The mother generally has the choice of a general anaesthetic or epidural block for the delivery of her baby. Occasionally, medical factor or urgency will make it necessary to give a general anaesthetic.
Preparation of the mother for Caesarean section
No food or drink is taken for 6 hours before the operation. Shortly before going into theatre, the mother will be given some antacid to swallow. A drip will be inserted into her arm and she may be asked to breathe pure oxygen through a clear face mask.
The mother will be lying flat tilted to one side to promote blood flow to the baby prior to birth.
This is a state of unconsciousness under which most operations are performed. The mother is not aware of the procedures performed while she is unconscious.
To minimise the amount of anaesthetic agent reaching the baby, the mother is prepared and draped before the anaesthetic is given. The mother is fully unconscious before the operation begins.
Partners are not usually permitted to be present for a Caesarean birth under general anaesthetic.
Epidural/ Spinal Block
For elective Caesarean sections the epidural/spinal block is begun in the anaesthetic room. The operation will not start until there is complete numbness at the operation site. A stronger dose of anaesthetic than that used in labour is given so that the mother will be unable to move from the waist down.
After being helped on to the operating table, the abdomen is cleaned with antiseptic solution and drapes are placed over the area which screen the operation site from the mother’s view. Then the operation begins. The partner or support person may be present.
Birth of the baby under epidural/spinal anaesthetic
Once the operation begins, it is usually 5-10 minutes before the baby is born. The anaesthetist, midwife or anaesthetic nurse will talk to the mother and make her feel as comfortable as possible. Just before the birth, the doctor may push on her abdomen to assist the birth and this may cause a feeling of nausea. This will last for only a minute or two.
The parents have the advantage of seeing the baby as soon as it is born. After the baby has been wrapped, the parents may hold the baby while the operation is completed.
If you have any questions or points which are unclear, do not hesitate to ask your obstetrician, anaesthetist or midwife who will clarify any of this information.