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4th in Series: First-ever FASD Prevention Plenary at the 7th International Conference on FASD: PART 3

“Research on Reaching and Engaging Women and Children using Approaches that are Theory Based, and have an Equity Lens” – Janet Christie, Addiction Recovery Coach, Canada; Anne Russell of the Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders, Australia; Pippa Williams of UK and European Mothers Network-FASD; Margaret Leslie and Dr. Mary Motz of the Mothercraft/Breaking the Cycle, Canada

L to R: Janet Christie, Anne Russell, Pippa Williams, Margaret Leslie, Dr. Mary Motz with Dr. Nancy Poole, Prevention Plenary Co-Lead

One of the highlights of the first Plenary on Prevention at the 2017 International Conference on FASD, was the presentation on supporting women and families dealing with issues of alcohol and FASD.

Janet Christie, Anne Russell and Pippa Williams are three birth mothers who have created supports for women and families dealing with issues of alcohol or FASD. Their experiences have informed and are reflected in many reports and studies: that no woman intends to harm her child; that there are multiple and complex issues that affect women at risk for alcohol-exposed pregnancies; and, that fragmented and inflexible services make it difficult for women and families to get help.

Stigma is one of the biggest barriers affecting access to services. Addiction is still viewed by many as a moral failing rather than a public health issue. Meanwhile the alcohol industry normalizes and glamourizes drinking to women through targeted marketing campaigns. Women are often met with judgement and blame, and fear losing their children if they seek help for an addiction. As well, mothers whose children have FASD need support in dealing with their feelings of guilt and with parenting their children. Often women have complex and intersecting issues, including FASD, that affect their ability to accept support. While these three mothers/advocates are from different countries, they all identify these same issues, and call for programs with wrap-around services to support women and their families.

Margaret Leslie and Dr. Mary Motz then described such a program – Breaking the Cycle in Toronto and its mother-child study “Focus on Relationships”. Based upon well-researched attachment theory, the program focuses on the mother-child dyad during the pre- and post-partum period and on building trust, safety and relational capacity. Relationships extend to staff and service providers. Program efforts to develop collaborative relationships between child welfare, addiction recovery and mental health service agencies have successfully created an integrated and flexible program with the goal of supporting the whole family.

 

For more on these topics, see earlier posts:

The Mother-Child Study: Evaluating Treatments for Substance-Using Women, March 18, 2015
Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women Who Use Substances: What Communities are Doing to Help, October 1, 2012
Herway Home ‘One-Stop Access’ Program in Victoria Set to Open, May 20, 2012
“New Choices” for Pregnant and Parenting Women with Addictions, January 9, 2012
Toronto Centre for Substance Use in Pregnancy (T-CUP), December 19, 2011
Clinical Webcast on Breaking the Cycle Program: September 20, 2011, August 2, 2011
Why Would She Drink? Winnipeg Free Press Articles Explore Drinking during Pregnancy, April 4, 2011

For the last four years, HerWay Home in Victoria, BC, has been providing outreach, medical and social services to pregnant and parenting women with difficult lives in a one-stop supportive environment. On June 23 from 9:00-10:00 a.m. PST, there will be a free webinar to share the results of a first-phase evaluation of HerWay.

Deborah Rutman and Carol Hubberstey of Nota Bene Consulting, and Nancy Poole of BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health will discuss lessons learned and promising practices, and lead a discussion on working with pregnant and parenting women affected by substance use, violence and mental health issues. With its child-focused, women-centred and family focused approach, HerWay Home encourages positive parenting and healthy outcomes for children and women.

Click here for more information and register by June 20th at http://fluidsurveys.com/surveys/bccewh/herway-home-evaluation-webinar/

To learn more about HerWay home and similar programs, see these previous postings:

 

cbc mothering project

Manito Ikwe Kagiikwe (The Mothering Project), located at Mount Carmel Clinic in Winnipeg’s North End, provides prenatal care, parenting and child development support, group programming, advocacy, and addiction support for vulnerable pregnant women and new mothers.

