Tricks to Eliminating Back Labor

21 08 2011

I have had back labor with all of my kids, although I didn’t always consciously recognize it as such. I kind of just thought that this was what labor simply was, and that it was nothing short of maddening. However, the more stories I heard of labor and was able to compare my feelings against others’, I realized that I was experiencing back labor.

In fact, if I didn’t have back labor, my labors would all have been either pain free or nearly pain free.

So what can we do to eliminate or prevent this, to have a natural experience and not have to force ourselves so hard to cope with pain that could be needlessly brutal?

I have been seeing a bunch of articles and posts on the topic going around, so let’s immediately rule some things out so we can zero in on some more interesting ideas.

  1. Back Labor– Myth or Reality? Um, are you serious? This must be from the school of If-I-Didn’t-Experience-it-Firsthand-it-Doesn’t-Exist. This sounds like arguments of whether the female orgasm exists or not. Well let me clue you in to both… there are millions of people who can vouch for their existence.
  2. The baby is in a bad position. None of my babies were in a “bad” position, to my knowledge. They all emerged as expected. There are lots of repositioning techniques and advice out there, but if you’re like me, to simplify, let’s rule this out as a factor.
  3. Epidurals will not eliminate back labor. I am not an intentional proponent of the epidural, but it DID eliminate my back labor and made the rest of my delivery a piece of cake. Let’s face it– sometimes epidurals don’t work for some people. Some women get only half numb, or not numb at all. It’s all individual and probably has to do with the anesthesiologist, the woman, and the combination of drugs being administered. You can’t just blanket say it will work or it won’t work. But anyway, let’s focus on natural methods.

There are many “maybes” to eliminate back labor pain. I haven’t tried all of these yet, but am highly curious and consider these to be worth a look. Maybe it will help you, or you can even vouch for their effectiveness, personally.

  • Counter-pressure. 

During my last labor, the UC, I found myself on my hands and knees. In fact, my knees got bruised and sore for being on them for hours, and I must have been pressing with force using my knees… it was all I could do to get by.  I found myself using my hands on my lower back and pressing hard on it, and it almost took away the edge of the pain. I did not ask my husband to help me with this (I had this thing of not wanting to be touched), but perhaps it would have helped? I wished that I could have leaned into the bed with my belly, but I didn’t want to do anything hard against the baby.

Some of our readers were discussing it over at our Facebook page, In Search of the Perfect Birth, and Amaya agreed that both she and her sister experienced back labor. With her sister’s recent birth of baby Alexia, Amaya applied constant pressure to her lower back to help relieve the pain, to the point of bruising Dania’s back and numbing her own thumbs. Sara’s husband applied the constant counterpressure and it led to an almost pain-free birth!and, the baby had a nuchal arm.


  • Sterile Water Injections.

This is a new one on me.

The technique is easy to do and almost completely risk free. Only water is injected, so it is suitable for those trying to avoid medications for pain relief during labor. In addition, it is appropriate for patients that might not qualify for an epidural due to their medical status. Perhaps most importantly, it can be dramatically effective even when other techniques of pain relief seem to fail.”   – Sterile Water Injections for Low Back Pain in Labor

It sounds good, and they are really selling me on the ease and the risk. It sounds *almost* harmless. However, a skeptical part of my mind chimes in. A) If you inject anything into yourself, especially your back, you should really know what you’re doing. B) “Almost” completely risk free…. ? So, obviously, there are risks, and they aren’t really being discussed on that particular post. C) Even if I am a fan of DIY, isn’t the goal to relieve pain with as minimal a level of invasion as possible? Even if it is just water, injecting oneself in the back seems a bit extreme.
Still, reservations and hesitations aside, I keep an open mind and am willing to learn more.
  • Hydrotherapy.

