Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
A New Anesthesia Option Changing the Delivery Experience
A new anesthesia option for scheduled C-sections is changing the delivery experience for Acadiana moms.
Imagine childbirth with less pain and a quicker recovery time. Sound too good to be true? It isn’t. In fact, it’s the latest anesthesia option for scheduled C-sections available to expecting moms in Acadiana at Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
Quadratus Lumborum Block, or QL Block, is an ultrasound-guided block where local anesthetic is injected adjacent to the quadratus lumborum muscle with goal of anesthetizing the thoracolumbar nerve that provides sensation to the lower abdomen. The procedure, currently available in the region only at Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital, is used most often for cesarean sections, but also is appropriate for some other lower abdomen surgeries. Consult your physician to determine if QL Block is right for you.
“So, a QL Block would block somatic pain, which comes from skin and muscle, and visceral pain, which is deeper pain that is felt in the organs,” said Dr. Kierstin Lund, an anesthesiologist at Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s instrumental in bringing the procedure to Acadiana.
A whole new experience
Rewind the clock to three years ago. Brittney Sprague is living in Baton Rouge and expecting her first child. Things aren’t going as she envisioned. More than 40 weeks along, she is showing no signs of going into labor. A C-section is scheduled and her baby boy, Harrison, is born.
“I had an absolutely horrible recovery with my first (pregnancy), so much so that I did not want another one,” Sprague said. “I was bedridden. I remember being in a lot of pain. I remember not really being able to get up. And, if I did get up, I had to have a lot of help. Even going home, I remember it just being like weeks of pain and moving slow. It was miserable.”
As the months passed, Sprague and her family moved to Lafayette. The desire for another baby grew, but Sprague’s apprehension lingered amid memories of the post-operative pain. She soon was expecting her second son, John-Parker. Once more, she was scheduled for a C-section, this time at Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s. Her OB-GYN, Dr. Mario Cardinale, recommended a QL Block.
The difference in experiences “was night and day,” Sprague said. “With Harrison, I was kind of out of it. I just felt really drugged, even when we got into our room. With John-Parker, I was fully aware of what was going on. When we got back into our room, I didn’t have any pain at all in the first 24 hours. I had to actually remind myself, ‘hey, you just had a C-section, take it slow,’ because I felt so good.”
Sprague acknowledges that every birth is unique. Still, she believes a large factor this time around was the type of pain relief she felt after surgery. According to Dr. Lund, that’s one of the leading reasons QL Block is becoming the preferred option for C-section deliveries.
“Additionally, we want moms to be able to bond with their baby,” Lund said. “Opioid pain medications offset pain and discomfort, but they can leave Mom sleepy, with difficulty taking deep breaths and experiencing a loss of appetite, all of which can be distractions affecting that special time.”
The opioid offset
QL Block reduces the need for physicians to prescribe opioids to offset post-surgery pain and discomfort, which is good news as the rate of opioid addiction continues to increase across the nation. According to a study reported in JAMA Network Open, persistent opioid use was seen in 2.2 percent of women who delivered by C-section.
“Sometimes something even as simple as a routine surgery, like a C-section and the exposure to narcotics during and after that procedure, can trigger some narcotic dependence,” said Dr. Michelle Stutes, an OB-GYN with Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s. “QL Block gives us an option, as physicians, to decrease the amount of opioid exposure to patients.”
It seems to be working. Hospital pharmacists have noted a “significant” decrease in post-operative pain medication prescriptions, Stutes noted. Many new moms are able to get pain relief after the block wears off by alternating Tylenol and Toradol, both nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
“That’s not to say everybody goes home without a narcotic,” Stutes explained, “but most patients are using less than half of what they would normally have taken.”
And, that’s exactly what Sprague experienced. She was prescribed both a narcotic and ibuprofen when she was released from the hospital. “I just took the ibuprofen,” she said. “I really didn’t take it for very long, to be honest with you.”
Moms expecting a new addition to the family may have feelings of uneasiness when their OB-GYN says this delivery, too, will require a C-section, especially if post-operative pain and medications tarnished the experience. But, QL Block is changing that conversation.
“It makes me feel great that I can say ‘Hey, I’m sorry you have to have another C-section, but we’re going to try and make it as ‘non-C-section’ as possible,’” Stutes said. “You can still have that bonding that you need to have with your baby. You can still have the skin-to-skin. You can still feel like you’re awake and alert. You can still have an experience that fosters good memories for years to come.”
The Pregnancy Navigator, a service provided exclusively in Acadiana by Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s, guides you through each stage of pregnancy and helps ensure no detail is skipped. Moms at any stage – first baby, welcoming a new addition or high-risk pregnancies – benefit from the attention, expertise and knowledge the Pregnancy Navigator provides. Meet the Pregnancy Navigator, sign up for free prenatal classes and more by calling (337) 470-BABY (2229).