Caesarean sections are becoming more common. According to Nemours--the largest children's provider of health care--they account for about 30 percent of all deliveries. During a C-section, a woman may have the option to be "put under" with a general anesthesia. However, most women are able to remain awake through the use of a local anesthetic, such as a spinal block.
A spinal block is performed to numb the body from the waist down, so that during a C-section the mother doesn't feel pain as the baby is removed from her uterus. The March of Dimes says this numbness generally lasts for an hour or two, after which sensation returns. Nemours reports that although pain isn't an issue, the woman may feel some sensations during a cesarean, (pressure and pulling) as the incision is made, the baby is delivered and the placenta is removed.
Blood Pressure Drop
Some women may experience a drop in blood pressure after receiving a spinal block for a C-section. According to the March of Dimes, a drop in the mother's blood pressure has the potential to alter the baby's heart rate. However, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says this doesn't happen frequently. IV fluids are usually administered in order to prevent blood pressure complications before a spinal block is administered for a C-section.
Because the spinal block numbs a woman from the waist down, she may have difficulty moving her legs or may not be able to move them at all. ACOG reports that after a spinal block for a C-section, a woman's legs may feel weak or heavy. However, like the numbness associated with spinal blocks, this side effect is short-lived and should subside within a few hours.
Decreased Bladder Control
When a spinal block is administered during a C-section, the woman loses the ability to control her bladder, according to the March of Dimes. Because of this, she usually has a catheter inserted into her bladder, which allows it to empty during surgery. The catheter is generally removed from the bladder several hours later, or the next day. After the C-section, the medical team monitors bladder function before discharge to ensure it returns to normal before the mother is sent home.
The Mayo Clinic reports that antacids may be given to a woman who is about to undergo a C-section, in order to prevent nausea during the surgery. According to Nemours, nausea can be a reaction the anesthesia or the surgery itself. However, the March of Dimes reports that feeling sick to your stomach during a C-section isn't very common.
A spinal headache, according to ACOG, can occur if the needle moves when the spinal block is administered. Spinal headaches are a more uncommon side effect of spinal blocks for C-sections and generally last only a few days.