There are several methods that can be used to combat pain during labor. Among them are the spinal block (sometimes referred to as a spinal.) A spinal is given through an injection into the back. Pain relief begins almost immediately and should last 1-2 hours.
A Spinal Block should not be confused with an epidural. With a spinal, the medication is given only once. With an epidural, a catheter is inserted into the location in the spine so that additional medicine may be dispensed at a later time. A spinal is most often used when you need pain relief for only a limited period of time, such as with a cesarean delivery or a vaginal delivery in which instruments are required to help the baby out.
Side effects of a spinal block are similar to those of an epidural. They are rare and may include:
– a drop in blood pressure that can temporarily slow the baby’s heart rate
– mild itching, shivering or a fever
– severe headache that can last for days or weeks
– breathing problems
– Difficulty pushing during the second stage of labor
It is important that you discuss the issue of pain relief with your doctor prior to your labor and delivery. She can address concerns you may have about the use of a spinal block or an epidural, as well as any potential side effects and risks.