Do you know someone who is pregnant, or who has had a cesarean section (C-section)? Did you talk about pain management with them? From my experiences, I bet their doctor hasn’t either. I have had two unplanned C-sections , and other planned surgeries in two different states: My doctors never talked to me about a pain management plan. Actually, they just prescribed and gave me medications with little to no information from my nurses either.
This post is my opinion and experiences, but I received this educational information and assisted from Moms Meet ( momsmeet.com) to use for my post. Compensation for creating this post was provided, and this page may contain affiliate links.
My first C-section was after a failed 4-day long induction and the pain I felt after surgery was debilitating. I had one side that felt like a hot knife would twist in my incision every time I looked at the clock wrong, let alone trying to move around. I had one nurse who was active in giving me pain pills that, exhaustively, I took. I had no idea I was prescribed opioids but they were to help me stay ahead of the pain. One nurse only came if I asked, which meant for two days I was never ahead of the pain, and when I did take the pills, I would fall asleep. I was a mess, and I had no idea how to advocate for myself.
For my second C-section I was adamant not to take “heavy” pills. This time I wanted just OTC medications, or maybe a little stronger. All medications have side effects, but I have been breastfeeding for almost three years, so what goes into my body and goes into my milk is SO important to me. I was not letting pain get ahead of me this time, but I still had no post surgical plan. I was walking 4.5 hours after my surgery and taking an extra strength NSAID. I did not want opioids, but turns out I was given them. I did not want to be limited in caring for BOTH of my children and having the same side effects. I took control but couldn’t tell you if the “heavy” medication they prescribed me was an opioid or not until I googled. My doctors, nurses, pharmacists – no one talked about the plan or educated me. This was my own doing and second mom choices if you will, and I chose to not use them as prescribed.
Pain management after giving birth
With the increasing concerns over opioid addiction in this country, it’s no wonder women have hesitations about taking these medications after birth, especially when their newborn is involved. In fact, the survey revealed that 53 percent of the women polled feared breastfeeding difficulties and the impact on their baby as the main reason they avoided opioid medications. – planagainstpain.com
After looking through the entire Plan Against Pain website, I learned more in 45 minutes than I did with combined 12-week recoveries from two very different C-sections. There are handouts to ask your doctor and help your pain management during and after giving birth, or other surgeries!
Your choices matter
I have now had four surgeries in my life. Not a single surgeon discussed how or why pain medications were given to me. The two that impacted me the most was over my concerns with my baby. I was falling asleep IN THE HOSPITAL holding/nursing my first son. I am purely LUCKY nothing happened to us because I could never keep my eyes open once the opioid hit my system, of course, paired with a baby who thought night time was for partying. Everyone is different and I should have known to ask more questions.
Pain management should be multimodal! While there are many different combinations of treatments that can go into a multimodal plan, the trend is to use non-opioid medications at the start of treatment to limit or eliminate your need for opioids, which may be associated with unwanted side effects that can impact the recovery process.
As a new first time mother, I really did not question my doctors or nurses. I just did as I was told. I was 27, I stood up for my clients every day as a social worker, and Developmental Disability Professional. As a patient? I just went with the flow.
Check out Plan Against Pain. There are treatment options, handouts to help you talk to your doctor to MAKE the plan, questions you can ask to make the perfect plan for you- and help you make choices if your pain management plan just so happens not to be working.
My spinal for my second C-section took almost a full hour to get. I was so determined not to go under general anesthesia and witness my baby’s birth, I let that man poke my spine so many times I LOST count, and my back showed the bruises and needle pokes for the full 6 weeks of recovery. I think sometimes my back hurt most vs. my C-section scar. I also injured myself picking up my 37-pound toddler in mom guilt and ended up needing more than just over the counter medication. Things are always in flux, and support in the home for women recovering from any surgery is SO important so having a plan for pain management should be a part of the program for recovery. I had help, to be clear I was stubborn in my choices, but also lucky I think this surgery was over all easier than the first in every aspect. I still had a GIANT bottle of opioid or narcotic classified medications. Women tend to be prescribed nearly 2x as many opioids as men after surgery. After checking out planagainstpain.com, I am still shocked this was not a part of either birth plan or any prenatal care. Let alone postpartum when I feel right away the conversations should be had.
“Women make most of the health care decisions for their families, and women are often the initial entryway into the healthcare system when they get pregnant and have a baby, so it’s up to us as women to really spread the word when it comes to education about narcotics. Certainly, we want to manage pain, but there are alternatives out there, and they are very viable alternatives.”
Please share to help spread the word about the Choices Matter campaign with your friends.
https://www.planagainstpain.com has incredible brochures, articles, and more to help anyone who could undergo surgery, especially women specific operations. 1 in 3 women from a survey they conducted had a C-section and 1 in 5 were unplanned. Planning for their pain management can be as simple as a few questions while building a birth plan. I wish I would have had this resource during both of my pregnancyies, I know it would have made a difference in how I stood up for my personal thoughts and concerns.
Why should we plan against pain, for #onelesspill? In my opinion pain should be well managed, but to encourage empowerment and conversation between providers, patients, caregivers, and family members is critical.