Pre-Delivery Tips

For more information on our Prenatal Services, please call 757-466-6350.

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What is an anesthesiologist?

An anesthesiologist is a doctor of medicine who has completed four years of medical school after graduating from college. Following medical school, today’s anesthesiologist completes four or more years of specialized medical training in the field of anesthesiology which includes pain management and critical care medicine. Subspecialty fellowships can also be completed for subspecialty board certification.

What is a CRNA?

A CRNA, or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (also referred to as a nurse anesthetist) is a Masters degree-prepared, advanced-practice nurse who has graduated from an accredited school of nurse anesthesia. CRNAs have the education and advanced skills to administer anesthetics under the supervision of Atlantic Anesthesia’s physician anesthesiologists.

What type of anesthesia am I going to have?

Each woman’s labor is unique to her. The amount of labor pain you may feel depends on a variety of factors such as your level of pain tolerance, the size and position of the baby, strength of uterine contractions, (anesthesiologists, obstetrician, nurse anesthetist, nurse) will review your medical conditions with you in order to determine the most appropriate anesthetic plan for your labor and delivery.

How will my medications interact with the anesthesia?

Few medications interact significantly with regional or general anesthesia. Your anesthesiologist will review your medications with you and advise you of any necessary changes to your anesthetic plan.

Can I eat or drink anything while in labor?

Any time anesthesia may be required, an empty stomach is preferred to decrease the risks associated with vomiting. Digestion of food slows significantly during labor. Oral intake should be limited to clear liquids while you are at home. Once you decide to come to the hospital or our obstetrician instructs you to come to the hospital, do not eat or drink anything until you have been admitted and evaluated on the labor/delivery unit. During labor, ice chips are available.

What if I have significant medical problems or have had problems related to anesthesia in the past?

Bring these problems to the attention of your obstetrician who will contact our group well in advance of your admission. Sometimes, a patient is asked to meet with anesthesiologist before her due date to coordinate any special tests or additional consultation between our obstetrician and one of our anesthesiologists is sufficient.

At what point may I have epidural?

The decision to provide analgesia will be made jointly by you and your obstetrical and anesthesia care teams. Our anesthesia group feels that no time is absolutely too early to too late to provide pain relief. However, before beginning an anesthetic, we will insist that you be examined by an obstetrician at least once following the onset of your labor. The above policy may be waived if we have knowledge that your obstetrician is on the way to examine you.

How soon will the epidural block take effect?

Most patients will notice a significant reduction in labor pain within 20 minutes of epidural catheter placement. Your anesthesia care team will ensure you are given relief from your epidural before completing the procedure.

How long will the block last?

Epidural catheters can safely remain in place for the duration of your labor delivery. The effects of the medicine may last several hours.

Will an epidural alter the duration of labor?

Occasionally, if epidural analgesia is started very early, labor might slow for a very short period of time, but more often, epidural analgesia shortens labor because the patient is more relaxed and the baby comes down easier.

When is general anesthesia used?

When regional anesthesia is unsafe, or when your or your baby’s medical conditions preclude the time and positioning necessary for an epidural or spinal, your anesthesiologist will administer general anesthesia for a Cesarean section. General anesthesia may also be used if your regional anesthetic is inadequate for a Cesarean section. General anesthesia is not used for vaginal deliveries.

Can I contact an anesthesiologist directly?

If you would like to speak directly to one of our anesthesiologists, call 757-388-4871 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. if you will be delivering at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital or Sentara Leigh Hospital. For Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, call 757-395-6769 between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Following this conversation, if you would like to meet personally with an anesthesiologist, we will schedule an appointment for you.


Most physicians, including your anesthesiologist, are in private practice; that is, they are not hospital employees. Therefore, you will receive a separate statement from your other physicians. The hospital bill will include charges for hospital supplies used in the administration of your anesthesia.

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