Methadone: A Flicker Of Light In The Dark

Methadone: A Flicker Of Light In The Dark

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 Midwife who helps addicts give birth to healthy babies

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lilgirllost
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PostSubject: Midwife who helps addicts give birth to healthy babies   Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:32 pm

Midwife who helps addicts give birth to healthy babies

MIDWIFE Judy McCulloch knows that speaking to her for the first time can be scary.

For many of her clients, coming forward and talking to her at Royal Derby Hospital is a huge step.

That is because she works with pregnant women who are misusing drugs and alcohol, many of who are afraid of approaching the NHS about their problem.

They are terrified of hearing how their addiction may have affected their unborn child, of being judged by staff and of having their baby taken into care once it is born.

But, for the past eight years, Judy has been working to gain the trust of local women.

As a result, she helped in the safe delivery of 159 babies born between 2002 and 2009 to women using methadone to overcome heroin addiction.

Judy said all those babies were healthy and happy, because methadone does not harm the unborn child.

She said: "When you're using heroin you're constantly moving between a state of intoxication and withdrawal and every time mum goes through withdrawal there is a chance it could impact on the baby.

"It could lead to a miscarriage or premature labour or withdrawal in the baby.

"And people using drugs normally have chaotic lives – getting money for drugs and using them becomes a priority and if they're going through withdrawal they won't feel well enough to attend appointments.

"Methadone creates a suitable environment for the baby and it keeps mothers away from criminal activity and makes them more likely to eat properly and attend appointments."

Judy works with women using a variety of drugs, the most common of which is methadone.

Since March 2009, 85 women have been referred to her and 70 of them had babies during that period.

Of those women, 45 per cent were using opiates as their main drug, the majority of which were taking methadone.

Among those to have benefited from her care was a Derby mother-of-four, who wishes to remain anonymous.

The former addict has spent years recovering from heroin, then going back to using it again. She was on methadone while pregnant with three of her children.

The first time she used methadone while expecting a child she was "terrified" about the impact the drug – and her previous heroin use – could have on the baby.

But all her children have been born in good health.

She said: "The first time, I didn't want to have the baby. I thought the hospital staff were going to turn their noses up at me and I thought there was going to be something wrong with my child.

"I didn't realise there was a service to help me which meant that, by the time I gave birth, everything would be okay."

She was not using drugs when her eldest child was born, but was taking methadone while pregnant with three others, although she said they were as healthy as the first.

"After I'd been through having a baby while on methadone twice I was actually able to enjoy my last pregnancy because I wasn't worried at all.

"Anyone that is pregnant would rather not be on drugs, but it happens.

"If this service wasn't here I don't know what I would have done. You feel ashamed when you're using and fall pregnant.

"If staff had turned their noses up I would have had my babies at home in the bathroom."

And the programme has also helped her get her life in order.

She said: "I'm better-off financially, I feel better, everything in my life is better.

"When you're on heroin you live for that, you take it to feel normal, then four hours later you start to feel awful again.

"But with methadone you can have one dose and you're okay until the next day."

The service has a very good success rate, with only two babies born with relatively mild symptoms of withdrawal last year.

By the time they were discharged, 71 per cent of mothers were on methadone or were no longer using drugs or alcohol.

Those treated by the service are often referred by other health-care professionals and some of the mothers approach the service themselves.

Judy said it was difficult to know how many pregnant women in Derby were addicted to drugs or alcohol and failing to get help.

Studies suggest that between 2 per cent and 11 per cent of pregnant women in cities in the UK are taking illicit drugs.

In Derby this would equate to 138 to 660 women a year, compared to the 85 who got help last year.

Ms McCulloch said: "We don't know how many women are slipping through the net that we don't hear about.

"They may not come forward because they're scared of judgemental attitudes or having their child taken away by social services.

"Expectant mothers are asked about drug and alcohol use when they first meet their community midwife but my feeling is that you're not going to tell them during your first meeting.

"If we gave a heroin test to every pregnant woman who came into hospital that would just scare people off.

"So we rely on women telling us about their drug or alcohol use. Some are very honest and do tell us so we can give them support from early on."

Taken from "This Is Derbyshire" and the original link is:

http://www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk/news/Midwife-helps-addicts-birth-healthy-babies/article-2926910-detail/article.html


RuthAnn
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PostSubject: Re: Midwife who helps addicts give birth to healthy babies   Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:00 am

What a great program they have to offer! The girls that are using and pregnant, have somewhere to turn. That's great to hear about people helping people!
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