Main content

    Cesarean Section Medications

    Type When/How Given Advantages Possible Side Effects/Disadvantages

    General Anesthesia

    Given for an emergency Cesarean, unless functioning epidural is in place.

    Complete pain relief until awake.

    Rapid acting

    Baby receives the medication. May be sleepy and possibly have some transient respiratory depression.

    Mother unconscious.

    Rare complication such as cardiac or respiratory depression or aspiration of vomitus could occur.

    May cause nausea postoperatively.

    Requires marcotic pain medication after surgery. For example, Morphine by injection or Patient Control Analgesia (PCA) pump.

    Epidural

    May be used for Cesarean birth. Larger does of local anesthetic used to numb entire abdomen and legs through epidural catherter.

    Complete pain relief.

    Mother stays awake.

    Narcotic may be given into epidural space for post-operative pain control.

    May feel pressure during procedure.

    Rare complication of injection into central spinal fluid or epidural vein.

    Possible increase in mother's and/or infant's temperature.

    Spinal May be used for Cesarean birth. Needle inserted into central spinal fluid and local anesthetic with/without narcotic injected.

    Complete and immediate pain relief.

    Mother stays awake.

    Good post-operative pain control if narcotic given.

    May feel pressure during procedure as with epidural.

    Rare complication of cardiac or respiratory depression.