If Your Baby Is In A Posterior Presentation Just Before Birth, Labor Can Be, Quite Literally, A Pain
If your baby is in a posterior presentation just before birth, labor can be, quite literally, a pain. Childbirth Educator Kira Smith (ICCE) offers some tips on how to relieve the pain and pressure. Your question
What do you suggest doing to relieve intense back pain during labor? - Kristine in Orem, UT
The expert answers
Severe back pain during labor is often associated with the baby being in a posterior position. When the baby is in the anterior position -- which is the ideal presentation -- the baby's face is facing mom's spine. When the baby is posterior, this means that the back of the baby's head is pressing up against mom's spine. The back of the baby's head is harder than her face, so there is more pressure on mom's spine, thus, more pain. This is commonly known as "back labor" or "posterior labor."
Changing positions may be helpful to relieve the pain and also to help the baby turn to a more favorable position for the birth. Using a position, such as hands and knees, that keeps the baby's head off your spine can be helpful. Pelvic rocking and squatting may also help the baby rotate and end the back pain.
Another technique that can help back pain is counter pressure. Have your partner press hard or massage where it hurts. This can be tiring for the hands, so two tennis balls can be used. You can use either ice or hot packs, too. A massage technique called the "double hip squeeze" can also help to relieve back pain. Your partner can place his hands at the top of your buttocks and squeeze in, down and together.
Getting in the shower and directing the water at the pain can help. If it is permitted by your health care provider, taking a bath may also diminish the painful sensations.
Finally, some health care providers also offer sterile water injections to help relieve severe back pain. Talk to your caregiver to see if this might be an option.
- Kira Smith, M.Ed, ICCE