A unique aspect of CARE Plus is that it includes a focus on mother-child attachment, which happens when a mother bonds with her child through holding the baby and having skin-to-skin contact.
There is evidence to show maternal-infant attachment can help babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome improve faster. Through the CARE Plus program, a therapist and community health worker will spend time with mothers to teach them how to care for themselves and their babies. This includes teaching how to attach to their babies.
In the first stages of life, it is important for newborns to be held and have skin-to-skin contact with their mothers. A therapist may even model what that contact should look like and show the mother how to hold her baby. The therapist will also encourage the mother to hold her baby often and continue to work with her for several sessions, if a participant prefers.
Attachment can be challenging for mothers of babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome, because some symptoms include a rigid body, which could make it seem like the baby is pushing away from the mother. Mothers may also feel like the baby does not want to be held if they continue crying. However, the therapist will work with mothers so they know these are normal symptoms and they should continue to hold and attach to their baby.
Support at Home
Once mom and baby are ready to leave the hospital, the team will meet with the mother wherever she prefers. The community health worker will continue encouraging parents to attach to their babies while at home along with assisting caregivers with getting resources they need to care for themselves and their babies.