When it comes to pregnancy there can be a lot of aches and pains before and after giving birth. Opioids are prescribed in this case in order to help relieve women from pain. Although doctors are frequently prescribing opioids for pain, there are some things to take into consideration. Opioids are highly addictive. Many people can fall into an opioid addiction if they do not follow their prescription directions.
Unintentional Opioid Addiction
Falling into opioid addiction during pregnancy would have a lot of negative consequences. Before prescribing opioids to women who are pregnant, doctors should take into account the risks associated with taking opioids. Patients who are pregnant should also be made aware of these risks. Doctors should also consider contraceptive treatment and pregnancy testing as part of monitoring patients. Patients should also receive screening for substance use disorder. That way providers can be sure that patients do not have a substance abuse issue. If the patients end up having an abuse issue then they can receive an in-practice intervention by the provider. During this time the provider can refer them to the proper treatment center. At a qualified treatment center there can be an assessment of the patient and a plan can be made for how to treat the patient. It is important that addiction is detected as soon as possible.
Addiction can affect all areas of one’s life. From their job to relationships. Dealing with addiction while having a baby would be a big struggle for anyone. That is why it is so important that pregnant patients are monitored and told about the risks associated with opioids and pregnancy. These risks may include preterm delivery, low birth weight, and neonatal abstinence syndrome. Taking opioids may be a bigger decision than just getting rid of some pain. For some patients, it may be the wrong decision if they have a history of addiction in their family.
Opioids For Pain In Pregnancy
One of the times when a pregnant woman may want to take opioids is during her pregnancy for pain. Many medical professionals recommend opioids for acute pain in pregnancy. After letting the patient know of the risks associated with taking opioids, a patient should be free to decide whether they want them or not. The lowest effective dose of opioids should be prescribed. The prescription should last for no longer than three to seven days. It is important that patients do not develop a dependency on the drug. Medical professionals should be aware of signs showing dependency before prescribing opioids again.
There are some precautionary measures that can be taken when prescribing opioids during pregnancy. A high-risk obstetrics specialist can be consulted as well as a pain specialist. This is to better understand the condition of the patient. These specialists will be able to further assist a pregnant patient with pain issues. For those who are high risk when it comes to an overdose, it is important to consider prescribing naloxone. That way just in case overdose does happen it will not lead to a fatality. Patients should be educated about the risks of opioids and the importance of not sharing pills with others.
Giving birth is often a very painful experience. It is not uncommon for women to experience pain following birth. Opioids are often prescribed for patients who are in a lot of pain following giving birth. Opioids are a powerful substance that can relieve anything from severe to mild pain. However, there are many methods that provide pain relief with the least amount of maternal risk. It is important that women are provided with these options. A woman’s ability to care for her newborn should not be impacted by taking medication for her pain. Following giving birth women can also use nonpharmacologic methods. This includes things such as hot and cold pads and sitz baths. Patients should be made aware of these options before a doctor prescribes a medication, especially opioids. Other options for pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or acetaminophen. These are often enough for most women who experience mild to moderate pain following birth.
However, if opioids are necessary it is best to not use them for longer than 3 to 7 days. Any longer than that should be avoided. It would be awful for a nursing mother to become addicted to opioids by accident. Some patients start out feeling dependent on the drug. This leads them to not feel as good when they aren’t taking opioids. Over time this turns into an addiction.
An important part of postpartum care is nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic therapies. This should always be the first step in care for pain after pregnancy. This is routine for vaginal births and it is an important part of postpartum care. However, if a woman is having uncontrolled pain even after this first step, then prescription medication can come into play. The lowest dosage possible should be given to the patient and the prescription should not be very long. It is important that long-acting or extended-release opioids are avoided. The last thing that anyone would want to happen is for someone pregnant to develop an opioid addiction.
OPIOIDS AND ADDICTION
It is important that patients and their families are aware of the risks of taking opioids. The signs of addiction should be known to all these individuals. A woman needs to have a lot of energy and attention for her newborn. It would be terrible to deal with an addiction in the middle of all that. Those that have a family history of addiction should be extra cautious when taking opioids. They should let their doctor know about their family history as well.
If a patient does develop an addiction it is important that they are made aware of their options. There are many resources available. From treatment centers offering inpatient services to detox services. There should be plenty of education and care available nearby. A medical provider should be able to assess a patient and see the signs of addiction. It is important that when a patient is prescribed opioids that a medical provider is able to check for signs of addiction when they see them.
BREASTFEEDING AND MEDICATION
So how does medication work when a mother is breastfeeding? Medication can still be taken by moms that are breastfeeding. However, infants will be exposed to the medication if they are breastfeeding. Therefore, infants will be exposed to opioids if the mother is currently on an opioid prescription. It is important that mothers take medication following breastfeeding. That way there is more time in between when the drug is taken and when the mom breastfeeds again. This will overall minimize the amount of the drug that the baby intakes from breastfeeding.
If a mother is breastfeeding it is best to use other methods of pain relief first. That way the baby has exposure to less intense drugs. However, drugs such as aspirin should be avoided. Aspirin can last in a mother’s milk for 24 hours. That is a long time during which a mother would have to breastfeed. It is important that the mother feels comfortable in her decision to take medication while breastfeeding. A medical professional should be sure to discuss any questions or concerns with the patient. The patient should always be aware of her options and the other medications available to her.
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