Spinal block

This technique offers an anesthetic and narcotic mixture. Anesthetics used include chloroprocaine, lidocaine and other "caine" drugs. Narcotics include fentanyl (Sublimaze), meperidine (Demerol), morphine, nalbuphine (Nubain).

When it's administered

A spinal block is given during active labor or, if necessary, shortly before a Caesarean birth.

How it's administered

The medication is injected into the fluid-filled space around the spinal nerves. It takes effect in seconds.

How it affects you

The technique provides complete pain relief from the chest down for labor, vaginal delivery or Caesarean birth. It provides relief for up to two hours and allows you to remain awake and alert.

Possible concerns

Side effects for you may include spinal headache or low blood pressure. Spinal headaches are somewhat more frequent in this technique than with epidural blocks because the perforation of the membrane that holds the spinal fluid is intentional. A smaller needle is used than that used with an epidural, though, so temporary leakage isn't common. You may need a catheter for your bladder because you'll lack bladder control.

As with epidural anesthesia, this method can cause low blood pressure in the mother, which may cause problems for the baby.

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