Along with the anticipation of giving birth, you’re undoubtedly feeling a little bit of nervousness. It can be simpler for you if you are more informed about your pain management alternatives.
What Is Spinal Block
A spinal block, also known as spinal anaesthesia, is a medical procedure that involves the injection of a local anaesthetic into the cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal canal. This numbs a specific area of the body, usually below the waist, to prevent pain during surgery or other medical procedures.
During a spinal block, the patient is positioned on their side or seated with their back arched, and a small needle is inserted into the spinal canal. A local anaesthetic is then injected into the spinal fluid, which blocks the transmission of pain signals from the nerves in the area.
Spinal blocks are commonly used for surgeries such as caesarean sections, hip and knee replacements, and bladder surgeries, as well as for pain management during labour and delivery. They are generally considered safe and effective, but like any medical procedure, there are potential risks and complications.
It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of a spinal block with a healthcare provider before undergoing the procedure.
Spinal Block For C-Section
Image Source: Shutterstock
A spinal block is a type of regional anaesthesia commonly used for cesarean sections (C-sections). During a C-section, a spinal block is administered by an anesthesiologist to numb the lower half of the body, allowing the mother to be awake and alert during the procedure without feeling any pain.
The anaesthesiologist will typically ask the mother to sit up or lie on her side, and then administer a local anaesthetic to numb the injection site. A thin needle is then inserted into the spinal canal, and a small amount of medication is injected into the cerebrospinal fluid.
The medication quickly numbs the lower half of the body, allowing the surgical team to perform the C-section while the mother remains comfortable and pain-free.
Spinal blocks are preferred over general anaesthesia for C-sections because they allow the mother to be awake and alert, which can be reassuring and comforting during the delivery process. They also have a faster onset of action and a lower risk of side effects than general anaesthesia.
However, like any medical procedure, there are potential risks and complications associated with spinal blocks for C-sections, here are some of them:
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty urinating
- Back pain
- Allergic reaction
- Respiratory distress
It is important to note that not all women who receive a spinal block during labour will experience these complications, and the likelihood of experiencing them may vary based on individual factors such as age, weight, and medical history. Additionally, the benefits of spinal blocks often outweigh the risks and can provide significant pain relief during la
Now, we’ll compare two of the most frequent types of labour pain medication: an epidural and a spinal block.
Spinal Block vs Epidural
The similarities between an epidural and a spinal block
Both an epidural and a spinal block, which is frequently referred to as a “spinal,” provide effective pain relief during labour. The operation begins the same way, whatever your medical team and you determine is best for you:
• You have the option of sitting up or lying on your left side. In either case, you’ll be instructed to arch your back to make it simpler to effectively place the needle.
• To reduce the risk of infection, your anesthesiologist will wipe your lower back with an antiseptic solution.
• After that, they give a quick-acting local anaesthetic using a fine needle. Although the region immediately goes numb, you might experience discomfort comparable to a mosquito bite.
The spinal region is then injected with a thicker needle by your anesthesiologist.
You’ll likely also receive sedatives or analgesics intravenously or along with the anaesthesia, whether you have a spinal or an epidural, to help you relax.
Both spinal blocks and epidurals are types of regional anaesthesia that involve injecting a local anaesthetic into the spinal canal to numb a specific area of the body. However, there are some differences between the two procedures.
Image Source: Shutterstock
The differences between an epidural and a spinal block
The main difference between a spinal block and an epidural is the location of the injection site.
In a spinal block, the anaesthetic is injected into the cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal canal, while in an epidural, the anaesthetic is injected into the epidural space, which is just outside the spinal canal.
Because the anaesthetic is injected closer to the nerves in a spinal block, the onset of numbness is usually quicker and more intense than with an epidural. Spinal blocks are often used for more extensive surgical procedures, such as a cesarean section or lower abdominal surgery.
Epidurals, on the other hand, are often used for pain relief during labour and delivery, or for managing pain after surgery. The slower onset of numbness with an epidural allows for more gradual pain relief and greater flexibility in controlling the level of numbness.
Additionally, epidurals are often used to provide ongoing pain relief over a longer period of time, while spinal blocks are typically used for shorter procedures. Epidurals can also be used for pain relief in the chest and upper body, while spinal blocks are limited to the lower body.
Overall, the choice between a spinal block and an epidural depends on the type of procedure, the patient’s medical history and preferences, and the experience and preference of the anesthesiologist.
Advantages of Spinal Block vs Epidural For Certain Births
There are some deliveries where a spinal block is preferable to an epidural. Your OB-gynaecologist can suggest that you choose a spinal if you have any birth difficulties or are having a caesarean delivery, often known as a C-section. In these situations, you need assistance right away.
Moreover, smaller amounts of medication can be administered by injecting anaesthetics directly into the dural sac, which contains cerebrospinal fluid.
Benefits of Epidurals vs Spinal Block for Various Types of Births
Currently, epidurals are more frequently employed as medical precision increases.
Your medical team might decide on an epidural if this is your first child. Why? First births can last anywhere between 12 and 18 hours. An epidural gives you the option of pain relief for a longer period of time whilst a spinal gives you pain relief for an hour or two.
Image Source: iStock
As you approach labour day, you’ll have plenty of things on your mind. Don’t hesitate to start a conversation with your doctor about the type of pain relief you want when that day comes. You can even include it in your birth plan. Together, you make an informed decision. Just know that plans can change.
Bottom line: Epidurals and spinal blocks are both effective, but what’s best for you may be different from what’s best for someone else. Always seek the advice of your doctor when it comes to your pregnancy and your baby’s health.
Updates from Matt Doctor
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.