Credentials Display

Michelle Suarez, PhD, OTR/L; Wendy Horton-Bierema, MA, LLP, OTR/L; Caitlyn Bodine, MM, MT-BC


Background: Opiate abuse and addiction in women during childbearing years has led to a sharp increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Babies born with NAS are at risk for significant health and developmental deficits. Through understanding the challenges experienced by mothers in opiate recovery, and the resources available to this group, sensitive and effective treatment can be developed to ameliorate the impact of NAS on the child and the family.

Method: This qualitative interview study provides insight into the experience of becoming a mother for women in opiate recovery.

Results: Themes from the interviews include deep love for the baby, the baby as a motivation to stay sober, and the determination to make the relationship between mother and child different from the one the mother had experienced with her own mother.

Discussion: Occupational therapists have a distinct, important role in the treatment of mothers in opiate recovery and their babies. This study illustrates the need for the occupational therapy skill set in this population.


The authors report grants from The Kellogg Foundation and Western Michigan University Internal Support for Faculty Scholars Award (SFSA) during the conduct of the study.