Back to back baby

Back to back baby

The vast majority of babies (90 per cent or more) are born in the anterior posterior position - which means the back of your baby’s head is facing your front.

This is good news because it means the narrower frontal part of your baby’s head will be born first. The head should pass through the birth canal easier and labour is generally shorter and less painful.

Back to Back Labour

What does back to back mean?

However, if your baby is in the back to back position sometimes known as occipito –posterior or OP, this means the back of your baby’s head is facing your spine and will cause considerable pain in your spine during contractions. It also means the wider part of your baby’s head will be born first.

Why can back to back labour be a problem?

As mentioned briefly above, OP labours can be longer and more painful, as the baby’s skull is pressing into your spine and the widest part of their head will be born first. This is why OP labour is sometimes referred to as ‘backache’ labour, as more pain is felt in the lower sacrum area of your spine.

Can I do anything to encourage the baby to move into a better position for labour?

Your baby can still change position late in labour, but there is little hard scientific evidence that changing your posture will encourage them to shift.

However, anecdotally some midwives suggest the following are worth a try:

  • Sitting with your knees lower than your hips wherever you can.
  • Put a cushion under the small of your back when sitting at a desk, dining table or car seat – this will encourage your body to tilt forwards.
  • Sit upright on a Swiss birthing ball
  • Try crawling around on all-fours or scrubbing the kitchen floor for 10 minutes a day.

Tips for coping with a back to back labour

  • Avoid lying on your back to avoid pressure on your spine;
  • Try rocking or rotating on all fours as it will give the baby more room to move around.
  • Get your partner to massage your lower back, applying pressure to counter the pressure of the baby’s head.
  • Stay upright and walk around if possible
  • Epidurals or pethidine may help you cope better if your labour turns out to be long and painful

A mum says...

‘My baby was in the back to back position – I didn’t find out until I was in labour and was examined by my midwife. I’d had two babies before so I thought by the amount of pain I was in that I was already quite far on in labour, but in fact I was only 4cm when examined. I remember the pain as being in my back and quite excruciating at points. My obstetrician was standing by for a caesarean as the labour was quite long and painful, but my midwife suggested I tried pethidine, a sedative and I relaxed and the baby turned around and was born normally within an hour.’

