What to Expect at the Hospital

In this section we will provide you with information about common hospital practices and suggest questions to ask the Labor and Delivery Department of the hospital you are planing to deliver.

If you are from a hospital and want to share information about your policies and information that pertains to pregnant women in methadone treatment, please email Katie to discuss posting your information or adding a link to your facility.

  • How long will my baby be in the hospital?
  • Will I receive my methadone dose there?
  • What should I do about pain management?
  • What will my baby experience?

How long will my baby be in the hospital?

The length of time at the hospital is different from baby to baby. The hospital will likely keep your baby for observation to look for any signs of withdrawal. It may take a few days for your baby to show any signs, so some hospitals will obverse your baby for up to seven days. There are certain medications that may be given to your baby to help them if they show withdrawal symptoms. You can read about these medications and neonatal abstinence syndrom here. Some of these medications your baby will be weaned from before they leave the hospital. Because of this, you should plan for your baby to stay at least 3 weeks.

Will I receive my methadone there?

Once you arrive at MMC you will be admitted to the labor and delivery wing. The medical staff there will contact the clinic to verify your dose of methadone and you can expect to get your medication there while you are a patient. If you have take-home medication (methadone that the clinic prepares for you to take at home), you will be expected to bring all medication back to the clinic for the days you received your medication in the hospital. Make sure to talk to your counselor about this issue well before your due date.

Once you are discharged from the hospital (even if your baby is still a patient there) you will not receive your medication from the hospital and will be expected to attend the clinic for your methadone.

When you leave the hospital make sure you ask for your discharge summary and a list of all medications and when you were given them. Bring this back to the clinic with you. It’s important to give this information to the nurses so they know your last dose of methadone and any medications you were given that may show up in a drug test.

One more thing about your dose- after women give birth they often need to decrease their dose. After a day or so, you might feel groggy or sedated 3-6 hours after you take your methadone. This might be an indication you need to have your dose decreased. Make sure to speak with someone at the hospital and at your clinic if you think you may need you dose decreased.

What should I do about pain management?

This can be a really complicated issue, especially if you have had an addiction or problems with pain medication (OxyContin, oxycodone, percocet, Vicodin, etc). Talk to your prenatal provider about what your options are and work with your substance abuse counselor to help prevent relapse or misuse of medications. Women who are newer in recovery may not feel that they are able to manage their own medication and feel more comfortable only taking medication while they are a patient at the hospital.

What will my baby experience?

When your baby is born she or he will go to the newborn nursery. Both you and your baby may have a drug screen. Your baby is likely to have a meconium screen to look for drug exposure.

Meconium is your baby’s first bowel movement and can detect drug exposure from your second trimester of the pregnancy right through to delivery.

DHHS will investigate, determine if the baby is affected, determine if there is abuse or neglect, and work with you to develop a plan for safe care. If abuse or neglect is found further steps will be taken by DHHS.

DHHS social workers are looking for ‘red flags’ alerting them that your home may not be safe for the newborn, including drug use by you or people who are living with you.

If anyone in your home is still using, you may want to encourage them to stop using and/or seek treatment. If your partner or someone in your home is using and wants help ask your counselor for referrals or recommendations.

You can expect a public health nurse (or other social service provider) to come to your home and assess the safety of the environment. They will determine if your home is safe and free from abuse and neglect.

They will often make suggestions that they think will support you and your family. DHHS does not want take your baby away from you. As social workers, it’s their job to make sure the baby is going to be raised in a safe and healthy home with supportive caregivers.

This is an excellent time to communicate with your counselor so they can help you talk to DHHS. DHHS has the ability to see your treatment records, so we encourage you to be honest with them.

The level of DHHS involvement is different from family to family. Your experience with DHHS may be drastically different than that of your friends, family, or other patients from the clinic.


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