P is For Pressure

Sacral Pressure As A Tool For Comfort And Pain Relief In Labor

Sacral Pressure Doing Labor Is The Best Labor Support Trick Out There

There is a lot that a woman is going to remember about her overall birth experience. There’s the emotional component of finally getting to meet her baby and all of the emotions she had in getting to that moment where she hears her/your/their baby cry for the first time. There’s the physical aspects of trying to get comfortable while experiencing the surges (contractions) and the pressure (pain) that goes along with that. And there’s the mental aspects of knowing how hard she has worked to get to a point where she trusts her body, her baby, herself as a parent, and you as a coparent and/or support person.


One of the factors in her memory is going to be how her support people helped her get through labor through being present, feeling safe to her, encouraging her with words, and doing physical tricks to help alleviate some of her pain.

Sacral pressure and good hip squeezes are worth remembering.


What The Heck Is A Sacrum?

The sacrum is a triangular bone of fused vertebrae that sits exactly in the middle of a person’s pelvic structure. It is situated between the hips. On most people, you can physically see the sacrum. It is right in the middle of the low back, and right above their crack. (I’d love to use technical terms here, but you’d still be like, “What….?”)

Why The Sacrum Comes Into Play During Labor

When a woman is pregnant, the baby grows above her pelvis inside of her uterus. In order to be born, a baby utilizes the muscular system of it’s mother’s body, as well as the physical bone structure of her body.

Her cervix is the Gandolf “You Shall Not Pass!” that keeps her uterus and her vagina separate. During labor, the cervix moves (I feel like this is a separate blog), the cervix dilates, and the length of the vagina shortens. As the contractions in labor apply pressure to the uterus that push the baby down into the pelvis, the sacrum moves to allow baby’s head through the pelvis.

Essentially, the back of the pelvis moves, as if it is hinged. In many cases, the part of the baby’s head that hits the sacrum is the back of it’s head. The back of the baby’s head is made out of bones. So, bone against bone. Does that make you flinch? As the baby comes in contact with the sacrum, it creates an intense feeling of pressure from the inside of the woman. And that pressure feels like pain. By applying pressure to the sacrum, you are providing “counterpressure”.  And she loves it.

How To Apply Sacral Pressure

When you think of sacral pressure, it’s common to think she just needs her low back rubbed. Especially if you’ve never done this before. And there are some women that do like that. But with sacral pressure, you’re giving her sacrum the full extent of the strength you have. There’s multiple ways to accomplish this. You can put the palm of one of your hands into her sacrum, and put your other hand on top of that one and push. Or use a closed fist to apply pressure. You can also use a tennis ball and push the tennis ball into her sacrum. The way to find out if it is working or not is to ask her when the next contraction is over. “Is this helping? Do you want me to do it lighter, or harder?”