Anaesthesia and Pregnancy
What is an anaesthetist?
Specialist anaesthetists are fully qualified medical doctors who
hold a degree in medicine and spend at least two years working in
the hospital system before completing a further five years of
accredited training in anaesthesia. In Australasia doctors who have
completed all the training requirements in anaesthesia are then
awarded a diploma of fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand
College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), which can be recognised by the
initials FANZCA after their name. Doctors who trained outside of
Australasia may hold slightly different qualifications but have
undergone similar extensive post-graduate training to practice as
Doctors who are training to become specialist anaesthetists are
called registrars, and work under the supervision of a specialist
What services do anaesthetists provide to pregnant women?
Anaesthetists provide a wide range of medical services and are
part of multidisciplinary teams providing health care to patients.
Some examples of obstetric anaesthesia services provided by
anaesthetists at Bay of Plenty DHB are given below:
- Anaesthesia for surgical procedures related to delivery (e.g.
Caesarean Section or instrumental delivery), or for surgical
procedures related to complications of pregnancy
- Pain relief in labour, particularly advanced pain relief
techniques such as epidural analgesia
- Assessment and delivery planning (as part of a
multi-disciplinary team) for women with other health conditions or
high risk pregnancies.
- Respond to emergencies in the delivery suite as part of a
Where can I find more information?
Often anaesthetists meet women for the first time while they are
in labour, and sometimes anaesthetic services can be required as an
emergency. In these circumstances it can be difficult to have a
detailed discussion regarding the procedures that anaesthetists
perform, including the risks, benefits, and alternative options.
Taking the time to learn about anaesthetic services and procedures
before they are required can allow for a more informed consent
You can watch a video about pain relief options in
Detailed information about pain relief options in labour, along
with information on what to expect if you require anaesthesia for a
Caesarean Section can also be found at the Labour Pains website.
You can also download the following pdfs:
Patients who have significant concerns or feel that they need to
be assessed by an anaesthetist prior to delivery (e.g. because of
other health problems, previous problems with anaesthesia, or
family history of serious reactions to anaesthesia) are encouraged
to discuss this with their LMC, who can refer them to the
anaesthetic pre-assessment clinic if needed.
About three times a year the Department of Anaesthesia at
Tauranga Hospital run information sessions on advanced pain relief
options in labour. Please ask your LMC about this if you would like
to attend one of these evening sessions.
September 29, 2016