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Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Childbirth: Opioid Pain Medicines

Childbirth: Opioid Pain Medicines

Overview

To help control the pain and stress of labor, you may get opioid pain medicines. The medicine can be put into a vein or into the muscle. Examples include fentanyl, morphine, and nalbuphine.

Opioids can help suppress how you perceive pain and calm your emotional response to pain. They do this by reducing the number of pain signals sent by the nervous system to the brain. They also reduce the brain's reaction to those pain signals.

An opioid can help you relax between contractions and may help decrease the pain. But it doesn't take all the pain away. And opioids often have side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness. Usually, opioids aren't used right before delivery because they can slow the baby's breathing.

Side effects

The most common side effects of opioids include:

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded or like you might faint.
  • Feeling drowsy.
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or vomiting.

Opioids aren't used when you are close to delivery. That's because they can affect a newborn's breathing. They can also make the baby sleepy and less interested in breastfeeding if they are given close to delivery.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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