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purple_daisy

C-section: What to expect from spinal block?

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purple_daisy

Hi ladies

 

I have just been told that for my elective c/s I will be given a spinal block. Last time for my emergency c/s I already had an epidural in place so didn't need anything else.

 

I am not worried or stressed over it, but as I like to feel prepared can you please share your experiences of a spinal block?

 

Specifically:

- How long did it take to put in place - I am assuming it is a little tube in your back same as an epidural?

- How long does it take to wear off or is it turned off straight away?

- Did you get any side effects from it eg shakes, feeling sick, feeling itchy?

- If you've experienced both an epidural and spinal block did you find much of a difference in how long it took to get moving again?

- Anything else useful?

 

I know the anaethetist will talk me through things on the day, but I like to hear from women who have actually had one done, and to mentally prepare well in advance.

 

Thanks!

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Chelara

I've had 2 c sections both done with a spinal.

 

It takes a little while to put in but takes effect very quickly. I'm guessing its pretty similar to an epidural, I've never had an epi though. My partner wasn't allowed in theatre while I was having the spinal put in. I never got he shakes either time. The first time I had the spinal I felt a nerve jolting pain down my leg- normal and good apparently, it's quick and just an unnerving feeling. I didn't have that he second time. First time I don't recall any side effects but my second spinal I got nausea and low bp during the op, they gave me something for the nausea and it subsided very quickly. Second time I also got very, very itchy for 48 hours afterward and I threw up my lunch (I got given a sandwich a few hours after, probably not a great idea to eat so soon afterward). I think it takes 12 hours or so to wear off but I wasn't out of bed until 24 hours after.

 

I was given a suppository for pain relief while in theatre both times and was completely pain free until I attempted moving around.

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SemiRuralGirl

Following.

 

I too have had two epidurals and was wondering the difference with a spinal block. I believe spinal blocks are meant to be "better" overall - I remember reading about them and the difference in a med journal around 7 years ago, but I am afraid that information has left my company ;)

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=R2=

Procedure is similar to the epidural but the needle goes in deeper in the actual spinal canal, closer to your nerves so the effects are more immediate ie more potent. The epidural needle goes to just outside the spinal canal into a smaller space.

 

The spinal needle is actually easier to insert than an epidural so usually doesn't take as long and the needle is taken out completely after delivering the dose.

 

You might feel warmth going down your legs just after the dose goes in. You don't even feel your lower half going numb - it just does pretty much straight away.

Edited by =R2=

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Lokum

I had a spinal with DS1. With DS2 I had an epi towards the end of the labour, which gave me the shakes and didn't work, then I had a spinal as well, when it turned into emerg c/s.

The spinal provided more complete cover. The process for putting them in was the same. Used the same site for spinal/ epi with DS2.

Unlike the epi which can be turned off, the spinal has to wear off - but that's good. That meant I didn't need so much in the way of narcotics and could be more with it in baby's first hours.

After both c/ s I was up and showering in under 12 hours.

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Box of Frogs

Hi OP

 

I work in anaesthetics and also have had 2 spinals when I had my bubs

 

What you can expect:

 

The doctor will get you sitting on the edge of the bed with your feet hanging over the side (they may do this either in the bay or in the theatre itself)

They have a feel of your spine to find the anatomical landmarks and then mark it with a pen

You will get an injection of local anaesthetic to numb the skin. This is a painful injection but only lasts a couple of seconds.

They will paint your back with prep and leave it to dry. This stuff is SUPER COLD.

They will drape you with sterile drapes so don't touch them,

Once you are in position and draped, the anaesthetist will use a very fine needle to inject local into the space surrounding your spinal cord. It is VERY important to stay in position.

Once the block is in the right place, you will feel a warm rushing sensation in your bottom and legs, as well as numbness and tingling.

Within a few minutes, you will be unable to move your legs at all. It is a very weird sensation as if the lower half of your body belongs to someone else.

The doctor will test the block by applying ice/pain - you will not feel anything during the surgery. If you start to feel pain, tell the anaesthetist immediately.

