Mar 302013

“Redheads have a lower pain tolerance.” –  OB to mother, who was not a redhead, during a perineal repar after a non-medicated birth, when the mother stated the repair hurt.

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 March 30, 2013  OB, postpartum  Add comments

  37 Responses to ““Redheads Have A Lower Pain Tolerance.””

  1. Ah, patient-blaming!

    Actually, Doctor, since she just gave birth non-medicated, her pain tolerance is just fine. Medicate the repair site before you start suturing your patients!

    • And I just realized as it was posting that the OP wasn’t even a redhead. So…what the heck? Was the doctor on the tail end of a 48-hour on-call shift and therefore too exhausted to either find the lidocaine *or* think up a decent reason to blame the patient?

      Or was the doctor implying somehow that since the mom wasn’t a redhead, she shouldn’t be in pain? This whole thing is a “what the heck.”

  2. In defense of redheads, we percieve pain differently. we are more sensitive to thermal pain and require more anesthetic, neither of those are applicable here.

  3. The point is, “doctor”, that your patient is in pain! Do something!

    • But five minutes ago she was also in pain and didn’t want any medication. Therefor the doctor’s brain has melted and he is unable to form a logical thought, forget a logical sentence. He/she doesn’t understand the difference between the natural pain of childbirth and the unnatural pain of being stabbed with a needle. Neither does he get the fact that the baby no longer being at risk from the drugs is important. He/she only gets that most woman have gotten some kind of drug by now and don’t seem to even notice when he stabs them over and over again. So his/her brain has melted and the comment about the redheads is a brain fart. I think it would be a good idea for any woman looking for a natural birth to have a frank talk with her doctor about pain meds for repairs. I know we try to avoid that one under the assumption that no repairs will be necessary, but I think the discussion would bring the doctor to a fuller understanding of why we try to go without drugs.

  4. Natural redhead (Irish ancestry) here, I don’t mind birthing natural to protect my daughter from drugs but a local anesthetic to numb an area being stabbed repeatedly with a needle so I can focus on nursing my newborn is kinda important

  5. And if you will look out your window you will see a quote from way out in left field!

    Can we get back on topic to pain management? Maybe some lidocaine?

  6. I am NOT a redhead and my OB told me that redheads are prone to bleeding more and that’s why I hemorrhaged so badly. No, couldn’t POSSIBLY have had ANYTHING to do with the fact that he yanked out the placenta for no reason…

    • sorry…I should have finished my thought before posting.

      What is it with doctors and blaming redheads for things…that don’t apply to the patient in question?

      • It’s because we redheads are a step away from gingers so we have no soul.

        • Isn’t a ginger just a redhead? Don’t the two words just mean the same thing?

          • I think… All gingers are redheads, but not all redheads are gingers. (some are daywalkers…;)).

          • A ginger is the orangeish type of redhead like Ron weasley and carrottop. There are many other shades of redhead to offer other than ginger.

          • I’m pretty sure the terms just get used synonymously here. I’m a redhead myself, kind of strawberry blonde these days though it used to be darker, and I get called “ginger” (also carrot top, fanta pants, ranga etc.).

          • Carrot top baffled the hell out of me as a child. I had a garden and knew quite well the tops of carrots are GREEN. Ginger is also a ruddy yellow. Yet, my hair was ORANGE.

          • my daughter is only slightly strawberry blonde and gets called ginger ALL THE TIME.

        • I HATE the term Ginger, why do we need another name to (negatively) differentiate one person from another. I have red hair, but I’m mostly just a person.

  7. Apparently you’re a DOCTOR, which means you graduated from Medical School, which means you should be full of SCIENCE. And yet, my Not-A-Doctor (midwife) knew better than you to first numb me before she started repairing my tears.

    And aren’t midwives supposed to be voodoo-practicing witches who don’t know a thing about medicine? Strange, because that’s exactly what YOU sound like!

