Obstetric anaesthesia is the one type of anesthesia which has higher risks, because of a number of reasons. One of them is that the pregnancy comes with physical changes which bring along higher risks for the patient. Besides considering the effects that anesthesia has on the woman, the doctor also has to take in consideration how anesthesia will affect the unborn child and the side effects that it will have. Because this type of anesthesia can have very bad effects, it is not done lightly.
Not so long ago general anesthesia was something that was used on a regular basis for caesarian sections, but these days it’s being used less and less, since the pregnancy process and delivery is better understood and the dangers of the practice are more obvious.
One of the reasons why general anesthesia isn’t used as much is because statistics have shown that the women death rate was increased when this method was used. The airway’s condition was also making intubation harder for women that were pregnant and arrived at term. The peri-operative aspiration rates were also higher, thanks to the gastric statis and reflux symptoms which are common in pregnancies.
Finally, the presence of the fetus resulted in a higher demand for oxygen and cardiac output, which means a hypoxic reserve which is lower. The end result was that the doctor found it more difficult to work with the patient if an event occurred in the airway.
When general anesthesia is needed for women that have late stage pregnancies, these days there are special techniques these days that will reduce the risks that it brings along. Still, this type of anesthesia is used in obstetric cases only when regional anesthesia is not possible. In all other cases, obstetric anesthesia should consist of local methods.