This involves being submerged in very warm water, or getting into the shower. I did labor on #3 in a birthing tub (kiddie fish pool), but we had a little snafu with the water temperature and whole set up, which was less than ideal and involved my husband pouring buckets of hot water in repeatedly. I spent hours out of the birth pool when I found the need to use the bathroom on and off, and then finally the pain became as such that I desired to give the pool another try. I feel that if the water had remained hot enough, it would have been more helpful, BUT, submersion once again did provide some comfort. Every time he poured another bucket of hot water, it was an instant of soothing.

One thing I love hearing about are the women who felt compelled to hit the showers during labor. Almost every story I hear speaks of this remarkable relief of the water on them. I think this is some combo of hydrotherapy and counterpressure. So many babies are born to relieved moms who were standing up in the shower! This is something I may try next time.

  • Essential Oils.

Peppermint Essential Oil– You can smell peppermint essential oil to relieve nausea during labor. This oil is also helpful to relieve the pain from back labor. Just massage on your lower back.    –Using Essential Oils in Labor, A Hidden Secret

Sounds reasonable and safe enough. The smell and taste of peppermint does work for nausea in pregnancy, by the way. I can’t tell you how many times it kept me from getting overly sensitive and throwing up. That site (see the link) has many other essential oils and their purposes in aiding your labor, but does have warnings about using them safely. Worth a try and a read, I figure.

  • Seeing a chiropractor.

Okay, I hear this one a lot. Enough to make me consider it. But, I’m skeptical. Growing up, I’d always heard that chiropractors were “quacks”, and what they did was “dangerous”, and they were not “real” “doctors”… but hell, the same is said about me, and by largely ignorant people. This gives me pause to consider if maybe… just maybe… chiropractors aren’t so bad. So many people have given them credit for relieving their labor pain (in being treated during pregnancy leading up to labor), it’s hard for me to ignore their accounts. In this article, the writer gives the chiropractor credit for eliminating pain in her second labor after having a painful back labor with her first.

The lingering concern for me, is still… can I trust any so-called professional with the manipulation of my body? Is it necessary? Are they really just “quacks” who are going to eff up my spine?

  • Warm compresses.

Another one that sounds like a combo of hydrotherapy and counterpressure. Sounds effective and harmless, if you can stand someone helping you apply it during labor. Some of us so strongly don’t want to be touched… can we try it?

  • Does this book help?

The reviews seem great. The title is intriguing. It’s called Back Labor No More! What Every Woman Should Know Before Labor. Oh… I’m a woman! What should I know?

A whole book dedicated to not having back labor? Must be a lot to say on the subject. If any of you have read it, please let me know your thoughts. I was thinking about reading the book, but one thing that stopped me was a reviewer mentioning… you guessed it… controlling the position of the baby. So, I refer back to #2, above– does not apply. If most of the book were about that, I really would not need it.

  • No back-laying.

Counterpressure works, but not when a woman is laboring on her back. Laboring on the back is just about the worst thing you could make a woman experiencing horrific back labor do. It intensifies everything very cruelly. In the hospital, it led to me accepting the epidural. You’d have less pain if you were standing up or changing positions, and the baby is allowed easier passage.

So, have you tried any of these? Did they help or not help? Is there something not mentioned here which miraculously saved the day when you were having back labor? Please share your experiences with the class.



2 responses

19 07 2012

I have given birth to 8 babies and had one miscarriage and had back labor with all of them. I have tried everything you mentioned and nothing really took the edge off the pain. Around number six, I just started squatting with each contraction and breathing deeply…no moaning, etc. I have dealt with it that way each time. Having people put pressure on my back now just irritates me, and it never did help. It was just a distraction. Picture what is happening inside your body and work with the contraction instead of fighting the pain.

31 08 2012

I have had back labor with all three children- I just want to say do NOT get a water block! It’s as painful as an epidural and does absolutely nothing. I only had an epidural the last time but it completely took the pain (as well as every other feeling) away. I am considering the back labor no more technique but don’t have much hope it will work. The only natural relief that has worked for me so far is counter pressure.

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