Anaesthetics and pain management

Local Anaesthetic: numbs a small part of your body – you will stay awake, but shouldn’t be able to feel any pain.
Regional anaesthetic: surgeons can carry out a procedure on a region of your body without you being unconscious.

  • Peripheral nerve blocks - local anaesthetic is injected near a specific nerve or bundle of nerves to block pain from the nerve area of the body. Nerve blocks are most commonly used for surgery on the arms and hands, the legs and feet, the groin, or the face.
  • Epidural and spinal anaesthesia - local anaesthetic is injected near the spinal cord and major nerves that enter the spinal cord to block pain from an entire region of the body, such as the lower abdomen, the hips, or the legs. An epidural or spinal anaesthetic can be used for a hip or knee replacement or caesarean section. If you are having surgery on your hand or arm, you may get a regional anaesthetic in the form of a nerve block which numbs the hand or arm alone. You may also get a sedative with a regional block so you are calm, relaxed and sleepy during the operation.

General anaesthetic: this is where you go to sleep, or are unconscious for your operation. You may receive an injection or you may breathe a medication through a mask. You will then wake up after the operation when the anaesthetic wears off.

See the page preparing for your surgery for information about what to do before an anaesthetic.

Homerton Obstetric Anaesthesia vision

The arrival of a new baby is a momentous occasion for any family. For some women, childbirth can be daunting and may involve discomfort or medical intervention.  Our vision is to be there for every family to provide support, prevent pain and distress, and to deliver the best outcomes. We always work closely with our obstetric and midwifery colleagues to keep mothers and babies safe and well. Whilst doing this, we strive to provide personalised, family-centred care, tailored to our clients’ wishes. It has a low-risk midwifery led birth centre and a consultant led unit for more complex pregnancies.

Our service
We have nine obstetric consultant anaesthetists responsible for delivery suite and obstetric theatres providing

  • a 24 hours / 7 days a week emergency service with a resident anaesthetist and consultant anaesthetist
  • consultant led planned caesarean service Monday to Friday
  • a monthly high risk Obstetric Anaesthesia Clinic

We work with our obstetricians to make sure every woman who has their baby at Homerton Hospital has the best birth experience possible. 

Who we are

Dr Tabitha Tanquaray
Dr Paul Howell
Dr Sade Okutubo
Dr Desikan Rangarajan
Dr Ee-min Wong
Dr Akshat Shah
Dr Sebastian Murray
Dr Chiraag Talati
Dr Sara Bowman

We have several roles

  • we provide pain relief for women in child birth
  • we administer anaesthesia for obstetric operations
  • if you develop complications like bleeding or infection, we support our obstetric team to keep you and your baby safe
  • if we know you have risk factors in childbirth, we work with the obstetric doctors to make careful plans for delivery

Labour pain relief and delivery
We have a range of options for pain relief in labour; depending on where you have your baby. The anaesthetist can provide a 24-hour epidural service on the delivery suite, if you need it. About one third of women choose to have an epidural during labour.

We also offer Remifentanil PCA (patient-controlled analgesia), a strong type of intravenous painkiller for women for can’t have or don’t want an epidural.  For more information ask your midwife or visit 

We also offer a spinal or epidural block to women having caesarean sections and other childbirth operations.

Women who have regional analgesia/anaesthesia or general anaesthesia for labour can expect a follow-up visit before they leave the hospital. Our anaesthetist will assess and advise you about pain-problems and other anaesthetic complications after delivery.

High risk obstetric anaesthetic clinic
The high-risk obstetric anaesthetic clinic is held on the first Wednesday afternoon of the month in the antenatal outpatient department. It is a service for all women with medical disorders and/or anticipated anaesthesia-related problems in pregnancy.

  • provides advice on the peri-operative management of the high-risk patient during delivery
  • ensures that women are seen and assessed by a senior anaesthetist in a suitable time frame, preferably in early pregnancy

Wednesday Club
This is an interactive group session for pregnant women with a high BMI, providing them with information about the increased risks in pregnancy as a result of their weight.  This session occurs at 13.00 on the first Wednesday of the month and is attended by a consultant obstetrician, consultant anaesthetist, senior midwife and dietician.