A spinal block may sometimes be called a "spinal." A narcotic or anesthetic, such as
fetanyl, bupivacaine or lidocaine is injected below the spinal column directly into the
spinal fluid and provides pain relief for up to 2 hours.
It is easy to confuse a spinal block and spinal epidural because they are both injections into the spinal area. For
a spinal block, narcotics or anesthetic is injected once with a needle. For a spinal epidural or combined spinal
epidural, a catheter is placed in the epidural space to allow continuous anesthesia. Spinal blocks are not widely
administered today because of the popularity of epidurals, though they may be used in a more complex birth
situation or cesarean delivery.
What you need to know about a spinal block
A spinal block may cause one or more of the following concerns:
Hypotension (low blood pressure)
Difficulty pushing during the second stage of labor
Severe headache requiring an epidural blood patch
In rare instances, convulsions
Both narcotics and “caine” medications cross the placenta and enter the baby’s blood stream
Baby may have trouble breastfeeding after birth