I want to take you back to a moment that you may have heard me mention. A moment that was traumatic for me. When I was offered and refused narcotics (opioids) for the severe pain I experienced from having stitches for third degree lacerations, after what was a beautiful and unplanned precipitous homebirth with my first son. I was in labor and gave birth in less than an hour, which is not uncommon for moms who use cannabis throughout pregnancy. Quick & easy, pain-free birth. However, I spent my first two days as a new mother in a maternity suite at the nearest hospital barely able to move, walk, or use the bathroom without pain. My pain was not from giving birth. In fact, my birth was exhilarating. I was in pain largely due to a mean ass OB who violently sutured me up and was even more violent and dismissive toward me for refusing opioids, pitocin, and IVs ( plus vaccinations and all other newborn interventions lol). Truth is, I planned for a natural water birth at the birth center that I was receiving care and when I called them to tell the midwife I was in labor, she told me to call her back because I “was a first time mom and we usually have long labors” smh. So, I had my baby 30mins later, on daddy’s couch and ended up in the maternity suite for aftercare.
Anyway, I’m particularly critical of hospitals, for reasons unbeknownst to me but I can say is probably due to generational trauma which is why I had no plan to give birth there. I’ve often come to find that the people who work in hospitals are only following orders and protocols that are largely outdated, not evidenced-based, and in complete opposition to what’s best for mama and baby, and often times rooted in racism and classism. How unfortunate for most doctors and nurses who really think they are helping people. (DISCLAIMER: I love good doctors and nurses who advocate for their patients, and who go above and beyond these hospital protocols like the good doctors at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital, whose doctors are well-known recipients of the Harper Avery/Catherine Fox award for excellence in medicine...a little Grey’s Anatomy humor to lighten this up a bit? 😊)
So yesterday, I was going through some old paperwork and found my discharge papers from this hospital experience. I often like to look over my discharge papers to see if I’ve missed anything that I didn’t know or see prior. In this packet, I find listed all the medications that the nurses gave me and the medications that they use commonly in maternity suites. And what do you know, oxycodone was listed as being given to me twice, two different dosages. Strange, I thought. I know I declined, repeatedly. I made it clear that I was breastfeeding (and that I was a doula and I knew the effects of narcotics on nursing babies and mamas) so why is this listed? Did they give me oxycodone without my permission? I don’t fucking know. But I do know that moms who are on Medicaid are prescribed opioids more often and I was receiving Medicaid at the time. Did they list it just to get money from Medicaid on my behalf? I don’t fucking know. But I do know that something ain’t right. So I did more digging.
Opioids are commonly prescribed to pregnant and breastfeeding women in spite of the known negative risks, including opioid withdrawals in newborn babies, issues breastfeeding, and the list goes on. According to the FDA, severe and persistent pain that is not effectively treated during pregnancy can result in depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure in the mother. But are opioids the solution to the pain that women experience in pregnancy and postpartum? Hell fucking no, is the answer to that. We have to be real honest, our country is facing an opioid problem. This we know, but we’ve never stopped to think about about how this crisis is impacting pregnant women and babies, the most vulnerable in our communities. And the reason we haven’t done so, is because these drugs are making hospitals lots of money. There is a reason doctors are prescribing opioids. There is a high chance that once a patient fills their opioid prescription, they will continue to refill their prescription. Opioids are highly addictive. Do they work to eliminate the source of the pain? Or do they just numb the symptoms related to the pain temporarily? Big questions, that we already know the answers to.
Black mothers are dying. We need safe alternatives. Like yesterday.
*sounds trumpet* Thankfully, queen cannabis has our back. Cannabis, in its various forms of consumption, is a safer alternative to common pharmaceutical medications found on maternity suites. Yup. I told you Cannabis was used traditionally for women, right? From pain, to blood pressure, hemorrhoids, itching, cracked nipples, infection, digestion, constipation, and the list goes on. I’m supporting mothers who are no longer interested in being misinformed by care providers who have invested interested in pharmaceutical companies. For moms who are interested in natural alternatives that have no negative side effects on their babies or their breastmilk. For moms who choose cannabis, the possibility of healing all of the changes that come with motherhood—physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, cannabis is truly promising.
For more information or to learn about cannabis alternatives to common medications used during pregnancy and postpartum, contact The Cannabis Doula to schedule a consultation. I provide clients with education and research to help inform your doctors and family about the benefits of cannabis, I provide support and tips to avoid negative interactions with Child Protective Services, and importantly, I provide cannabis caregiver services to help families learn to prepare cannabis medication including topicals, tinctures, infused oils, edibles, capsules, and more that can be used to aid moms from pregnancy to postpartum and beyond.