In this section
A spinal anaesthetic (sometimes called
a spinal for short) is when medicine is injected with a small
needle into the spine which makes the nerves go numb. After
this, your baby cannot feel anything from the waist to the toes for
the next one to two hours. The medicine does not go in to the actual
Spinal anaesthetics are commonly used by
women having a baby by caesarean and by older people having
surgery. During the operation your baby will be awake and have
a dummy dipped in sugar solution to suck. Many babies feel so warm
and comfortable that they fall asleep.
It is safer to give a spinal anaesthetic to
babies born early (premature or prem babies) than it is
to put the babies to sleep under a general anaesthetic (GA). A
GA can affect their breathing. It has been shown that babies having
a spinal anaesthetic are less likely to have irregular breathing
A spinal anaesthetic is often used for
Your baby may still need a
general anaesthetic if:
If your baby does need a
general anaesthetic, nurses and doctors watch them carefully
in case there are any complications.
At The Royal Children's
Hospital there are more than 300 hernia repair operations done
every year in babies less than one month old. More than half of these
are done with a spinal anaesthetic.
There is less chance of
having irregular breathing patterns after surgery with a spinal
anaesthetic. There are other benefits as well:
If your baby is still
premature or less than six weeks old they will probably stay
in hospital for a night after the surgery. They often have
some pain so they will be given some pain relief medicine such as
paracetamol for the first night.
If your baby has any of
the following within 48 hours (two days) after their
Your surgeon is:
consultation with the Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) Department of
Paediatric Anaesthesia and Pain management. www.rch.org.au/anaes. Last update September
2007. Updated November 2010
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