One of the most common complaints that I hear from moms during active labour is about their back pain. Regardless of a baby’s positioning in the womb it is not uncommon for labouring moms to feel discomfort in their lower back. For some moms, this pain is mild and manageable, but for others it is intolerable.
Try these comfort measures for the labouring mom:
- The Double Hip Squeeze can make unmanageable pain manageable during labour. While the mother is leaning over (leaning over the bed, on her hands and knees, leaning over a birth ball, etc.) place your whole hand on the outside of her buttocks and press in towards the centre of her body. Your fingertips should be facing inwards towards the centre of her body as well. As a support person this can become quite tiring so best to use it only during the contraction. Use as much pressure as the mother is comfortable with.
Tennis balls or Acuballs are very helpful to have in your birth bag for massaging the lower back. As the mother leans over in any position you can roll the ball around their lower back using varying amounts of pressure. This can also be done using a rolling pin (for those labouring at home) or a cold can of pop.
Get into some water. Just when a labouring mother doesn’t think she can go on any longer is the perfect time to get her into the tub. Being fully submerged in water can lessen the intensity of the contractions and will usually relieve some of the pressure in her back. I have attended some births where the bath tub was tiny and only the mother’s lower body was in the water. In this case, I cover her abdomen in a large towel and keep it warm by continuously pouring warm water over it. Ideally though, a soaker tub is best.
Pelvic rocking; almost like a slow dance, supported or not, keep the pelvis moving back and forth to encourage ideal positioning of the baby. Wrapping your arms around your partner’s neck and leaning slightly forward and allowing the belly to ‘hang’ makes this position even more effective.
Try a side lying position for a series of contractions. Not only will this allow the mother to rest, but it may also encourage a baby to rotate into a favourable position. Place a pillow between the mother’s knees and make sure to lie on both sides.
Back pain in labour can be correlated with longer labours because it is oftentimes due to unfavourable positioning. Typically, the situation will resolve itself especially if the mother is actively changing positions throughout her labour.
The advice provided in this article is for information purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed healthcare provider. Consultation with a primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.
Meghan trained and worked as a nutritionist, and when her practice expanded to encompass moms and babies, coupled with her deep interest in birth, she decided to make a career shift to birth education and support. Meghan, a birth doula since 2010, develops trusting, quality, and long-term relationships, educating and empowering her clients. Meghan sets a non- judgemental tone, putting her clients at ease and making them feel safe.
Guest Speaker: Meghan Ford, Nutritionist, Birth Doula