Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: I had to have three C-sections because my babies were all so big. But my biggest problem wasn’t with the delivery at all; it was with the anesthesia before the delivery. The problem was they put the epidural in the wrong section of my back. It went in too high, and I wasn’t able to swallow.
My epidural was put in by the attending physician at the hospital. In theory, that should have been a good thing because at a teaching hospital, the attending is the highest level person there. But the problem is, the attending physicians are not necessarily the most up-to-date on their skills. That’s because, in a teaching institution, the residents do most of the procedures. So the person who would be the most up-to-date on his or her skills would be the senior-level resident. He or she has been doing those procedures all day every day for the past few months.
Truth be told, you might not have a choice who gives you your epidural. But it might be a good idea to ask your ob-gyn or midwife about the structure of the hospital you’ll be delivering at. For example, you could ask if there are medical students or nurse practitioners working with your anesthesiologist. At least you’d know ahead of time! And you could ask who your ob-gyn recommends. Every situation—and every hospital—is different, but you can at least ask about your options ahead of time and adjust your mindset accordingly.
—Kristin C. Lyle, MD, FAAP, a mom of three girls and disaster medical director at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, both in Little Rock