Jo Barton mum to Phoebe three months, Oscar, two and Harry, four


I'm 29 wks and just found out my babys b2b :-( I hope he turns in time
My midwives were aware that my son was back to back from the beginning but let me labour for 40 hours with not much progress, they also didnt explain how having a b2b baby would affect my labour. The pain was excruciating - i tried gas and air & Diamorphine which didnt really do much. They then did an epidural which didnt take so they went to re-site it and went too far so it ended up being a spinal so was completely numb and couldnt move (but by that point i have to say it was a blessing). They then decided at around the 38hr mark that as i was only 9cm and not getting any further that i would need an emergency c-section. The c-section itself was an experience..... at first i could still feel some pain so they had to top me up and because they had let me labour so long he was so far down the birth canal they couldnt get him out so the surgeon had to have a bit of help from 'down below'. They really struggled to get him out and i lost 4.5ltrs of blood during surgery. Thankfully he arrived safe and well but my birth experience was so dissapointing and im quite traumatised by it all. Its is nice to read that people have had positive experiences when their babies are b2b so hopefully if i do have any more in the future i will remember that
My girl was born back to back, however they never knew until that moment her head came out! The midwife was happily explaining everything to my oh and as her head was born she was completely shocked & said scrap that! I have no other birth to compare it to, however felt it wasnt as bad as others made out a 'normal' birth to be, coping on g&a then at 91/2cm pethadine - so am hoping any future deliveries may only need the g&a! One thing that went our way was that it took less than 8 hrs all in all - even with a stop in contractions during the pushing phase - which again was 50 mins from start to actual delivery :-) the midwife warned that with any further pregnancies to come to hospital quickly as it was a rapid birth/delivery!!! Annoyingly I had to go to theatre for a 2nd degree tear & will poss need further surgery once our little family is complete as the stitching came away from another tear I had - leaving me poorly healed :-(
my daughter was born back to back and they did not realise till she came out and was star gazing as they called it, I had alot of labour pain in my back which they were like... "ah that explains it". It was all natural, just had gas and air, went in the birthing pool for a good while and on the TENS inbetween. When ever I see a back to back on OBEM or The Midwives and they automatically look for wether to do a c-sec it makes me made, as I count myself has having a low pain threshold and did not use pethedine or anything and was fine! I don't get it!
I have had 2 back to back labours and am now pregnant with baby number 3. My consultant has told me that the shape of my pelvis encourages the babies to turn this way during labour, so a 99% chance of having another long and painful labour. Oh well, it'll come out somehow...and I am definitely requesting an epidural as soon as I get to the hospital...!!!
My 1st and 3rd babies were back to back labours, my 2nd being 'normal', the difference between them being immense!! My 2nd labour being quick and far less painful, would even go as far as saying enjoyable! The other 2 were longer and far more painful, the back pain is indescribable and no position would ease that pain :( My concern is that if i was to have another baby are my chances of having another back to back labour higher as i have already had 2??? I would love to have another experience like my 2nd!
I was 40 weeks pregnant, when my baby was born back to back on his due date. I didn't know until I was in labour after examinatiom. He was all the time in the correct position but must have turned the last day when I was laying on my back quite long. I was in labour for 29 hours. When my water broke, we went to the birth centre. I always wanted natural waterbirth. However I didn't get to the pool until the last 10 minutes when I wanted to push. My active labour lasted for 2hr 17 minutes of the worst pain human can experience, all in my back. The last 2 hours of labour I cried for painkillers. The midwifes gave me paracetamol and codein and gas&air. However I didn't use it properly since I had fear it was making me too dizzy and more tired. I needed to be back-massaged every contraction and drink lots of fluids. The best position was on my knees and on all 4. Once he was born, the pain was all gone, it was wonderful! And thanks to the birthing pool, I had NO TEAR! Good luck everyone!
My baby was born back to back. I didn't know until I was in labour after examinatiom. He was all the time in the correct position but must have turned the last day when I was laying on my back quite long. I was in labour for 29 hours. When my water broke, we went to the birth centre. I always wanted natural waterbirth. However I didn't get to the pool until the last 10 minutes when I wanted to push. My active labour lasted for 2hr 17 minutes of the worst pain human can experience, all in my back. The last 2 hours of labour I cried for painkillers. The midwifes gave me paracetamol and codein and gas&air. However I didn't use it properly since I had fear it was making me too dizzy and more tired. I needed to be back-massaged every contraction and drink lots of fluids. The best position was on my knees and on all 4. Once he was born, the pain was all gone, it was wonderful! And thanks to the birthing pool, I had NO TEAR! Good luck everyone!
