"Try Not to Judge:" Mothers of Infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Lisa M. Cleveland, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, IBCLC
Rebecca Bonugli, PhD, APRN, PMHCNS
Department of Family & Community Health Systems, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX

Purpose: To explore the experiences of mothers of infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Methods: Qualitative description

Results: Participants were recruited from community-based, out-patient, addiction treatment facilities in a large urban city in the southwestern region of the United States. A convenience sample of 15 Latina, substance addicted mothers of infants with NAS participated although enrollment was open to women of all ethnicities. Semi-structured, individual, interviews were conducted and the data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Data were first anlayzied independently followed by a discussion of the themes until a consensus was reached. Four themes were identified: a) understanding addiction, b) watching the infant withdraw, c) judging, and d) trusting the nurses. To provide further explanation, the mothers felt there was a lack of understanding concerning addiction which was particularly noted when interacting with the nurses. They shared their feelings of guilt and shame while observing their infant's withdrawal symptoms. Further, the mothers felt judged by the nurses for having used illicit drugs during pregnancy. Feeling judged interfered with the mothers’ ability to trust the nurses.  

Conclusion: These findings provide nurses with a better understanding of the experiences of addicted mothers and may lead to more customized nursing care for this high-risk population of mothers and their infants.