Best Practices in Management of Postpartum Pain

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Abstract

Pain has been documented as a major concern for women in the postpartum period. Management of postpartum pain, however, is a relatively neglected area of clinical research. As a result, evidence to support interventions to alleviate the discomforts associated with childbirth is sparse. This paucity of research on postpartum pain management is particularly surprising given that in the United States alone nearly 4 million women give birth each year. Inadequate pain relief in the hours to months following childbirth can interfere with maternal-newborn bonding and feeding and, by impeding mobility, can increase the risk of postpartum complications. In addition, pain that is not adequately managed may increase the risk of chronic pain that lasts beyond the postpartum period. In this article, the more common causes of pain following childbirth are reviewed and recommendations for pain management based on available evidence are outlined. Considerations for pain management in lactating women and for hospital discharge are discussed.

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