Caesarean section is most commonly performed under spinal anaesthesia. A similar result is achieved if anaesthetic is administered via an epidural which has been inserted during labour (“top up”).
In a spinal anaesthetic, a single injection of anaesthetic drugs is administered into the "spinal fluid" of your back by a very fine needle. The injection is not deliberately injected into the spinal cord or into a nerve. It works by blocking the pain signals from reaching your brain. It also blocks the movement signals which mean that you will be unable to move your legs while it is working. This type of anaesthesia works quickly (usually within 5 to 10 minutes) and lasts 2 - 4 hours. You will be pain free during the operation, however, you may feel mild pressure-like sensations around where the surgeons are working.
Advantages of Spinal/Epidural Anaesthesia:
- You can stay awake for the procedure and experience your baby being born
- Your partner can be present
- You avoid a general anaesthetic which is associated with slightly higher risks to the mother and baby
- Less drowsiness and nausea/vomiting
- Faster return to eating and drinking
Disadvantages/Risks/Alternatives will be discussed on the day of the procedure