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.