CHAMP Clinic

CHAMP Clinic is a specialised antenatal clinic within Mater Mothers' Hospital at South Brisbane that provides care to pregnant women with substance-use issues.

Our CHAMP Clinic assists pregnant women to makepositive changes to their drug-using behaviours. Staff have knowledge and experience of opioid replacement therapies, current treatment options for drug dependence, blood-borne viral infections (i.e. hepatitis C) and transmission risks, and can assist you in gaining skills to nurture and care for your baby.

In addition, staff can support women with mental illness and/or psychosocial problems and will advocate for pregnant women with special needs. Women can self-refer to this clinic.

Antenatal clinic advice

Maintaining a healthy pregnancy

This includes abstaining from alcohol and drugs, but also means you:

  • have regular antenatal check-ups
  • make sure you're getting enough nutrition and sleep
  • are getting plenty of rest and relaxation
  • make sure the prescribing doctor is aware of your pregnancy, if using prescribed medications
  • ask if over-the-counter medicines are safe to use in pregnancy.

Alcohol, tobacco and other substance use in pregnancy and breastfeeding

Drinking alcohol or using drugs while pregnant will expose an unborn baby to its effects. This may affect how your baby grows and develops during pregnancy, and may continue to impact on your baby after birth. This is influenced by a number of factors, including:

  • the type of drug (e.g. alcohol, cannabis) and the amount used
  • stage of pregnancy when substance is used
  • other health and lifestyle issues.

Stopping alcohol and drug use in pregnancy and providing a positive home environment will help to nurture your baby's growth and development.

Minimising risks

It is important that you and your partner:

  • stop smoking
  • ask family members and friends not to smoke around you
  • stop drinking alcohol
  • stop other substance use
  • for women on opioid replacement therapies, staying stable on medication and stopping all other recreational drug use is recommended.

It is also important to see a midwife and doctor regularly throughout your pregnancy to talk to them if there are are problems stopping drinking, smoking or substance use. These clinicians will be able to provide advice and information to assist.

In preparing for a baby and parenthood, it is important to surround yourself with family and friends who are supportive.

Having a baby at Mater

If you attend Mater's CHAMP Clinic you will have access to:

  • antenatal health checks with a midwife to help prepare you for birth
  • an obstetrician and medical team
  • health information and education
  • intervention of alcohol and drug use problems
  • support during your postnatal stay and for a short time after discharge, if needed
  • parenting information and advice
  • referral to other health and support services both within the hospital and community (i.e. social work services, child health clinics).

Frequently Asked Questions

I want to know more about substance use during pregnancy

It's important to understand the type of substance or drug used, as well as how much isued and how often. All of these factors will determine what possible effects may be had on your unborn baby. While complications can occur during pregnancy regarldess of substance use, women who consume alcohol while they're pregnant, or those who use other drugs such as cannabis/marijuana, amphetamine type stimulants or injectables, are at a higher risk.

How will substance use affect my unborn baby?

A lot is known about the adverse effects to unborn babies from alcohol and tobacco. But we are also starting to learn new information on the effects from illicit drug use during pregnancy too. You can visit our brochures website for more information.

What about prescribed medications?

If you are taking medications prescribed by a doctor for a medical or mental health condition, it is very important to le tyour doctor know that you are pregnant. Your doctor will provide you with information about the safety of using this medication in pregnancy and will work with you on managing your condition. This could include continuing on your current medication, changing to safer medication for pregnancy or may involve other management strategies.

If you are taking prescribed medications, we would advise regular review by your doctor during your pregnancy.

Is there a risk of my newborn baby withdrawing from my drug-use?

Any baby who was regularly exposed to substances (including some medications) while in utero, will need to be assessed by a neonatologist (baby doctor) for risk of developing neonatal withdrawals.

For women on opioid replacement therapies, we recommend you stay stable on your medication and stop all other recreational drug use. Unless there are other concerns, your baby will be admitted to the postnatal ward with you. You will be given information to help monitor your baby’s withdrawal symptoms and will be encouraged to provide most of the supportive care your baby might need.

Some babies require an admission into our Special Care Nursery for treatment. If your baby is discharged home on medication, staff will remain involved in your baby's care until the medication is stopped.

Is it okay to breastfeed?

There are many benefits to be gained from breastfeeding, for both mother and baby. We advise you to abstain from regular or binge-type drug use so that you can breastfeed your baby safely.

Planning ahead for your discharge from hospital

Early discharge planning ensures you are prepared for your baby’s arrival and have adequate support to help you care for your baby in the early postnatal period. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Building a strong relationship with your baby

All parents hope to build a strong, loving relationship with their baby. And all babies need a strong loving relationship with their parents. This relationship can be nurtured from early pregnancy. Remember you are the most important person in your baby’s life!

How partners can offer support and help

There are many ways partners can support you and form a close bond with your baby. Spending time with your baby togethrr, doing things like bathing, burping, changing nappies and cuddling will help them to get to know your baby.

Being baby safe

It is important to provide a smoke-free, drug-free and safe home environment for your family. It may be helpful to take advantage of available family support to ensure that you have plenty of help and adequate rest in those first few weeks after your baby’s birth.

Make a decision now, to not be intoxicated around your baby. It may be some time after your baby’s birth before you think about having a drink of alcohol or even having a night out. Before you do, STOP and think about who will care for your baby?

Plan ahead and ask a trusted family member or friend to babysit for the evening or overnight. Make sure that they know how to care for and respond to your baby, and they understand the importance of the safe sleeping guidelines when settling your baby to sleep.

Child safety concerns

Staff at CHAMP Clinic will identify and work with those women who present with child safety risk factors, such as homelessness, domestic violence or uncontrolled drug use.

For women who are involved with the Department of Communities—Child Safety, attending CHAMP Clinic for your antenatal care is seen as a positive step in working toward reducing child safety concerns. We offer support to you and your family in preparing for your baby’s birth and discharge home.

Contact details

The CHAMP Clinic can be contacted on 07 3163 2417 or [email protected]. We have also put together a list of helpful phone numbers of people who can help in times of stress. 

  • Child Health Line, 13 432 584
  • Australian Breastfeeding Association, 1800 686 286
  • Queensland Lactation Consultants, 07 3396 9718
  • Alcohol and Drug Information Service, 07 3837 5989 or 1800 177 833
  • Drug—Arm, 1300 656 800
  • Anglicare AMEND, 1300 114 397
  • QuIHN Women’s Circle, 07 3252 5390
  • Princess Alexandra Hospital’s Mental Health Service, 1300 858 998
  • Lifeline, 13 11 14

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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