 

Epidurals are a great anaesthetic technique but are associated with more complications. Spinals are great too but are a "one shot" job and are limited by time. The spinal can last a few hours so it is important that once you start to feel pain to get on top of it before the pain becomes too severe.

 

Hope this helps

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chickenpants

The main difference is that while an epidural is connected to a drip, a spinal block is just a dose of anaesthetic which wears off after a while. I've had 2 operations under a spinal block, one c-section and one to drain an abcess. They used less for the second because the procedure didn't last as long. I couldn't feel a thing yet could still wiggle my toes, it was weird. Luckily they were nowhere near my feet, but I did giggle about it while I was in theatre.

 

They administer it in a similar fashion I think, a local anaesthetic and then a bit of prodding, then you feel a weird warm feeling spread through your lower body,, then you're a flopsy mopsy. There's nothing left in there, no drip attached or anything. They do check you a lot to see if you have sensation with blocks of ice and pinching.

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MuddyPuddles
Hi OP

 

I work in anaesthetics and also have had 2 spinals when I had my bubs

 

What you can expect:

 

The doctor will get you sitting on the edge of the bed with your feet hanging over the side (they may do this either in the bay or in the theatre itself)

They have a feel of your spine to find the anatomical landmarks and then mark it with a pen

You will get an injection of local anaesthetic to numb the skin. This is a painful injection but only lasts a couple of seconds.

They will paint your back with prep and leave it to dry. This stuff is SUPER COLD.

They will drape you with sterile drapes so don't touch them,

Once you are in position and draped, the anaesthetist will use a very fine needle to inject local into the space surrounding your spinal cord. It is VERY important to stay in position.

Once the block is in the right place, you will feel a warm rushing sensation in your bottom and legs, as well as numbness and tingling.

Within a few minutes, you will be unable to move your legs at all. It is a very weird sensation as if the lower half of your body belongs to someone else.

The doctor will test the block by applying ice/pain - you will not feel anything during the surgery. If you start to feel pain, tell the anaesthetist immediately.

 

Epidurals are a great anaesthetic technique but are associated with more complications. Spinals are great too but are a "one shot" job and are limited by time. The spinal can last a few hours so it is important that once you start to feel pain to get on top of it before the pain becomes too severe.

 

Hope this helps

 

I'm another having a spinal for the first time soon thank you so much for all the detailed info!

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Bluenomi

 

I loooooved my spinal block. To be fair, I was in the pushing stage of labour at the time so the relief was fantastic so that probably effects my opinion.

 

It's a needle, nothing stays in your back once it's done, it only lasts for a set time unlike an epi they can keep going for ages. It wears of gradually, its a good for a few hours though.

 

I got a bit shaky afterwards but I'd been in labour before it so part of that could have been the fact my muscles were sore from that not the spinal.

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purple_daisy

Thank you for all the responses, that is super helpful - especially the run down of the procedure from FrogInASock!

 

I feel more prepared and can start mentally preparing myself, knowing all the above :)

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Justaduck

It took a few minutes to put in - they anaethetize the area and then put the spinal in. I will not lie, it did hurt a fair bit. They didn't let DP come in until after the spinal was in place and I was gripping the anaethesthetic assistant like anything.

I was vomitting from a few mins after it was in until maybe 4-6hrs later - not constantly though. They did give me maxalon afterwards. This time around I will be asking for maxalon before they take me into theatre. No shakes or itchy. Codeine/morphine makes me sick at the best of times. Apparently the morphine they give in the spinal doesn't make you sick because it goes into the nervous system and not something else (may have gotten the systems confused).

I wanted to get out of bed that arvo, but they made me keep the catheter in for 24hrs. This time around if I feel as good as last time I will be asking for it to be removed that evening.

Have only had just the spinal that time.

I too was given a suppository after I was closed up and pain was minimal. The catheter does feel strange/hurt slightly when they take it out. They put the catheter in when you are numb, but before surgery commences

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~Jot~
Hi OP

 

I work in anaesthetics and also have had 2 spinals when I had my bubs

 

What you can expect:

 

The doctor will get you sitting on the edge of the bed with your feet hanging over the side (they may do this either in the bay or in the theatre itself)

They have a feel of your spine to find the anatomical landmarks and then mark it with a pen

You will get an injection of local anaesthetic to numb the skin. This is a painful injection but only lasts a couple of seconds.

