Spinal Headaches after C-Section

While browsing through “FitPregnancy” at the pediatrician’s yesterday, I came across a question in the Pregnancy Q & A section that caught my eye. The question was as follows: “My mom tells me terrible stories about the spinal headache she got after her C-section. Is this an old wives’ tale?” Without having read the answer, I can personally say no, this is not an old wives’ tale. I only wish someone would have warned me! So, this is a warning to you, in the event you one day have to deliver by C-section.

Shortly after my third child was delivered by C-section I started experiencing a severe headache. I am prone to headaches and migraines so at first I thought I was just in need of some protein, seeing as I hadn’t eaten since the day before. After I was finally allowed to eat some solid foods I still had a terrible headache- even with all of the pain medications I was taking for the incision. After about a day or so, the nurse asked me to lay down to see if the pain lessened. Initially it did not, so she just moved on, never explaining to me that she was trying to diagnose a possible Spinal Headache. Finally after the 4th day when I could hardly even open my eyes to feed my son because of the pain a different nurse thought I might have a Spinal Headache. I had never heard of this. According to the FitPregnancy article, “During spinal anesthesia-which may be used during a Cesarean section- a small needle is used to puncture the dura, the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord. Sometimes, spinal fluid can leak out of the puncture sit, leading to a headache.” The author continues, “The hallmarks of a spinal headache are that they typically begin one or two days after delivery; they’re worse when standing or sitting and lessen when lying down; and they tend to occur at the front and/or back of the head.” This is exactly what I experienced, only because it went on 4 days, by the time they discovered what it was treatments that might typically work did not ease my pain. When drinking lots of liquids, lying flat and taking over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers didn’t relieve my pain, an epidural blood patch was ordered. So at this point my options were to either go home to two toddlers and a brand new baby with a migraine (not to mention my husband was sick in bed with strep throat) or endure a second spinal injection within a few days. As much as I dread that spinal injection, I had no choice! So, as my 4 day old laid next to me on the hospital bed the anesthesiologist drew my blood and injected a small amount of it into the epidural space to patch the hole in the dura. My headache was gone immediately!

My hope for anyone nearing a delivery is they could have a natural and wonderful experience, but since this is not usually the case it is best to be well-informed of those unusual problems that could occur. According to the article in FitPregnancy, only 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 (I don’t know how the numbers could be that far apart, but I’m just relaying this) women experience a spinal headache after a C-section.

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