CBC News interviewed Stephanie Wesley and Margaret Bryans about the program earlier this week. Bryans, a nurse and program manager at Manito Ikwe Kagiikwe, discusses the successes of the program since it first opened two years ago. The article focuses on the importance of supportive relationships and the value of a ‘focus on kindness’: “Women who are pregnant, who are using drugs and alcohol are one of the most stigmatized groups in our community.” (The Mothering Project aims to break cycle of addiction, CBC News, April 28, 2015).

MC_WebBanner_Mom

The program is a wonderful example of a integrated and holistic pregnancy program for women with addiction and related concerns. The program is based on principles of harm reduction. (Learn more about harm reduction and similar programs in this booklet, Harm Reduction and Pregnancy: Community-based Approaches to Prenatal Substance Use in Western Canada).

Since the program opened two years ago, 49 women have participated. Early evaluation findings show that, at the beginning of the program, 100% of women were actively using substances, 97% had never completed a substance use treatment program and 56% did not have a prenatal health care provider. Over the course of the program, 36% stopped using alcohol and drugs, 47% reduced their use, 39% attended an addiction treatment facility and 100% accessed prenatal care. Over half of mothers have been able to take their babies home with them from the hospital. Check out the infographic below for more.

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'Family Caregivers Unite! I VoiceAmerica

University of Calgary professor and Canada FASD Research Network member, Dorothy Badry, was interviewed in December 2014 on the live talk radio program Family Caregivers Unite!

The one hour episode, hosted by Dr. Gordon Atherley, focused on the topic of “Developing Services for Canadians Living with FASD.”

Dr. Badry discusses her earlier PhD work,  ‘Becoming a Birth Mother of a Child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome’, which reviewed the lives of 8 women aged 25 to 60 who gave birth to children diagnosed with FAS. She talks about her life, career, and her experience of family caregiving for close family members with serious health conditions.

Dr. Badry, drawing upon her experiences in the social work field, also discusses types of services provided for individuals with FASD and their families. She also touches on prevention issues such as increasing rates of binge drinking in youth, the Parent-Child Assistance Program, and the role of men in supporting women.

Dr. Badry is currently the co-chair of the Education and Training Council of the Alberta FASD Cross Ministry Committee and a member of the Prairie Child Welfare Consortium.

Listen to the interview here (via streaming, in iTunes or download the MP3).

One of her recent projects has been the development of the Caregiver Curriculum on FASD on the http://www.fasdchildwelfare.ca website.

Also check out this article on how Dr. Badry’s work is influencing work in indigenous communities in Australia: Canadian fetal alcohol programs inspire Australian researcher (November 26. 2014).

'Canadian fetal alcohol programs inspire Australian researcher I

 

 

The Price of Pregnancy for BC's Marginalized Moms

The Tyee, an independent online Canadian news magazine, published the first of a three part series today.

The Moms on the Margins series provides a glimpse into the challenges that inequalities in social determinants of health such as poverty, a lack of housing and education, structural and institutionalized forms of discrimination, racism and food insecurity, create for three groups of vulnerable mothers: moms involved in the criminal justice system, moms battling addiction, and moms giving birth in B.C. without the benefit of health insurance.

The first part exploring pregnancy and mothering issues for moms in prison was published today. Next Friday, the second part will look at the lives of substance-using mothers and pregnant women who face stigmatization and multiple barriers in accessing support and treatment.

A Win for Moms with Babies Behind Bars

Challenging-Drug-Prohibition_Mothering_Susan-Boyd_May-2014

Susan Boyd from the Centre for the Study of Gender, Social Inequalities and Mental Health at Simon Fraser University is hosting a critical dialogue about the intersections of drug prohibition, women, addiction, and the regulation of reproduction and mothering with some of the leaders in the field.

The public forum will be held Saturday, May 17th, 2014 from 9:30am – 5pm at SFU Harbour Centre in Vancouver, BC. View the flyer here. The event is free but registration is required.

Speakers include several members of the Canada FASD Research Network, including Marliss Taylor from the Streetworks program in Edmonton and Lenora Marcellus from the University of Victoria.

Overview: Four Levels of FASD Prevention

Information Sheet: What Men Can Do To Prevent FASD

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