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This Is What Back Labor Really Feels Like

Photograph by Twenty20

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?

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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 me.

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!)

Basically, 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 menstrual-cramps-on-steroids contractions.

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.

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It feels like the base of your spine is trying to grow its own brand-new vagina, an emerging hell-hole style escape hatch for your baby to exit through.

Like Freddy Krueger is nesting in your womb, and he’s decided it’s time to get born.

Like someone is slow-motion jack-hammering your tailbone from the inside—and not in a good way.

Basically, I wouldn’t wish back labor on anyone, except possibly certain political figures whom I am totally wishing it on right this minute.

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