Let’s talk about pregnancy, birth, laboring and about…the pain! Today’s post is a little different from my usual lighthearted mom talk. Today we are going to chat about delivering a baby via C-section and the discussions I wish I had with my physician prior to delivery. This discussion being about pain management and delivery. Now before we go any further, let me remind you: I am not a medical provider, I have no medical education beyond my own research, everything in this post is either directly cited from Pacira BioSciences, Inc. or is of my own opinion. Please be sure to visit my disclosure page for additional details.
Now let’s get into it…
My last pregnancy was rough. I knew a few months in that this was going to be my last. It just seemed harder for me than previous pregnancies. I was lucky however; I did not experience any complications, nor was I considered at risk at any point. I was considered “of advanced maternal age,” but it is 2020, we are having babies at a later stage in our lives. But, I digress on that topic. This pregnancy was more uncomfortable for me than previously. During the pregnancy, I took medication for my heartburn because it became so severe. A majority of my maternity clothes, that I had stored and saved for this pregnancy, did not fit past the first trimester. The recovery was actually more difficult for me than previous pregnancies. The recovery pain was also very different from my previous experiences.
Going into the hospital on April 29, 2020 for a scheduled C-section should have been a routine at this point. Almost 1.3 million women deliver babies via C-section each year, making it the most common surgery performed in the United States. It was my third scheduled C-section after all. However, I was giving birth during a global pandemic, so temperature checks at the door while wearing masks was not the normal routine I was familiar with. I think because this was so “routine” for me, I neglected to look into my options with my physician regarding pain management and delivery.
Current and future Mama’s- listen up! We need to begin having conversations about non-opioid options with your physicians.
What I did NOT know:
After my C-section, I was given an opioid and ibuprofen to help manage my pain. I believed this was “standard” for pain management after a C-section. I hadn’t previously discussed any non-opioid options with my doctor and my doctor never asked about any non-opioid preferences. These were discussions that now, in hindsight, I wish I would’ve known more about.
For instance, I wish I would have known clinical trials showed that women who received EXPAREL® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension) to manage pain for their C-section used less opioids after surgery, were more satisfied with their pain management and went home sooner. EXPAREL provides long-lasting pain relief for the first few days after surgery, when pain is usually at its worst. It is injected into the surgical site by the doctor and works by numbing the area where the surgery was performed, unlike opioids, which affect your whole body.
When registering for this pregnancy, I researched all the new things. Looking at toys, car seats, strollers, cribs, etc. It was crazy how many things were new to me since my last pregnancy and the pregnancy before that. It never crossed my mind to look into pain management options, and based on some new research, it sounds like I’m not alone.
Women address several topics with their doctors prior to surgery but according to new research many (74%) miss the critical question – a conversation about non-opioids. In fact, nearly one-in-five women (19%) aren’t even aware that non-opioid treatments are an option for managing postsurgical pain.
A new program called Unlock Your X-Factor has been developed to allow patients to raise their expectations for what is possible when recovering from surgery – and that includes C-sections! Pregnant women should know there are a range of non-opioid medications available.
Almost all women (96%) ages 30-50 are anxious to return home and get back to their daily routine following surgery. Ummm, raise your hand if you were one of them. Cue me waving!
This is me on a conference call with headphones in my ear, holding a baby that would ONLY fall asleep if she was laying on my chest.
Not until my last C-section did I learn that although 84% of women admit to having concerns with taking opioids that 67% still took opioids to treat their pain after surgery.
Non-opioid options can represent a true X-Factor when utilized in a pain management plan by reducing opioids and their side effects – minimizing downtime after surgery. What’s more, 94% of surgeons agree that non-opioid pain management options can positively impact recovery and the ability to return to normal function following a surgery and 84% of surgeons believe non-opioids can effectively treat postsurgical pain.
So let’s recap, I am not a medical professional, I am a Mom of 3, I have experienced 3 scheduled C-sections. I want YOU to know about options that I did not know about. If you’re currently pregnant, thinking of getting pregnant or have a loved one with an upcoming surgery that requires pain management- talk to your physician. Have the conversation about your pain management options, because it’s important to know you do have them!
Important Safety Information
EXPAREL should not be used in obstetrical paracervical block anesthesia.
In studies where EXPAREL was injected into the wound, the most common side effects were nausea, constipation, and vomiting.
In studies where EXPAREL was injected near a nerve, the most common side effects were nausea, fever, and constipation.
EXPAREL is not recommended to be used in patients younger than 18 years old or in pregnant women.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have liver disease, since this may affect how the active ingredient (bupivacaine) in EXPAREL is eliminated from your body.
EXPAREL should not be injected into the spine, joints, or veins.
The active ingredient in EXPAREL:
● Can affect your nervous system and your cardiovascular system
● May cause an allergic reaction
● May cause damage if injected into your joints
● Can cause a rare blood disorder
For more information, please visit https://www.exparel.com/risks