Babywearing Reduces Urges to Use Substances in the Postpartum Period Among Mothers With OUDs

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Objectives: While pregnancy presents a strong motivation to seek and comply with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) treatment, the risk for relapse during the postpartum period is high. The purpose of the present study was to examine the impact of babywearing while admitted to the NICU on urges to use substances within 9 months of childbirth. Methods: Mothers with a history of OUD (N = 47, Mage = 28.91, SD = 5.14; 48.9% White, 19.1% Latinx) and their newborns were randomly assigned to the intervention (babywearing) or control (infant rocker) condition while admitted to a NICU. Interviews occurred every 3-months. Participants reported their strong desire or urge to use substances since the last interview. Approximately 68.1% had urges within 9 months. At 3 months, participants were categorized as: never babywore (0 h, N = 18), some babywearing (1–44 h, N = 13), consistent babywearing (45+ hours, i.e., minimum of 3.5 h per week, N = 16). Results: Condition X2(2, N = 47)=12.55, p < 0.001, Phi = 0.52 and babywearing category, X2(2, N = 47)=6.75, p = 0.034, Phi = 0.38 significantly predicted urges to use. Mothers in the intervention condition were more likely to report no urges to use: 56.5% had no urges (43.5% had urges) compared to 8.3% of control mothers (91.7% had urges). Mothers who consistently babywore had significantly fewer urges to use (43.8% had urges) compared to mothers who never babywore (83.3% had urges). Conclusions for Practice: There is a critical window to capitalize on mothers’ desire to abstain from substance use. Babywearing, and specifically babywearing at least 30 min a day, reduced urges to use substances post-partum, a factor associated with relapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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