My first child was born in OP possition and i tore from front to back with a continous line of stitches and had to have an opperation a year later due to this and having a tear in anal passage consultant reckoned it was through this labour. I am now 39 weeks pregnant with baby number 3 and he has been in OP possition 10 weeks and i feel that i will deliver this way again, i have ensured that on my birth plan that i have put pethadine to be used as it did help previously and asked for them to cut me rather than let me tear this time, as i will probably need less stiches and it will heal better.
41 weeks & baby still back to back, will be induced next Thursday & dreading it (was induced with my first and wasn't a good 4 day experience, my 2nd was all natural and wonderful). This will be baby number 3 & just can't wait for labour to be over after reading all of the comments on here. Was so hoping for just gas & air, but really worried about the pain now. Good luck to you ladies in the same position, hopefully we'll all have our bundles of joy soon.
Im really worried about this as my lo has been back to back since week 26 and im now 31+2 and he still is,so uncomfrotable I could cry most days!! Will he turn??
i had a back to back labor and i was in labor for 59 hours it was so painful and i lost half my blood when the doctors were trying to get her out i was very sore for about 3 months after its was horrific but still worth it. i am now pregnant with my 2nd and terrified it will happen again any tip on how to make this birth easier? xx
Both my labours were back to back and I 've been told that future labours are likely to be the same (something to do with my pelvis?)! I really hope the next one isn't as I found back to back very uncomfortable.
my daughter was back to back with me but i wasn't told by the midwife until she was born via emergency c section. i kept explaining the pain was really in my back during contractions but no one picked up to let me know about the above tips or that she was back to back with me. wouldn't bother with pethidine next time...going straight to the epidural :)
Everyone is talking about the labour/birth and although mine was v painful and resulted in a emergency c-section after 1.5hrs of pushing with nothing happening my concern is that I now have excruciating pain in my coccyx whenever I sit down. My baby is almost 1 and the pain has not lessened whatsoever since birth. Went to my GP who advised there was nothing that can be done, thinking of seeing a chiropractor? Anyone else have this problem??
Mine turned from the perfect birthing position to back to back a few weeks ago and I'm reading the labour. Please God let my little one spin in time....
i had a back to back birth and it took ages to have my son i managed to have my son on just gas and air but next time i hope the baby turns around.
:'( :'( :'( just been told my baby is back to back!!! I really hope he turns around. Im due saturday! x
I have recently been told my baby is in the back to back postion and if he doesnt turn i think i will be taking all your advice and having the pethidine! 37weeks + 6days
My first baby was back to back and the pain was was also excruciating at times I also had pethidine which did help no end. The worst bit was when I was asked to lie down to be examined that wasn't going to happen!!!!!!!!!! Torey mum to Mistee 5, Lacey 4 and Keira 3.
arhh! my son was back 2 back owwww it hurt so much felt the same pain from wen i was 1cm to 7cm i went into labor on thursday eve didnt have him till saturday eve so painful. i was stuck at 3 cm for 10hrs the got to seven the next day and couldnt take any more so had a epidural and good job cause i was stuck at 7cm for another 10hrs. oh did i mention sooo painful
do you still feel pain when you have an epidural?
Both my daughter and my son were back to back labours. With my daughters labour I had a hot bath to try and ease the pain and stayed upright until it was time to push. With my son i used a birthing ball and this helped with the pain alot.
i have 3 girls all back 2 back labours, hoping this time 4 normal labour. it is bad but longest labour lasted 6hrs, so it was all over quickly and i was up moving about like normal straight after.
I have just been told that my baby is back to back and I am petrified of going into labour!! I know that I shouldn't be as this is going to be my 4th child, however after the birth of my son I am scared!!! How sad! He came out as blue as he could have been as he got himself stuck with shoulder displasia "ouch". Thankfully he was alright in the end. This time I have requested a ceasarean because I am soo scared but my midwife laughed at me and told me not to be soo silly. If only she knew really how scared I am :-((( hey ho! 6 weeks to go so heres hoping she moves around.
My baby was also back to back, i had to be induced at 42 weeks, but becuase i was already contracting, i didnt have the full dose, my labour was very long and all the pains were in my back, i had to walk around for two hours and it still did nothing, i as tens machine nd gas and air for pain relief and it helped alot, after being in labour for two days and 15hrs, my son was finally born with his head turned to the side xx kirstie, mum to be agen and to 10 month old tomas gareth-james xx
this does so explain everything.... i do suffer now and again with back ache, im only 22 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child (5 now) but i can still remember everything about the pain in my back thought i was going to snap!!!! i was only told in labour the baby was back to back. delivered fine with gas and air but very painfull. i want it the right way round this time....please !!!
