For Pregnant Women & Mothers

Reflecting national statistics, opioid use during pregnancy has steadily increased in the past few years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated one-third of women enrolled in Medicaid and more than one-quarter of women with other private insurance filled a prescription for opioids each year between 2008-2012.** The prevalence of opioid use disorder among those who may be pregnant increased from 1.7 per 1,000 live hospital births in 1998 to 3.9 in 2011.

As a result, the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) increased almost 400 percent nationally to 5.8 per 1,000 live hospital births, and in some states, 30 per 1,000 live hospital births. Put plainly, by 2012, one NAS-affected baby was born every 25 minutes.

NAS can look for different for every baby, but most signs and symptoms start to show within the first 72 hours of birth and can last up to 6 months.

Common signs and symptoms (from the March of Dimes)

  • Tremors, seizures, and overactive reflexes
  • Fussiness, excessive crying or having a high-pitched cry
  • Poor feeding, sucking, or slow weight gain
  • Breathing problems
  • Fever, sweating, or blotchy skins
  • Trouble sleeping and excessive yawning
  • Diarrhea or throwing up
  • Stuffy nose or sneezing

Complications (from the March of Dimes)

  • Low birthweight
  • Jaundice
  • Extensive time in the NICU-post birth


  • If you are pregnant and have opioid use disorder, talk to your doctor about your treatment options
  • Be open with both your doctor and your prescriber. Your doctor needs to know your medications and your prescriber needs to know you’re pregnant.

More Resources:

Download One-Pager: Pregnant Women

Fact Sheet: Pregnancy and Prescription Pain Medications

SAMHSA’s Guide for Management of Pregnant and Parenting Women

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Official Statement Re: Opioid Use and Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnancy

Addiction and Pregnancy: A Guide For Mothers

** It should be noted that exposure to opioids might be prescribed by a provider as well

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