Natural Birth

Back Problems... should I go natural?

I have some serious back issues and have been seeing a chiropractor regularly since I was 12 years old. Sometime in my childhood (or perhaps even at birth) I suffered an injury that led to my one hip being slightly more forward and higher than the other. As you can imagine, this causes severe stress to my lower back and I often "go out" resulting in my spine displacing itself about 8-12 inches to my left. It's quite the freak-show sight to see!

Anyways, all has been well through my pregnancy until about 3 weeks ago. The lower back pain has arrived and won't let up. I can deal with the pain, but after "practicing" labor positions in my yoga class, I am no fearful of labor. I could not even assume the position (on your back, legs pulled up towards your chest) let alone hold it for 10 seconds and mimick pushing. I was in tears trying.. b/c of pain, not frustration.

I was planning on an epidural but now both my chiro and yoga instructor are warning that this could lead to a more severe back injury b/c I won't be able to feel how much I'm straining my back... they both suggested a natural birth... and that scares me even more! I have a pretty high pain tolerance and I'm extremely in shape, but I just don't know if I'm THAT strong to go through all that pain!

Anyone have any suggestions, experience or words of advice??

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Re: Back Problems... should I go natural?

  • Why would a yoga class have you practise supine pushing? That's about the worst way to birth a baby anyone ever dreamed up.

    If you'd like to prepare for a natural birth, you have time. I don't think most of us would say we're "THAT strong". We just realized that there are advantages to being aware of our bodies and present for our births. I gave birth on my hands and knees last time, because that's how it felt best for me. 

    Your other option is to investigate whether any hospitals in your area offer "low dose" or "walking" epidurals that allow more freedom of positioning for birth. If being on your back causes you extreme pain, I wouldn't want to birth that way with an epidural blocking the sensation. It seems like you could really hurt yourself. 

  • Think of how many millions of women have done this before you. Seriously you can definitely do it if you put your mind to it. If you're in shape and have a high pain tolerance then I really think you will do great.

    FWIW, I know of a chiro who will actually attend births and do adjustments while the mom is in labor. It may be something to consider if you think your back may cause you pain during birth. Maybe your chiro would be willing to do that.

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  • I think both the chiro and yoga instructor make a good point - if you're numb, you might not be able to realize you're hurting yourself.

    Are you able to squat, get in a hands and knees position, lie on your side? Those are all ways (among others) you can birth without an epidural which might be much easier on your back and is a position you can actually get into. I would discuss the fact that you can't get into the traditional "push" position with your OB/MW so they are at least aware of this issue though.

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  • For me, having a natural birth was more about mental toughness than physical toughness.  It hurt a lot, but really took self control to try to relax and not tense up (which makes it hurt worse), and to not panic. People have different reasons for wanting to do it, but for me it was because I was concerned about the cascade of interventions that sometimes comes after an epidural and because I wanted to push in positions other than the standard "on the back" because that makes you lay on your tailbone so it can't get out of the way to have a larger pelvic opening. I ended up pushing DS out in 20 min on my hands and knees.  You can totally do it if you put your mind to it.  The pain is very real, but very temporary. I was ready to do it again 20 min after it was over, and that was after 36 hours of labor.

    If you go the natural birth route, I think it's helpful to read positive birth stories (Ina May's books in particular) and try to get ahold of some videos of med free births, which can look a lot different than medicated ones. Some things to ask for are intermittent monitoring instead of continuous monitoring and a HepLock instead of an IV.  Both will allow you to move around more during labor and to avoid laying on your back. For me, laying on my back during a contraction was excruciating, but standing or sitting was manageable. Water is also an awesome pain management tool - jacuzzi tubs (for laboring, not necessarily birth) if your hospital has them, or else the shower.  Good luck!

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  • There are so many other ways to give birth than the position you are describing. Pretty much all of them are more effective. Just talk to your OB and make sure he/she is okay with you going with what feels right at the time even if it means him/her laying on the floor. Also, a good book on natural birth will go through several different ways to give birth as well as ways to relieve different types of labor pains naturally. 
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  • I would 100% recommend going natural. I have scoliosis and had a spinal fusion 11 years ago (so an epi wasn't really an option) and had my baby completely natural a month ago. It was tough but I agree with PP that its more mental toughness.

     My recovery was very easy and I had no issues with my back. Also, i don't think pushing would have worked out as well being numb.

    Also, FWIW, a friend of mine had bad back pain after her last 2 epis.  

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  • I have pelvic instability--which reminds me some of what you are describing, though my illia are not always asymmetrical, just sometimes. I had an extreme labor with DS1 and got an epidural after 50+ hours of unmedicated labor. I ended up having pelvic nerve damage and a 3rd degree tear. I was in PT until he was 9 months old. That could've been from several things, but an epidural certainly could've played in. I had always planned on a NB for many reasons, but my instability was one of them. Unfortunately, that just was not the path for that birth.

     I had a natural birth with DS2 (3 pushes away from a water birth), and it was a wonderful experience with a very short healing time.

    I don't think you HAVE to go med-free if that isn't your inclination, but it is a very valid option that might benefit you.

  • image rinne129:

    I have some serious back issues and have been seeing a chiropractor regularly since I was 12 years old. Sometime in my childhood (or perhaps even at birth) I suffered an injury that led to my one hip being slightly more forward and higher than the other. As you can imagine, this causes severe stress to my lower back and I often "go out" resulting in my spine displacing itself about 8-12 inches to my left. It's quite the freak-show sight to see!

    Nothing to add to the PPs about natural birth, but I would try to talk to an anesthesiologist about your options. If your spine really does go out and shift that much, I'm not sure they will be comfortable placing an epidural even if you wanted one. Better to be prepared and know going in if it's not an option. 

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  • About a month before my DD was due my back went out.  I literally could not walk, I was in tears (from pain) in bed trying to roll over, my husband had to roll me over. I was really upset because I thought there was no way I could have a natural birth now, I mean I COULD NOT walk.  On a Saturday I woke up feeling better, not only could I walk, but was able to go for a short walk around the block.  My water broke while I was walking, and my DD was born on Sunday.  I think she must have dropped and that helped my back.  I still had some pain for a few months after, but I was seeing a chiropractor that my midwife suggested, and she fixed me right up.  I know my problems aren't the same as yours, but I don't want you to give up hope.  
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