While many women will envision their ideal delivery situation, not all birth plans go as planned. Rather, emergencies can arise during delivery, where the focus becomes keeping mom and baby safe.

In these situations, while not common to use, there are circumstances where medical professionals will call for the use of general anesthesia. Here are four things to know about using general anesthesia during delivery.

No. 1: General anesthesia during delivery is rare

An epidural or spinal anesthetic is different from general anesthesia. An epidural or spinal anesthetic provides pain relief, while allowing the mother to be an active participant in the delivery, as she is still awake. However, with general anesthesia, the mother is completely unconscious. This is not an ideal situation for delivery, but may be required in an emergency, including an unanticipated breech birth, a situation where the doctor is having a hard time delivering the baby with forceps and some cesareans.

No. 2: There are risks associated with general anesthesia

There are a number of risks with general anesthesia, including aspiration pneumonia. This is because a woman’s stomach may not be empty and the muscles in charge of digestion will relax under anesthesia.

Other risks also include not getting enough oxygen and overdose.

No. 3: Legal recourse may be possible following complications

All too often people believe that a complication is just part of the risk associated with a medical procedure. And while it is true that any type of delivery does carry with it risks, there are cases where the medical professional made a mistake or a bad judgment call, leading to the complication and injury.

When this happens, while it may feel like you are all alone, know that you are not. An attorney with experiencing handling birth injury cases will be able to examine the decisions made leading up to the injury and provide advice and representation as needed.