Most expectant moms have a general idea of how they want the birthing process to go. For Caitlyn Marie Ricci, her ideal scenario didn't include multiple visits from child protective services — but that's what she got.
The New Jersey resident, who welcomed her first child on Oct. 2, tells Yahoo Life that her birthing experience started to go downhill on Oct.1. She arrived at the hospital for an induction and was asked to give a urine sample. "I thought absolutely nothing of it as I did not take any drugs and had nothing to worry about," Ricci says. But a few hours later, a nurse came into her room and told her that her urine sample had come back positive for opioids.
"She asked if I had eaten any poppy seeds recently and that's when I realized I had an everything bagel for breakfast that morning," Ricci recalls. "She said, 'We see this happen frequently, don't stress. We will test the baby's urine when he's born. As long as he's negative, there won't be any issues.'" Ricci says she was also told that as little as a teaspoon of poppy seeds is enough to show a false positive on a drug test.
Ricci's son was born the next night after 40 hours of labor that resulted in a C-section. At that point, she was told that her baby tested negative for opioids, but because she had tested positive, she would need to be reported to state officials. Ricci was also told someone from the state would come to interview her before she left the hospital.
"Feeling like we needed to comply, we said, 'That's fine,' because we genuinely have nothing to hide," Ricci says. She says she was interviewed by an official from child protective services less than 36 hours after giving birth and was told that the official would need to see her home before she could leave the hospital with her baby.
"My husband had to leave myself and our newborn at the hospital for this home check," Ricci says. "After seeing that we have a perfectly suitable home, [the official] told us he needed to come back again to physically see the baby in our home. We once again complied."
During that visit — which was less than 24 hours after Ricci got home from the hospital — she was told she would need to take another test and have someone physically observe her in the process. "Since then, we have not heard from anyone," Ricci says, adding that she's "assuming no news is good news in a situation like this."
Ricci shared her experience on TikTok, and several people in the comments said they had similar experiences. "I just had a nearly identical experience with my son's birth three weeks ago. It ruined so much for me it hurts," shared one new mom. "This exact thing happened to me! Straight traumatizing!!" another said.
Dallas-area doula Misty Gigler tells Yahoo Life that stories like Ricci's are exactly why she warns her clients to stay away from poppy seeds, particularly in the last four weeks of pregnancy. "The ramifications of testing positive could potentially get their baby taken away from them," she says.
"A lot of women don’t even know they are testing their blood for drugs upon admission into the hospital," Gigler says. "Funny, they will give you fentanyl while in labor but take your baby away if you ate poppy seeds."
Gigler is right — most women don't know that they're being tested for drugs when they visit a hospital to give birth. But women's health expert Dr. Jennifer Wider points out that drug testing is recommended by both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and American Society of Addiction Medicine. (Worth noting: ACOG recommends that testing be conducted with the mother's consent.)
"The purpose is to make sure women and their babies are given the best opportunity for optimal outcomes during and after pregnancy," Wider says. "Having said that, it's important to note that testing without consent was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2001, and the practice has been a source of controversy." (However, it's possible that information on this could be buried in paperwork that expectant mothers hastily sign when entering the hospital.)
Wider says that "eating poppy seeds on bagels or in muffins prior to a drug test is a known risk factor for a false positive opioid screen," pointing out that "poppy seeds can have trace amounts of opiates." There's also a risk of a faulty test that delivers a false positive, she says.
The only way to lower your risk of this happening is to avoid foods with poppy seeds in the later stages of your pregnancy, Wider says. "Maybe save a poppy seed muffin or everything bagel for your first meal after your baby is born," Dr. Christine Greves, an ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando, Fla., tells Yahoo Life.
It's important to point out that it's not just poppy seeds that can trigger a false positive drug test: One case report details how three pregnant women who were taking labetalol, a common medication to treat high blood pressure, tested positive for amphetamines. Greves stresses that these false positives don't happen all that often. But, if you're concerned, she says you can ask your health care provider if any medications you're on or foods you've been eating could potentially cause you to test positive for illicit drugs.
Ricci says the experience was "completely shocking." She adds, "While I'm glad these procedures are in place to make sure babies are safe, I think the OB offices need to do a better job at letting pregnant women know that this is something that can happen."
She also says the experience "made me feel like a bad mom, even though I knew I had done absolutely nothing wrong."
Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Get to know the who behind the hoo with Yahoo Life's newsletter. Sign up here.