Obstetric Anesthesia Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a cesarean section?

A cesarean section (C-section) is surgery to deliver a baby. The baby is taken out through the mother’s abdomen. Some C-sections are planned, but many are carried out when unexpected problems happen during labor.

I am nervous about my cesarean; can I be asleep for it?

General anesthesia has added risks for mom and baby compared with spinal anesthesia, which include the risk of aspiration of fluid and solids from your stomach into your lungs. Therefore, we put you to sleep only in unique situations and emergencies.

Can my partner stay with me during my cesarean?

Yes. Your partner can stay with you from the moment you go into the operating room to the moment you go to recovery. If there is an emergency and you must go to sleep, your partner will be escorted out of the operating room so that we can focus solely on taking care of you and your baby.

Can I still do skin-to-skin with my baby if I have a Cesarean?

Yes. The doctors will examine the baby right after birth, and if he or she is doing well, and it is an appropriate time during surgery, the baby will be brought to you for skin-to-skin.

Will I get back pain from a spinal or epidural?

Spinals and epidurals do not cause long-term back pain. You may have mild bruising and tenderness where the spinal or epidural is placed that can last a few days.

What is an IV line?

The intravenous line is inserted into a vein (blood vessel) using a needle. Once the line is in place, the needle is removed, and it is connected by a long piece of tubing to a bag or syringe containing fluids, nutrients, or medications. The intravenous line may be inserted into almost any vein in the body.

What is an anesthesiologist?

Physician anesthesiologists are highly skilled medical doctors (MD or DO) who specialize in the field of anesthesiology. As physicians with significantly longer and more extensive training than other classifications of anesthesia practitioners, physician anesthesiologists are the most qualified to make anesthesiology-related perioperative medical decisions. Physician anesthesiologists are primarily responsible for the safety and well-being of patients before, during, and after surgery.

I have a high-risk pregnancy. Can I talk with someone about my upcoming birth and the care you provide?

Yes! Call our Obstetric Anesthesiology division’s administrator at (650) 723-5439; the administrator will happily answer any questions you have or will reach out to a doctor for a more in-depth answer.