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A Cesarean section (C-section) is supposed to be your doctor’s choice of last resort when they determine that it’s either unsafe for you or your baby to move forward with natural childbirth. There has been an uptick in scheduled C-sections in recent years, though. Many doctors perform these when they worry that it wouldn’t be safe to deliver babies naturally.

This increase in C-sections over the years has shed light on how not only is the actual surgical procedure dangerous, but the administration of anesthesia is as well. The dangers that expectant mothers and their fetuses face depend on various factors. These include what type of anesthesia is administered, how much and how complications are addressed.

Which anesthesia options do mothers facing a C-section have?

Doctors can generally choose between two anesthesia options before performing a C-section. This may include administering general anesthesia or an epidural. Both of these can result in complications, including life-altering injuries or death.

Fewer doctors are administering general anesthesia these days because, as research published by the American Pregnancy Association shows, it doubles a pregnant mother’s fatality risk compared to epidurals. Most of these general anesthesia-related deaths result from airway management issues.

General anesthesia use also increases a baby’s chances of suffering an adverse outcome. The more time that that elapses between when a mother receives general anesthesia and she delivers her baby, the more likely it is that there will be a reduced uterine blood flow, causing the fetus to suffer irreparable harm.

Expectant mothers who receive an epidural may also face adverse outcomes. One of the more common is the dripping of spinal fluid down into the epidural site, resulting in a persistent headache that lasts as long as 10 days after their baby’s delivery. Many new mothers often complain about residual nerve damage after an epidural as well.

All surgeries and the prerequisite administration of anesthesia come with at least some risks. Some situations may cross the line from being reasonable expectations to unreasonable ones instead. You might have a valid reason to file a malpractice lawsuit if the injury or illness you’re currently dealing with (or the death of a loved one) resulted from your doctor not adequately carrying out a certain standard of care.