Postpartum nurses' experience caring for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome

Jaspreet Loyal, Victoria N. Nguyen, Doreen Picagli, Amy Petrucelli, Elizabeth O'Mara, Matthew R. Grossman, Eve Colson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: In previous years, otherwise healthy infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in our hospital were transferred to the NICU and frequently treated with medication. Currently, infants with NAS room-in with their mothers and rarely require medication. We sought to understand the lived experience of nurses on maternity and well-newborn units caring for infants with NAS. Methods: We conducted focus groups of registered nurses on postpartum units at 2 hospitals using qualitative methodology. Themes were identified through consensus, and the focus groups were stopped when no new themes were identified. Results: Seventeen postpartum nurses participated in 5 focus groups. The following major themes emerged: (1) managing the expectations of parents of newborns with NAS, (2) current NAS protocol (positive aspects of rooming-in and challenges with withdrawal scoring tool), (3) inconsistencies in care and communication, (4) perceived increase in nursing workload on the postpartum unit, and (5) nurses' emotional response to the care of infants with NAS. Conclusions: We highlight the perspectives of nursing staff on the well-newborn unit who were previously unaccustomed to caring for infants with NAS. With increasing numbers of infants with NAS and longer stays on the well-newborn unit, hospitals must prepare to better support staff and implement protocols that offer consistency in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-607
Number of pages7
JournalHospital Pediatrics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019


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