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Looking back at my first pregnancy, my husband and I did not have a plan for labor, delivery or recovery. I thought that I would deliver without medication, and that went right out the window as soon as the pain began. My labor was challenging but our healthy son was born and my recovery began. During recovery I began to realize that I had no idea how my body would heal or if I would be in pain. Upon packing my things to go home, I was given a prescription for pain medication. My nurse told me that I may not need it, but it was there just in case. When I asked about the medication I was surprised that I was prescribed an opioid. I didn’t feel that I needed anything that strong and I never filled the prescription.
What is an Opioid?
An opioid is a drug that uses a form of opiate (derived from opium) as the active ingredient. Although opioids are effective for managing pain, there are also numerous side effects including risk of addiction when used.
During my post-partum recovery I was unaware that I had choices to help manage my pain. Instead of taking an opioid I opted to take nothing at all. In hindsight I would have preferred to take a non-opioid to manage my pain. Childbirth can be complicated and even the best laid plans can change quickly. Mamas that have experienced an unplanned C-section (Cesearean), have a longer recovery period that Mamas that deliver vaginally. A C-section is major surgery and women experience different amounts of pain once they are at home. A recent survey states that opioids are prescribed to 51% of women that have a C-section*.
Voice your Choice
The above mentioned survey also found that women are concerned about taking opioids after delivering a child. Top reasons for concern are how opioids will affect breastfeeding and side effects to mamas*. We can share our concerns for our health and the health of our babies with our OBGYN. If you don’t know what questions to ask or where to begin the conversation I suggest using this planning guide. Being prepared doesn’t mean that your birth experience will be without challenges. But what a relief to know that despite the challenges, you have a plan to manage your pain. Because the last thing you want on your mind is pain medication, your baby, your body and your family are changing in the best way, don’t let pain medication get in the way.