No Pain, No Gain: Pain Medication In the Birthing Unit After the Baby

What medication should you take for pain after your baby's born? Ask your caregiver for recommendations. Image by ezran

What medication should you take for pain after your baby’s born? Ask your caregiver for recommendations. Image by ezran

Pain is a word no one likes. No one asks to be in pain, and when you’re hurting, you want it to go away. Pain comes in many forms, physical and emotional – as humans, we are happiest when we are comfortable and pain-free.

When you’re in labor, your experiencing acute severe pain – and some of the pain sticks around, even after you have your baby – so how do you make sure you’re getting your meds on time and when you need them, and what do you do if your nurse seems too busy to get you a pain pill?

PRN: Managing As-Needed Medication

Most pain medication, no matter where you are a patient, is on a PRN basis. PRN, short for pro re nata, the latin term for ‘as occasion arises,’ in the medical world means ‘as needed.’ Typical oral pain medication takes 30-60 minutes to take effect, or peak effectiveness, so as a patient, it is your job to note when you are starting to hurt slightly, this will help you manage your pain better.

Ask for your pain medication when your nurse is doing your assessment after labor. That is the quickest way to receive your medications, because she mostly will be filling your water pitcher at that time. Ask when your next dose will be and remind yourself or someone in your birth team to ask for the next dose when it starts to get close to time.

Patient satisfaction is always the goal for nurses – we don’t want our patients in pain, although we do expect you to have some pain, particularly if you have episiotomy stitches, or just underwent a cesarean section. A lot of people think they need to be a “hero” and refuse pain medication after having their baby, but oftentimes, all this does is make you miserable. Just make sure your nurse knows whether you’re breastfeeding, since that will affect which medications you get.

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Post-Labor: What Medications Will You Get?

Most physicians will order a nonnarcotic like ibuprofen for pain, as well as something like Vicodin or Percocet if you need it for more severe pain after you have your baby. I tell my patients who are afraid to take pain medication because they never have taken any pain medication before, to start with Motrin because that doesn’t make you feel “funny.”

Narcotics and nonnarcotics work in different ways. Motrin helps “muscle” pain, which is pain like cramping, or from swelling. Narcotics like the Vicodin or Percocet work well for the kind of pain you get when you have an incision or stitches. Tell your nurse what kind of pain you are having, and she can help you decide on the correct medication for optimal relief.

Pain Relief After You Have Your Baby

As caregivers, our goal is patient satisfaction – and we know you’re happiest with no pain, so we want you comfortable. Stay on your nurse for your pain medicine, and you will be a satisfied patient.

Better Health Channel. Pain Management in Adults. (2011). Accessed May 1, 2013.

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