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New Beginnings Program – Supporting mothers and infants impacted by perinatal opioid use

Southcoast Health’s New Beginnings Program provides opiate exposed newborns, new moms and their families with support, education and resources during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Infants exposed to drugs or medicines during pregnancy may be at risk for infant withdrawal. This is also known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

NAS is a treatable condition that newborns may experience as a result of prenatal exposure to certain substances, most often opioids. Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) is a related term that refers to the symptoms that infants may experience as a result of exposure to opioids specifically.

Symptoms of NAS and NOWS

• Tremors and/or tense muscles
• Fussiness, frequent crying
• Poor feeding
• Poor weight gain
• Vomiting
• Increased sucking
• Diarrhea, diaper rash
• Nasal stuffiness
• Blotchy skin or other skin irritation
• Seizures

Treatment options

Infants with NAS and NOWS are treated through non-pharmacological methods (such as rooming-in with mothers after birth, breastfeeding, swaddling, skin-to-skin time, and minimizing stimuli in the environment), as well as pharmacologic methods (medication) when warranted.

Prior to birth, Southcoast will educate pregnant women (with opioid and other substance use disorders) on substance use treatment and other services as a component of prenatal care. Partaking in substance use treatment can mitigate or prevent negative birth outcomes associated with NAS and NOWS.

Parents are essential to the health of the newborn. We provide patients with information on how they can be part of the baby’s care while you are in the hospital. We hope to work with patients to provide care and comfort for the baby.

Care at no cost to you

Our staff will provide individualized support and care at no cost to moms, babies, and families. Our treatment options include a variety of comfort measures and appropriate medications. Your doctor or midwife can arrange for you to meet with a neonatologist (newborn specialist) before delivery so you can:

  • Be better prepared and learn what to expect after your baby is born
  • Tour the nursery and meet the support staff
  • Ask additional questions and address concerns

What our patients are saying – Messages of hope and gratitude

“Thank you for loving me and guiding me. I’m where I am now because I had this program. When I feel alone, I know your team is there if I need you.”

“We love this team so much. You all have been so sweet to us. You have helped us in so many ways, and we appreciate it. This team is our angel, and we just wanted to thank you for everything.”

“Thank you for always being there for my family and me. You have helped me from the very beginning through my darkest times. I want you to know that I wouldn’t have been able to get where I am today without your help and support. I will forever be grateful!”

“This program has truly been a blessing in disguise. Your team has brought my family and me closer than we already were… It feels good to know that I have a huge village behind me. I have all of you to thank for that.”

“Thank you for always saying such nice things about me and supporting me. I appreciate you guys so much – you are all such amazing people.”

Southcoast Health and Southcoast Physicians Group are proud to offer community-­based health services in Southeastern MA and RI. Learn more about our Community Benefits’ Programs.