Back Labor

While everyone knows about labor pains having to do with the stomach and uterus, some women don't expect that they may also experience intense pain in their lower back during labor. This is called back labor, and pain is concentrated in the lower back during contractions and sometimes in-between contractions as well.

What Causes Back Pain in Labor?

Lower back pain during labor is normally attributed to the pressure Baby's head puts on your lower back, but there can be other causes too.

Another reason you may experience lower back pain during labor is because pain from your uterus may be "referred" to your low back. Support for this idea comes from women who experience lower back pain during menstrual periods. Clearly, there is no baby to cause back pain in this situation. Studies have found that women who experience back pain during their periods are more likely to experience back pain during labor.

Who is More Likely to Experience Back Labor?

Unlike previously thought, Baby's position during birth does not predict whether you will experience back labor.

It was once thought that babies who are facing up during labor are more likely to cause back pain because the back of their heads are pressing on the bony part of the spine. However, a study of hundreds of women in labor reported that women whose babies were in the "sunny side up" position were no more likely to complain of back pain than women whose babies were facing down or sideways.

Currently, experiencing back pain during menstrual periods is the only predictor of experiencing back pain during labor.

What Can I do to Reduce Back Labor Pain?

Back labor cannot be prevented, but the pain can be eased using several techniques:

  • Relieve the pressure of Baby's head on your spine by getting onto all fours or doing pelvic tilts.
  • Ask your labor coach to rub or apply pressure to your lower back during or between contractions. Massage in this area may also help.
  • Take a warm bath or shower or apply a hot water bottle to your lower back, you may also want to try an ice pack, or alternating hot and cold.
  • An epidural will also provide total pain relief if you don't have your heart set on natural labor.
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