Obstetric anesthesiologists serve as on-site, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week consultants in the Labor and Delivery Suite, poised to assist our obstetrical colleagues in the management of the pain of labor and delivery, to administer anesthesia for cesarean section, and to manage emergencies that may arise.
There are three main ways to provide pain relief during labor and childbirth:
- Local anesthesia May be used by your health care provider during delivery to numb a painful area or after delivery if stitches are necessary. Local anesthetic medications do not reduce discomfort during labor.
- Regional anesthesia (also called an epidural or spinal anesthesia) is administered by an anesthesiologist (a doctor who delivers pain medicine) during labor to reduce discomfort. In both epidural and spinal anesthesia, medications are placed near the nerves in your lower back to “block” pain in a wide region of your body while you stay awake. Regional anesthesia greatly reduces pain throughout the birthing process. It can also be used if a cesarean birth becomes necessary.
- General anesthesia puts you to sleep during the birthing process. While safe, general anesthesia is rarely used and only during emergencies since it prevents you from seeing your child immediately after birth.