Obstetric anaesthesia can be potentially hazardous. The physiological changes of pregnancy place an extra burden on the pregnant patient, particularly on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, which may then be further strained by the introduction of general or regional anaesthesia in the peripartum period.
Many of these physiological changes can be exacerbated by obesity, and the care of obese parturients can present extra challenges to anaesthetists.
Obesity is increasing in prevalence globally, and these patients are presenting for antenatal care with increasing frequency.
This article reviews the changes in physiology associated with obesity and pregnancy, considers some of the hazards of providing anaesthesia to obese parturients and suggests some techniques which may help to provide safer care to these challenging patients.