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Back Pain During Labor

At Childbirth Graphics, we specialize in innovative childbirth education resources, including many labor and birth education materials that help pregnant women and their birth partners understand what to expect in childbirth and methods for coping during labor and birth. One issue many women experience during labor is back pain, sometimes called ”back labor,” which occurs when contractions are primarily felt in the back.

Experiencing back pain during labor may make active labor longer and more difficult. Fortunately, a woman can take steps to help ease her back pain and help her labor progress. Read on to learn more about back pain during labor, methods to help relieve back pain during labor, and educational products from Childbirth Graphics that teach about comfort positions to use for back pain during labor.

What Causes Back Pain During Labor?

Back pain during labor occurs when most of the pain and discomfort of labor is felt in the lower back. The baby’s position often is the cause. If the baby is in the occiput posterior (OP) position (with the face pointing toward the mother’s front), the back of the baby’s skull—which is much harder than the front—presses on the mother’s lower back.

Baby in the occiput posterior (OP) position

How Can I Relieve Back Pain During Labor?

Consult your healthcare professional before trying these comfort measures:

  • Take Pressure Off Your Back
    Avoid lying on your back. If you are restricted to bed, lie on your side. Move around in the bed frequently. The more you move, the more opportunities the baby has to adjust to a better position for both of you.

    If you are not restricted to bed, get up and move around. Walking is an excellent way to ease pressure on your back. Another good comfort measure is to get down on all fours and then slowly lean forward until you can rest your head on a pillow.

Getting down on all fours and slowly
leaning into a pillow can offer comfort.

  • Apply Counter Pressure
    Having someone press on your back just above the tailbone can help relieve back pain during labor. You may find it helpful to direct the pressure higher or lower and to press with a hot or cold pack—whichever is most comfortable.

  • Help Your Baby Move
    Back pain during labor usually subsides once the baby changes position; however, the pain may sometimes continue because the muscles may remain tense. Most babies move into the occiput anterior (OA) position by birth, although some will be born “sunny side up” (with the baby looking straight upward as he or she is born).

    Baby in the occiput anterior (OA) position

    Swaying back and forth, slow dancing, and even climbing stairs may help ease the pain and encourage your baby to change position. One method often used to relieve pain and encourage the baby to move is called pelvic tilt. While kneeling on all fours, use your pelvic muscles to tuck in your bottom, relax, and repeat.

Childbirth Graphics Teaching Tools

Childbirth Graphics offers engaging resources to teach pregnant couples what they can expect during labor as well as ways they can help alleviate back pain during labor and assist in correcting a baby’s position for birth. Here are just a few selections.

Penny Simkin’s Road Map of Labor

From renowned childbirth educator Penny Simkin, Penny Simkin’s Road Map of Labor is a fun way to teach expectant couples about what happens during labor. Available as a comprehensive package, an interactive display, or a tear pad, the Road Map depicts labor as a journey that begins with early labor and ends joyfully with the baby’s birth.

Penny Simkin’s Road Map of Labor provides helpful
visuals for back pain relief on its detour for back pain.

The Road Map’s journey includes three paths. One is a winding yellow brick road with no fixed timeline. Another path, the detour for back pain, is a longer, rougher route that includes illustrations of comfort measures to alleviate pain and help with the baby’s rotation. The detour for back pain eventually rejoins the yellow brick road. A third path, the epidural highway, represents the choice to have an epidural for pain relief. Penny Simkin’s Road Map of Labor is a great resource for childbirth classes and birthing rooms.

Comfort Positions for Labor and Birth Flip Chart

Featuring color photos, our Comfort Positions for Labor and Birth Flip Chart is ideal for presenting many of the positions and activities available to a woman during labor and birth.

Our Comfort Positions for Labor and Birth Flip Chart
includes positions for back pain relief and more.

Simple text and easy-to-understand visuals suggest comfort measures including positions that allow for upper and lower body mobility, squatting positions, and ways to achieve relief for lower back pain.

Birth Companion Booklet

Give parents instant visual reminders of labor comfort methods with this best-selling handout. Our 16-page Birth Companion Booklet features 40 full-color photos that emphasize upright and squatting positions, relief of back pain, and creative use of birthing beds.

Our Birth Companion Booklet provides instant
visual reminders of labor comfort methods

Also available in a bilingual English/Spanish version, the Birth Companion Booklet is a great take-home resource to hand out to students in childbirth classes.

Learn More

To learn more about back pain during labor and comfort measures that are specifically recommended for you, talk to your healthcare professional. Always follow your healthcare professional’s recommendations.

To discover more of our engaging labor and birth education materials, visit our Labor and Birth Products Section. There, you’ll find one-of-a-kind models, charts, booklets, pamphlets, birth balls, and more that are ideal for teaching about the process of labor and birth.

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