One in 75 mothers are filling their opioid prescription a year after delivering their child.
Opioid users among pregnant women and mothers have increased substantially in the last 10 years. A study showed that over half of mother's received an opioid perscription to help with their recovery after labor. Many women needed the pain medication to help their recovery in case they had severe tearing or intense post-pregnancy cramping which is very common when the uterus is contracting while pregnancy. The uterus contracting after birth is completely normal and actually very healthy but can be very painful and be very similar to labor pains. Therefore doctors may prescribe their patient's narcotics.
According to the opioid study, 2 out of 100 mothers who received the medication after delivery were still filling their perscription a year after delivering their child. Women who were receiving opioid perscription were more likely to continue filling their perscription when their baby was one years old. In the last couple of years, the opioid crisis has become more apparent to health care professionals and they are trying to reduce the number of opioids that they are prescribing to their patients.
Doctors are learning that they shouldn't give their patients opioids if other medications are helping with the pain. New mothers shouldn't automatically be given strong pain medication if simple pain relievers do the job. Many women say that extra strength Ibuprofen is sufficient for their pain management. Women should try different methods of pain control before turning to opioids.
Experts say that non-opioid pain medication can help you get over your pain quickly and help you have a more speedy recovery. U-M obstetrician and health services researcher Alex Friedman Peahl, M.D. tells her birthing patients, "Pain after birth is like a mountain: once you're at the peak, it is harder to get down. Using non-narcotic pain medications before opioids can help better manage your pain by preventing you from reaching that peak." Using a narcotic might actually be doing more bad than good. And non-narcotics don't have the same addiction risks. Peahl says that if people are on narcotics to help with after birth pain should only need it for a couple of days. However, a percentage of women are filling their prescriptions months after they delivered their baby.