Health

Nearly 50% of new moms are prescribed opioids before or after birth, study finds

Over the last 10 years, almost 50% of new moms in the U.S. have been prescribed opioids, finds a new study.

What’s more, research found that 1 in 75 of new mothers were still taking opioids a year later.

Nearly 50% of new moms are prescribed opioids before or after birth, study finds

50% of new moms are prescribed opioids before or after giving birth

Researchers from the University of Michigan looked at the medical records of more than 300,000 women who had given birth between 2008 and 2016.

They found that women who had undergone a C-section (75%) were more likely to have an opioid prescription after birth compared to those who gave birth vaginally (25%).

Nearly 50% of new moms are prescribed opioids before or after birth, study finds

However, they did find that the prescriptions for this pain relief did decline over the weeks and months following delivery for moms who had given birth by C-section and vaginal delivery.

“Overall, we see rates of opioid persistence higher than previously documented for women having C-sections, at about two percent,” said lead author Alex Peahl, M.D.

“For women who delivered vaginally, one-quarter received opioid prescriptions, although current guidelines call for a step-wise approach to pain management, starting with non-narcotic medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

“One percent of vaginal birth mothers were still receiving opioids months later.”

The study also found that women who gave birth in their teens or early 20s, especially with mental health issues at the time of birth, had higher rates of persistence of using opioids.

This research highlights the ongoing support new moms may need after birth and help with pain management.

Peahl’s advice to new moms: “Pain after birth is like a mountain: once you’re at the peak, it is harder to get down.

“Using non-narcotic pain medications before opioids can help better manage your pain by preventing you from reaching that peak.” 

More about prescription opioids

Nearly 50% of new moms are prescribed opioids before or after birth, study finds

Prescription opioids are painkillers often used for pain after an injury or after giving birth.

Using opioids during pregnancy could cause potential birth defects in some cases.

If you’re using prescription opioids for pain relief with your doctor’s supervision, you can breastfeed depending the type of medicine you take.

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