NAS (neonatal abstinence syndrome) occurs when a pregnant woman uses opioids. The baby experiences withdrawal symptoms after birth because he or she is no longer receiving the drug. This condition is frightening for parents, and the infant requires some special attention during this trying time. Below are some tips to help parents care for a child with NAS. Please note, this is for informational purposes only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. Always follow your doctor’s instructions.

Common Opioids

Doctors often prescribe opioid drugs to relieve pain. However, many people abuse these drugs by using them recreationally. Some common opioids include:

  • morphine
  • oxycodone
  • codeine
  • hydrocodone
  • meperidine
  • fentanyl

NAS Symptoms

Infants with NAS may have all or a few of the symptoms. It often depends on which drug the mother used, the length of time she used and how recently she used the drug.

  • restlessness
  • shaking or tremors
  • seizures
  • excessive and high-pitched crying
  • stiff arms and legs
  • Fever and sweating
  • stuffy nose
  • blotchy skin
  • overactive sucking reflex
  • easily startled
  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • yawning
  • irregular breathing

Comforting the Baby

Infants with NAS require extra attention. Here are some ways you can comfort the child.

  • Keep the environment calm, quiet and dimly lit.
  • Give the baby a pacifier.
  • Hold the infant close to your body. Skin to skin contact is great too.
  • Rock the baby, but do not pat or stroke.

Medical Treatment

Many babies with NAS will spend some time in the NICU before going home. Some infants may be given medication to help them wean off the opioids. The nurses in the NICU provide these babies with special care, and they are great resources for information about how to care for the baby at home.

Just like any infant, each child with NAS is unique. Methods for comforting one child may not work for another. Try different things to find out what works best for the infant in your care.

Get the Facts About NAS

Destiny Adoption Services is hosting a free seminar to demystify NAS. Speaker Dr. Gian Rossi, Pediatric Neurology, will join us. The event will take place in Knoxville, TN, on October 12, 2019. See event details here or call 865-392-6261 for more information.


Author: Destiny Adoption Services

Destiny Adoption Services is proud to support and guide birth parents and adoptive families on the journey of adoption. We’re a state licensed nonprofit adoption agency with four decades of adoption experience, and our professional team of experts includes moms, adoptive moms and birth mothers who provide compassion combined with trusted resources and skills.