Why You Should Avoid Painkillers During Pregnancy
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Should women avoid painkillers during pregnancy? How dangerous are prescription opioids and painkillers abuse?
During pregnancy, women feel many emotions, but they also feel pain. It may not be safe to take painkillers, however. Prescription opioids and painkillers abuse are never safe, whether you're pregnant or not.
Pregnancy is one phase of a woman’s life wherein she feels different emotions, and that includes fear. For a mom-to-be, among your greatest fears is to lose your child while he or she is still inside your womb, or the possibility of ending up with a baby who has deformities, whether physically or mentally.
With these fears, you appear picky with the food you eat, the activities you do, and, of course, any medication you would undergo. When women are pregnant, they try to avoid getting sick for fear of how the illness or medicine will affect the baby. However, there are infirmities that can't be avoided with a surgical mask and rubber gloves, such as physical injury and chronic pain.
Effects on the Baby
Like most things the mother consumes, painkillers, especially the stronger ones, also can have an effect on the unborn child.
Among the effects believed to happen to the baby are the following:
- Heart disease. When a mother takes ibuprofen during pregnancy, she may have to deal with the possibility of her unborn child developing heart disease or, for boys, fertility problem. This may be due to low levels of amniotic fluid inside the womb due to consequent high blood pressure in the fetus’ lungs.
- Congenital diseases. As the baby develops inside the mother’s womb, taking painkillers—particularly the prescription ones or opioids—might not be a good option. The unborn baby can develop a congenital disease, such as spina bifida (an abnormality in the spine), hydrocephaly (the presence of too much liquid in the baby’s brain), and even glaucoma (when too much pressure in the eye causes loss of sight).
- Future fertility. Not the mother's fertility, but the child's. One study linked the use of painkillers—such as the commonly used paracetamol and ibuprofen—during pregnancy to fertility issues for the baby later in life by reducing the number of sperm and egg cells.
- Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. When the mother has used strong painkillers or opioids, the baby sometimes suffers from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), basically withdrawal symptoms because the baby has become dependent on the drug.
In addition to the effects on the baby, long-term painkillers abuse may result in severe negative consequences for the mother: respiratory depression, coma, or even death. That's a high price to pay for pain relief.
Natural Options to Deal with Pain
There are alternative pain relief methods you might want to consider that could allow you to give birth and see for yourself that your baby is perfectly fine.
- Cold compress. Applying a cold compress to the affected area is a drug-free way to relieve your aching muscles.
- Find time to rest. That baby inside your womb is getting bigger each day, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that muscle pain has become a part of your daily life. Take some time to rest and relax your muscles. Keep calm and talk to your baby, tell it how excited you are for its arrival. It could be a bonding experience.
- Holistic methods. Natural remedies aren't necessarily safe (check with your doctor before trying herbal medicines), but light exercises, yoga, physiotherapy for pelvic pain, deep breathing exercises, and massage therapy might be just what the doctor ordered.
Seek the advice of your doctor before you try any of these things.
Even with all these available natural options to try, you may still want to consider taking medicines to relieve the pain. There's no shame in that. Just make sure it is safe first.