Planned C-section~ Epidural or Spinal Tap?

Updated on November 15, 2009
J.W. asks from Wakarusa, KS
8 answers

Hi, I am having a planned c-section and would like to know what other moms have opted for in this case, an epidural or a spinal tap? I had an epidural the last time, with my unplanned c-section and understand you have the option to have a spinal tap this time, but am unsure about the differences and befefits. Please share with me your experience and decision making and anything to make it go smoothly and less stressful, thanks!! :)

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answers from Chicago on

I had an emergency c-section with my first, and then a planned c-section with my 2nd. I was not given any choice -- it was never even discussed. I'm sure I had a spinal block with the first and I thought I did with the second. However, there was a HUGE difference between my two experiences.

During my 2nd c-section, they used "Duramorph" as the blocking drug. WOW, what a difference from the first! The day after, I was ready to jump out of bed. Seriously – by 8am, I was beginning to get mad that they weren’t in to remove the catheter so I could get out of bed. I literally jumped right up -- I felt great! With my first, it was much more the “traditional” story you hear – nurses come in to help you sit up and swing your legs over the edge of the bed and they force you to stand up and do a little walking. I can’t believe how easy it was to get up with the Duramorph. To me, it was a miracle compared to whatever I had with the first.

The downsides of the Duramorph was that it makes you feel very, very itchy. I scratched some of the skin off my leg because I was so itchy. (I refused the Benedryl the day of the delivery because I felt so drowsy. I should have taken the Benedryl.) Also, a few hours after the delivery, I got sick to my stomach. The nurses were giving me the anti-nausea medication, but I overheard them complaining that they couldn’t be more aggressive with the dose. (I guess I needed more than the “minimum,” and they were instructed to “work up” to that amount.) I think I also was sick to my stomach after my first c-section, but it's tough to remember.

If I was to ever have another baby, I would insist on Duramorph (assuming it was medically safe for the situation). Plus, I would take the Benedryl and complain about nausea much sooner!

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answers from Salinas on

I would definitely go with the epidural. I just had my baby less than 7 weeks ago and loved the epidural. I had a spinal with one of my sons as well and did not like it. When they do the spinal, they also give you medication that consists of a cocktail of medications in which one of the ingredients commonly can make you feel very anxious and uncomfortable, its hard to explain but i wanted it off of me. My friend just had her baby 2 weeks ago and got the spinal and felt that horrible feeling. She hated it. The epidural is put in and left in and consists of bupivicaine (to numb) and fentanyl (for pain) and is fed continously as needed so it doesn't wear off like a spinal. Good luck and congratulations!

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answers from Chicago on

The main difference is that you are numb much longer with a spinal. I had 1 C with the spinal (first) and 1 C with an epidural (second). I highly recommend the spinal. It will take you longer to get out of bed and start moving around but I am very resistent to pain medicine and I was supposed to get a spinal the 2nd time around but then at the last minute the Dr changed him mind and did an epidural. I didn't feel them cutting into me but I could feel a LOT. I was screaming out and they had to stop, inject me with more and go forward. It was not a good experience and I was very upset the Dr just didn't do the spinal like he was supposed to. He said he doesn't like people being numb for that long, it's not necessary with a C. But this is just my story, not to say epidurals cannot or do not work. I just think that if you're resistent to pain medicine at all, you're better off with the spinal. But you will definitely be more looped out, that's for sure. After my first was born, all I could see was my baby's face floating in a circle and I was very tired from it but right after birth, they will bring the baby to you to feed/nurse and then everyone sleeps so it's no big deal. Best wishes to you!



answers from Chicago on

Hi jennifer!
I fully agree with tanya p my first c section with my son was an emergency so I had already had the epidural while in labour it was wonderful I felt great during surgery no pain at all just had a little discomfort in recovery,was up and around within 24 hours amazing wonderful experience,2nd time around tried to vbac lots of contractions no dilation so ended up having the spinal I was given the choice and was told the spinal actually wears of quicker, I had the same anxious heavy feeling like I was being strangled it was awful when my daughter was born i was having quite a difficult time and when i woke in recovery the spinal had worn off and i was in agony thankfully the nurse was acting fast and got some strong painkillers in to me now this is just my experience and i know this does not happen to everyone so its really is down to you i personally would go for an epidural next time, either way got to breastfeed both babies successfully within a couple of hours after delivery and they were both very alert,hope this helps have a wonderful delivery!



answers from Chicago on

Hi Jennifer. Both of my c sections were scheduled and I had a spinal for both. I asked the advice of my OB and the anesthesiologist and that is what they both suggested. My experiences both times were very positive. Very little discomfort with the insertion and I gained feeling back soon after delivery. You may also want to ask the doctor to include something for nausea with the spinal. During my first section I didn't have it and I did feel a bit sick but during my second I mentioned it to the anesthesiologist and he added something for the nausea. Good luck.



answers from New York on

Typically when you have a c section you get a spinal anesthetic (a spinal tap removes cerebrospinal fluid). If you're in a lot of pain you may opt for the epoidural early on in labor but your best bet is waiting until your in the OR and get the spinal.



answers from Chicago on

I opted for an epidural. My first time I had a spinal tap.
It's really hard to stay flat for as long as is necessary to
keep from getting the headache. and it was difficult to stay scrunched up enough to spread my back bone for a better shot at correct placement for the tap.
Go with what you know, you had the epidural last time, so if it worked well....
I was up and around a lot sooner with the epidural.



answers from Champaign on

Hi Jennifer, I had 3 C-sections, and I had the spinal with all of them. I don't believe anyone ever asked me or gave me a choice. The 1st C was unexpected, but the other two were planned. I had nausea with the 2nd two. I think the excitement and unexpectedness had some effect on the first one which seemed like a breeze. The 2nd and 3rd were more difficult, but the Anesthesiologist is there the whole time and all you have to do is tell him when/if you feel ill, and they will add something that makes you instantly feel better. Since I never had an epidural, I can't comment on that or the difference...but I was fine with the spinal. Hope this helps. :)

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