When pregnant women who use substances are asked to identify what is helpful for them in their interactions with service providers, here is what they say helps. Helpful service providers do:

  • give practical information—easy-to-manage advice or ideas that are realistic to the issues encountered by women who use substances
  • avoid scare tactics—factual,  non-judgmental information that neither heightens nor minimizes concerns a woman might have
  • provide practical supports—these are invaluable ways to support women to implement advice or information, such as a drive to enable a woman to get to a referral appointment made on her behalf
  • show empathy—a service provider who listens, doesn’t tell, who doesn’t jump to solutions but lets a woman tell her story, who doesn’t shame or blame
  • make good referrals—a service provider who is knowledgeable about community services and lets a woman know about them in a timely and confidential manner 

Audio Transcription:

“It was helpful when they understood where we were coming from, when they knew more about our situations, and when they were able to direct me to the proper places to go for help.”

  • take a holistic approach—a service provider who doesn’t deal with one issue in isolation but who recognizes the links between substance use and other life events
  • honour the woman—a service provider who expresses interest in and support for the woman as a woman, not only as a woman who is pregnant 

Audio Transcription:

“Supportive and enlightened people were helpful because they treated me with respect even though I was young.”