NEST program helps mothers and babies combat substance use

January 13, 2022

In a perfect world, all babies would be born healthy and to mothers who are fully prepared and able to care for them. However, the incidence of opiate addiction in Southern Indiana among pregnant women has redefined how health care professionals think about substance use and its complexities. 

NEST - Nurture, Encourage, Stabilize, Treat is a comprehensive program to help expectant families dealing with substance use disorder and their babies who may experience effects of substance use. The program is a collaboration between Clark Memorial Health and other health organizations in our community.

“A lot of times, I see patients who are struggling with substance abuse that’s only made worse by the judgment they face when they try to seek care,” says Dr. Katie Shannon, OB-GYN with Clark Just for Women Health Solutions. “These moms and families just want to do what’s best for their baby, and by integrating services with the NEST program, we’re able to provide them the care they need and decrease the number of days in the NICU that their babies may require after birth.”

One aspect of the NEST program is help with addiction medication management, which can be a concern for expecting mothers.

“We’re here to encourage patients, ‘We want you to be on this medicine. It helps you, and you’re on the right track,’” says Dr. Tiffany Hannigan, OB-GYN with Just for Women. “Having this program and knowing that they’re talking to specialists who deal with this every day and can reassure them about the baby has really helped a lot of our patients.”

In addition to prenatal care, NEST uses a collaboration between the Clark Memorial Health’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Behavioral Health unit to help moms and babies after the birth. Following delivery, mothers who are actively withdrawing from opioids can stay in Clark’s in-patient program and still see their babies in the NICU. Moms who are already in treatment are encouraged to stay with their babies 24/7 and are allowed to stay in a hospital room free of charge.

“We don’t seek to judge, just to help support moms and get them the treatment they need so that baby can go home with them in a healthy environment,” says Dr. Shannon.

Learn more about NEST or call Clark Just for Women Health Solutions at 812-280-7063 for more information on getting connected with the program.