How Painful Is Back Labor? Ways To Prevent And Ease The Pain

Sure you have done your homework on labor, birth, delivery, parenting, and what not under the sun about pregnancy well ahead of your D day. But just when you think you have mastered it all and wait to experience it on your delivery day, ‘back labor’ might catch you by surprise.

Labor experience would be more challenging than you had anticipated. Luckily, there are few things to try and avoid to improve your odds of having a back labor.

Back Labor Is…

The pain and discomfort experienced in your lower back during labor. It would be like a stab in the back with a burning hot rod. Around 25% of women experience back labor. Generally, in a back labor, the baby’s head is down by your cervix and the baby would face the stomach instead of your back. In a more formal term, it is called an occiput posterior position.

The back pain starts when the baby’s head pushes down your spine and tailbone. Some moms who have experienced back labor have commented that it is horrid, terrible, intense pain, and never want to

do that again. In some cases, the back pain is experienced even when the baby is not in this position. This is possible when the baby flips just before delivery from the sunny-side up position which could leave you in an excruciating pain. The discomfort during back labor tends to get particularly grueling at the height of a contraction.

There are simple ways to find by touching your pregnant belly if your baby is facing anterior or posterior. Touch and feel your tummy, if it is hard and smooth – baby is facing toward your back; if your belly is flat and soft – baby is posterior or sunny-side up.

Baby’s position is just one factor why women have back labor, but other reasons include:

  • Bad posture
  • Tight or weak ligaments
  • Back injury or ligament pain
  • Shape of the pelvis
  • A short torso

Is Back Labor Risky?

There is nothing direct, in particular, that will put you at risk of developing a back labor. The occiput posterior position of your baby tends to occur more in an induced labor or with an artificial rupture of membranes. There are no

major complications caused by back labor. However, due to the baby’s position, it could become difficult for your little one to descend through the birth canal and as a result, your labor might be longer. You might need a lot of pain medications if you are trying a natural birth, and risk of possible c-section is more. Back labor might also lead to an episiotomy or perineal tears or an assisted vaginal delivery.

How To Prevent Back Labor?

We wish there is a magical formula that would guarantee to stop back labor, but unfortunately, there isn’t one. There are things that you can do proactively and get your baby to a delivery-friendly position by keeping your pelvis balanced and aligned throughout pregnancy. While it is not possible to make your labor short, easy, or pain-free, it can sure bring down some pain.

  1. Try and exercise throughout pregnancy every day for at least 30 minutes. Swimming during pregnancy is an excellent way to be fit and ready for labor. Exercise in the last month of pregnancy could be difficult, but even if you miss
    exercise, do pelvic tilts for five minutes several times each day.
  2. While sitting down, always try and remember to keep your knees higher than your hips. Lean forward and not back to make sure you sit right. Use an exercise ball.
  3. While lying down on the bed, rest or sleep toward the left side. This will help with a good blood flow to your heart and also the baby to move.
  4. Always be mindful of your posture.
  5. Practice yoga and gentle inversions like child’s pose.
  6. Try chiropractor and/or acupuncture after consulting your doctor.
  7. Have positive thoughts and listen to birth affirmations.

In most of the cases, the baby will naturally make its way to a normal position before labor. If your baby still faces the wrong way during labor, a procedure called external cephalic version (ECV) would be done. With the guidance by using an ultrasound, your doctor will apply firm but gentle pressure on your tummy to turn the baby into head-down position. It can be uncomfortable but not painful.

How To Ease Back Labor Pain?

Even after doing an ECV, which can happen occasionally, your baby doesn’t

turn, there are other options to ease your back pain during labor. Epidural does not alleviate back labor pain, other medical options like narcotics, sterile water injections, and spinal block could provide relief. You can use water as a pain relief if your pain does not subside even after trying all pain medications.

Natural Pain Relief Techniques

  • Apply hot or cold water pack on your lower back.
  • Ask your partner or doula to apply counter-pressure on your lower back.
  • Try labor massage or ball massages on achy areas.
  • Walk, squat, crouch, or lean over to reduce the pain.
  • Relax in a warm tub of water or get into the shower and let the water run down your spine.

Labor hurts, whether it is normal or back labor. So it is always good to stay flexible, aligned, and in shape during pregnancy.