Skip to Content

Menu Icon
Menu
Menu Icon

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.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised November 13, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Interactive Tools

Get started learning more about your health!

Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.