Analgesia and Safer Sleep Advice

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY1001/2021
  • Departments: Maternity Services
  • Last Updated: 28 April 2021


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about analgesia (pain relief medication) taken in the postnatal period and how it affects safer sleeping for your new-born baby. Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your midwife, but may act as a starting point for discussion. If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

What is safer sleeping?

Safer sleeping is how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), otherwise known as cot death, happening to your baby. Four babies a week die from SIDS and it is so very important that we reduce this number so every mother can enjoy this special time. You will have a discussion with your midwife and be given written information about safer sleeping before your baby is born, after your baby is born, and again at home. You will be asked where you intend your baby to sleep at home, please do not be offended by this, as the midwife only wants to ensure the safety of your baby and is not there to judge or see a tidy house. If you have any questions, you can ask your midwife at any time.

Why do I need to know about pain relief and safer sleep?

We know that there are some medications that can make people drowsy after taking them. We need to highlight this, so you can take into consideration the effects of medications on keeping your baby safe. Some medications pass into breast milk and you will receive further information about this in the hospital.

What medication can affect safer sleep?

All medication affects everyone in a different way. If you are taking over the counter medication, prescribed medication (either short or long term) or any illicit drugs which have a sedative (sleepy) affect, then you need to be very careful when caring for your baby. This also includes medication you may have been given to take home from the hospital. If you have taken illicit drugs and/or alcohol, have co-slept and your baby dies, then you can be prosecuted under the serious crime act. Always get advice from your midwife if you are unsure about the medication you are taking.

What if I have had a caesarean section and need stronger pain relief?

The advice is to always start with mild pain relief such as paracetamol and if this does not work then take ibuprofen .If you need further pain relief and have been prescribed tramadol or co-codamol try to take the lowest dose possible for the shortest time possible. It is important you and your partner are aware of the risks and it may be better to make sure baby is cared for and settled before you take the stronger form of pain relief . This advice includes your partner and any other carer for your baby. 

What are the risks and what could happen?

  • It could make you feel drowsy
  • You may fall asleep whilst cuddling or feeding your baby
  • You may fall asleep in an unsafe place for example on the sofa
  • Unsafe sleep practice could result in SIDS

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact Rowan Ward Tel no: (01482) 605381.

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