My 2nd baby was back to back it was considerably more painful than my 1st,they did not explain this 2 me and i was made 2 feel like i was just a stupid little girl who was being silly,it took me 4 hrs from the pushin stage!! Im so scared my 3rd will also b back 2 back
i am 11weeks pregnant with my 3rd baby and both my children before that were back to back. to say im worried is an understatement as the labour was awful in both cases and both my boys heart rate dropped and made the whole experience very scary. also from 5 months i suffered from spd and with a bad back normally it is something that i am praying will not repeat and that i can have a nice(last) pregnancy and labour. fingers crossed for me xx
I have just been informed my baby is positioned back to back and I am 38 weeks pregnant! Any advice on the best position for labour? I am begining to get bad back pain and generally find it uncomfortable to lay down to sleep. Any tips on this?
This sooooooo explains my first pregnancy! I thought i was just a wimp, but this clarifies everything. Im now pregnant again 2yrs later and am soooo hoping that in 6wks time my second child is facing the right way because my last labour was excruciating and lasted over 36hrs!!! fingers crossed
my son was born back to back 8 years ago. The midwife and doctors did not know this until i was given a cut and my son was born facing upwards. the labour was long and drawn out but i did it naturally which i am very proud of today but very scared how i will cope with my next labour.
I had my first child 4 years ago and i too had a back to back labour. I also didn't find this out until i was in labour, however i had been suffering from severe back pain for quite a while in the run up to the later stages of the pregnancy. I was told my son's shoulders were rest against my tailbone, hence the bad back pains. Once in labour i had 2 types of contractions, 1 came from my stomach and the other from my back, the back contractions where far stronger and when they struck i was forced to the floor in agony, my partner massaging the base of my back eased them a little. As a result of my son laying back to back my labour was very long, 3 days the labour went on for and the pain was so intense i ended up having to have the Epidural as i was in to much pain and too tired to continue on my own. I'm now pregnant with my 2nd child and i'm hoping this little one doesn't repeat the same position as it's brother. I have my fingers crossed!
wen i had my last baby,he was back to back but also lying slightly on his side. my labour was incredibly painful in my back and i rember them telling me several times that i was unlikely to be in labour as the pain was just in my back i had a stop start labour for over a week and then wen he decided to show up properly he had to be turned after his head came out which is quite painful.
Hi, I am 19wks pregnant with my 3rd baby. I had my 1st when i was 17 and when i was in labour they told me he was laying back-on-back... i had no idea what it meant being young and niave i ended up having an emergency c-section, which wasnt the way i'd hoped it would go. and when i went into labour with my 2nd they told me she was also in this position and i was told to have another c-section i was really upset coz i didnt think it would happen again. I now have to have a c-section and i am gutted i've never had the chance to give birth naturally :( they told me the reason for me having the c-sections is due to a narrow birth canal and small pelvic area has anyone else experienced this? good luck to everyone kayleigh - Hampshire xxx
Hi all my daughter was back to back and born face up, i knew by the excruciating pain in my lower spine however she was born within 3 hours and with only half a can of gas n air no epidural
Both my babies were born back to back - Face up , the first she got stuck and I ended up with venthouse and forceps and my second, the labour was so quick I had no pain relief or anything.
My son was actually lying with his back against my side rather than anterior or posterior. He was lying like this for the majority of my pregnancy and despite my following all of the advice for getting babies to turn for the last few months and staying upright during labour, he didn't turn naturally even in the latter stages of labour. Labour was really painful and despite my best intentions I had to have an epidural, which was such a relief as it immediately took away all of the pain. Luckily I had a fantastic obstetrician who was able to manually turn him whilst I was pushing and then help me push him out with a ventouse so with her help I managed to avoid a C-section, but it was a close-run thing. I'm now expecting my second and quite worried about the possibility that baby number 2 might not be in the anterior position. I've got everything crossed for a quick and easy labour, otherwise it'll be straight in with the epidural again!
My second baby turned during labour....i have 3 children my other 2 i had no pain relief but with her being in this position i begged for an epidural and after i got it she turned in time for the birth.Far more painful and much longer then when they are in the right position
my first was b2b. and my second is due in six weeks. There's four years between my children as it took till September 2009 (1st child born April 2007) to be signed off from the hospital as fit to try for another child. The whole labour (36hrs) was excruciating made worse by the fact that I had no sensation to push at any stage. Baby was blue at birth but thankfully recovered and is growing into a beautiful little girl. I am pleased to say this time I am assured by my medical team that the same will not occur again. I am being scanned on the day I am to be enduced. If this one is b2b then I will be having a section. If it's the preferred way at the scan I will be enduced and labour again. Can't understand why (where possible) all mums aren't scanned before they go through their labour, it would save alot of time and money for the NHS in the long run. Fingers crossed......