They will paint your back with prep and leave it to dry. This stuff is SUPER COLD.

They will drape you with sterile drapes so don't touch them,

Once you are in position and draped, the anaesthetist will use a very fine needle to inject local into the space surrounding your spinal cord. It is VERY important to stay in position.

Once the block is in the right place, you will feel a warm rushing sensation in your bottom and legs, as well as numbness and tingling.

Within a few minutes, you will be unable to move your legs at all. It is a very weird sensation as if the lower half of your body belongs to someone else.

The doctor will test the block by applying ice/pain - you will not feel anything during the surgery. If you start to feel pain, tell the anaesthetist immediately.

 

Epidurals are a great anaesthetic technique but are associated with more complications. Spinals are great too but are a "one shot" job and are limited by time. The spinal can last a few hours so it is important that once you start to feel pain to get on top of it before the pain becomes too severe.

 

Hope this helps

 

 

Yes thanks for this! I'm having a caesar next week and doing a bit of research before my pre admission appointment next week.

 

Just curious - what happens if you have a spinal and it starts to wear off before they're done? I must have had epidurals the last 2 times, but both times they've started to slip out within 12 hours afterwards and I had a scary wait until the anesthetist came and removed it, so a spinal sounds tempting. Last c/s I had adhesions and then hemorrhaged, and the surgery took longer than expected.

Edited by ~Jot~

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Soontobegran
Yes thanks for this! I'm having a caesar next week and doing a bit of research before my pre admission appointment next week.

 

Just curious - what happens if you have a spinal and it starts to wear off before they're done? I must have had epidurals the last 2 times, but both times they've started to slip out within 12 hours afterwards and I had a scary wait until the anesthetist came and removed it, so a spinal sounds tempting. Last c/s I had adhesions and then hemorrhaged, and the surgery took longer than expected.

 

A spinal won't wear off in the time frame of a normal C/S, it usually takes several hours before you regain full sensation but on the off chance you do feel as though something is not numb that was previously you tell the anaesthetist and they can give you medications to help you.

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Expedit99

Froginasock summed it up perfectly!

 

I only have an emergency c-section to compare it to but my spinal block was exactly as described.

I was really nervous and at first was tempted to ask them to just put me under again, I'm so glad i didn't!

 

I didnt feel a thing, just a tiny jab from the needle for the local anaesthetic. I got the warm sensation down my legs and then that was it. Besides that weird pulling sensation of them pulling the baby out of my insides, the whole experience was pretty relaxed..Recovery went past quite quickly, I didn't have the shakes and wasnt nauseous... compared to the hell i had in recovery with DD it was pretty good.

 

DS was born in the morning and by that night the catheter was out and i was able to shower. Pain was there but again nothing compared to the first time.

 

My only hope is that all goes as well with number 3 when the time comes :)

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Girlo

From a completely non medical background, I believe they give spinals for emergency or planned c-secs, but otherwise it is an epidural because they prefer spinals, but you can only get one, so if they don't know when you will give birth, they use an epidural. Does that make sense??

 

I had a spinal for an emergency c-sec. The worst part was staying still while they put the needle in as I was in full blown labour and having contractions, but that won't be an issue with a planned c-sec.

 

I threw up when I was back in my room, but not sure if that was the spinal or something else. I also found myself getting very itchy as it wore off. So I would be very itchy across my shoulders, then a bit later across my stomach, then down my legs as the feeling came back. I didn't enjoy that and was pretty self conscious as people were in visiting and I was continually scratching.

 

Best of luck! My friends that have had planned c-secs say that it was a really wonderful experience.

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Girlo

I forgot to add... Not related to a spinal/epidural, but be VERY careful of the light above you during the operation. Mine was reflective and I could see everything that was going on. Didn't bother me because I'm not squeamish and I was curious, but be aware of it!!

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Always amazed!

I had 2 epis and a spinal for my last c/s

 

Everyone else has answered your questions fantastically..

