Our very own OB/GYN at Retreat at Lancaster County treats pregnant women up to 32 weeks’ gestation who have a history of substance abuse. From medical detox to specially-tailored care regimens, Dr. Kristi Dively, DO, has treated dozens of pregnant women at Retreat.
We asked Dr. Dively to answer a few questions about her experience, how she helps these patients, and why it’s so crucial to support these women in their journeys to starting their own families.
Tell us about your journey to becoming an OB/GYN.
I went to medical school at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, PA. I didn’t plan to be an OB/GYN. I thought I would be a family doctor, but I fell in love with obstetrics during my rotation.
When most people think of OB/GYN’s, they don’t think of substance abuse treatment. Why is your job such an important one for expecting moms?
There are many pregnant women who are abusing substances, but people aren’t screening for it and treating it. Women who enter treatment while pregnant have better-than-average recovery rates, so getting them into treatment while pregnant is helpful.
How widespread are substance abuse disorders among expecting moms?
According to data published by the National Library of Medicine, as many as 5.9% of pregnant women abuse substances, and 8.5% drink alcohol.
If you’re an expecting mom battling addiction, what are the risks of carrying a baby to term or delivering a child without seeking treatment?
Babies of moms who abuse alcohol or benzodiazepines are at high risk for birth defects. Babies of moms who abuse opiates are at risk for being born with a dependence on opiates and requiring the baby to go through withdrawal. As far as risks for mom, it’s everything that we have seen can accompany substance abuse: Prostitution, partner violence, infection from the injection site, and more.
What are some of the most common fears that expecting moms have about admitting a substance abuse problem? How do you enable them overcome shame or remorse to admit they need help?
The biggest fear that most women have is that, if they seek treatment, their baby will be taken away from them. In fact, entering treatment makes it less likely that they will lose their baby to the authorities, so I try to make moms understand that they are not alone. There are other pregnant women battling substance use disorders and, by entering treatment, these moms are doing the right thing for their babies and their own futures.
Retreat is an industry leader in prenatal substance abuse treatment. What aspects of our specialized treatment regime for expecting moms make our program unique?
Retreat accepts pregnant patients up to 32 weeks and coordinates care with local OB/GYNs and local high risk OB doctors in order to provide comprehensive care for women battling a substance use disorder while pregnant.
What’s the most satisfying part of your work?
I have several patients who have been through the program at Retreat and now have more than a year sober with a happy, healthy child. That’s the reason we do this.