Stop with the Percocet already – how to cope with the pain of labor and delivery

Percocet is the devil.

After my C-section with baby #1, the nurses gave me Percocet. Then I vomited (and cried). A lot. So they gave me Zofran.


Vomiting is super fun after your stomach’s been cut open. Add to this a squirmy, little newborn who’s trying to suck your boob. Plus, you’re starving because they won’t let you eat before major surgery. I just figured this was part of the post-labor excitement that all new mothers experience, so I started screaming, “I’m never doing this again!”

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Luckily for baby #2, my brother came to visit and clued me in on the Percocet-makes-you-sick genetic mess that I am. While my brother and I get to vomit on Percocet, it makes our dad do things like go on hikes in the mountains by himself without telling anyone and try to carry snow back in his pockets. Like I said, Percocet is the devil.

I left the hospital with prescriptions for Percocet and Zofran. It was like a 2-for-1 deal: Here, have some Percocet. And some Zofran for the nausea.

On the way out the door, the discharge nurse casually mentioned another option: 800mg of Ibuprofen. Guess what I picked? And it worked gloriously.

When baby #2 arrived, the nurses went into full drug-pusher mode again. Dear, are you experiencing any pain? We have just the thing to get you flying high: Percocet…

Huh, doesn’t it show in my chart that Percocet makes me sick?

Why, yes, dear, but a little Zofran will fix that right on up. Come now, be a good little lady. Everybody’s doing it.

I think I’ll pass. Where’s the Ibuprofen please?

Cue nurse shift change.

Dear, how are you feeling? We’ll get you fixed up real quick with a little Percocet…

Um, like I told the last lady, Percocet makes me want to eat hot coals and then spew them across the room.

Oh, honey, no worries. We’ve got a great Percocet-Zofran combo that’ll do you good. What are you waiting for?

I think I’ll pass. Where’s the Ibuprofen please?

Cue nurse shift change. And so it went.

I started to feel like a pirah because I refused the riches they kept offering. Who doesn’t want to be pain free?

Hello? Ibuprofen is my friend. How many times do I have to say this??

Also, isn’t Percocet one of those drugs that people crush up and snort? Because they got addicted to it in the hospital?

Here are some facts about Percocet:

Percocet contains 5mg of oxycodone, which is also found in OxyContin, an opioid drug like heroin.

In other words, Percocet is a gateway drug to heroin.

Plus, a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that “there were no statistically significant or clinically important differences in pain reduction at 2 hours” between opioids, like Percocet, and non-opioids – LIKE IBUPROFEN.

“In America, two million people either abuse or are dependent on opiates or opioid pain medications…and misuse of them all often leads to heroin [because] heroin provides a similar high for a fraction of the cost….According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the number of people seeking care for abuse of prescription painkillers rose 400 percent from 1998 to 2008.”

–David Sheff, Clean: Overcoming addiction and ending America’s greatest tragedy

(Y’all, this book, Clean by David Sheff, is excellent. I can’t recommend it enough. Super EASY TO READ and full of actionable steps to fight the epidemic of addiction. With lots of excellent information on Alcoholism.)

So here’s my “ask your doctor about” pitch. Ladies, talk to your doctor or midwife or doula about Ibuprofen BEFORE going the Percocet route. Especially if you’re anti-vomit like me. Especially if addiction runs in your family. Especially if you are in recovery.

Of course Ibuprofen has side effects (especially for pregnant women). The point is, Percocet isn’t the only post-delivery pain medication available. You have options. Advocate for yourself and explore these.

And prego mommas, think on this when putting your birth plan together. We put a lot of effort into debating epidural or no epidural, vaginal birth or C-section. But where is the discussion about how to best handle post-delivery pain?

And where is the discussion about the medical infrastructure arming new mothers with prescriptions for drugs like Percocet, drugs that contribute to the growing pain pill addiction crisis in this country?

What are your thoughts? Did Percocet save you or did Ibuprofen do the trick? Comment below or on Facebook at MothersRest.

Photo credit: from

Several moms asked how to get rid of their unused prescriptions in a non-addict-attracting way. So here’s the skinny, pretty much verbatim, from the FDA on safe medicine disposal

Dispose in Your Household Trash

If there are no medicine take-back programs available in your area, follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicines in the household trash:

1. Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter or used coffee grounds.

2. Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag.

3. Throw the container in your household trash.

4. Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging to make it unreadable, then dispose of the container. Recycle that baby!

And NEVER FLUSH DOWN THE SINK OR TOILET (unless your pharmacist tells you to do this). Because drugs are leaching into our waterways. YUCK for us and YUCK for fish.

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