Anaesthesia for C-Section Delivery – Types and Side Effects

Anaesthesia for C-Section Delivery - Types and Side Effects

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All pregnant women want to have a normal delivery. If you are pregnant, you will do everything possible to increase your chances of normal delivery. However, sometimes, due to certain medical complications, a normal delivery may not be possible. In such a situation, your doctor may recommend that you go ahead with a caesarean delivery. And the thought of a caesarean delivery is terrifying enough for a woman! But you must not worry. Just like any other surgery, you will be administered anaesthesia before the surgical procedure and then the surgery would be performed. However, there are many types of anaesthesia that can be administered during the surgery. If you wish to know what your options are, then read through the article and have a better understanding of anaesthesia for c-section, its various types, associated risks, and more.

Factors That Determine the Anaesthesia To Be Given during a Caesarean Delivery

Here are certain factors that your doctor will consider when deciding the type of anaesthesia to be given to you during the surgical procedure:

  • Your medical history
  • In case an emergency arises
  • If it is absolutely necessary during the labour
  • If you opt for a planned caesarean section
  • In case you require any additional surgery or your surgery is complicated and may take longer.
  • It depends on your doctor’s preference

Different Types of Anaesthesia Used during a C-section Birth

Following are the types of anaesthesia used during a c-section:

1. Epidural Anaesthesia

Epidural anaesthesia may be administered when your doctor recommends a C-section under local anaesthesia. This anaesthesia is given around the nerves in the lower back. The catheter is inserted in the lower back using a needle and the needle is taken out once the catheter is secured with a tape. This procedure requires administering a larger dosage of anaesthesia and it may take longer to work.

Epidural anaesthesia

When It Is Administered

This anaesthesia is given to improve the quality of anaesthesia used during the c-section.

How This Is Performed

  • You will be required to sit curled up towards your belly.
  • A catheter is inserted using a needle, once the catheter is secured with the tape, the needle is removed.
  • If the need for a c-section arises, anaesthesia will be administered through the catheter.

2. Spinal Anaesthesia

Also known as spinal block anaesthesia, this local anaesthesia is administered around the spinal cord using a needle. This anaesthesia is effective in keeping the lower body numb, which is below the waist up to the toes, for three to four hours. The small amount of anaesthesia helps in blocking the pain quickly.

Spinal anaesthesia

When It Is Administered

This is administered for most caesarean deliveries as it starts its effect within 2 to 5 minutes.

How This Is Performed

  • Anaesthesia will be administrated directly into your spinal fluid.
  • No catheter is required for this procedure, thus no extra medicine can be given.
  • You will be awake during the procedure.

3. Combined Spinal-Epidural Anaesthesia

For a long-lasting, complete, and quick numbness, this anaesthesia is the best option. In this procedure, the spinal anaesthesia is used for the surgical procedure. However, the epidural is not only used to keep the anaesthesia levels up but it also provides relief from the after-surgery pain.

When It Is Administered

The CSE or combined spinal-epidural anaesthesia is used in 20 percent of the caesarean deliveries.

How This Is Performed

This anaesthesia follows both the above procedures of epidural and spinal anaesthesia.

4. General Anaesthesia

This anaesthesia is not used much for caesarean deliveries and only administered in 10 percent of the caesarean deliveries. While administering this anaesthesia, the mother remains unconscious during the surgical procedure. This type of anaesthesia may not be a safe choice for the baby in comparison to local anaesthesia. However, it is only opted by doctors in special cases.

When It Is Administered

Though most doctors recommend and opt for local anaesthesia for a c-section, however, sometimes your doctor may recommend general anaesthesia, in following conditions:

  • Where local anaesthesia may be unsafe because of some medical conditions.
  • Where an emergency caesarean section may be required.

How This Is Performed

A c-section general anaesthesia may be recommended by your doctor in case your c-section has to be performed urgently or if there is not enough time to administer local anaesthesia. A tube will be inserted in your mouth to assist you to breathe better throughout the surgical procedure. You will remain unconscious under the effect of the anaesthesia.

Side Effects of Using Anaesthesia

Here are some side effects of using anaesthesia:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • You may feel some tingling in your bottom or legs (in case of epidural or spinal anaesthesia)
  • You may experience shivering
  • You may feel pain in your back; this may be temporary due to the use of the needle or being in the uncomfortable position during the procedure
  • You may feel dizzy
  • You may experience itching
  • You may have a headache, which may last for a few days or a few weeks

Recovery After Anaesthesia

In case of a local anaesthesia (spinal or epidural), the effect of anaesthesia will wear off in a few hours. Your legs may feel weak and you may also have some tingling sensation in them. You will be given painkillers to provide relief from the surgical pain. However, if you are given general anaesthesia, you may feel all sleepy and groggy after the effects of anaesthesia subside. You may experience nausea or irritation in your throat because of the oxygen pipe that had been inserted down your throat. Until you are fully awake, you will be monitored regularly.

When to See a Doctor

It is unlikely to have complications after anaesthesia, however, if you experience any of the following, get in touch with your doctor:

  • Bladder or bowel problems
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Tenderness or redness at the needle site
  • Intense headaches, which do not fade away
  • Weakness and numbness persist for long

It is very important that you talk to your doctor and know all the options you have. With his expertise and guidance, you can take an informed decision, which is in your and your baby’s interest.

Also Read: Elective C-Section