The Secret For Curing Back Labor

Image via MammaLovesFlickr
Image via MammaLovesFlickr

As a labor and delivery nurse, my job is not always easy. 

One of the hardest things for me to do is to simultaneously support a woman during labor to physically get through the pain, while helping her find her own strength to do it. 

I know how important it is for a woman to believe in herself as part of the process of giving birth and transforming into the magical world of motherhood, but it's not always a simple task. 

Some women are scared; some want me to tell them what to do; some want me to leave them alone; and some want me to never leave. 

Every birth is different, and every woman's journey through her birth is different, as well. 

{ MORE: How to Tell Someone You Don't Want Them in the Delivery Room }

But there's one special trick that I reserve in the bag of nursing tricks that I have learned can be helpful in the painful process also known as…

Back labor. 

If you've not been privy to this particular brand of labor, don't be jealous. It hurts.

Back labor is caused when the baby's head is rotated as it moves down the birth canal—you may have heard it described as the baby being “sunny-side up.” Basically, instead of facing down, the baby is looking up, as if towards the sky, on its descent through the pelvis. In other words, the back of the baby's head is pretty much grinding down your bones as he or she moves. Or in other words, ouch

{ MORE: Is it the Real Deal? How to Tell When You’re Really in Labor }

A woman experiencing back labor is actually pretty easy to spot. There is a particular moan, a certain way she moves her body, and a definite agony written on her face. 

A woman experiencing back labor will need help to get her through. Sometimes, even an epidural can't dull the pain of back labor, but luckily, my friend, I have the one trick that will help.

If you are reading this as a pregnant momma right now, grab your labor support partner, jot this down, ask your childbirth educator about it, or “pin” this post for later, because it will come in handy. Have a conversation with your partner about the way that he or she can help you in labor if you are experiencing back labor. One simple move may be all you need.

All your support partner will need to do is make a fist with one hand, place the fist along your lower back or wherever you are experiencing the worst pain, and then apply firm and steady pressure with the other hand, basically making a fist right into the small of your back. This action provides a counter pressure point to the baby's head, helping to manually alleviate the pressure that the baby's head is placing on your back while also triggering some of those pain receptors to the “off” position. 

I once had a mother, determined to make it through labor without an epidural, start to fade fast once her back labor hit her swiftly and strongly. She turned from a capable, in-charge mother in labor who knew what she wanted, to crying-hysterically, sobbing-for-an-epidural mother. Before I got the epidural order, however, I had her boyfriend try this trick. It made all the difference. 

When she held her baby in her arms a short while later, sans epidural, she smiled at me through her tears. 

“Thank you!” she exclaimed. “I never would have made it through if you hadn't showed him how to do that. It made all the difference.”

And that, my friends, is why being a labor and delivery nurse rocks. 

{ MORE: Labor Prep: Exercises That Can Help You Get Ready for Labor }

Did you have back labor? What helped the pain?

What do you think?

The Secret For Curing Back Labor

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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12 comments

  1. JQBMom says:

    Thank you, SO much, for posting this.
    I gave birth nearly 20 years ago: a horrific experience of 42+ hours, where an epidural was not at all effective.
    This is the very first article that put all the odd factors (a ‘sunny-side-up’ baby, long labor, ineffective epidural, where the pain was) in the same article, so that I could finally figure out why my labor was so very unbearable – and why, unlike most women, I have never forgotten the pain of childbirth… and why I was so NOT looking forward to the end on January this coming year.
    I am now pregnant with my second child, due in about 9 weeks, and I suddenly feel a big weight lifted. Thank you, so much, for writing this!

  2. U should add a pic, for us visual learners. Lol

  3. LIZ says:

    i didnt know about this, nice article

  4. Sky says:

    My husband and mother had to do this for HOURS. They joke that they now have arthritis. It was definitely a MUST. I did have an epidural, but this got me through until then. Back labor is by far the most excruciating thing I have ever experienced.

  5. dvmsara says:

    My baby was sunny-side-up and this trick REALLY helped with the back labor. I got through it with no pain meds or epidural.

  6. Wendy says:

    Back labor isn’t always caused by a posterior baby though… My baby was anterior and I had all back labor & it was excruciating!! Ended up w/ an epidural, but as you said, it didn’t totally cover the pain.

  7. Brianna says:

    I wish I would have know this when I was in labor. Even with my fiance rubbing my back with both hands it didnt really seem to alleviate the pain. I wonder if this would have worked. I went through labor almost without any drugs. I only had nubain to help lessen the contraction pains but has a serious side effect of dizzyness. Hopefully if I ever have another child again I will utilize this trick.

  8. dana says:

    I’m having that back labor now at 36 weeks I did notice that when I had my boyfriend put pressure in that area the pain went away but what am I going to do now since he’s asleep and I’m up go to bed

  9. dana says:

    I’m having that back labor now at 36 weeks I did notice that when I had my boyfriend put pressure in that area the pain went away but what am I going to do now since he’s asleep and I’m up

  10. Katharina says:

    I had back labor with my first born and luckily, a nurse knew the fist trick! I’d stand against the wall, with my palms up against it, and my husband behind me pressing his fist into my lower spine. It really did make such a difference 🙂

    When I’ve had Braxton Hicks contractions with my now second baby on the way, the discomfort feels like it’s mostly in my back, and he seems to be positioned in the same way as my first born – I’m basically 99% convinced I’ll have back labor again, so I’m definitely glad to have the fist trick in my arsenal right away 😉

  11. gfeld says:

    That is great to know. Wish I knew this 2 1/2 weeks ago:)

  12. Kayla says:

    we did the tennis ball trick where he would push a tennis ball around my very lower back with alot of pressure.

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