After the birth of your baby, you may be issued a prescription for pain medication. Pain medication is not always necessary, however if you have a cesarean section delivery, an episiotomy, a laceration (tearing) of the perineum or other complication, you may need pain medication.
Even if you are given a prescription, you should take over-the-counter ibuprofen. If you are unable to take ibuprofen due to allergies or other health issues, talk to your doctor. Ibuprofen is safe to take when breastfeeding. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory and will help reduce swelling. It will also help relieve pain without causing constipation. Constipation is a common side effect of prescription pain medications.
Prescription Pain Medication and Stool Softener
If you are taking prescription pain medication, you should also use a stool softener. Colace (a common stool softener) is available over-the-counter, without a prescription, and is safe to use even when breastfeeding.
When taking prescription pain medication (such as Norco, Percocet, or Tylenol with Codeine), you should also take ibuprofen. Typically, the instructions for prescription pain medication will state “take 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours as needed.” If you are able to do so, we would suggest taking your prescription pain medication every 6 hours. You should also take 600mg of Ibuprofen every six hours. When using prescription pain medication and Ibuprofen, we suggest that you stagger the two medications.
For example: Take your prescription pain medication, then wait three hours and take your Ibuprofen. In another three hours, you can repeat the prescription pain medication (it will have been six hours from your original dose).
Alternating your medications like this will give you better pain management without having to take as much prescription pain medication, thereby limiting the number of side effects (like constipation) you may experience.
Minimizing Medication Transfer during Nursing
If you are nursing, you can minimize the amount of narcotic pain medication that gets to your baby by taking your pain medication immediately after nursing. The medication is highest in your bloodstream 30 minutes to 1 hour after taking the pills.
Prepare Before Delivery
Before you have your baby, it would be appropriate to pick up the following items at your drugstore so you will have them on hand when needed:
- A bottle of Colace Stool Softener
- A bottle of ibuprofen 200mg (tablets or capsules)