Back labor makes the work of birthing your baby a bit harder. Learn some tried-and-true tips and techniques to help alleviate the back pain that may occur during labor and get the baby into a more ideal position for birth.
positions & techniques to help you cope
A baby who is facing out rather than looking at Mom’s spine may cause back pain. This position is called occiput posterior or OP, and a long, slow labor may result.
Asymmetrical movements help
Encourage your baby to move into a better position during labor by doing some lunges, climbing up and down stairs two at a time while facing sideways, sitting backwards on a chair or toilet, or one of my favorites, “curb walking,” where Mom walks with one foot on the curb and one foot in the street. All these positions open up your pelvis and make a bit more space for the baby to swing around into a more ideal position for birth. When the baby moves into an “occiput anterior” position, he will be facing your back and labor may progress faster and the back pain relieved.
Avoid deep squats
Deep squats can also open your pelvis, but in a much more symmetrical manner, which may allow your baby to descend more deeply in your pelvis, still facing out. Avoiding deep squats and focusing on your legs, hips and pelvis moving asymmetrically when you have an OP baby will go a long way toward helping your baby to rotate.
Dealing with the pain
While you are trying some things to get the baby to turn, you will want to deal with the added pain and pressure in your back. Try a heat pack or cold pack for some relief, (you can use a scarf or flat sheet tied around your waist to hold it in place if you are mobile), ask your partner or support person to apply some strong counter-pressure to your sacrum, or consider seeking relief in the shower or tub. The sooner the baby turns, the sooner that intense back pain might be gone, but these tips can help reduce your discomfort while your baby moves into a better position.
You and your baby are working together
Your baby is an active participant in the birth process, working with you and your body in labor to move and assume the best position for birth. Your baby will respond to your movement and position changes. With some work on your part, cooperation from your baby and patience on the part of your health care provider, your baby can move into the occiput anterior position and be born. OP babies can also be born vaginally; it just may take a little longer and require more pushing. Follow these suggestions, and know you are doing everything you can to have the best birth possible.
About the author
Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE is a birth doula, Lamaze certified childbirth educator and CBE trainer, author and international speaker. Through her practice, New Moon Birth, located in Seattle, Washington, Sharon empowers families and birth professionals through support and education. Sharon is also the community manager for Science & Sensibility, Lamaze International's blog for childbirth professionals.