Every 15 minutes, a baby in the U.S. is born with symptoms of opioid addiction.*
Every 15 minutes.
That isn’t a problem. That’s an epidemic. And at Allegheny Health Network (AHN), we’re working around the clock to change that.
Through the AHN Perinatal Hope Program, located at AHN Jefferson Hospital and four other locations in western PA, new and expectant moms get the support they need to care for their babies and overcome substance use disorder.
We’re proud to bring you real stories from real moms who have gone through this program. Each one gives you a glimpse into a sensitive time in these moms’ lives — and out of our outmost respect for their privacy — their names have been changed.
These stories are the true tales of heroes who have overcome challenges to better themselves and their families. Take a look.
Kelly discovers her inner strength to be her best self for her daughter.
“In the back of my head, I was really nervous and judgmental on myself,” says Kelly, a mom of three who struggles with substance use disorder. “Once I got to Jefferson Hospital, I didn’t feel judged at all. No one looked at me as a previous user. They looked at me for the person I am today.”
Kelly had reviewed several programs in the Pittsburgh area before choosing AHN’s Perinatal Hope Program.
“I had heard how good the program was — and my first visit was wonderful. The team greeted us and involved my whole family in the process.”
Kelly lives 45 minutes from Jefferson Hospital, but said the services and support are worth the drive. Dealing with several autoimmune issues, Kelly needed to see a rheumatologist and gastroenterologist during her pregnancy — and the care team coordinated all of her appointments to make it easier.
When it was time to welcome her daughter, Kelly recalls that it was far better than her other deliveries.
“Overall, it was just the best experience. I wasn’t medicated during my delivery, and the team was so calm and loving throughout the process. My midwife was exceptional, talking me through the whole thing and including my family when need be.”
After delivering her daughter, Kelly received comprehensive care and support from the Jefferson Hospital team. They helped her recover, aided with skin-to-skin cuddling, and consulted on breastfeeding.
“I really recommend the Perinatal Hope Program to anyone who is struggling,” said Kelly. “Recovery is so hard to manage on your own. When I looked at other places, the care stopped at delivery. But not at Jefferson. You get ongoing care and group support. I feel accountable to stay strong.”
Bridgette thrives with judgement-free support.
After Bridgette’s best friend went through the Perinatal Hope Program, she reached out to get help herself.
“On my first visit, the team really gave me hope. They could sense I was nervous and quickly reassured me.”
When it was time to deliver, Bridgette was in labor for two days. She felt calm in Jefferson Hospital’s roomy birthing suites and the personable, kind, and accommodating staff there.
“After I delivered, I was exhausted. I didn’t sleep or eat. It all felt a bit overwhelming, but it was comforting to know the midwives were there to help”
Now, Bridgette goes to Perinatal Hope’s support groups every two weeks. The lactation group has helped her with breastfeeding, and she loves that she can be open and honest with the other moms.
“I love it. No one judges me, and the other women are really positive. I don’t feel like I have to hold anything back and can ask any questions I have. It’s a really supportive program for anyone who needs it.”
Shannon discovers a program with support she can rely on.
“I tried other perinatal programs in the Pittsburgh area, but they didn’t work for me,” Shannon remarked. “Then, I saw positive online reviews for Jefferson’s program, so I checked it out. Everyone was super nice, very welcoming, and not judgmental at all.”
Shannon was able to get all her questions answered, and remembers that “the providers would help with anything I’d ask them for.”
While Shannon did experience preeclampsia — a high-blood-pressure pregnancy complication — she says the midwives at Jefferson Hospital got her through it. The team checked in with her a lot, and her delivery went well. After her daughter arrived, Shannon did experience postpartum depression and turned to the Perinatal Hope program for help.
“The program saved my life. After trying others, I was so happy to stumble upon this one. People actually care about you and don’t judge you at all. They’ve truly helped me in all aspects of my life.”
More on AHN’s Perinatal Hope Program
The Perinatal Hope team is here to do what’s best for moms and babies within a safe, judgement-free space.
With support from POWER — Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery — moms learn within a group setting how to get and stay clean. At the same time, they receive OB-GYN care to monitor their pregnancy. To ease drug withdrawal symptoms, the team can provide medication-assisted treatment or refer moms to a methadone clinic, if needed.
Moms also learn from experts on breastfeeding, infant safety, family planning, and healthy lifestyle choices. And, they’ll be matched with a peer mentor for extra support.
As moms prepare to welcome their little one, they’re in exceptional hands. AHN’s pregnancy and newborn services provide the highest levels of care to mom and baby. After delivering, moms are connected to counseling services, primary care doctors, and pediatricians to keep themselves and their babies healthy.
Hope begins the moment you ask for help.
The Perinatal Hope Program is here to help. No judgement. Promise.
* NIH (National Institute on Drug Abuse) https://www.drugabuse.gov/opioid-summariesby-state/pennsylvania-opioid-summary