 

Just wanted to add I had really bad itching as a side effect.. it lasted days for me and was horrible:( I had scratched so bad i left marks.

 

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bearosauraus

I had a very unpleasant experience with my emerg c/s (4 attempts, almost had a general) but once it was in it was BLISS. I had an elective c/s with #2 and it was great. Both times I got the shakes really bad but they gave me a warm blanket for my upper body and this seemed to help. Also had the.worlds.itchiest.nose.ever! I ended up having to coat it in paw paw cream I had itched it so much :)

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~Jot~

Thanks for your answer STBG, and thanks for sharing to everyone else too. I'm feeling a lot less anxious now. :)

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SpaghettiMonster

OP, I had no itching at all with my spinal. The only thing I didn't prepare for was the sensation of being numb from the neck down. Not sure if that is the norm, but I had to keep reminding myself that I really was breathing as I had no sensation of having lungs, of taking breaths and I was getting panicky unless I kept my mind on something light and happy, and distracted from the lack of breathing sensation! i remember talking about tv with DH and the anaesthetist while I was having my emergency c- section :D It kept my mind from wandering. Overall it was a great experience though, no after effects at all.

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Veritas Vinum Arte

I have had three spinals.

 

PP I have only been numb from below the chest. If you were neck down numbed they must have putit in too high.

 

I did have the shakes and vomiting with my last cs after the spinal was administered. The anaesthetist just gave me an injection of anti nausea stuff via the cannula drip.

 

Mine started to wear off about two hours later.

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KJ104

I have had 3 caesars, one with epidural and 2 with spinal. One spinal was administered lying down (trying to curl into a ball), the other I was in labour and it was administered in sitting. The rushing warm feeling is almost immediate and very calming I found. Started in my feet and went up, unlike others have replied, going from the waist down.

I have had nausea and vomitting with both, lasting for a few hours. It comes on about 20 mins into procedure and is too quick for drugs to relieve to prevent vomiting. I have also been EXTREMELY itchy for up to 5 hours after. Both times the itching started on my face in theatre and moved down my body. I was able to move my legs about an hour later and could move around in the bed within 2 hours. Although feeling like I could run a marathon I was not allowed out of bed until the following day (which drives me crazy).

All the best. great post, even for those with experience.

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Duck-o-lah

Once I was in theatre I had a chat with the anaesthetist about whether I wanted pain relief added to the anaesthetic, and what type of pain relief would be used. I was advised that they could add morphine to the anaesthetic, but the effects would be longer lasting than if they put it in the IV. I'm glad we had that chat as morphine spins me right out, so I elected a different type of pain relief instead (sorry, can't remember what that was) and morphine in the IV.

 

I had previously had an apt with an anaesthetist who felt my back and told me I had a nice straight back and shouldn't have any problems.

 

They had me sit on the edge of the bed and a wardsman stand in front of me (in case I fell down). They did the local anaesthetic and that stung quite a bit, but was quick. Then they attempted the spinal. It didn't hurt, but I could feel it, which made me squeamish and light headed, so they had me lie down and curl in a ball.

 

It took a long time, they had difficulty getting it in place and had to do a number of shots of the local. They finally got it in, but the needle was causing my right leg to tingle up and down. The anaesthetist wasn't too pleased with that, and said she would have to try again (very apologetically mind!). Second attempt they got it in and it was smooth sailing from there. I did get a bit woozy (low BP) but I kept them informed and they were able to remedy any weird feeling immediately. I didn't even realise they had started the CS!

 

I was able to start moving my legs again in recovery and was up and about the next morning (afternoon CS). I had a minimal amount of itching around my chest.

 

I did have quite a lot of pain at the site of the spinal, it was black and blue. I told them straight away that I was still feeling it and the gave me some fabulous drugs to deal with the pain :)

 

The spinal was definitely the hardest part of the whole procedure for me. Sorry, my story does sound quite unpleasant, but it's probably good to be prepared for a bit of a long haul just in case! Despite being told I had a nice straight back, they did have trouble with me. They were very good, explaining everything they did as they went. Once the procedure had started it was the anaesthetists who chatted to me about all and sundry and generally kept me from losing my head :)

 

Good luck!

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