Best Life: Opioid free c-section, doctors looking to cut back on drug used for new moms

Updated: Apr. 22, 2020 at 7:17 AM CDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) - This year, one in three women will give birth by c-section. Most of these new moms will be sent home with opioids to help control the pain.

Now doctors are working to cut back on the need for those highly addictive drugs, replacing them with something just as powerful but not habit-forming.

Reighn Maris Williams was c-section number four for mom, Ada Williams.

“They were very painful,” Ada shared.

For Ada’s first three babies, she took Percocet and oxycodone for a week after coming home with the baby.

“Those were the only things that took the pain away,” Ada said.

Every year, 1.2 million babies are born via c-section, and many of their mothers are sent home with a prescription to help ease the pain. The most common – Percocet, but doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have changed that protocol.

“Let's give Tylenol around the clock. We also gave Motrin every six hours,” explained Eric Chiang, MD, Anesthesiologist, Cleveland Clinic.

If that didn’t control the pain, patients were given the option to add oxycodone.

“What was amazing was in the very first month, patients chose to use 70% less opioid,” continued Dr. Chiang.

In one year, the number of patients who had a c-section without needing opioid afterward rose from 12% to 56%. At just two Cleveland Clinic hospitals, the prescription rate for new moms was 31 pills per prescription. This equates to 75,000 pills.

Currently, they’re prescribing at a rate of around 5,000 pills per year.

“Ultimately that's what's going to help, you know, fight that opioid crisis,” said Dr. Chiang.

Ada told Ivanhoe, “I was alert. I was able to feed her and be with her all day.”

And Ada says she’ll go Percoset-free if they’re lucky enough to have baby number five.

Although c-sections are the most common in-patient procedure in the United States, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic believe the philosophy of using less opioids and less addictive pain killers can be used for post-op care after other surgeries as well.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Kirk Manson, Videographer.

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