Living with Chronic Pain

Parenting & Pregnancy

Considering the idea of pregnancy or becoming pregnant with a chronic pain diagnosis makes for many special considerations. As well, parenting when living with chronic pain becomes a much more difficult job.

Women who have a chronic pain disorder and who may be on pain medication can still choose to become pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy. The biggest concern for most women during pregnancy is pain control that is safe for the baby. It can be extremely helpful for women to meet with an obstetrician-gynecologist who has experience dealing with chronic pain patients, before getting pregnant. The doctor can talk about issues specific to the individual woman’s condition & medications. Women may also want to get a consultation from a doctor or organization which specializes in medication safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding. These experts can give the best and most up-to-date advice regarding what medications are safe to take.

During pregnancy, it is important for a woman’s pain management doctor and obstetrician-gynecologist to be in communication regarding pain medication management. Treating pain during pregnancy is extremely important. “ Severe pain that is ineffectively treated is associated with hypertension, anxiety, and depression—none of which is conducive to a healthy pregnancy”(Source: NCBI). Women are often very concerned about the effects of opioids on the baby during her pregnancy. The risk of birth defects with the use of opioids is equal to the general population risk. There is always a chance that the baby may experience some withdrawal after birth, but this can be treated.

Chronic pain impacts all areas of parenting. It can affect how much active time a parent can spend with a child, of any age. Young children may not understand that a parent’s refusal to engage in activities or not allowing them to touch certain body parts is a result of pain, not the child’s behavior. Explaining pain and chronic illness to a child is not easy and parents can find this difficult, as there are few books or resources on the subject. Adolescents can still be impacted by a parent with pain. A study from the Journal of Nursing scholarship (Pain News Network) found that teenagers of parents with chronic pain were more likely to see their parent are physically and emotionally uninvolved.

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