thanks for the advice.
that happened to me also. i was in alot of pain. do u know if its likely to happen with the next pregnancy?
Both my babies were back to back was in labour 44hrs first time and 28 second. Can only describe pain like someone was repeatedly hitting me on the lower back with a large fire extinguisher. Awful. This baby better be in the right position or i will beg for a c section!
My first baby was b2b and it was a long labour 18 hours. However I didn't find it too painful at all and it was pretty intense from the start. Pain was all in my back and keeping upright helped, I couldn't sit down. Got to hospital and was 7cm dilated and ready to push an hr later. With me it was the actual birth that was the awful part. I pushed for 3hrs which was exhausting and just as forceps were being prepared, my daughter came out but I suffered 3rd degree serious tears which was terrible. I then had to endure 2 hours of theatre with a spinal after getting through labour on just gas and air to be stitched back to front inside and out and I would say it took about 2 years to feel normal again. Advice to anyone with a b2b baby, if offered take the episiotomy and forceps rather than tear like I did.
Hi I had b2b babys all 3 times and am having my fourth now. Chances r it will also b b2b. I now know how to avoid b2b and how my body deals best with it. Lying in a bath really helps with the pain and speeds things up and standing really helps push baby down. Good luck to all.
My first born was back to back. I was in alot of pain for the full duration of my labour which was 21hrs! I felt it in my back, and my legs. I tried everything recommended 2nd time around to get my baby girl (5weeks today) to labour the other way around and it didnt work! My labour was very painful again but from very first pain it lasted just less than 4hrs! Yes I was in alot of pain. It hurt so bad it was unreal. However, I forgot how bad the pain was as soon as I had my babies. It is managable and the drugs do work, that what they are there for! I had diamorphine for my pain and the gas and air. I think to be honest the gas and air taken constantly was the best pain relief going! even with the diamorphine I could feel the pain, once I started on the gas and air, the pain was still there but wasnt as bad! I was told both times that I must have a very high pain threshold because of how 'strong' my contractions were on their machine! But you can be scared as much as you want! what happens for one person wont necessarily happen to another! Also it is deffornitaly true the saying of 'as soon as your baby is born you forget about the pain' I was told by the staff in the hospital that the reason I have back to back labours was because that is how I carry babies and that I would have a very high chance of having another back to back labour if I was to have another baby. x
had just read bout the stages of labour and felt quite anxious, this being my first pregnancy then I seen the article about b2b labour and felt relieved to find out that baby lying in the anterior position is desirable by making labour shorter and less painfull hopefully! anterior was the position at my last scan, hope stays that way and wish the same to all other ladies. I'm not feeling so anxious now thank you Bounty
my son was born b2b and yes it was rarther uncomfortable the contractions were quite intense and in the end I had an epidural which I thought I would never do, I am so glad that I did as the pain went immediatly. I would just like to say that any 1st time mums to be reading this, please dont be scared as I was after reding some of these horror stories. The nurses can always do something to help and you really shouldnt stress it make it aorse. Eaiser said than done I know but I swear once your bundle is hear u forget about the birth pains within hours its just a blip to get your wonderful little baby :) xx
my dd is 6 weeks and was back to back. waters broke 11am on the saturday, no contractions came so was induced my drip at 11am on the sunday, labour was excruciating, the pain in my back was unreal, couldnt even feel my contractions in uterus at all as my back was so sore. after a long long labour and over 2 hours pushing i had to have emergency section on the monday morning. tbh im glad to read that not all b2b labours are as bad as mine cuz my experience has traumitised me and has put me off ever havin more children as i would be so terrified of labour and feelin that pain again.i had gas and air and reminfentanyl as pain relief and didnt touch my pain in the later stages. my pregnancy was brill apart from a sore back at times so i suppose i was due some bad luck lol. but my dd worth the pain :) its nice to read some nicer b2b stories :)
my little girl was b2b all the way through my pregnancy and it was hell, i was in so much pain. my labour however was less than 2 hours from the very first contraction to delivery. every contraction felt like someone had hooked the bottom of my spine and was pulling it forward and it felt like it was gonna snap. but it was over before i knew what was happening and i had no pain relieve. i really wanted to push after an hour an half but had to wait for my other half to get there first lol she was born 5 mins after he arrived so all was well