Hospitals try to reduce opioid use for new moms after c-sections

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DENVER — Opioid abuse is one of the leading causes of death for new mothers in Colorado.  That’s why some local hospitals are offering something new to their c-section patients, and an alternative to opioids.

New mom Lauren Beckos was happy to learn about the option. The Denver mom delivered baby Abigail four weeks ago through c-section at Swedish Medical Center and afterward she chose not to use any opioids for pain management.

“I knew that if possible I wanted to avoid that,” Beckos said, “because I knew about the addiction, and because I was nursing, and previous experience taking some pain killers, I didn’t enjoy it.”

Instead, Dr. Julie Gelman placed a small catheter under the muscle near the incision that continuously released numbing medicine.

“No opioids whatsoever,” Lauren said.

The On-Q infusion pain pump has a large bulb of medicine that can be carried around and lasts 3 to 5 days.  That, along with Tylenol and ibuprofen was all Lauren needed to handle the pain.  “The pain was ok,” she said.

The ON-Q pump has been used for years for other procedures, but Swedish Medical Center, Sky Ridge Medical Center, and Presbyterian/St Luke’s just recently started offering it after c-sections.

“This is when pregnant moms are starting opioid use, and it could be an addiction problem, and a long term problem, and we are trying to reduce that,” Dr. Gelman said.

She adds that cutting back on opioid use can also reduce nausea, vomiting, and constipation for new moms who would rather be focused on their baby.

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