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Postpartum Pain Management

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000002683
ACOG COMMITTEE OPINION: PDF Only

ABSTRACT: Pain and fatigue are the most common problems reported by women in the early postpartum period. Pain can interfere with a woman's ability to care for herself and her infant. Untreated pain is associated with a risk of greater opioid use, postpartum depression, and development of persistent pain. Nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic therapies are important components of postpartum pain management. Because 81% of women in the United States initiate breastfeeding during the postpartum period, it is important to consider the drug effects of all prescribed medications on the mother–infant dyad. Multimodal analgesia uses drugs that have different mechanisms of action, which potentiates the analgesic effect. If opioids are included, a multimodal regimen used in a stepwise approach allows for administration of lower doses of opioids. Given interindividual variation in metabolism of opioids, as well as the risk of maternal and neonatal adverse effects in women who are ultra-rapid metabolizers of codeine, monitoring for excessive sedation and other adverse effects in infants is prudent for women who are prescribed opiates. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendations underscore the need for anticipatory guidance regarding opioid effects in all patients, obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers should ensure that the application of this guidance does not interfere with pain control or disrupt breastfeeding during the postpartum period. Women with opioid use disorder, women who have chronic pain, and women who are using other medications or substances that may increase sedation need additional support in managing postpartum pain.

Published online on May 18, 2018.

Number 742

Committee on Obstetric Practice

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine; the American College of Nurse-Midwives; the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses; the Society for Maternal–Fetal Medicine; the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology; and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada endorse this document. This Committee Opinion was developed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Obstetric Practice, in collaboration with the American College of Nurse-Midwives liaison member Tekoa L. King, CNM, MPH; American Academy of Family Physicians liaison member Beth Choby, MD; and committee member Yasser Y. El-Sayed, MD.

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Postpartum pain management. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 742. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2018;132. DOI: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000002683. Epub 2018 May 18.

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