Dealing with back pain

Dealing with back pain

In about one in four labors, contractions are felt as back pain. You may also have a backache between contractions. It occurs because the back of your baby's head is toward your spine. This causes pressure and pain.

As a result, labor is likely to take longer even though there are strong contractions. This is because the baby usually has to turn to face your back in order to fit through your pelvis.

Position and movement

If you are having back pain, try positions that get you upright or leaning forward. They help get your baby off your spine as well as help your baby turn. Walking, stair climbing, lunging, slow dancing with your partner, pelvic rocking on hands and knees, and laboring over a birthing ball are all positions to try. 

Comfort measures

Counter-pressure can reduce back pain during a contraction. Ask your labor companion to press on your lower back using the heel of a hand, a rolling pin, paint roller, tennis ball or frozen juice container. You can also sit and press your back against your clenched fists.

Alternating warm and cold packs can also help. Some health care providers offer injections (shots) of sterile water that may help to block the pain.

  • If you must stay in bed, ask your nurse or health care provider for positions you can use to help turn your baby.
  • Many Allina Health Birth Centers offer laboring in a water tub, called water immersion, or water births. Support in water is effective for pain relief.

Source: Allina Health Patient Education, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, eighth edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/06/2021