What is general anesthesia?
Applying general anesthesia means that you go completely to sleep. General
anesthesia is rarely used for cesarean birth. If the baby shows signs of
distress and an emergency cesarean delivery is required, general anesthesia
may be the fastest method for delivering your baby, unless an epidural
catheter was placed earlier in labor. Before you go to sleep, you will receive
oxygen to breathe from a face mask for a few minutes. Then you'll receive
medication though your vein to make you lose consciousness, and
additional anesthesia will be given as needed during the operation. After
the baby is delivered, you will be given pain medication so that you will
have less discomfort when you wake up after the operation.
What are the risks to me?
A very serious risk of general anesthesia is that you may vomit as you go to
sleep. If stomach contents are inhaled into your lungs, you could develop a
serious type of pneumonia. That is why it is so important for you not to eat
anything once regular contractions begin or your water breaks. Even if you
have not eaten for several hours, there is still a chance that you could
vomit, since digestion of food is slowed during labor. Also, the pregnant
uterus pushes up against the stomach, often causing heartburn and nausea
even before labor starts. To reduce the chance of vomiting and pneumonia,
you will receive an antacid (Bicitra) just before the operation. As you go to
sleep, we will put pressure on the front of your neck to reduce the risk of
vomiting. The anesthesiologist will insert a breathing tube to protect
your lungs after you go to sleep and remove it just before you awake.