By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
A Cesarean section is an abdominal surgery that is performed to deliver a baby via an incision made in the abdomen. For this procedure, anesthesia may be local, so that the mother is awake but not in pain, or general where the mother is unconscious during the delivery.
Most Cesareans are done under local or regional anaesthesia, which is usually a safer option than general anesthesia. An injection given in the spine numbs the mother from the waist down.
Regional anesthesia may take one of three forms, as follows:
This is one of the most widely used anesthesia methods for C-section. Pain relief medication is injected into the sac that surrounds the spinal cord.
Here, a catheter is used to inject the local anesthetic agent into the epidural space, a part of the spinal column. This method of regional anesthesia requires a larger dose of local anaesthetic than spinal block.
Combined spinal-epidural anesthesia or CSE
This form of regional anesthesia combines the benefits of both spinal block and an epidural, meaning pain is quickly blocked and the catheter enables the dose to be titrated to provide long lasting relief.
Most C-sections are performed using regional anesthesia but sometimes general anaesthesia may be used. General anesthesia is less safe than regional anesthesia but may be used in emergency situations or when the mother has a health condition that means regional anesthesia cannot be administered.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Jun 2, 2014