Spinal Pain Relief

Spinal Pain relief is given through local anaesthetic and is a single pain relief injection which works to effectively alleviate pain caused by intense contractions. Spinal anaesthesia, also called spinal analgesia, is a pain relief many women choose as an alternative to an epidural to help them cope with the pain of contractions during labour.

What does the spinal procedure involve?

If you decide to have the spinal pain relief procedure, your anaesthetic doctor will insert a fine needle into the small of your back in the lower spinal cord (called the cerebrospinal fluid or CSF).   The spinal injection helps to numb the area from the waist down and provides an effective form of pain relief.

Once the spinal injection is in place the local anaesthetic will work to effectively stem the pain of contractions. Spinal pain relief is most commonly used for a caesarean birth rather than a normal labour.

When should I have a spinal?

Spinal local anaesthetic can be used in the first stage of labour and may be given with a combined spinal epidural. If you need to have a caesarean then you may need to have a full dose combined spinal epidural when you go into the operating theatre. The full dose spinal epidural can be used if you need to top up your epidural or require a new one.

In some cases of caesarean and assisted births, doctors may find that spinal local anaesthetic is necessary in order to numb the pain. In cases where there are problems, such as if the mother becomes overly exhausted to push any further and her blood pressure has fallen low, an emergency spinal epidural may be carried out.

Many pregnant women who are overdue and are having a planned caesarean use spinal anaesthetic. After the baby is born some women are given spinal anaesthetic to help ease the uncomfortable pain of stitches. Some women may require this form of pain relief if they have had their placenta removed.

What are the advantages of spinal pain relief?

There are a few advantages to having a spinal procedure, as outlined below:

  • It is a fast and effective form of pain relief.
  • It works within 10 minutes of being administered.
  • It can be given in a single injection.
  • You may feel more comfortable as opposed to a standard epidural where there is the need for additional tubes attachments.
  • It takes away the pain of contractions and numbs your body.

What are the disadvantages of spinal pain relief?

As with any treatment there are disadvantages that need to be considered:

  • You may feel itchy.
  • It cannot be administered more than once and is short acting, between 60-90 minutes for mini spinals and 2 hours for full spinals.
  • You may develop a severe headache.
  • It can take time for numbness to wear off and sensations to return.

Can anyone have a spinal?

Most women can have spinal local anaesthetic; however, in some circumstances your doctor might recommend against it but this very rare. Your doctor can further advise you on the suitability of spinal pain relief in comparison to a standard epidural. Spinals are mostly used in caesarean sections or in assisted births so you are unlikely to have it during a normal labour.

Where are spinals administered?

Spinals are normally only given in hospital settings where there are health care doctors and qualified staff available in case of an emergency. As spinals are mostly given in circumstances of a caesarean or assisted birth it will inevitably be performed in the delivery room or anaesthetic operating theatre.

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