Support to Pregnant Women Living with, or in Recovery from, Opioid Use Disorder
A woman’s reaction to finding out she is pregnant depends on her circumstances.
Fear and questions are common.
Am I able to do this? Is this the right time?
Can I afford this…and on and on.
Imagine how amplified these doubts and fears are if the woman is in recovery or struggling with an ongoing opioid use disorder. Fortunately, in our state, the MaineMOM Initiative is at the ready to help pregnant women who are actively using substances or who are working to maintain their recovery.
The program provides a central hub for women receiving MaineCare to access support, including basic everyday needs, in addition to prenatal and perinatal care.
Dr. Alane O’Connor is the medical advisor of the Maine Maternal Opioid Misuse (MaineMOM) Initiative. “Moms who are using substances or are in recovery have far more concerns and complications than women who are not,” said Dr. O’Connor. “Many of these moms are unsheltered, food insecure, lack transportation, or live with domestic violence.’”
Their needs are more complex, and more support is necessary. Providing those supports is the key purpose of MaineMOM.
MaineMOM team members consider all the woman’s necessities. And in the process attempt to remove barriers that are keeping her from receiving the care she needs. Dr. O’Connor provides examples of what some of these needs may be.
“She may need a place to live. Others may need help with picking up their prescriptions. Some may need to borrow a telephone to make an appointment.” MaineMOM connects all the dots as the central place for coordinating all the services.
“The toughest appointment is the first. Some women are at their lowest point and are afraid. It takes a lot of courage for them to take this first step. We see many tears at first appointments,” said Dr. O’Connor. “Often the woman is experiencing shame, low self-esteem and wondering ‘how did I ever get here?’”
There is no room for shaming or judging at MainMOM. It is a place of support, nurturing and overcoming challenges with plenty of help. When a mom reaches out to the program, team members meet her where she is at the time.
The program uses a team approach in caring for the moms’ needs. This includes an obstetric provider, substance use treatment prescriber and counselor, patient navigator, nurse care manager, and peer recovery coach for each mom.
The program provides all the traditional perinatal and postnatal care for up to 12 months post birth. At the same time, it addresses the specific needs of the moms—a treatment plan for counseling, recovery support, and treatment, including medications. And, it includes coordinating referrals for other services she might need during and after pregnancy like health care, housing, transportation, childcare, and more.
“Sometimes, it just means having someone sitting with her for support when she is making a phone call…MaineMOM is available to help coordinate the services,” said Dr. O’Connor.
She gave another example of a time a patient needed a ride from court to her appointment. MaineMOM arranged transportation for her.
“The goal is to provide as much support and remove as many barriers as possible to help in her recovery journey,” said Dr. O’Connor.
Traditionally, all of these services have been separate. A woman would have to go to one location for housing assistance, a different place for food assistance, another for medical care, etc.
This would require repeated time away from work, transportation challenges, securing childcare and many other barriers. MaineMOM eliminates as much of that as possible.
Moms in the program often form strong bonds with their peer recovery coach. The recovery coach has been in the same situation as the new mom.
They have been through many of the same struggles which makes it easy to form a close bond with the new mom. In many cases, pregnant moms and their recovery coaches have formed strong partnerships and stay connected even after the mom has completed the program.
Many women have turned their lives around for the better through the kindness, support and help of MaineMOM. Some have returned to school and others have been able to regain custody of their children.
“It is such a beautiful thing to see,” said Dr. O’Connor.
Maine is one of ten states selected to receive funding from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to improve care for pregnant and postpartum women who are living with or in recovery from opioid use disorder and their infants. Maine is the only recipient that provides the services throughout the state.
There are currently 19 Service locations in medical care centers, hospitals or private doctor’s offices.
Each location provides a safe and comfortable space for moms.
Currently MaineMOM is assisting 67 moms and since the program began in 2020 it has provided support and hope to a total of 105 Maine mothers.
If you or a loved one is pregnant and needs help, MaineMOM is there for you. Reach out. Take that first step to keep you and your baby healthy and safe.
Let MaineMOM be the lifeline you need. They are there, and ready to lend you a hand. Visit www.mainemom.org or call 1-888-644-1130.