Women's Health

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Spinal Block for Childbirth

Treatment Overview

Spinal anesthesia (spinal block) is a way to control pain using anesthetic medicine. It causes complete loss of feeling and muscle control below the waist. A spinal block is often used for an assisted delivery (such as a cesarean section or a delivery with forceps). Or it can be used when a delivery is happening fast. The benefit of a spinal block is that it works quickly.

A spinal block is similar to epidural anesthesia. But the anesthetic for a spinal block is injected in a single dose into the fluid around the spinal cord. A spinal block may also be called a saddle block. It numbs the area that would come into contact with the saddle of a horse.

Like an epidural catheter, a spinal block must be given by an anesthesia specialist.

Side Effects

Spinal anesthesia (spinal block) for childbirth may cause side effects. These may include lowering of the mother's blood pressure during delivery, an occasional headache after delivery, and temporary urinary problems. Infection at the injection site is a rare complication.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: June 23, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
John M. Freedman MD - Anesthesiology