Whether you have planned to have a cesarean, or "c-section," to birth your child, or you end up needing one to ensure your health and that of your baby, you're going to have some pain issues to manage afterward. And pain management can be tricky with a c-section, as you have a newborn to care for. If you're breastfeeding, that adds an extra layer of difficulty to the mix, as you can't take anything that will negatively impact the baby.
Nationwide in the U.S., almost one third -- 32.7 percent -- of babies are born via c-section. That makes it the most common surgical procedure, and the good news is that doctors have a lot of experience with follow-up care. Here's what you need to know:
Why is Pain Management for a C-Section So Important?
Because you'll be caring for a baby -- possibly as soon as they get you stitched up and into recovery -- you won't have the same time to rest completely and recover as most people undergoing surgery. If you start to struggle with pain, it will make infant care and breastfeeding more complicated. So it's important to stay on top of the pain and take prescribed medication before the pain gets bad.
Walking, as soon as you're given the go-ahead from your nurse, may actually help the pain by getting your system moving again, increasing blood flow and reducing common side effects like constipation.
How is Pain Managed During and After a C-Section?
Usually, your pain management will start when you receive your spinal or epidural. Your anesthesiologist will add morphine or a similar narcotic to the mix of medications you receive to alleviate any pain during the surgery.
Following the surgery, you may be given some control over pain medication delivered via an intravenous line, or IV. The maximum dose will be set, but you can choose any amount up to that point to control your pain. If an IV medication is not available, you'll be given a mild narcotic mixed with acetaminophen to take every few hours.
Once you are ready to leave the hospital, you'll be given a prescription for more pain medication, and you can also choose to take ibuprofen with that at home for pain relief. You may choose to take a reduced amount of the prescribed drug or eliminate it once you are feeling better. Talk to your doctor about the dosage and timing of your medication, and be sure to tell your doctor if you do not feel that your pain is under control.
Are Breastfed Babies Affected By Pain Medications?
While babies do get some of the medications you take through breast milk, it's more important that you manage your pain and can take care of your infant properly. Doctors typically prescribe medications that will not be too harsh for a newborn, which include a narcotic and acetaminophen.
However, some studies show that breastfeeding is more likely to be challenging following a c-section, which may be partly due to pain medications that make a baby more sleepy. In order to overcome this issue, ask to see a lactation consultant as soon as possible in the hospital. The lactation expert is familiar with some of the issues c-section moms go through and can help address them, getting you on the road to successful breastfeeding.
Don't hesitate to ask your partner, nurses and medical assistants for help in caring for your baby. You may have some issues holding the infant with a healing c-section incision, so make sure to get support and advice for managing feeding and care when you go home. To learn more, contact a company like Florida Personal Injury Physicians with any questions you have.