Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care at HUP
Critical Care
Obstetrical Anesthesia
Thoracic Anesthesia
Joint Replacement Anesthesia
For Patients: What to Expect


Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Penn Presbyterian Medical Center

See also:
Penn Pain Medicine Center

Obstetrical Anesthesia

The Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is dedicated to the best possible care of the pregnant woman and her baby during labor and delivery. Since 1969, we have offered and continue to provide 24 hour a day labor floor anesthesia care. We work to keep our patients as comfortable as possible during labor and delivery.

Prior to Delivery
If you have special questions for an anesthesiologist or you have a medical condition that may affect your anesthetic, your obstetrician may make an appointment for you to see an anesthesiologist prior to your delivery. This can be arranged at your obstetrician’s office. However, if you are on the labor floor at HUP, you are welcome to ask to speak to an anesthesiologist and an effort will be made to speak with you at that time. If you have a short question that can be discussed by phone or would like to arrange an appointment with an anesthesiologist yourself, you can reach us by phone at 215-430-3377, 24 hours a day.

When You Arrive on the Labor Floor
All women who are admitted to our labor floor for delivery are seen by a physician anesthesiologist. This visit enables the anesthesiologist to learn about your goals for your labor and delivery experience, understand any medical conditions that you may have and answer your questions. Your wishes regarding pain relief are entirely respected and you always have control over your decisions about pain relief. Sometimes certain medical conditions make it necessary that decisions about pain relief be supplemented by advice from your caregivers. Our team has extensive experience in caring for pregnant women with complex medical conditions and we are equipped to respond to any change in your condition during labor and delivery.

We support all methods of pain relief ranging from non-medicated forms to the most current combinations of epidural and spinal medications. Most women who deliver here ask for some form of epidural or spinal pain relief for labor. These methods work extremely well and have a high degree of safety. A light or “walking” epidural or combined spinal/epidural is very popular because it takes away the pain but leaves a sense of pressure and good ability to move around. Some women require more intense pain relief and this often results in more skin numbness and sometimes leg weakness. This numbness will wear off after the epidural is turned off. We will work with you throughout your labor to get the best possible balance between your desired level of comfort and your ability to move about. Our goal is to provide you with the best possible experience on this joyous occasion.

Additional Information

Recommended Books
We also recommend two books on pain relief in childbirth:

Our Team

Robert R. Gaiser, MD
Valerie Arkoosh, MD
Brett B. Gutsche, MD
Theodore G. Cheek, MD


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Need an appointment? Request one online 24 hours/day, 7 days/week or call 800-789-PENN (7366) to speak to a referral counselor.

Related Links
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Obstetrical Anesthesia Fellowship


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