or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Archives › Pregnancy and Birth Archives › Due Date Clubs 2009 - 2012 › September 2010 › What does a contraction feel like?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What does a contraction feel like?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
As a first timer, I am confused and bewildered by all the random pinches, aches and twinges I am beginning to feel. So what does a contraction feel like?

I've been experiencing the strong painless braxton hicks for a couple of weeks now, but am having new weird lower back pains this morning that kinda burn like a menstrual cramp and feel like they are wrapping around me. It was a constant dull ache for more than 10 mins that has gone away for now.

I just don't know what to expect.
post #2 of 26
I am so glad you asked this!
post #3 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by louis View Post
As a first timer, I am confused and bewildered by all the random pinches, aches and twinges I am beginning to feel. So what does a contraction feel like?

I've been experiencing the strong painless braxton hicks for a couple of weeks now, but am having new weird lower back pains this morning that kinda burn like a menstrual cramp and feel like they are wrapping around me. It was a constant dull ache for more than 10 mins that has gone away for now.

I just don't know what to expect.
I don't know what a "real" contraction feels like even though this is my second, because my first labor was entirely in my hips/back (posterior baby) and pitocin-strengthened.

But what you are describing, sounds like what people describe early labor as.

Could be that things are just starting to gear up for you a bit. I wouldn't do anything different unless they cramping/back pains were coming in regular waves. Then I'd lay down and drink some water / half glass of wine, have a soak in a warm tub, and see if things picked up or slowed down.
post #4 of 26
I think it feels like a bolt of lightening has hit metal- only on the inside of you.
I'm very close to birthing twins though....so I could be jaded. When I feel a "real" contraction, there is no mistaking it. (For what it's worth, I have had four kids, going on six)
post #5 of 26
I have to agree that once I felt a "real" one, there was no question in my mind. I had an oddly positioned baby too, and after the initial "ouch these are real"....pretty much the rest of them felt like my pelvis was splitting in two, until he came out.
post #6 of 26
Mine feel like BH until transition, and then they feel tight and like I ate something that didn't agree with me. You know...like it's going to be an uncomfortable bathroom experience. They are never any worse than that. Well, I take that back, with ds at the very, very end, I HAD to get away from them. All it took was a change in position, though.
post #7 of 26
it's like your tummy tightened - basically.
degree of tightening and area it covers varies by the contraction.
i'm a 4th timer and it's still hard to recognize!

of course if you have a posterior baby it's more like a pressure on your spine while your hips tighten.
post #8 of 26
Am I the only one who experiences this level of pain in labor?
I've done drug free, and my cousin was talking to me about how her labors basically just felt like tightening too, but I can't imagine there'd be that much divergence in the level of intensity.
I honestly feel like it hurts so much that my soul stands with God while I watch my body go through something.
I'm good at giving birth too. I'm quiet and meditative during contractions and my births are like an hour long etc...etc....it's a very holy experience.
But that said:
I've been praying for a gentle birth this time around, because apparently, it exists.
post #9 of 26
I don't want to give birth..........whine.
(And to two? Heaven help me.)
post #10 of 26
I've gone through two labors naturally.

For me, contractions feel the same as a strong BH until (and I know this is infuriating)...until they don't anymore. Labor will often start out with contractions that feel very much like you've felt before...they slowly amp up until they're involving your whole uterus, and (unlike BH) starting to pull the cervix up over the baby's head.

For me, the only thing that would strongly indicate those EARLY contractions are labor (and not BH) is the timing of them. Once they start to get into a pattern (every 12 minutes, or every 10, or every 7), then you can start thinking "huh....this might be it."

Of course, the pattern can start up, then shut down. This has happened to me both times, usually in the evenings before bed and in the week before labor really kicks in. What they say about water/rest/sleep/bath is true...if you can get them to go away, they're not labor contractions.

