Planning for recovery from a C-section or other women’s health surgery

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When you’ve spent your entire pregnancy carefully tending to yourself, it’s easy to view delivery as a light at the end of the tunnel. While delivery is indeed the moment that makes your prenatal health journey all worth it, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for taking care of your body. In fact, caring for yourself throughout the recovery period is crucial.

Postpartum pain can impact your ability to look after yourself and your infant, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has specific guidelines for managing it. ACOG recommends that opioids be a last line of defense for managing pain after delivery.

So, what’s your best option? Educating yourself on all the available main management solutions is a critical component of creating a birth plan.

Postpartum pain management

Every mother’s delivery experience is unique, and so is the recovery process. Not surprisingly, pain management medications given after C-sections and other women’s health surgeries play a significant role in recovery—from the length of the hospital stay to walking and returning to normal activities.

Aside from physical recovery, inadequate pain management after surgery can interfere with mother-baby bonding. It’s also associated with persistent pain, postpartum depression, and difficulty with breastfeeding.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you have the information you need to speak with your provider about your overall recovery experience. With a pain management plan, you’ll have all the pieces in place to effectively take care of both yourself and your baby during the postpartum period.

What to know about opioids

Planning for pain management during recovery is especially important for expecting mothers. Opioids are commonly prescribed after a C-section, but they may not be ideal for everyone.

Research shows that 1 in 50 opioid-naïve patients—meaning they weren’t taking prescription opioids before surgery—who are given opioids following a C-section become persistent users. Persistent use involves a need for at least one opioid prescription between four days to three months after leaving the hospital, as well as at least one more within a year.

Opioids were once considered the gold standard and the only effective solution for post-surgical pain management. And yet, women can expect more today. Available non-opioid options provide optimal pain relief while reducing—and sometimes eliminating—the need for narcotics. Learning about the risk of persistent use and the potential side effects of opioids leads many women to prefer alternatives.

Why some women opt for EXPAREL

One effective alternative is EXPAREL®
(bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension). During a procedure, the long-acting, non-opioid local anesthetic is injected directly into the surgical site by a medical provider. This allows EXPAREL to numb the area where the surgery is being performed.*

EXPAREL is specially formulated to slowly release a numbing medication called bupivacaine. As a result, patients are able to control their post-surgical pain for the first few days, which often reduces or eliminates the need for opioids during their recovery. After EXPAREL wears off, many new mothers can manage their pain with a combination of over-the-counter acetaminophen and ibuprofen (such as TYLENOL and Advil).

A retrospective study showed that patients who received EXPAREL had substantially reduced rates of post-op opioid consumption and better pain control than those who didn’t receive it. Not only that, but women who were given EXPAREL were discharged from the hospital significantly sooner than those who weren’t.

Innovations in pain management have allowed new moms to expect something different from their surgical recovery experience. With a smooth healing process, you’ll regain your strength and get back to normal sooner so that you can start spending precious bonding time with your baby.

Opioid alternatives like EXPAREL have changed recovery after C-sections and other women’s health surgeries. To make sure you’re getting the care you want and deserve, talking to your doctor about your goals after surgery is essential—even if a C-section isn’t part of your birth plan.

Tap below to learn more about EXPAREL.

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Important Safety Information

EXPAREL should not be used in obstetrical paracervical block anesthesia. In studies where EXPAREL was injected into the wound, the most common side effects were nausea, constipation, and vomiting. In studies where EXPAREL was injected near a nerve, the most common side effects were nausea, fever, and constipation. EXPAREL is not recommended to be used in patients younger than 18 years old or in pregnant women. Tell your healthcare provider if you have liver disease, since this may affect how the active ingredient (bupivacaine) in EXPAREL is eliminated from your body. EXPAREL should not be injected into the spine, joints, or veins.

The active ingredient in EXPAREL:

  • Can affect your nervous system and your cardiovascular system
  • May cause an allergic reaction
  • May cause damage if injected into your joints
  • Can cause a rare blood disorder

*The clinical benefit of the decrease in opioid consumption was not demonstrated in the pivotal trials.

  • Baker BW, Villadiego LG, Lake YN, et al. Transversus abdominis plane block with liposomal bupivacaine for pain control after cesarean delivery: a retrospective chart review. J Pain Res. 2018;11:3109-3116.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 742: Postpartum Pain Management. Obstet Gynecol. 2018;132(1):e35-e43.
  • website. Evaluate the safety and efficacy of EXPAREL when administered via infiltration into the TAP vs bupivacaine alone in subjects undergoing elective c-sections (c-section). Updated April 22, 2019. Accessed February 27, 2020.
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