A spinal block is administered in the same way as an epidural, via a needle into the epidural space in your back, but unlike the epidural which can be topped up, the spinal block consists of a single dose of local anesthetic which completely numbs your lower body. It is most commonly used for caesarian section deliveries as it allows you to be conscious during the delivery and doesn't have the lasting grogginess that follows a general anesthetic.
A spinal block also lowers your blood pressure which can be an advantage if you are suffering from high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia, but it can also be a disadvantage as your blood pressure can drop too low.
Other risks of a spinal block are similar to those when having an epidural: the potential for the anesthetist to insert the needle into the spinal cord an cause an epidural headache, as well as increased incidence of needing a forceps/ventouse assisted delivery as it blocks the pushing sensation in later labour.
"I had a spinal block, not for pain relief but to lower my blood pressure. I didn't like it, it made me feel very detatched and I felt a lot of pressure and pulling."
"I'm so glad I a spinal block for my c-section, it let me experience everything, and I heard my baby's first cry, I wouldn't like to have missed out on that!"