If you do get patterned contractions, take it easy and try not to get yourself too amped up. Enjoy the chance to practice with these low-intensity contractions.

Once contractions really start working (the cervix being pulled back and over the dome of the head), you'll feel it happening. For me, it felt like pressure. Definitely uncomfortable, but not freak-me-out-painful at all. I think keeping certain mantras and visuals (especially bio-based ones ...the actual musculature of the process) helped me avoid fear, which helped me avoid a lot of pain. Contractions for me felt like a wave of pressure. It'll take your breath away the peak, almost like getting run over by an imaginary steam roller or something...but it's so comforting to know that after the peak, it fades and you can rest. So in that way, it's like waves. Really regular, predictable waves.

At transition it gets more intense, especially if you have a fast labor. The breaks can be very short, and your body starts to react to the incredible changes happening in your cervix and uterus. Last time I got the shakes...my whole body felt like it was experiencing an earthquake, starting at my uterus and going down my legs. The contractions were powerful, but if you get there without pain meds you'll have the coping tools to deal with the contractions--you KNOW you can do this for the rest of the time, because you've done so much already. Still, the steam roller/wave feeling can be overwhelming. You just kind of hold on (mentally) and let go (physically) at the same time, knowing and trusting your body, knowing and trusting that this is part of the process of pulling the cervix up and over the baby's head. Once you get to the extreme of it, you're SO CLOSE. It's a very powerful motivator.
post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedOakMomma View Post
For me, contractions feel the same as a strong BH until (and I know this is infuriating)...until they don't anymore.
this is frustratingly true for me too.

5 hours into my labor with DD I was sitting in the emergency room being admitted to the hospital (it was before the front part of the hospital opened) and thinking to myself how embarassing it will be if it turns out to just be BH again.

But then shortly after I got to my room... they didnt feel like BH anymore lol. 3 hours later I was holding her.
post #12 of 26
clementine - I think each woman experiences labor differently.

I've had 2 inducements, and 1 natural drug free labor and birth.
The natural birth was the best as far as pain goes.. it barely felt like anything really untill the transition.
Whereas the inductions where .. intense and unbearable. Still nothing sharp tho. It was more a pain overtaking my brain and making me shut down as opposed to anything describable in my midsection.


OTOH - any pain my head: throat, neck, forehead, ear, mouth etc - is something so horrific I want to DIE. I have begged for death before while rolling around the floor, heat pack to my face.
post #13 of 26
clementine-my ds was born 30 minutes after "real" contractions started. There were lots of piddly ones before that, but nothing that required much attention. His birth felt like a freight train. It hurt, well, it was extremely intense. I hear the short (hour long like you mentioned) ones are like. A body ripping apart, totally out of control sensation. It was totally beyond me. There was no working with contractions...it was just living through them. I could get away from horrible intensity (pain?) only by hanging from my dh's neck. Literally...I pulled my legs up and spread them out as far as I could and hung from him during each contraction. That position stopped the pain. I learned later that an old, old labor technique was to hang from a low tree branch. So, there ya' go.

Anyway...I've not heard a woman with fast, fast labors be happy about it. My third labor was 2.5 hours from the first "pay attention" contraction. It was gentle and never got difficult. Even as I was telling my dh "oh, huh...this one is having multiple peaks", and I was in transition, was it ever a big deal. But those really, really fast ones...just totally take over your body.

post #14 of 26
You know, now that I think about it......by inductions, you mean the hospital started your labor? I DID have three of those. The one where I didn't wasn't any less intense though. Something to think about I guess.
I'm just finding that this time around I'm REALLY dreading the experience. That's such an unreal place to find myself considering I used to be very birth empowered. I've turned into a big pussy.
Now I'm also starting to wonder if it's because my births are so fast. I think from first contraction, to the baby being out of me is almost always an hour. It's good to get it over with, but crap. It hurts.
post #15 of 26
At first, I feel pressure evenly downwards in sort of a blunt cone onto my cervix and vagina and rectum. Not pain, just pressure. This builds and climbs upwards my uterus, and then releases back downwards.

