Below you’ll find answers to the questions we get asked the most about Surgery, Labor and Delivery.

For Surgery

Why can I not eat or drink after midnight?

Because, food in your stomach can come up in your throat during anesthesia and get down in your lungs and choke you. This can be a very serious complication, even resulting in death. It takes 6-8 hours for your stomach to clear food you eat. Clear liquids (no milk) are cleared by the stomach in about 2 hours.

Why can I not wear makeup?

Eye makeup can get in your eyes while you are asleep. Makeup base on the face makes it hard to get tape to stick to your face. We need tape to keep breathing tubes in the right place and to tape your eyes shut to protect them while you are asleep.

I have had severe nausea and vomiting after previous surgeries. Is there anything that can be done for that?

Yes, we routinely give two anti-nausea drugs to every patient to help prevent nausea and vomiting after surgery. These medicines are effective but do not eliminate all nausea. If you have had such severe nausea and vomiting that you had to be admitted to the hospital or equally unpleasant experience, tell your anesthesiologist. You might be a candidate for a Propofol infusion which might help eliminate your nausea.

Why would I have a sore throat after anesthesia?

Depending on the type of surgery you are having, after you are asleep, we will place one of two types of airway devices. For bigger surgeries like open hysterectomies and laparoscopies, we will use endotracheal tubes. These are soft plastic tubes that are placed in the windpipe to help you breath and to keep anything from going down your windpipe. These tend to cause some sore throat in most patients. For shorter and less intense procedures like hysteroscopies and D&Cs, we will place laryngeal masks (LMAs). These are soft rubber devices that go in the back of the throat but not down the windpipe. These tend to cause less sore throat and maybe none at all.

For Labor and Delivery

What if I want to try and go natural, but want to have the option for an epidural?

That is the option many first-time moms select, because they really don’t know what to expect. We are available 24 hours a day to provide epidurals. Keep in mind, that if you wait until you are fully dilated to ask for an epidural, it may be too late to get the epidural done and get you any pain relief. Also, the women that have the most success at going natural are those who have done natural childbirth training. Remember, first babies are the most difficult and painful when going natural. All ensuing deliveries are generally easier.

Do epidurals hurt?

Placement of an epidural can hurt a little. The initial injection of local anesthetic before placing the epidural needle is the most painful part. It usually stings for about 10 seconds. Then there is a second deeper injection that stings a little less. The actual placement of the epidural needle is usually pretty painless. Most patients will say that the IV was more painful than the whole epidural process.

How long does it take for an epidural to start working?

Once the epidural catheter has been placed and the first dose of drugs given, it takes about ten minutes to notice a significant difference in pain level.

Will the epidural take all of my pain away?

It may take all of the pain away or it may take most of it away. The perfect epidural we strive for is when the patient can still feel pressure, still move her legs but doesn’t feel any pain.

Will my legs be totally numb so I can’t move them?

No, most patients can still move their legs. Sometimes one leg or the other becomes somewhat weak and hard to move.

Is it normal to be more numb on one side or the other?

That is very normal. It is expected that one of your legs will be more numb than the other. As long as you are not hurting, that is fine.

How long does it take for an epidural to wear off?

It varies from patient to patient but epidurals usually take two to three hours to wear off.

Will the epidural hurt my baby?

The answer is generally, no, but further explanation is required. There are two drugs in the epidural medication. One is a narcotic similar to morphine. The one we use is called sufentanyl. Some of that drug will be absorbed by the baby and can theoretically make the baby a little sleepy, but this is not what we observe. Babies are just as lively at birth when the moms have epidurals as when they don’t. The other drug in the epidural is a local anesthetic similar to what the dentist injects in your mouth to make you numb. The one we use is called ropivicaine. It does not cross the placenta in significant amounts, so it does not affect the baby directly. Epidurals can lower blood pressure which can lead to temporary lowered blood flow to the placenta. We are always ready for this event and have drugs on hand to treat low blood pressure and bring it back up, thereby restoring the blood flow to the placenta.

I have a friend and her epidural only worked on one side. Is that going to happen to me?

Sometimes epidurals aren’t perfect. If we place one and it only works on one side or not at all, we are quick to replace that epidural with one that does work. Be assured that we will keep working to help your pain get better and won’t just accept a bad epidural. Sometimes, if a patient’s labor is progressing rapidly, such as going from a dilation of 5 cm to a dilation of 9 cm in a period of 30 minutes or so, it can be quite difficult to get that patient comfortable before the baby is born. We will do our best. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact our office and one of our anesthesiologists will call you back.