Trigeminal Neuralgia and the Codeine Ban: I’m Pregnant

“You can’t take codeine when you’re pregnant.”

I currently don’t take any medication for trigeminal neuralgia and, for the last few years, I have managed just on Zapain, a really strong cocodamol, when I absolutely need it.

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.

It’s summer.

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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Personal Trigeminal Neuralgia

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Just to say….I’ve had 3 children, all
    whilst being on high levels of meds.
    3600mg a day of Gabapentin, and took morphine too. Although the morphine doesn’t take the pain away, it does dull your perception of what’s going on. I was told morphine was ok as it does t pass through the placenta…….anyway….all three babies were born late or on time (all caesareans) with no complications after birth.

    Hope this helps a little. X

    Liked by 1 person

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