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The Parent Partnership Unit

Babies born with any known exposure to opioids must undergo observation by a pediatrician for a minimum of five to seven days in the hospital. These babies may develop opioid withdrawal symptoms called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS puts newborns at risk for serious health problems that often require lengthy stays in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The Parent Partnership Unit (PPU) is an inpatient program at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital for babies who have been born with NAS. Visitation in the PPU is limited to one support person, to maintain a therapeutic atmosphere for the baby.

What the PPU Does

The goal of the PPU is to provide your newborn with outstanding care while you get the support you need to develop as a mother and recover from opioid addiction. The program supports you, your baby, and your family by allowing you to help care for your baby as they are being observed for signs of NAS. It will help you develop a deeper connection with your baby as you sharpen your skills as a new mother.

PPU Program Highlights

You and your baby will share a private room throughout your hospital stay. This quiet, serene atmosphere often can reduce your baby’s need for medication to treat NAS. You’ll be directly involved in your baby’s daily care, including feeding, changing diapers, cuddling, and soothing your baby.

As you develop a strong, healthy bond with your baby, daily education and self-care classes will help you learn how to better care for both your baby and yourself. We also will link you with valuable resources you’ll need after leaving the hospital. Peer specialists — mothers who are in recovery themselves — are available to provide you with encouragement and understanding.

Daily Education and Self-Care Sessions

As a PPU participant, you and one support person will engage in a variety of daily activities that include:

  • Breastfeeding
  • Baby care
  • Soothing techniques
  • Infant massage
  • Creating a safe environment
  • Developmental support
  • Mindfulness
  • Nutrition
  • Art
  • Accessing community resources

PPU Eligibility Requirements

You can take part in the PPU program if you:

  • Are actively enrolled in recovery care and received consistent methadone or buprenorphine during pregnancy through a licensed provider. (Confirmation is necessary through the clinic.)
  • Are an active participant in prenatal care and attended all your appointments. (Confirmation is necessary.)
  • Agree to actively care for your newborn while in the PPU, including feeding, diapering, bathing, and providing skin-to-skin touch.
  • Agree to attend and take part in the educational/self-care sessions held every day on the PPU.

Next Steps

If you are interested in the program, you must meet the eligibility requirements defined above and register during your third trimester, when you are 28 to 32 weeks pregnant. The PPU has limited space available. You will be assessed by a nurse prior to being registered as a PPU participant.

Contact Us

To register, contact Magee’s Pregnancy Recovery Center (PRC) at 412-641-1211.