Opiates used by a pregnant mother are passed on to her growing baby. For that newborn, it means dependence and withdrawal. The Neonatal Abstinence Evaluation Support & Treatment (NEST) program at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage is trying to nix the stigma and promote wellness for the whole family. “One of our basic tenets is that parents make the best parents,” said William Trawick, MEDNAX-affiliated neonatal nurse practitioner. The NEST unit is meant to feel like a home nursery, but with medical oversight should a baby need higher levels of care. Here, recovering moms “change diapers, they feed their babies, they love their babies – they get to be a parent,” said Trawick. “The literature will show that babies and mothers who are together, when those babies are withdrawing from drugs, they require less medications, they require them for a shorter period of time and they leave the hospital sooner – we see that every day in this unit.”

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