Anaesthesia in Pregnancy – Is It Risky?


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Anaesthesia has been a blessing for doctors and patients alike. It numbs down the pain experienced significantly for the patient making surgery a less painful affair. For doctors, it comes as a blessing as the patient doesn’t need to be restrained and the doctor can focus on the surgery.

Is Anesthesia Safe during Pregnancy?

The female body is wonderfully designed and has evolved in such as way that pregnancies can be handled by it. However, there can be emergency situations where the babies head is too big and requires a caesarean. In such cases, anaesthesia is used. The downside of this is that they put the mother and foetus at risk because of complications such as miscarriage. Therefore, the use of it is only in life and death situations and should be avoided especially in the first trimester.

Types of Anesthesia

There are two kinds of anesthesia

1. Local Anesthesia

  • Used by a dentist for minor oral intrusions.
  • Epidural anaesthetic (local anaesthetic during pregnancy) is used during delivery. This is injected through a tube into the epidural space situated in the lower back.
  • A spinal anaesthetic is used during delivery as well as knee replacements and hip surgery. In this, the anaesthetic is injected into the epidural area but in one shot.
  • Injected into a localized or specific area.
  • Side effects include minor bruising, dizziness and pins and needle sensation in that area.
  • Its effects on the infant are nil and risk during cesarean section is considerably less.

2. General Anesthesia

  • Administered by Liquid injected directly into your bloodstream or gas that is given through a mask.
  • The anaesthetist stays beside the operating table throughout the procedure.
  • Side effects include nausea, shivering, sore throat and difficulty in passing urine.
  • The effects are instantaneous.

Anesthesia During Labour and Delivery

Anaesthesia is used for pain management at this stage. An epidural or spinal is given only after the onset of active labour and before full dilation. It might lead to the use of forceps or vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery so many do not request it. General anaesthesia in pregnancy, on the other hand is done in the case of caesarean birth as a last resort.


Risks of Anesthesia in Pregnancy

In general, all effective surgery should be avoided during pregnancy due to the undue stress levels it will bring on the expectant mother and the unborn child. Even dental procedures and dental anaesthesia while pregnant should be avoided.

1. Risks for Pregnancy

There is an increased risk of spontaneous miscarriage due to the use of anaesthesia during the first trimester.

2. Risks to the Mother

The body starts adapting to the pregnancy, and the use of anaesthesia may not be able to cope with the effects of it on the already altered state of the mother leading to internal bleeding and other complications due to miscarriage.

3. Risks to the Foetus

The risks that are involved for the foetus include premature birth, low birth weight and infant mortality.

There are many facets to be examined before using anaesthesia on a pregnant woman. The advice of the doctor is vital before embarking on this process.

Also read: Painless Delivery – Procedure, Pros & Cons