Instead of popping a painkiller, TV host and fitness enthusiast Kelly Latimer, 30, used to endure and wait out any pain or discomfort she experienced. Growing up, her mother had passed on her beliefs that any form of pain-relief drugs, including over-the-counter medication like paracetamol, was “bad and addictive”.
Ms Latimer’s mindset towards pain medications changed when she became a mother herself.
She experienced pain after her C-section delivery and after coming down with recurrent episodes of mastitis, a painful inflammation of the breast tissue due to blocked milk ducts. The worst episode of mastitis lasted two days, during which she suffered fever and chills.
She also experienced some postnatal blues in the first two weeks, partly due to the pain, and the expectations of “being a super mum”.
“I literally passed out on the couch from the (mastitis) pain but I still needed to feed my baby. If I didn’t take some painkillers to ease pain, I wouldn’t be able to go through it,” she said.
Ms Latimer, whose baby is now nine months old, initially had concerns about taking paracetamol while breastfeeding but was reassured by her doctor that it was safe.
According to Dr Wong Li Lian, senior lecturer at the department of pharmacy at National University of Singapore, paracetamol is the one of the few medications that can be used for fever and pain management during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should nonetheless consult their doctor or pharmacist before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicine. The professionals can help to assess the benefit versus potential risk and recommend which medication to take, said Dr Wong.
Although some people believe that pain is part and parcel of motherhood, Ms Latimer feels that parents need not suffer if there are safe pain relief options. In the 2017 GSK Global Pain Index survey, three in five Singapore parents (63 per cent) with children under the age of 12 believe that pain makes it harder for them to listen to and help their children with everyday tasks, while about three quarters (77 per cent) feel they have less patience with their children when in pain.
“If I’m not feeling my 100 per cent, my child doesn’t get my 100 per cent. I’m now trying to change my mother’s mindset about pain medications. She suffers from back pain and if she’s in pain, she won’t be able to properly enjoy playing with her grandchild,” said Ms Latimer.