent, treat, and report opioid overdose.
PROUD (Parents Recovering from Opioid Use Disorder): PROUD aims to serve pregnant and postpartum women and birthing people with substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder, in the Greater Hartford and New Britain areas. PROUD teams will complete a family needs assessment with eligible women and birthing people and their household members to create a plan to address individual and family needs around: substance use and mental health treatment, connections to medical providers (including prenatal care), employment, housing, and recovery support.
SAFE-Family Recovery (SAFE-FR): SAFE-Family Recovery offers three types of services to help meet the substance use treatment and recovery needs of adult caregivers wherever they are in their recovery.
Women's REACH Program: The Women's REACH (Recovery, Engagement, Access, Coaching & Healing) program provides statewide integration of 15 Recovery Navigators positioned throughout each of the five DMHAS regions. The Recovery Navigators are women who are in a position to use their own personal recovery journey to help others. These women use recovery coaching techniques and case management services to support women and birthing people in their community. Services are prioritized for pregnant or parenting women and birthing people with substance use or co-occurring disorders.
SEPI-CT Substance Exposed Pregnancy Initiative of CT: SEPI-CT works with both providers and families across Connecticut to bring awareness to substance exposure during pregnancy, and to ensure families have access to the treatment, recovery, and support resources they need.