What if I need an operation?
Not all women are able to have their babies through a spontaneous vaginal birth. Some babies (25%) will need to be born via caesarean section and the rest will need the help of a doctor to deliver them vaginally with either ventouse or forceps (15%).
If you need an operation such as a caesarean section, you would not need a general anaesthetic. In you already have a good working epidural in place then this can be topped up with a much stronger local anaesthetic. If you do not already have an epidural, a spinal will often be used. A spinal is similar to an epidural in terms of insertion and effects, although it does work much quicker. Only if these method did not work or their was an immediate threat to yours or your babys life would we give you a general anaesthetic.
Occasionally babies can be in awkward positions and the doctor may not be certain they can help you deliver vaginally with ventouse or forceps. In this case, you would go to theatre and have your epidural topped up or a spinal epidural given before the doctor tries to help you deliver. If this were then unsuccessful you would be in the right place, with the right painrelief to proceed immediately to caesarean section.
However you birth your baby, our aim is that you are cared for by a midwife throughout your labour and birth and feel safe and informed throughout. Please always ask questions of your midwives and doctors if you are concerned or need more information to make a fully informed choice.