How Do Contractions Feel?
Contractions are a very hard thing to describe to someone that has never felt them. I remember when I was pregnant with my first baby wanting to know what to expect. So for those of you out there, that are expecting your first baby, I will try to put it into words for you.
A contraction may start with a small tingle somewhere in your low abdomen and then grow and grow, passing to the surrounding muscles, with a sort of cramp like feeling. Some women say it is like a dull ache that grows in strength. It can spread to your back, or down near the tailbone, and start to ‘dig’ into the muscles. It could also be described like a "wave" that grows in intensity, while you breathe through it in big deep breaths, trying not to fight your body… until you can feel the contraction start to ‘let go’ and ease back down again. Sometimes this takes longer than you would expect but, at least you know that it’s almost over and you can feel the release.
For me contractions started very low in my stomach near the pubic bone and felt like a strong period pain. Then there was a tightening that would sort of crawl up and around to the top of my stomach. The tightening and squeezing, was the dominant feeling. I was pleasantly surprised when I was in labor with my first baby, that the contractions weren't as bad as I had imagined. The contractions were quite intense at times and I had to focus on breathing through them but I could handle it!
Since everyone has different levels of pain tolerance and different ways of describing things, you probably won't get two same answers. I have three children and the contractions felt a little different each time I was in labor. The position of your baby can effect how uncomfortable your contractions are. For instance, with my second child, my baby had dropped very low into my pelvis, almost a month before he was born. So during labor with each contraction I had more pain in my tail bone area than in my stomach. For me when I was about 8cm. dilated and I got into the birth pool, it was an amazing relief! I wished I had gotten in sooner, It made all the pain so much easier to handle!
For my sister though, when she had her second baby he was turned with his back to hers and it caused a more painful back labor. She said the contractions started in her back with a very strong, sharp feeling and worked it's way around to her low stomach. She said the heat of a hot water bottle or heating pad on her back ,was what got her through it.
I asked several mothers to describe what they think contractions feel like, so I will share with you here what they said....
"A deep, squeezing pressure, that at times took my breath away."
" For me, labor always started out with cramps and then slowly worked towards contractions. I guess I would have to say that the pain is like cramps that become greater in intensity as the labor progresses until it feels like extreme cramps! Along with that, it feels like every muscle in your abdomen is tightening all at once during each contraction."
"Feels like a big tightening, a hardening, of seemingly ,your whole abdomen (even though it's only the uterus muscle)."
"To me it was just and intense pressure, in my low stomach. Not what I would call pain but they kind of took my breath away."
"With my 1st two babies my labor started out with hard contractions right off....they felt like real bad stomach flu cramps or food poisoning & stayed that way. With my 3rd I had what you read about in books...the mucus plug coming out, then just mild cramping (like mild period cramps)...then the hard ones. With my 4th baby, my water broke first then I progressed like I did with the 3rd."
"A squashing wave. That starts gentle and gets stronger to a peak and then fades away again."
"It was like a deep growing ache, starting very low and working up my stomach and around my back."
"I would say the contractions themselves were easier than I expected. They were intense and I had to concentrate, but they weren't really what I would call painful. I never felt out of control."
"Well, back labor is a whole different ball game. It was like intense growing pains in my back, like nothing I have ever felt. I needed a heating pad and firm pressure on my back with each contraction. Very different from my first birth."
DISCLAIMER : Nothing on this site is meant in any way to be medical advice! Any questions or problems you may have, should be discussed with your caregiver! Thanks!