Pregnant women and health providers are very concerned about the effects of prenatal opioid use on the health of a developing fetus.
The vast case studies conducted on opioids use and pregnant women so far lack satisfactory results. Without conclusive research, doctors usually weigh the benefits and risks when they prescribe opioids for pregnant women.
The decision to prescribe opioids to an expectant woman and a physician should involve a highly personalized discussion. Such conversations should evaluate and weigh the risks of opioids against the required pain relief.
However, only in severe cases of refractory pain that impairs normal functions of the body can a doctor consider prescribing a safe opioid drug while closely monitoring the patient. In some cases, physicians may also prescribe opioids to pregnant women with opioid use disorder (OUD).
Standard drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine are appropriate medications for opioid use disorder. In such circumstances, these drugs treat addiction, suppress cravings, and reduce the risks of illicit opioids both for pregnant women and the fetuses’ health.
Potential Risks for Pregnant Women
Pregnant women face the following increased risks when they use opioid:
- poor birth results
- growth restriction
- congenital disabilities
- preterm labor
- exposure to blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis C
Another severe risk includes neonatal abstinence syndrome, which may result due to the unexpected absence of opioids from the maternal blood supply after delivery. Its symptoms may be highly variable and occur in the first few days after birth, such as irritability, crying, and poor feeding. Additionally, it can become more severe or extend to long periods, which requires medications and more invasive intervention to treat it.
Pregnancy and Pain Management
In some medical circumstances, pregnant women might require pain management plans. For instance, some conditions such as gallbladder surgery, appendectomy, kidney stones, or preterm labor may require opioids prescriptions. The reason is due to the nature of discomfort associated with these conditions requires advanced pain medications.
Moreover, some popular pain management drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen are unsafe during pregnancy because they have potential risks to the fetus.
Without these medications, pregnant women have very fewer options for managing pain. Therefore, adequately controlling the pain of expectant mothers is a crucial factor to consider while addressing acute medical conditions.
While many researchers are working hard to understand the extent and impact of opioid prescriptions during pregnancy, there is still a gap for them to realize the effect of these drugs on women, including the future opioid use.
Final Thoughts from the Recover
Currently, research is not detailed on whether or not some opioids prescriptions are safe for pregnancy. Therefore, pregnant women and their medical professionals need to decide on the appropriate pain management plan and the health of an unborn baby before prescribing opioids.
Also, expectant women with opioid use disorder should seek help from professional health providers who can prescribe essential drugs to manage their addiction.
Besides, if you need more advice as a pregnant mother who is struggling with pain or addiction, ensure to check a list of rehab centers near you for support regarding your needs.