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Pain relief after birth and breastfeeding

I was recently asked for input in a guideline on pain relief for new mothers after birth. I was surprised to see it almost seemed to penalise breastfeeding mothers suggesting that if you are breastfeeding you cant have effective pain relief for more than 3 days even if you have had a c section. I decided to put together this information. It includes pain relief, laxatives, haemorrhoidal treatment and iron supplements

After birth you may need pain relief for stitches, after pains as the womb contracts or if you need a caesarean section.

Standard pain relief which you might find useful to take regularly is paracetamol (2 tablets 4 times a day) and ibuprofen (400mg three times a day).

If this isn’t sufficient you can take:

  • co-dydramol – paracetamol and dihydrocodeine (latter available over the counter as Paramol although it will say don’t take if you are breastfeeding because the manufacturer doesn’t take responsibility). It can also be prescribed in combination or separately
  • naproxen or diclofenac which are stronger than ibuprofen – virtually none gets into breastmilk. These will need to be prescribed. See https://www.sps.nhs.uk/articles/using-nsaids-during-breastfeeding
  • You may be given morphine if you have a caesarean section and can feed as normal
  • oramorph – morphine liquid which will be prescribed in hospital after a c section
  • AVOID codeine as it may make your baby drowsy. Some people concentrate codeine in their milk. Most find that it makes them feel sick or dizzy themselves. See https://breastfeeding-and-medication.co.uk/thoughts/breastfeeding-and-codeine


If you take co-dydramol or oramorph you will need a laxative like lactulose, bisacodyl or dioctyl all of which you can buy from a pharmacy, See https://breastfeeding-and-medication.co.uk/fact-sheet/constipation-laxatives-and-breastfeeding


IF you experience haemorrhoids (piles) after birth you can use suppositories and creams e.g. Anusol, Anusol HC, Preparation H, Germaloids, pharmacy own brands


You can take iron supplements after birth – ferrous sulphate or fumerate or gluconate.

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