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Keywords:

  • Anaesthesia;
  • obstetric;
  • Anaesthetic techniques;
  • regional;
  • epidural;
  • spinal;
  • Labour;
  • analgesia;
  • Intensive care;
  • obstetric

In the United Kingdom, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists requires maternity units recognised for training to complete annual statistical returns. Analysis of these data revealed that anaesthetists were directly involved in more than 251 000 procedures in the peripartum period in 1997/1998. There had been an increase in the number of women delivered by Caesarean section (18.5% of all deliveries) compared with previous reports. The proportion of Caesarean sections performed under regional anaesthesia had increased for both elective and emergency Caesarean section deliveries (85.5% and 70.2%, respectively). For pain relief in labour, there had been neither an increase nor a decrease in the uptake of regional analgesia (23.6%). There were limited training opportunities for anaesthetists in general anaesthesia for Caesarean section and for obstetricians in vaginal breech delivery. The known admissions to intensive care units equated to over 100 women per month in the United Kingdom requiring intensive care as a result of childbirth.