“You can’t take codeine when you’re pregnant.”
When I found out I was pregnant, I had taken a tablet the day before and the guilt was unreal. Nurses at the hospital kept telling me that I shouldn’t have taken it when pregnant, but I have chronic pain and actually only ever take codeine when I feel like I can’t cope, not to mention the fact that I didn’t know I was pregnant at the time.
Codeine is an opioid and is really addictive. I had heard that taking codeine when you are pregnant can lead to premature birth and risks your baby being born addicted to the painkiller. I also know that if you take an opioid regularly, you shouldn’t quit cold turkey immediately, but you should speak to your doctor about what the next steps should be for you.
I haven’t been taking codeine regularly this year, so I just need to not take any more whilst I’m pregnant. In theory, this sounds fine. In practice, this is a problem.
Warmer weather is usually okay for my neuralgia, if we ignore one factor – air conditioning. I’m more in pain in the summer, even though cold causes my trigeminal neuralgia to flare up, because absolutely everyone uses air con in the summer. I can’t walk into a shop, work, the doctors, anywhere without my poor face being blasted by an air con unit. Sweltering heat is also a trigger for my pain, so the heatwave we just had at the end of June in the UK? Pretty painful too!
So I did a bit of research to see what the problem with opioids in pregnancy really was:
- A higher risk of birth defects, including those that can affect the spine, brain, heart, lungs and stomach.
- A higher risk of glaucoma, an eye condition of the optic nerves that affects vision.
- The risk of your baby being born addicted to the drug.
- A higher risk of miscarriage, or stillbirth.
- Problems with the babies growth.
- A premature birth.
- Preeclampsia, a condition that affects the mother, where some of your organs stop functioning correctly in the last half of pregnancy.
For these reasons, I think I’m going to take my chances with my pain levels and live without my usual codeine!
I think I’m due a very painful few months..
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