pregnant woman holding her stomach

Most women anticipate some aches and pains in pregnancy, but when that pain is debilitating and with no known cause it can be frightening. Along with the fear comes questions, especially how to manage pain during pregnancy in a way that keeps both mom and baby safe.

Starting when she was just a few weeks pregnant, Natoya began experiencing intense pain in her back and legs that only amped up as her baby grew. While the pain did come in waves, it became increasingly constant throughout her pregnancy. After coming to Mount Sinai Hospital in search of help and answers, Natoya was connected with the new Pain in Pregnancy (PIP) program from Mount Sinai’s pain clinic.

Developed in response to a demand for pain management in patients with acute or chronic pain in pregnancy in both inpatient and outpatient settings, PIP was officially launched in June of 2019. Dr. David Flamer, associate director of our pain clinic, says “having a program like this for pregnant patients both raises awareness of this populations unique challenges and needs, and helps us provide timely services so they can get safe relief. It’s also a unique program – we haven’t seen anything like it across Canada.” While Mount Sinai has a robust pain program that has worked with pregnant patients and other individual clients before, having an organized program allowed for more opportunities to work with patients who really needed help – patients like Natoya.

Lean Pink, nurse practitioner at the pain clinic notes that the services they provide are an important opportunity for collaboration. “We provide consultation and care in partnership with a patient’s obstetrician and primary care physician, and really work with the whole care team when it comes to inpatients, too” says Leah. “This allows us the best understanding of treating each patient’s unique needs.”

For Dr. Julia Kfouri, maternal-fetal medicine specialist, having the program in-house has been an invaluable resource. “Many of our patients who are admitted to our antenatal ward with either acute or chronic pain in pregnancy are under the impression that their only option is to suffer through the symptoms in order to protect their baby,” says Julia. “The Pain in Pregnancy program takes a wholistic approach, and the team provides non-judgmental and comprehensive care,empowering patients to take control of their symptoms.” 

For Natoya, the care she received made a huge difference in how she experienced her pregnancy, and those first months with her new baby. “I felt supported and most importantly, believed. Some other doctors had suggested that my pain was all in my head,” says Natoya. “But throughout my time with the Pain in Pregnancy program, they checked in with me, offered access to other services like social workers, and were there for me through weaning off pain killers post-partum as well. I truly appreciate everything they did for me and my baby.”

For more information about PIP contact [email protected] or 416-586-4800 ext. 2979.