Challenges for midwives: Pregnant women and illicit drug use.

Maureen Miles, Karen Francis, Ysanne Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Objective The purpose of the paper is to introduce illicit drug use as a societal problem and describes the response of the Australian Government. Specifically the paper examines the use of illicit drugs by pregnant women and the role of midwives in supporting these women throughout pregnancy and birth. Setting Maternity services, specifically antenatal care clinics. Conclusion In Australia the rate of pregnant women who use illicit drugs is escalating. These pregnancies are high obstetric risk with potential for harm to both the mother and the baby. Pregnancy however is seen as 'window of opportunity'; a time to provide education, choices and support. The literature describes that for health professionals working with pregnant women who are illicit drug users is challenging and for some health professionals their interaction can be negative. Australia advocates harm minimisation and encourages harm reduction strategies. Midwives are in a position to implement these strategies within the maternity setting. Further research is recommended as well as professional development programs for midwives to upgrade knowledge and cultivate engagement skills to enable appropriate and positive interaction with pregnant women who use illicit drugs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-90
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Journal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

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