2 January 2024
By Connie Going

NAS ( Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome )… What do I do NOW?

You were just discharged from the hospital with your substance exposed newborn. The hospital staff tell you that your baby is no longer going through “withdrawals” and to enjoy your baby.

Whether your baby stayed in the NICU 1 week or 5 weeks, they will need special attention when they get home. I want to share a few tips that helped my baby feel safe and comfortable so they can start bonding with  you. It is natural to want everyone to share in your excitement and play “pass the baby”, it is not best practice to introduce a large group of people to your baby. Keeping your circle small in the beginning will help decrease the stress for you and baby. Remember that your baby’s nervous system is a little more sensitive than typical newborns & can’t tolerate what most baby’s can.

I recommend “wearing” your baby as much as possible. This is such a great way for your baby to feel close to you while getting things done. One of my littles was in a sling for almost 3 months. He just couldn’t settle unless snugged up against me. The pressure from the sling gave him some necessary “proprioceptive input” that holding him couldn’t.

Feeding is another area that needs to be addressed. It is not just putting a bottle in their mouth. They need to be swaddled/snuggled in a comfortable forward flexed position that will allow them to suck, swallow, breathe. This is something that gets overlooked because most people think it comes “naturally”. The end goal is that your baby’s growth moves up steadily on the growth chart. As we all know, slow and steady wins. Try small amounts more frequently if there is vomiting. Sometimes, it’s just too hard to digest food when your body is busy trying to self-regulate from being exposed to substances. Mostly relax and take care of yourselves…this is a difficult time as expectations and reality can clash. Find support from others who have dealt with these challenges. Know this will pass and your connection with your child will continue to grow.

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