Addressing Opioid Use Disorder with Mothers-to-Be



By: Anne M. Herron, M.S., Acting Director, SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

Treatment for opioid use disorder is a process that should be carefully managed by a patient and their health care team. This is especially true for women who are pregnant or have newborn children. Fortunately, medication-assisted treatment can be provided during pregnancy and after childbirth and this is often the safest treatment with the best outcome for baby and mother. To assist patients and care provides with learning about options and planning the treatment that is best for other and baby, SAMHSA has published Healthy Pregnancy Healthy Baby fact sheets

Pregnant women with opioid use disorder should be concerned about the harmful effects of opioids to their unborn baby. The potential for a negative outcome is high if a mother continues to misuse opioid medication or uses heroin during pregnancy. But for a mother taking FDA-approved medication for opioid use disorder, the potential for harm to the child is greatly decreased. For this reason, pregnant women with opioid use disorder should seek treatment and continue it throughout the pregnancy.

To emphasize the importance of continuing a mother’s treatment for opioid use disorder throughout pregnancy, SAMSHA’s Healthy Pregnancy Healthy Baby fact sheets cover four topic areas:

  • information on opioid use disorder and pregnancy,
  • opioid use disorder treatment while pregnant,
  • neonatal abstinence syndrome, and
  • considerations to address before hospital discharge.

It is important for treatment providers to work with a mother’s choices. It is also important for mothers to know that the best outcomes for mother and baby are associated with getting into treatment with an FDA approved medication assisted treatment.  Experts know that for most people, the outcomes for those who participate in a program that offers medication-assisted treatment are outweighed by the risk of not being in treatment and using.  

When properly managed, continuing medication-assisted treatment during pregnancy is the best choice for the mother and the baby. Remaining informed and addressing concerns can ensure a mother and baby receive the treatment that will help promote wellness and recovery.   

For more information on medication-assisted treatment, visit

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