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How to Handle Back Pain in Labor

In most cases, a woman feels some achiness or cramping in her back during labor, reveals the American Pregnancy Association, and for around a quarter of women back pain is severe. This pain is commonly referred to as “back labor,” and tends to be worse during contractions.

Until labor starts, you won’t know what level of back pain you will experience. By preparing yourself for the possibility of back labor and knowing what you can do to ease the pain, it may be easier to handle.


4 Steps to Handle Back Pain in Labor

How to Handle Back Pain in Labor


1. Get on all fours to relieve the pressure on your back during pregnancy.

From this position, you may want to perform daily pelvic tilts to encourage your baby into a favorable position. Position yourself on your hands and knees, curl your back as you let your head drop between your arms, then straighten your back again. Repeat 10 times, twice per day.


2. Walk, squat, lunge or sit on a birth ball to try to encourage the baby to change position during labor.

Try hula-hooping if you think you’re up to it. Spend as little time flat on your back as possible, advises BabyCenter, as this increases the likelihood of back labor. The baby’s position is a common cause of back pain; for example, if the baby is facing the mother’s abdomen, his head may apply pressure to the mother’s tailbone. Improving the baby’s position may help to ease back pain.


3. Apply a hot or cold compress to your lower back during labor.

Some women prefer heat, while others get more comfort from cold. Try alternating heat and cold. Always place a towel between your bare skin and the compress for protection. Ask your spouse or birth partner to do this if you find it too awkward. Roll a tennis ball, hollow rolling pin, water bottle or beverage can across your lower back to apply counterpressure.


4. Ask for an epidural, which is a form of local anesthesia, if no other pain management techniques relieve your back pain, and having a natural childbirth is not a priority.

In most cases, an epidural provides complete relief from all types of labor pain, including back pain.


Tips and Warnings

  • Take a childbirth class during your third trimester, one that will cover techniques to relieve back pain.
  • Discuss pain-control methods with your practitioner in advance of the labor. Write a birth plan if you want to make sure your preferences are recorded. However, be prepared to change your mind about pain relief during labor, depending on how your labor is progressing and the level of pain you are experiencing.


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