What's a Pudendal Block?
Many women become quite anxious before delivery. It is certainly scary to consider the pain you may experience during birth and to go into a situation where there are many unknowns. Becoming educated about your pain relief options can help you to alleviate some of this anxiety. It will also make you an informed patient, and one who can decide on pain medication for herself.
The Pudendal Block
The Pudendal Block is not a pain relief medication that helps to alleviate your contractions. It doesn't help, unfortunately, with the majority of your labor. What it does do, however, is help to make the delivery less painful. With a Pudendal Block, the doctor will inject a local anesthetic such as lidocaine or chloropracaine into the pudendal canal of the woman's body before delivery. The pudendal nerve is the one that transmits pain to you during delivery, and this local anesthesia will make the site numb. Injected directly into the vaginal wall, the Pudendal Block will work almost immediately and will offer close to complete relief. It is often very useful for women who need an episiotomy and it also helps to alleviate the intense pressure that women experience during pushing.
Advantages of the Pudendal Block
Often, a woman decides that she doesn't want to use pain medication during labor. She may find, however, that when she gets to the pushing stage she is exhausted. She may also be surprised by how much pushing hurts. The Pudendal Block alleviates this pain and helps to stop the burning sensation as the baby is born. It can offer much needed relief at the end of the delivery and can make the actual birth less scary. It only works for about an hour, allowing the woman to recover quickly.
Disadvantages of the Pudendal Block
This medication does not help with the earlier stages of labor at all - it is only helpful when the woman is pushing. It may slightly decrease the desire to push and can, occasionally, result in an allergic reaction. The anesthesia does go through the blood stream and into the placenta, so it does get to the baby. The baby may have more difficulty latching on and breastfeeding in the beginning as a result.
The Pudendal Block is one of many options available to a laboring woman. When writing your birth plan, you may want to take this medication into consideration and specify whether or not this is something that you would like to have. You are in charge of your labor and you should have all of the necessary information to make educated choices for yourself and your baby.