Utah is the leading cause of opioid caused deaths in pregnant women.
The opioid crisis continues to be in effect and Utah is our number one offender. Experts believe that opioids have become such a huge problem because people convince themselves that opioids are not "drugs" since they are prescribed by a doctor. People are able to get that "high" while believing they aren't doing anything wrong. It's like a legal way to take drugs. Most opioid addiction starts out as a real need and then leads to individuals enjoying the feeling and continuing on their path.
Many pregnant women are getting prescribed opioids because there aren't many options for pain relief for women who are pregnant. After Tylenol, the next step is a narcotic, which is a huge leap. Pregnant women cannot take Ibuprofen due to its devastating side effects. So, in theory, opioids are actually safer than ibuprofen. However, narcotics should only be prescribed as a temporary solution and the patient should be taking as little as needed. Although some narcotics, such as hydrocodone, are considered category B drugs, they shouldn't be taken in an excessive amount. Pregnant women should also avoid taking them in the first trimester. It can cause birth defects.
A study shows that 1 out of 5 pregnant women across the United States are being prescribed opioids while pregnant or in their postpartum stage. Some of the reasons for the prescription include symptoms such as pelvic pain, backaches, and headaches. We're not here to say whether or not they should be prescribed the medication. Many women legitimately need narcotics while pregnant. Pregnant women are not immune to obtaining new medical conditions while pregnant and might require pain relief. For example, kidney stones, surgeries, and broken bones. However, in Utah the percentage of pregnant women getting prescribed opioids during, or shortly after pregnancy doubles. Therefore about 2 out of 5 pregnant women in Utah have been prescribed narcotics!
Although taking narcotics should be safe if you take responsibly and follow your doctor's direct orders, it can lead to drug dependency and addiction. In Utah, 26% of pregnancy deaths were drug-related. This is almost all due to issues of overdose. The worst offenders were those who recently gave birth. Many women who are given narcotics before pregnancy choose to stop their addiction now that they are pregnant. However, right when they deliver they are overwhelmed with all of the tasks of being a new mother and resort back to their old ways. The mother has, therefore, lost her "tolerance" for the drug and takes the amount she became accustomed to while she was addicted. It is then too much for her and she overdoses.
Taking opioids at high amounts and for extended periods of time can cause neonatal abstinence syndrome. A baby with NAS is born with opioid dependency and will have temporary withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, issues feeding, crying, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and trouble sleeping, which can last for days or weeks after birth. And although rare, taking opioids for extended periods of time can cause placental abruption, a condition in which the placenta separates from the uterus too soon which can cause painful symptoms to the mother, deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients, cause fetal growth problems, premature birth and, in some cases, death to the baby, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
All steps should be taken to not have to be taking opioid while pregnant. Of course, there are reasons to need pain relief during pregnancy, but women should consider different forms of pain relief while pregnant.