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More women than realised suffer pain from being conscious during caesareans, study finds

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More women may suffer pain due to being conscious while undergoing caesareans or other pregnancy-related surgery under general anaesthetic than realised, a troubling new study has found.

The report, conducted by medical journal Anaesthesia, found being awake while having a caesarean is far more common than it is with other types of surgery. 

Researchers discovered that one in 256 women going through pregnancy-related surgery are aware of what was going on — a far higher proportion than the one in every 19,000 identified in a previous national audit.

If a patient is conscious at some point while under general anaesthetic, they may be able to recall events from the surgery such as pain or the sensation of being trapped, the researchers said.

While the experiences generally only last for a few seconds or minutes, anaesthetists remain highly concerned.

Women also felt tugging, stitching, feelings of dissociation and not being able to breathe - with some suffering long-term psychological damage that often involved characteristics of post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Source: The Independent, 13 January 2021

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