'Baby Steps' program helps expecting moms kick addiction

FLORENCE, Ky. -- Tasha Brown would tell you that it's a miracle where she is compared to a year ago.

"I had lost myself, definitely," she said. "And all I was worried about was getting the drugs. It was a mess."

Even when Brown found out she was pregnant, it was enough to make her stop using heroin at first.

Then, at a doctor appointment, a test came back positive for drugs.

"Right then, it was the decision to lie or tell the truth, and I just broke down and told the truth and said, 'Yeah, I need help. I want it bad,'" Brown recalled.

Help came in the form of the "Baby Steps" program at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Northern Kentucky. The program is designed to help addicted women.

Danielle Mathiew is a nurse liaison for Baby Steps. She said the women they work with have "been living in crisis mode" and time is of the essence when they're pregnant.

A baby exposed to opioids in utero can develop neo natal abstinence syndrome, causing numerous problems after birth. Hospital stays to help an infant withdraw after delivery can be long, so early intervention for moms-to-be is crucial.

That's where Mathiew and the rest of her team come in. They take care on the road, going to moms in need when they're needed. They can help with rehab placement, counseling, whatever it takes to give the woman a shot at recovery so she can be a mother to a healthy baby.

"My phone rings 24 hours a day," Mathiew said.

Brown said that round-the-clock availability to connect with help is what makes Baby Steps so powerful.

"It really helps to have people who are in your corner, and you're not just a number or another face in the crowd," she said. "You have a name. You're a somebody."

Brown said Mathiew and the crew still help keep her accountable and on track now, after having given birth.

Since January, Baby Steps has had 368 referrals.

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