When I was pregnant, the childbirth education teacher warned
us about back labor.
“Now, if you do experience back labor, try not to panic,”
she said calmly. “There are things you can do to help relieve the pain.”
Until that moment, I hadn’t realized that there could be
something worse than the regular, vag-shattering labor. I shook my head and
said to my husband, “Let’s not do that, 'kay?” He looked at me and shrugged.
Meanwhile, the instructor
demonstrated how our partner could make a fist and press it into our lower back
to alleviate the pain. “You can also do pelvic tilt exercises,” the woman said.
I quietly giggled, the lyrics to “The Time Warp” running through my mind. I mean, how bad could it really be?
Fast-forward several months, a heaping dose of
Pitocin and one stubborn, awkwardly positioned baby later, and I GET IT.
“I think I’m having back labor,” I croaked, then collapsed
on the hospital floor to make sounds like a dying wooly mammoth.
My husband dutifully attempted to apply pressure to my lower
back to help relieve the pain, just as they’d taught him in birthing class. I curled
my back and snarled at him like Cujo—if Cujo had been in back labor. I didn’t
want to be touched, I just wanted to get this thing out of
You may be asking yourself, "What is this back labor thing?" (Unless
you’ve been there. If you’ve experienced back labor, you’re probably cringing,
nodding your head, and saying, "Preach it,
sister." Or you’ve stopped reading because it’s triggering your back labor
PTSD, in which case, I’m really sorry!)
back labor is like trying to evacuate a giant evil stabby poo.
Back labor tends to occur when your baby’s in a jacked-up
position, such as the overly optimistic term "sunny-side up." When this
happens, your baby’s hard little skull is literally head-butting your tailbone
as it descends, causing intense pain, on top of the standard
Back labor feels kind of like you have to poop, but like your
poop has a dagger on the end of it. And it’s stabbing you repeatedly. Basically,
back labor is like trying to evacuate a giant, evil, stabby poo.
And when you do release a singular, tiny yet potent-smelling
turd, you momentarily forget to feel deep waves of shame because you’re so shocked
by its lack of weaponry.