Q:

What are the signs of back labor, and how do you manage it?

A:

Quick Answer

According to the Mayo Clinic, the primary sign of back labor is pain in the lower back just above the tailbone. Movement, changing positions, massage and medication help alleviate back labor pain. Applying ice packs or heating pads also relieves the discomfort of back labor in some patients.

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Full Answer

The Mayo Clinic states that back labor sometimes occurs when the infant moves into the birth canal with his or her face turned towards the mother's front. Back labor also occurs if the infant is in the optimal birth position with his or her face turned towards the mother's back, if the mother is especially tense in her back area or more sensitive to back tension.

The Mayo Clinic suggests taking a walk or moving into a forward-facing labor position to relieve some of the pressure on the back. Suitable positions include leaning on a birthing ball, straddling a chair or resting on the hands and knees. A labor coach can massage the tense area, or apply hot or cold packs to help ease the patient's pain. Another option is using a warm stream of water in the shower to relax tense muscles in the back.

The U.S. Office on Women's Health states that another option in some patients is for the doctor to attempt to change the baby's position to relieve pain and facilitate the birth. When other methods are unsuccessful, spinal and epidural pain medications are available to block pain in the lower body, relieving the discomfort of back labor and general labor contractions.

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