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​Frequently Asked Questions About Substance Abuse Treatment for Expectant Mothers

What is Magee’s Perinatal and Neonatal Substance Abuse Services?

Magee’s Perinatal and Neonatal Substance Abuse Services provide comprehensive and compassionate inpatient and outpatient programs to help pregnant women with Opioid Use Disorder and their babies. Magee is one of a few hospitals to offer inpatient methadone conversions during pregnancy.

How will my baby be affected by treatment?

Babies respond to withdrawal differently. All infants are monitored after birth using a standardized assessment tool for evidence of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Based on the assessment, infants may require an extended stay in a special care setting.

Will my baby need medication?

If the NAS assessment indicates that medication is needed, infants may be transferred to a Level II nursery. If no medication is needed, continued observation may still be required.

Will my baby remain with me throughout treatment?

Magee recognizes the importance of mother-infant bonding. For those infants born to mothers with Opioid Use Disorder, the babies will remain with their mothers whenever possible.

Is there a follow-up with a doctor after discharge?

During hospitalization, assessments are conducted with plans for outpatient follow-up. Discharge planning is completed during this time, including establishment of a post-discharge follow-up with a community pediatrician.

What if I have multiple substance dependencies?

Magee’s partnership with the Perinatal Addiction Center of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic allows Magee to treat patients with single or co-occurring substance abuse disorders.

What are common withdrawal symptoms for newborns?

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is the presence of drug withdrawal symptoms in a newborn. The severity of symptoms depend on a number of factors including the mother’s regular dose size, how long the mother has been using, type of substance used, and date of last dose.


Typically, an infant will begin showing withdrawal symptoms anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after birth, but can show symptoms as late as five to ten days.


Types of symptoms may include:

  • Irritability or fussy behavior
  • Difficulty being comforted
  • Blotchy skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Continuous or high-pitched crying
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, or dehydration
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breastfeeding

An NAS assessment of withdrawal is made based on symptom type and severity. If necessary, a baby may need medication or an IV to replenish hydration, or may stay longer in a special care setting. All infants, whether they are taking medication or not, will be under continuous observation.


To help alleviate an infant’s discomfort, a parent or relative can try wrapping the baby in swaddling blankets, reducing noise or bright lights, or rocking or soothing the baby. A physician should be consulted if additional help is needed or concerns arise.

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  • Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
  • 300 Halket St.
  • Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3180
  • Main Hospital/Operator:
    412-641-1000
  • To find a physician, or schedule an appointment:
    1-866-MyMagee (696-2433)
  • UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org

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