Feeding Infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: Finding the Sweet Spot

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Abstract

Purpose:

The purpose of this study is to learn how caregivers who are expert in feeding infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) successfully feed these infants during withdrawal.

Design/Sample:

Focus group methodology was used to gather information from self-identified experts from three large regional NICUs. Twelve NICU nurses and speech therapists participated in open-ended, recorded discussions. Detailed flip chart notes were taken, reviewed, and verified by the participants before the group ended.

Results:

Four major themes emerged verified by the participants: (1) optimal medication management, (2) follow the baby's cues, (3) calm and comfortable, and (4) nurture the relationship. Participants reported using both common and creative techniques. Keeping the infant calm was crucial to being successful, as well as maintaining good control of withdrawal signs. Feeding the infant facing away from them to avoid eye contact was used, as well as vertical rocking, continuous butt patting, bundling, “shhing” sound, and a novel feeding position.

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