In this section
A spinal anaesthetic
(sometimes called a spinal for short) is when medicine is
injected with a small needle into the fluid around the spinal cord 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 into the actual spinal cord.
Spinal anaesthetics are commonly used
by women having a baby by caesarean section 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.
Your anaesthetist may choose to give
a spinal anaesthetic to babies born early (premature or prem babies) in
preference to a general anaesthetic (GA). A GA can affect their breathing, in
particular, make it more likely to have breath holding episodes or apnoea’s. Babies
having a spinal anaesthetic are less likely to have apnoea’s.
Your baby may still need a
general anaesthetic if:
Whether your baby has a
spinal or 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. Many of these are done with a spinal anaesthetic.
There may be 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. When the spinal wears off your baby may 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 updated February 2023
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