I have been asked many times, “What is back labor?”
Back labor is the name given to the intense feeling some women experience in their lower back during contractions. Some women even recall having this feeling between contractions. This feeling is usually due to the pressure of baby’s head against the woman’s lower back.
Although back labor isn’t always avoidable, there are several coping options to aid in working through the unique sensation.
First, the best way to relieve back labor is to get off your back. Many laboring women think once they check into the hospital or birth center, they are supposed to just lie in bed until the baby arrives. That common misconception is the furthest from the truth. Movement and gravity are a woman’s best friends during labor and will aid in pain relief and in shortening labor itself.
If the pain is due to fetal positioning there are various positions the laboring woman can use to encourage baby to turn around. Some options include:
- Sitting on a birth ball
- Using a sheet or Rebozo to shift the pelvis
- Pelvic tilts
- Hula-hoop dancing
- Bending down on hands and knees (cat-cow position)
- Sitting backwards on a chair or toilet (leaning your body toward the tank)
If the pain is not due to baby’s position, some options include:
- Hot or cold compresses applied to the pain area (ex. heated rice sock)
- Strong counter-pressure (ex. using the heel of your hand against mom’s back or hip squeezes)
- Rolling something hard against her back (ex. a massage tool, water bottle, or soda can)
- Hydrotherapy (ex. shower, warm bath, or birth pool)
In addition, there are two tools that can be acquired prenatally that will generally help labor progress more smoothly and with less pain overall. Attending a childbirth education class (taught by a certified instructor), can better help prepare you for the task ahead. It will give you tools and knowledge on how to cope with various scenarios as they arise and how to recognize what is normal. Hiring a doula has statistically shown to reduce pain, shorten labor, and help make the birth experience more enjoyable, in general. By utilizing a variety of comfort measures and techniques, you will have a better chance of getting the back labor pain under control.