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Spinal Block for Childbirth - Topic Overview

Spinal anesthesia (spinal block) is similar to epidural anesthesia, except the anesthetic 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 administered by an anesthesia specialist. Spinal anesthesia causes complete loss of feeling and muscle control below the waist. It is usually used only for an assisted delivery (such as a cesarean section or a delivery with forceps). Most women cannot push effectively after a spinal block.

The benefit of a spinal block is that it works quickly. But the side effects may include lowering of the mother's blood pressure during delivery, occasional headache after delivery, and temporary urinary difficulty. Infection at the injection site is a rare complication.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 13, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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