Letters To The Editor

An either/or choice is not a good strategy for pain

Robert L. Barbieri, MD


An either/or choice is not a good strategy for pain

I found Dr. Barbieri’s editorial on postpartum opioid use and breastfeeding interesting, but one key issue was not addressed: Following this guidance means that new mothers have to choose between breastfeeding and pain control. You may explain to a patient with 2-day cesarean delivery pain, “If you take pain medicine while breastfeeding, it can adversely affect the baby. So we will give you acetaminophen.” While some moms will deal with it, others will stop breastfeeding. With the increasing pressure to advocate for breastfeeding, this strategy is likely not realistic.

R. Lee Toler, DO
Bolivia, North Carolina

My pain management protocol

While presently in an office-based setting, back in my inpatient practice days I would order oxycodone plus acetaminophen for 1 to 2 days postoperative cesarean delivery, and only 1 day after normal spontaneous delivery if the patient had a large perineal repair or multiparous involution pain. Otherwise, it was ibuprofen 800 mg, then 400 to 600 mg on discharge home.

Gabrielle Long, CNM
Mohegan Lake, New York

Respect women’s postsurgical pain management needs

There is a real disrespect for pain control for women, such as after a cesarean delivery. I would like to see any male have major surgery through a large muscle like the uterus and not need significant pain control options!

Anne V. Hale, MD
El Paso, Texas

Dr. Barbieri responds

I agree with Ms. Long that most postpartum patients, including many who have had a cesarean delivery, can achieve adequate pain control with the use of parenteral and oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and oral acetaminophen. Drs. Toler and Hale are concerned that postpartum pain control might be suboptimal if opioids are underprescribed. However, in many developed countries obstetricians do not use opioid pain medicine for postpartum pain management, relying on NSAIDs and acetaminophen. Given the success of this approach, I think we can significantly reduce the use of opioids by postpartum women in the United States by optimizing our use of nonopioid medications.

Share your thoughts! Send your Letter to the Editor to rbarbieri@frontlinemedcom.com. Please include your name and the city and state in which you practice.

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