The pudendal block gets its name because a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine or chloroprocaine, is injected into the pudendal canal where the pudendal nerve is located.
This allows quick pain relief to the perineum, vulva, and vagina. A pudendal block is usually given in the second stage of labor just before delivery of the baby. It relieves pain around the vagina and rectum as the baby comes down the birth canal. It is also helpful just before an episiotomy.
Lidocaine is usually preferred for a pudendal block because it has a longer duration than chloroprocaine, which usually lasts less than one hour.
Things to know about a pudendal block
A pudendal block may involve one or more of the following risks:
- Large doses of local anesthesia may be needed to experience relief
- Local anesthesia medications enter the bloodstream and cross the placenta
- Some babies have trouble breastfeeding immediately after birth
- Risk of local anesthetic toxicity
- Risk of a hematoma (blood clot)
- Risk of infection
Compiled using information from the following sources:
William’s Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 19.
Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Ninth Ed. Scott, James R., et al, Ch. 3.
Ransjo-Arvidson A et al. Maternal analgesia during labor disturbs newborn behavior: effects on breastfeeding, temperature, and crying. Birth 28(1):5-12.
The Physician’s Desk Reference (Oradel,NJ: Medical Economics Go., 1996).