Anaesthetists on labour ward form an important part of a multi disciplinary team that includes obstetricians, midwives, paediatricians and theatre staff. This role is becoming ever important as anaesthetists now participate in the management of over 50% of patients in a typical unit. As well as traditional roles of providing analgesia and anaesthesia, anaesthetists are also involved in the acute management of conditions related to pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia and major obstetric haemorrhage, and also coordinating and planning the care of patients with coexisting medical diseases.
Good communication on labour ward is vital to ensure clear, early decision making, and to be able to communicate the anaesthetist must be able to understand the basics of obstetrics. In common with most medical specialities obstetrics has terms and conditions unique to the speciality. In addition, there are a specialised set of procedures, many of which have important differences compared to normal medical and surgical practice. A lack of understanding of obstetric terminology and the significance of obstetricians' observations may lead to inefficient functioning of the team. Most anaesthetists, including trainees and consultants, have had no formal obstetric training since they were medical students.
The aim of this book is to provide anaesthetists with a basic knowledge of obstetrics and, more importantly, the implications this will have on their anaesthetic practice. This book is intended to complement, rather than replace, standard texts on obstetric anaesthesia and will hopefully provide a greater insight into the obstetric mysteries of labour ward!
We are keen to receive comments or suggestions about the book.