Anesthesia is a type of medicine that keeps you from feeling pain during a procedure. For this procedure, spinal and epidural blocks are the most commonly used anesthetics, but general anesthesia is sometimes necessary. The kind of anesthesia that will be used for your cesarean delivery will depend on several things, including your health, and your baby's health.
Epidural and spinal blocks are regional anesthetics, which means that they block pain and other sensations over a large part of your body, but not all of it. Both usually cause complete loss of sensation in the lower part of your body.
For an epidural block, your lower back is washed with a special disinfectant solution. Then, the anesthesiologist uses a local anesthetic to numb the area of insertion. A tiny, flexible, plastic tube, called an epidural catheter, is inserted into your lower back, and taped into position. The anesthetic can be injected through the catheter whenever you need it.
Spinal anesthesia is given by injecting a small dose of medication through a syringe into your lower back. A spinal block will often take effect more quickly than an epidural block, but it may not last as long.
Another option is general anesthesia. This type of anesthesia can affect the baby, so spinal and epidural blocks are the preferred methods for planned c-sections. General anesthesia puts you into a deep sleep so that you do not feel any pain, pressure, or movement during the procedure. In order to do this, you will first be asked to breathe through an oxygen mask. After you are in a deep sleep, a breathing tube will be placed into your windpipe to assist with your breathing throughout the operation. Throughout the procedure, your anesthesiologist and anesthesia care team will give you anesthesia and other medications as required through your IV and/or through your breathing tube.
You will talk to an anesthesia care provider before the surgery. If you have any questions or want to know more about your anesthesia options, and the risks and complications associated with them, you will be able to ask them at this meeting.
There are risks and potential side effects of both general and regional anesthesia. It is important that you talk with your anesthesiologist before the surgery. Be sure to tell him or her about any allergies or health conditions you have. This will help your anesthesia care team know how to take care of you during the surgery, and if you will need any special attention.