Back Labour and How to Handle It

Preggie Pals – Managing Back Labor

Why this podcast?
I re-discovered this podcast while I was exploring the Parents On Demand network.

Each episode features a group of women who are mothers, pregnant or both as well as experts who provide sound information. There’s a fun, chatty atmosphere and it’s really easy to listen to.

With episodes covering trying to conceive, infertility, pregnancy and birth related topics you’ll be sure to find something that appeals to you.

Why this episode?
I have found that back labour, that is feeling the surges, or contractions, in the back instead of or as well as in the front, is pretty common.

Not everyone expects it and it can be tough to handle.

I love that this episode is devoted entirely to the topic of back labour and that it provides some great tips for managing it.

The episode
Doula and massage therapist Abbie Lacey (I could not find her name on the website so I apologise if I am misspelling it!) is the guest on this episode.

There are a few commercials and talk about news headlines but I’m going to delve straight into the main topic.

So, what is back labour?
Abbie describes it as significant discomfort in the back rather than the belly. It’s not something you can predict will happen to you and it may last for the duration of your labour or come and go.

What causes it?
The primary reason for back labour is the position of your baby. If your baby’s back is facing your back then the back of their head will be putting pressure on your tailbone and causing discomfort.

You could have back labour, however, even if your baby is in the optimal position with their back facing your belly. I know I did with my three children.

Regardless of your baby’s position, they will be twisting and turning in order to pass through your pelvis and emerge into the world. You might find that at some point a small shoulder is grinding into your lower back.

Abbie also points out that a woman may be more likely to experience back labour if they are lying on their back or in a reclined position.

Can back labour cause problems?
Back labour itself will not cause problems although some people may find that they find it significantly harder to cope with than, well, let’s call it belly labour.

You might tense up more meaning that your baby has less room to manoeuvre and lengthening your labour. It could also mean that you are more likely to choose pain relief and each pain relieving option comes with own set of risks.

If your baby being in a less than optimal position is what’s causing the back labour, that is what could throw some extra challenges your way.

A baby who is posterior needs to work harder to be born which means that the labouring woman will need to work harder too and quite possibly for longer.

What can help?
Moving and changing positions frequently will help to give your baby more room to move and maybe switch to a more favourable position. Dancing, squatting and lunging first to one side and then the other can be beneficial as well as feeling good.

Being on your hands and knees reduces the pressure on your lower back significantly as can having someone do hip squeezes on you or having your doula or partner use their fists, palms or a couple of tennis balls to put pressure on your lower back.

A heat pack or immersing yourself in warm water once labour is really going strong can be very helpful too.

Abbie mentions using essential oils on your back. I’ll let you listen to the episode and do your own research to decide if that’s something you are comfortable with and which oils you would be happy using.

If the back labour becomes really intense you could try sterile water injections and  I really respect the fact that Abbie discusses the use of epidural and underlines that there is sometimes a fine line between strength and suffering. If you think you are crossing that line then an epidural could be helpful.

Epidurals do come with risks as well as benefits so do your research and make sure you are able to make an informed decision.

Can I help my baby get into an optimal position during pregnancy?

Posture is key and so many of us end up slouching on the sofa instead of sitting properly.

If you sit on your hands you can feel your sharp sits bones. Those are what you should be sitting on, not your tailbone!

Slouching back onto our tailbone during pregnancy tips both the pelvis and uterus back and makes it easier for the baby to get into a less than ideal position.

For great tips and ideas for each stage of pregnancy and labour, I highly recommend visiting the Spinning Babies website.

I love that Abbie points out that babies are super active so, just because your baby is in a posterior position at thirty-six weeks, doesn’t mean they will still be that way when you go into labour.

Talk to your doula and find ideas on Spinning Babies to encourage your baby to change up their position!

 To wrap up
Back labour is not fun and there’s no way of knowing whether or not it will happen to us. If you do experience it during labour there are ways to bring relief and practising the fantastic Spinning Babies positions could really help to encourage your baby into an ideal position and possibly avoid it altogether.

Your baby’s position, with or without back labour, can really make a significant difference to your birth experience.

I’d love to hear from you if you experienced back labour and have any great tips on alleviating or reducing it.

Until next time!

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By emilywills

Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.

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