Most obstetricians aim to have pregnant mothers deliver their babies vaginally whenever possible. These doctors generally only opt to perform a Cesarean section (C-section) on a mother if it’s evident that a baby or mother’s health or life is in danger.
While doctors will generally allow expectant mothers to determine whether they prefer to deliver their baby naturally or if they want to receive an epidural to reduce their pain, this isn’t an option once doctors decide to perform a C-section. A C-section is a surgical procedure, and doctors almost always require mothers to receive anesthesia before they perform such an operation.
There are two primary anesthesia options doctors go with before performing a C-section. They may administer either an epidural or put a patient to sleep using general anesthesia. Each option carries with it the potential of both short- and long-term complications or injuries. It can be helpful to know what those are.
Many patients who undergo epidurals experience headaches for up to 10 days following their baby’s birth. This results from the leaking of spinal fluid into the area of the spine where doctors administered the epidural. Many moms report experiencing chronic nerve damage after receiving an epidural as well.
Risks of general anesthesia
Mothers in labor who are placed under general anesthesia have risks similar to what anyone else receiving general anesthesia would. American Pregnancy Association statistics highlight how general anesthesia doubles a pregnant mother’s risk of dying compared to those who receive epidurals. Most of these general anesthesia deaths are due to airway management issues.
Babies also run a high risk of suffering adverse outcomes attributable to neonatal depression or a reduction in uterine blood flow when doctors use general anesthesia. The longer the time gap is between a pregnant mother receiving general anesthesia and a baby being delivered, the more apt a baby is to suffer irreversible harm.
Did your C-section anesthesia result in an adverse outcome?
While women have always been delivering babies, the use of modern medicine to alleviate pain is relatively recent. Some adverse outcomes resulting from C-sections may not be preventable. However, those that result from neglect may warrant considering a medical malpractice claim.