    • Oh, but you’re forgetting the “education clause” of that line of thinking. You see, when the uneducated voodoo-practicing witch/midwife, who was “trained” for about, oh…5 minutes under a similarly uneducated voodoo-practicing witch/midwife, says something like that, the statement is coming from a place of ignorance and is dangerous. But when the medical-school-graduate doctor says the same thing, it’s coming from the highly educated intelligence backed up by years of real training under similarly highly educated doctors. And since what those doctors taught them HAS to be right, because they’re doctors after all, then you should just listen, be a good little patient, and trust them, keeping your ridiculous “evidence-based, scientific logic” to yourself. See? It all makes perfect sense…right??? (Oh, now my head hurts.)

      • Add in that the only reason to ask questions is because you’re ignorant of the answers — meaning only ignorant people ask questions of their doctors. The smart people don’t ask questions and therefore just do what the doctor says.

        • Oohhhhh, you’re right! I completely forgot that part. It’s clearly outlined in Subsection W-T-F. How could I be so stupid? Oh, right…I was one of those asking questions. ;)

          Good one again, Jane!

  8. Red heads are also the devil’s bride, too.

  9. Sweet Jesus!
    What does hair color have to do with anything!
    Give the woman her pain relief!

    Redheads also have tempers! So give her the lido or you’ll find a foot planted firmly in your nose!

    * fiery redhead here!*

  10. I just have to say, this is actually true.

    Numerous studies have shown that redheads need higher doses of pain medication than non-redheads, due to a mutation in the gene that affects hair color and also affects pain receptors in the body.

    So, I’m not sure why the doctor told the non-redhead mother this, but it’s true.

    • Nope. Article did *not* say red-heads have a lower tolerance for pain. It said they have a *higher* resistance to the effects of the pain medications. Big difference.

      • Yes and no. It’s a big difference if you’re having a non-medicated birth. You have the same pain tolerance as everyone else. It’s not a big difference if you’re having a medicated birth. You need more pain medication than everyone else, either way.

        • Still a big difference. A doctor believing the first will be more likely to treat you with the attitude of “you redheads are big babies so I have to give you more medicine” which is not the same as “you redheads are more resistant to medications so I have to give you more medicine”. In fact the first doc may just be inclined *not* to give more medicine because it is just the patient being a low-pain-tolerance baby in the first place.

          The reasons behind actions *do* matter as they color the attitudes of the people involved. Mom should know as well… this isn’t her being a weakling. The medicine really *isn’t* working as well as it does for others.

          • The attitude, “Well, you, the patient, didn’t perform to my specifications, so there must be something wrong with your attitude, you’d better see to that at once,” is at the root of so many reports posted here! And it can be so dangerous. “Nuh-uh, I can’t POSSIBLY have made a mistake.”

            Again, this seems to be an attitude directed specifically at women having children by the people who are supposed to be providing support. When my dentist gave me the standard injections before taking out my wisdom teeth and I reported pain anyway, he didn’t pick one off a list of “Shut up, he explained” responses and keep going. He stopped, assessed the situation, and discovered that I had a double nerve in that area of my mouth. Using evidence-based care, he administered a second injection and the procedure was completed without pain. This is not that difficult to comprehend!

  11. False! Redheads are more tolerant to pain medications.. not intolerant to pain itself.

    Even if redheads -did- feel pain more acutely than other hair colors, why would a doctor hold it against them..?

    And.. this isn’t even a redhead, so, wtf??

    I think this doctor was definitely, as Jane put it, having a brain fart! No epidural numbing the crotch = massive confusion. The people caring for me also kept not realizing that I could feel everything they were doing. It was the most horrible pain I’ve ever experienced.

    So sorry your “care” providers were ignoring your pain, OP.

  12. This is me. And no, I’m not a redhead. I had an unmedicated, midwife-assisted birth in hospital. I had a third degree tear that was a bit too complicated for my midwife to repair so they had to call the on-call OB. I’ve since learned she’s a bit notorious for her bad attitude but apparently that night she was grumpy she had been woken up.

    She did use a local anesthetic but she may have used it sparingly and was really, really rough and impatient while doing the repair. The pressure from her digging around hurt more than the birth and I was shouting from the pain – which is when she said this. I’m nowhere close to redheaded so I’m not sure where she got that from . . .

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