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Epidural vs Spinal Block

(18 Posts)
Rochwen Mon 06-Jun-05 10:33:46

What exactely is the difference?

What are the pros and cons of each?

How did you experience them?



Fio2 Mon 06-Jun-05 10:35:45

a spinal block goes in higher up the spinal membrane I think

usually they only give you a spinal block if you are having a section and an epidural if you are in labour. From what i remember, unless that was just my hospital policy

JoolsToo Mon 06-Jun-05 10:37:47

sorry don't know the difference - have had one 'natural' birth and two epidurals.

The first epi was 100% painfree (and I had a Keillands rotation during delivery) - no problems afterwards

The second I felt a little discomfort but nothing really to complain about and no problems afterwards.

I had episiotomies with all three.

Would highly recommend epidural

NotQuiteCockney Mon 06-Jun-05 10:41:16

From what I remember, they can top up an epidural, but not a spinal. I've had two sections (one elective, one nearly elective) and had an epidural both times - they want to be able to top them up if they need to, I think.

I'm moderately needlephobic and terrified of spinal damage. Although it was terrifying, I could only barely feel anything happening. I did get a weird twinge in one leg when they were putting in the second epidural, but I mentioned it, and they moved the needle. Also, you can get some leakage from the site, afterwards.

Ugh, just thinking about it and I'm going all green. Oh boy did I hate all this. (That being said, an epidural is much safer than a general anaesthetic, which is the only alternative for a section.)

Sponge Mon 06-Jun-05 10:42:40

I think you'd only be given a full spinal block if you were having a c-section or if something happened that required you to be totally numbed.
I had epidurals with both mine but was left with some feeling so that I could move about a bit and could feel to push. Once the epidural is in they can top it up or make the pain relief stronger at any time so can convert it to a full block if needed.

CarolinaMoon Mon 06-Jun-05 13:12:28

i was told the anaesthetic used in a spinal block will reach the baby so it's only appropriate for c/s, where the baby will be out before it can be affected. it's a total block, whereas an epidural can leave parts of your bump unaffected - I had a little patch of bump which didn't get numbed, which is ok if you are e.g. on a drip, but obviously not ok when you are under the knife.

my epidural tube (cannula?) also worked itself a bit loose (after being in for hours), so stopped having much effect even when topped up - the spinal block is just injected into you so it will stay put.

koalabear Mon 06-Jun-05 13:21:38

according to my aenethatist (sp?) ...

spinal block goes right into spinal column - quick, effective, only for c/s, not for natural birth, given via needle, no tube sticking out

epidural goes into fluid around spinal column, can be "topped up", so therefore, degree of relief/numbness can be varied which is why it is ok for birth, and then can be topped up if you need to go for emergency c/s

spinal more risky because where the needle has to go

CrazyDi Mon 06-Jun-05 13:52:40

my epidural with baby 1 was ok for a while but wore off at the point i needed it most and didnt completely block out the contractions and took a while to work...and i couldnt wee for a week .

My spinal block 5 weeks ago for an emergency c-section was great! It worked instantly and i couldnt feel a thing! The after effects were a bit annoying though! After my section I was shaking so hard that they couldnt read my blood pressure and i had to ask my hubby to sit on my arm to keep it down from shaking like mad in the air!! Then I itched for about a week which was awful as its pretty intense itching!

Everything works different for different people though! I wouldnt even consider giving birth again with non of them like with my daughter..give me the after effects any day!!

louloubelle Mon 06-Jun-05 14:00:46

I had an epidural for the birth (mobile one, had to be resited as only worked on one side) which could be topped up to continue pain relief. Then I had a spinal block for complications after...that was weird...pretty immediate effect, watched my legs being lifted up into stirrups and wondered whose they were. I think the block has a limited effectiveness of about 2 hours before it wears off. No itching, but I got the shakes as well.

Rochwen Tue 07-Jun-05 12:19:48

So, if I'm worried about spinal damage (how common is that btw? Do people still get paralysed from epidurals or spinals?) it's safer to go for an epidural?

koalabear Tue 07-Jun-05 12:25:18

not sure about risks - i had spinal block with no side effects - i think there are risks with any intrusive procedure into your body - it's a matter of whether the benefits outweigh the risks

a spinal is only for c/s - are you having a section?

Rochwen Tue 07-Jun-05 12:31:13

Koala, yes I hope so !

NotQuiteCockney Tue 07-Jun-05 21:32:14

I think spinal damage from epidurals or spinals is really really rare.

And some hospitals only really do epidurals, so it's maybe not worth getting too bothered about which you'll have, as you may not get a choice.

You do often get blood pressure weirdness at the time (at least, I did - you need to tell the anaesthetist if you start feeling at all odd). And some people get a really nasty headache afterwards, according to the warnings they give you - again, this can be treated, if you tell them about it.

uwila Tue 07-Jun-05 21:38:19

I had a caesarean 2 1/2 weeks ago. I had an epidural and a spinal block. I also had my blood pressure drop a bit (it's quite low to start with) and they just added something to the IV to bring it up again and all was well.

Also, we seem to be discussing cosequences of an epidural/spinal which are not particular to caesareans. Well spinal block might be. But, I certainly wouldn't have a vaginal birth without an epidural either. Of course I realise some people would, but I'm not among them.

kid Tue 07-Jun-05 21:43:14

I had an epidural which was topped up during labour with with DD. When I had an elective section with DS Iw as given a spinal block. The spinal block takes effect much quicker and also wears off quicker than an epidural.

aloha Tue 07-Jun-05 22:13:07

Spinal block is better for c-section. Denser block - ie less sensation - and wears off very quickly indeed, which was important for me. Very safe too.

aloha Tue 07-Jun-05 22:15:11

And I had no shakes, no itching. Good experience.

vickiyumyum Tue 07-Jun-05 22:30:22

the risks of paraylisis with epidural or spinal block is very small, about as likely as you going shopping in london and being knocked down and killed by a bus (suppose depends on your outlook on life on how effective this is.

as most people have said, you would only be offered a spinal block for an operative procedure, such as c/section or forceps, removal of retained placenta.

most aneathetistss are very good at talking to you before hand and explaining the procedure and hte risks involoved and they normally talk you through what they are doing. there are certain points when they are inserting the needle when it is v. important that yoiu don't move, but they will tell you and i would say that it is quite a quick procedure, which when works effectivley is very good.

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