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What do contractions feel like?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I have been told that I will DEFINITELY know a contraction when I have one, but I wonder if anyone wouldn't mind sharing an analogy. What is it most like? How would you describe the sensation?

Mostly, I'm just afraid that they will feel like gas pains, which, to me, are the most unbearable things in the world. Any other description would reassure me!!

post #2 of 13
The closest thing I can think of is menstrual cramps, but they're a lot more intense. Have you ever coughed the day after doing a bunch of abdominal work? That's sort of similar as well. Back labour (I only had a very small bit of this) feels like low back/kidney pain.
The best analogy I heard for what "pushing contractions" would feel like is it's like "throwing up downwards".
I think it's different for every woman though. For me, I had contractions I had to cope with for about 3 weeks before I actually went into labour - the labour contractions were much more intense. My actual labour with dd lasted about 4.5 hours before pushing, but time really seemed to go by fast and it felt a lot shorter. Also, for me labour wasn't so much painful as it was very intense - it was hard work.
Really, though, if you don't recognized labour the worst case scenario is that you won't know you're in labour, which would mean the contractions are easy to cope with I'm sort of hoping that's what happens to me this time around - I'd love to give birth before I realize I'm in labour - how easy would THAT be!?
My contractions definitely were easier to cope with than gas pains (I have/had IBS so I've had my fair share of those). And waaaaaay less painful than the super-full bladder I had for the ultrasound with dd.
post #3 of 13
When i first started having Braxton Hicks i thought,this is it.They would take my breath away and felt painful to me.But when i actually went into labor there was no mistaking the difference.It can seem like a combination between gas and menstrual cramps.I don't look at them as painful though.I feel them knowing they have purpose.It doesn't last forever and in the end i just can't wait to hold my newborn So,for me the sensation is intense.It pulls me inward.It feels like i am breathless for a moment and everything gets really dreamy like.I like to meditate with them.Breathe and move.You can't talk well with them and they become consistent.The best mantra i used during my labors was 'I can do this'.I repeated that over and over and i really took it to heart.
post #4 of 13
I THOUGHT I knew what contrax felt like before I ever had any - I imagined really intense AF cramps (I used to get them so badly I was on painkillers). Thought...I can handle this :

BUT at 33 weeks last time around I got my first contrax...NOTHING like I imagined. The only way I could describe them...sorry if too graphic..but if you've ever had really bad diarrhea and horrible abdominal gas pain accompanying it. That's basically what it felt like for me. With a tight belly. Oh...they'll be NO mistaking!
post #5 of 13
Mine were like menstrual cramps times a hundred and that took my breath away and woke me up gasping...
post #6 of 13
I would say that cx's start out like menstrual cramps, but as they intensify it becomes focal from the inside at the cervix as it opens up. I don't think mine ever had the spasmodic nature of gas pains..I would describe it more like a wave with a peak and trough. When you get the rhythm of it you can go with the flow, rather than a gas pain that takes you by surprise and is unpredictable.
Think positively!
post #7 of 13
The few I have had so far feel like low menstraul cramps. But I know they are very mild compared to what is in store.

With DS I had 100% back labor and never felt a ctx in front. It was not fun. Basically like someone was tightening a vise around my low back/kidneys. I hope no one here has to deal with back labor! If you do, have your partners learn the double hip squeeze and counterpressure!
post #8 of 13


Contractions with my first started out like menstrual cramps that were painful but in short cycles. They slowly started to increase in intensity and then were joined by that back laobr pain that others described. getting pressure pushing on your hips by your helpers/doulas/partners very helpful...
The main thing I can say is that at least in my experience, the intensity grew over a period of time and it seemed like it gave me time to be able to handle it. I went way inside myself, used my yoga breathing, thought about this beautiful baby and how my body was made for this.
There were moments right before the pushing phase that felt extreme but mostly becasue by then, I was in the hospital and they had me on my back and wouldn't let me get into a position that worked for me, that was hard.
Helpful hints, showering feels great, moaning feels great, relaxing your body as you go helps speed things up...

My two cents...recounting this helps me to get excited again and less scared of the unknown.
post #9 of 13
Originally Posted by BensMom
I hope no one here has to deal with back labor! If you do, have your partners learn the double hip squeeze and counterpressure!
well i'm afraid i may have to deal with this again, as baby has flipped posterior. w/ dd i had an ob and labored on my back hooked up to all the iv's and crap and had NO help coping w/ this, other than an epidural that didnt work........

this time i'm having a midwife and doula.......are they going to know these tactics? WHERE do i find info on them?

post #10 of 13
nak. My ctx felt like intestinal cramps starting out and I cannot tell if they are real ctx or not. So, everyone is different.
post #11 of 13
Babykaoss, I would assume that most midwives and doulas know about back counterpressure. It's even in a lot of my pregnancy/birth books, which I'm assuming they would be familiar with.

if you've ever had really bad diarrhea and horrible abdominal gas pain accompanying it.
RCM, it's interesting that you make this analogy; a few weeks ago I had *terrible* diarrhea (darn chinese food!! : ) and honestly had the worst cramping/pain I could imagine, so I told myself that I would be experiencing this level of intensity (or more) during my birthing time. It was a good exercise in relaxing and focusing!

Thank you all for sharing your experiences!
post #12 of 13
With Emma, at the start of labor, it felt like the most wicked gas pain I ever felt in my life. I sat on the toilet thinking I had severe constipation. Sometimes the pain was "sharp." Then when it came and went in waves, I began to realize what it really was.

My girlfriends have voiced similar exp (like constipation gas pains,) but one gf (who had a very easy labor with all 3 babies - 2-5 hours long with 5 minutes of pushing) stated her labor was only like real bad period cramps. It can and does vary from woman to woman.
post #13 of 13
My menstrual cramps are sooooo painful. I want somebody to knock me out when I have them and it's the only time I take drugs (Advil all day for two days). I use other natural remedies, too but they don't work. Back in high school, I have prescription Darvaset (sp?) b/c I missed two days of school every single month and did not want to move out of bed.

Now that I have learned tons of coping mechanisms, I feel better prepared to handle cramps in the future and to deal with the rushes of birth. Plus, I get to have a baby...with my period, I just get pain! Mentally, i will remind myself of this the whole birth.
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