Living with Chronic Pain

Parenting & Pregnancy

When living with a chronic pain condition, special considerations need to be taken when contemplating pregnancy, during pregnancy, and following pregnancy. Parenting while living with chronic pain can also be challenging.
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Women who are being treated with medication for chronic pain can still have a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women with chronic pain are often concerned about effective, safe pain control during pregnancy. When considering pregnancy, it is beneficial to consult an obstetrician/gynecologist who is experienced in treating chronic pain. A health care professional can address issues specific to the chronic pain condition and discuss medication safety. Women may also want to consult a health care provider or organization that specializes in medication safety during both pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Communication between a pregnant woman’s pain management doctor and obstetrician/gynecologist regarding pain medication management is essential. Treating pain during pregnancy is extremely important. According to an article published by the National Institutes of Health, “Chronic, severe pain that is ineffectively treated is associated with hypertension, anxiety, and depression — none of which is conducive to a healthy pregnancy.”

Pregnant women with chronic pain who are being treated with opioids are often very concerned about the effects of opioid use on their developing baby. However, the risk of birth defects with the use of opioids during pregnancy is equal to the general population risk. There is a risk that the baby may experience withdrawal after birth, but this can be effectively treated.

Chronic pain can also affect parenting. The time a parent with chronic pain can spend actively engaging with their child is often reduced. Young children may not understand that a parent’s inability to engage in activities is a direct result of pain, not the child’s behavior. Explaining pain and chronic illness to a child is challenging, as information and resources on the subject are scarce.

It’s important to understand that even as a child enters adolescence, they can still be affected by a parent’s chronic pain journey. They may feel that their parent is physically and emotionally unavailable.