#063 Dr. Nancy Poole: FASD Prevention - More than Awareness

fasd success show Apr 25, 2021

What do you think prevents people from getting the message about no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy? Do you think it is even possible to prevent FASD? Why do we support individuals with FASD but not moms? What about messages geared only to women?

These are questions I get answers to with today’s guest, Dr. Nancy Poole, who talks about the 4 Part FASD Prevention Model she was part of developing.

Nancy is the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, a research and knowledge exchange centre hosted by BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre in Vancouver and is the Prevention Lead for the CanFASD Research Network. She has published over 125 academic papers, book chapters and technical reports over the past decade, and co-edited five books. She has a doctorate in education and recently was awarded a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) by the Justice Institute of BC in recognition of her contributions to women’s health, including trauma-informed practice and the treatment of substance use and addiction. 

Guests are rare where you are not going to hear much of me. But this is one. The stories and knowledge that Dr. Poole weaves in this interview about why the current one-step method of prevention is just not working speaks for itself. There is a lot here, but it is user-friendly so that you can apply it in conversations or advocacy with family, friends, professionals, and others.  

When I started in this field, I realized most people thought if you just made a pamphlet or a poster, that if you just make people aware of the problem, then they would just change. That is only a very small piece of the story. I felt if we could map out all the pieces that are needed and if we could get all the people that are needed interested in those pieces to see how they could synchronize their efforts, we would have such a better chance in preventing FASD.

We talk about that history of awareness, the transformation from those “poor children and bad moms” to how intertwining Nancy’s research on addictions with FASD resulted in the 4 Step FASD Prevention Model, as well as:  

  • How women may not feel safe to discuss alcohol use. How bringing evidence-based information to service providers empowers them to talk to the women they serve.  
  • The deep-rooted and sometimes generational trauma histories for women, mommy-wine culture, and the collective responsibility partners and the community have in supporting pregnancy wellness pre and post nine months.  
  • The importance of eliminating as many stressors as possible but starting where women are at and not where we what them to be.  
  • Why working with allied professionals and moving into supporting diagnosis and intervention will do more than just a prevention-based model.  

I think the idea of wrapping care around women who have these more complex needs makes a lot of sense. It makes it less like you have a lot of problems to we just want to support you and your baby to be as healthy as possible. Come at it with kindness and compassion, rather than bad or willful behaviours.  

We all know how difficult it is to change behaviour but adding addiction complicates things even more. That is why a multi-level approach works. We need to provide wrap-around services to moms and families as much as we do to children. Nancy also speaks to her admiration and work with birth moms and the importance for them to be free to “move forward without feeling for the rest of their lives they have to hide in the corner, but instead be part of the story with us."

What an incredible conversation. Dr. Poole’s work impacted my own life with the pregnancy for Tara and me. I hope it empowers you as caregivers, advocates, and birth moms. Let me know if you are as moved by Dr. Poole and her work as I have been and continue to be.

Show Notes:

The Co-Creating Evidence Evaluation Project | Centre of Excellence for Women's Health 

4 Part FASD Prevention Model (CanFASD) 

FASD Caregiver Success Facebook Group


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