But the reality can be radically different.
For thousands of pregnant women, their pregnancy includes pain and even addiction to prescription painkillers.
Many women who suffer from chronic or acute pain conditions find that pregnancy (planned or unplanned) is even more difficult on them. Their bones ache more, they may suffer from more headaches and the added weight gain can wreak havoc on their already compromised bodies. Stress, anxiety and depression can also add to physical and psychological distress.
Many women become pregnant and already have an addiction to pain medication. Other women develop their addiction during pregnancy.
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine states that overuse of prescription pain medications, particularly opioids, is landing newborns in intensive care in record numbers, perhaps as many as 15,000 newborns last year.
The drugs that are causing the newborns to be ill are not illegal drugs, but prescribed painkillers. Sometimes mothers are getting their pain medications from their obstetricians; sometimes the pills are being prescribed by pain treatment clinics and doctors.
The problem is that the drugs have not been proven safe for pregnant women to take. In fact, when mothers take these pain pills, their babies can be born addicted and then suffer through withdrawal, a condition called “Neonatal abstinence syndrome”. One Neonatal intensive care unit reported that 20% of their infants were in the unit on any given day due to neonatal abstinence syndrome.
The takeaway: Pregnant women should not have to suffer with pain. BUT, opioid pain medications have been implicated in newborn illness and complications.