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Types Of Anesthesia Used In Labor And Birth – Epidural vs Spinal And General Anesthesia

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Types Of Anesthesia Used In Labor And Birth

There are many methods that can be used to ease labor experience, the most common beeing spinal and epidural anesthesia. It is very important to consult your doctor and choose the type of anesthesia that will favor you the most.

Anesthesia can be divided into the following categories:

  • Local anesthesia (infiltration) that is characterized by local injection of anesthetic solution directly in peripheral nerve endings;
  • Locoregional anesthesia, characterized by complete abolition of impulses in a certain area of the body by temporary interruption of conduction in the sensory nerves. Locoregional anesthesia is of two types – nerve block performed by direct injection around the nerve that is innervating the region of interest (spinal block, epidural block, lumbar plexus block, etc.) and intravenous regional anesthesia.
Types Of Anesthesia

Types Of Anesthesia

The most common type of spinal anesthesia is locoregional anesthesia.  Spinal anesthesia and epidural anesthesia are part of  locoregional pinal anesthesia.

Epidural anesthesia consists in the injection of anesthetic substance in the epidural canal, in the area around the spinal cord to produce total or partial anesthesia of the lower limbs. The epidural injection will be made slow in 20 minutes, for this action a epidural catheter is needed, and in other 20 minutes the effect will appear. In 40 minutes after the epidural injection, pain will be under control. Epidural anesthesia may be used for a natural birth, during active labor and also before a cesarean section.

Epidural anesthesia is an effective method to control pain without adverse effects to the body and to the baby. Although epidural anesthesia provides pain relief, it allows the mother to remain awake and to actively participate in childbirth. In the case of a natural birth, epidural relieves pain, but is not a complete anesthesia. During epidural anesthesia, mothers can maintain muscle tone and this fact will permit them to move more easily over the second stage of labor.

There are also side effects of epidural anesthesia including that the epidural anesthesia only affects a certain body part and labor may take longer and may expose mothers to allergic reactions. Also, another inconvenience would be caused by low blood pressure and severe dizziness.

Epidural Anesthesia

Epidural Anesthesia

Spinal anesthesia is made in the lumbar spine and is used both for natural birth and for caesarean section. During spinal anesthesia, anesthetic substance is introduced at the lumbar level but by a single injection without having to place an epidural catheter in this case. Spinal anesthesia takes effect no later than 10 minutes. Spinal anesthesia takes effect much faster than epidural anesthesia, but unlike it, can not be used for operations that are lasting more than 2 hours. In this type of anesthesia mothers will remain awake. Spinal anesthesia has the same unpleasant side effects that occur in epidural anesthesia.

Spinal Anesthesia

Spinal Anesthesia

General anesthesia can be inhaled or intravenous. General anesthesia is used in cases that are requiring emergency surgery or when the local anesthesia is not possible. General anesthesia has several disadvantages, because it affects both the mother’s nervous system and that of the fetus. Generall during anesthesia, the mother will sleep throughout the surgery and the baby will be sleepy in turn. Also, general anesthesia decreases the body’s ability to breathe and is requiring endotracheal intubation. The most serious complication that can occur after general anesthesia is aspiration pneumonia.