A Pregnancy Tale: My Experience with Back Labor

When a woman experiences back labor during childbirth, it can be an unpleasant addition to an already physically demanding and often painful process. Back labor is when women experience most of their labor pain in their lower back. While most women will feel some aches and cramping in their during labor, about 25% of women will experience severe discomfort in their lower back that is most intense during contractions and often still painful even between contractions. The following is my experience with back labor.

Going through back labor came to quite a surprise to me. Unfortunately back labor is not covered in much detail in childbirth classes or online sources of labor and delivery information. Before giving birth to my oldest daughter in 2001 I read all the books, took childbirth classes and talked to friends about what to expect. As with many other expectant mothers, I expected certain symptoms that would let me know I was in labor. Two nights before my estimated date of delivery, my water had not broken and my belly felt like a bed of roses. However around 10:00 at night I started having back pains. As the night progressed, the pain became worse and no amount of stretching or other back relief techniques provided any relief.

Finally around 2:00 in the morning I called my doctor. I didn’t think I was in labor because I had no pain in my stomach or pelvic region, but the back pain was becoming almost unbearable. I got a hold of an on call doctor and was asked how far apart the pains were and how often they came. I informed her that there was no timing the pain, as it was constant and only getting worse. There were no breaks or periods of downtime. She didn’t seem very concerned; she probably thought it was just typical pregnancy back pains.

At about 5:00 in the morning I finally went in to the hospital, as I could no longer tolerate the pain. There were still no breaks in the pain and nothing to time, it was non-stop. When I arrived at the hospital, I had a mixed reaction to finding I was in labor and quite dilated by that point. I knew I had to be in labor, the pain was just too much; then again, why didn’t I have any pain in my stomach area? Why was the pain not coming and going, as I always learned labor pain would? I labored throughout the rest of the day and gave birth to my daughter at 2:01PM, approximately 14 hours after the pain began. Oddly enough, the pain never did move to my stomach.

Some studies say that a woman who has experienced back labor with a previous baby is more likely to experience it again, but I did not experience back labor with my two subsequent labors and deliveries. Today, while writing this article, I was easily able to find numerous pieces of information on the internet on the topic of back labor, including ways to identify when you’re having back labor and methods of easing the pain. I hope my story has given you some insight into what back labor is truly like.


Back Labor, American Pregnancy Association