As if childbirth weren't bad enough, some of us are unlucky enough to also suffer the living hell that is back labor; an intense pain in the lower back, usually caused by the position of your baby's head, that'll leave you thinking your baby planned their escape route via your spine. I'll admit, birth in and of itself seems like the punchline in a cosmic joke, trying to fit something so big out of something so small, but back labor really proves the childbirth gods hate you.
Unfortunately you can't predict whether or not you will suffer from back labor although there are ways to attempt to alleviate the symptoms of intense pain and overwhelming discomfort. Some women swear that changing positions, walking around, getting on all fours, and using a balance ball or asking a partner to apply counter pressure can help. Massage, applying heat pads, hydro therapy using jets of water or just getting in a warm bath can also help to reduce the symptoms, Of course, you can always ask for that blessed epidural, too.
So, if you end up being in the estimated 25% of women who suffer from the dreaded back pain associated with a baby who is not sitting in quite the right spot in your pelvis, you too will know these reasons why back labor is just the worst. At least you can say you're not alone?
It Really Hurts
OK, this is not exactly news, but labor really hurts. Add in the additional searing, throbbing sensation of your baby head butting your spine, and you're in for a bit of a rough ride. Sorry.
It Makes Resting Difficult
Back labor pain means you often can't get comfortable, every position seems to send new waves of agony through your body, and the "traditional" resting position for laboring women of laying down on their side or back can actually be excruciating for a mom experiencing the symptoms of back labor.
Not being able to rest will not only make you cranky, but it can make the hard work of labor and delivery much more difficult. After all, you need every ounce of strength you can get.
It Can Make Labor Longer
The cause of back labor is usually the baby's head being in the wrong position or at the wrong angle, my son was facing the wrong way and looking up when I was trying to bring him into the world. When babies are not presenting in the "proper position," births can take longer than normal. For example, from start to finish my son took over 48 hours to say, "Hello."
It Puts You Off An Epidural
The one thing that could probably help you during back labor is to get some strong meds, but who wants someone sticking a great big needle into the very part of your body that's in pain?
The other problem? It's extremely difficult to stay still so the epidural can be administered because, you know, your entire back is out to get you.
I am sure my wiggling around in pain contributed to my anesthesiologist accidentally hitting my bone (and then my nerve with the needle) when trying to give me my epidural. His "misfire" was more painful than any part of the actual birthing process, and the reason why I wrote, "Ouch," on my son's birth certificate.
It Can Continue Between Contractions
Many women who experience back labor say the worst part was the constant pain, that didn't subside between contractions.
The only silver lining during childbirth (apart from the actual birth of your child, of course) is that your painful contractions have built in breaks, giving you a chance to catch your breath and remember what it feels like not to be in pain. When you experience relentless back labor, you don't have that chance. Instead, you get to experience constant, throbbing pain for all eternity (or, you know, until your kid is born.) I told you it sucked.
It'll Probably Cause You To Change Your Birth Plan
All of those plans may very well go out of the window if you experience back labor. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
It Can Lead To Interventions
When the baby is presenting in an atypical fashion and taking longer to make his or her entrance, it can sometimes lead to a string of interventions. In order to make sure mom and baby are safe, you could be in for an episiotomy, more medications, forceps, a vacuum assisted delivery, and/or an emergency c-section. I don't know about you, but that's not really my idea of a good time.
There seems to be a prevailing attitude that what happens in the delivery room doesn't matter as long as a healthy baby is born, but what happens to your body does matter, too. In other words, you have every right to feel sad or disappointed if your birth plan goes out the damn window.
It Can Make You Very Unpleasant
Most people give laboring women a free pass to be a jerk. After all, they are experiencing a slew of emotions and likely encountering the worst physical pain they have ever imagined, so most people cut them some slack. Add back labor into the mix, and we're talking about a woman turning into a damn demon, or monster, or some other horrible creature. So, you know, just be prepared.
When you are in pain, time can pass so slowly and it's difficult to focus on anything other than the sensations you are experiencing. It might (read: is) a fool's errand, but try to remember that this pain is fleeting, it will abate eventually, and if you get through something as sinister as back labor, you'll have officially earned your title of "Warrior Mama."