These build in intensity and length. Eventually they start feeling crampy low down in front by my pubic bone - this is the cervix opening.

Then when pushing starts I feel downward pressure from the top of my uterus as it contracts. This almost feels like vomiting in that my whole abdomen is heaving, but instead of heaving up, it is heaving downwards. These pushes cannot be stopped and I don't have to do much with them - they make the baby come out on its own.
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galatea View Post
At first, I feel pressure evenly downwards in sort of a blunt cone onto my cervix and vagina and rectum. Not pain, just pressure. This builds and climbs upwards my uterus, and then releases back downwards.

These build in intensity and length. Eventually they start feeling crampy low down in front by my pubic bone - this is the cervix opening.
I had something very like this in the car the other day, but the pressure at the end of it was lingering, almost painfull and in between my legs for about two minutes. I thought it would never end, ever since standing upright after sitting or moving around at first is definetly a "sore" experience. I haven't felt it since.
post #17 of 26
Amazing that it can be so different!

Mine were like Just1More. BH, then kind of period crampy, then like IBS. Then there was transition, which was not about contractions really as much as it was about my body opening up to allow a giant force to pour through me. It was WAY more psychologically intense than it was physically. And then there were the pushing contractions, which was a lot of force and tension and effort.
But the early ones for me were very sneaky, just a sense of tightness and openness.
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by *clementine* View Post
You know, now that I think about it......by inductions, you mean the hospital started your labor? I DID have three of those. The one where I didn't wasn't any less intense though. Something to think about I guess.
I'm just finding that this time around I'm REALLY dreading the experience. That's such an unreal place to find myself considering I used to be very birth empowered. I've turned into a big pussy.
Now I'm also starting to wonder if it's because my births are so fast. I think from first contraction, to the baby being out of me is almost always an hour. It's good to get it over with, but crap. It hurts.
My mw has births like that. She said by her fourth baby she couldn't even think about it beforehand. She just had to totally ignore the fact that birth was going to happen. Her mw wanted to talk about it, but she refused. Then, when it does come, she just surrenders to it as best she can and gets it over with.
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by *clementine* View Post
I'm just finding that this time around I'm REALLY dreading the experience. That's such an unreal place to find myself considering I used to be very birth empowered. I've turned into a big pussy.
I'm so with you on this!! I had an asynclitic baby, and it took 6 hours to go from 7 cm to baby out. 2 of those hours were dilating, the other 4 were pushing, and I never had a single urge to push during the pushing part. Obviously this is different than your labors, but DAMN having a baby stuck in your pelvis for that long is PAINFUL. I felt like my pelvis was exploding for all 6 of those hours, and didn't have complete relief between contractions either. No way am I looking foward to it. I was showing DS birth videos on youtube earlier this week, and just thinking about going through that give me the willies.
post #20 of 26
My midwives said your body does the same work in one, two or ten hours, it needs to get to 10 cm. When the work is spread out, it's often less intense, but when it's concentrated in a small time, it's often VERY intense. We also talked about how your levels of endorphines increase as the pain increases, keeping it manageable for most people.

With DS (#2) my contractions were irregular and mostly just tightening for hours and hours, then suddenly I had a two unbelievably painful, long and intense contractions, and then I was pushing. It was unreal. With DD (#1), I woke up with thinking, hmm... these Braxton Hicks hurt a bit more, they're a bit more painful, I can feel them starting and wrapping around, something is well, different. It was only a few of them later I realized it was labor. And they continued like that, but building in intensity gradually, a little at a time, for hours. It was manageable until the very end when I hit transition, then I had to really work to keep on top of the contractions.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: September 2010
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Archives › Pregnancy and Birth Archives › Due Date Clubs 2009 - 2012 › September 2010 › What does a contraction feel like?