I'm not trying to freak out any first time moms, but I think it's interesting how people describe contractions. I know that they can be very personal for each mom and so I thought maybe a thread that gives some idea about what they COULD feel like, might be good.
Mine with my dd felt just like when I have cramps with my spastic colon. The only difference was that I didn't feel like I had to have a bowel movement. Standing up helped a lot and also rocking and low moaning.
I also had lower back pain that was helped by my doula pushing a hot rice sock into my back was a godsend.
Hmmm...this got me thinking, contractions actually do feel like something is contracting, right? Like a waxing and waning?
I'm asking because several times now (most recently last Saturday, when I went to the ER, and last night) I've had very intense stomach/abdominal pain, but it was constant for several hours...it didn't come and go at all. Last night I realized that swaying back and forth helped relieve it.
I'm still thinking this is gas/indigestion/diarrhea, but am wondering if there's a chance this is actually contractions? When I went to the ER on Saturday, I found out from the fetal monitor that I was having contractions every 5 minutes, though I didn't feel them...I just felt constant, unchanging pain.
I'm so confused!
I've heard contractions described like a wave, or going up and coming down a hill. They start slowly, getting more intense and peaking, and then fading out. Is this accurate? I've only had painless BH contractions, which really aren't like this at all. I did have a HORRIBLY painful calf cramp the other night, and attention to my breathing and breathing deeply and slowly allowed me to be able to massage it out.
I had back labor with dd, hard and fast (3 hours 9 minutes total) and, yes, the contractions came and went. It started out like a little lower back ache. Then my water broke and it felt like my tailbone was being torn off every two minutes. SO hoping not to have back labor this time, my m/w says it will be completely different.
my contractions were almost completely unnoticeable until i was 6-7cm dilated. just a very slight slight back ache. then they were like bad menstral cramps. i had maybe 5 horrible contractions that i thought i was going to start to cry for, by that time it was time to push, so when contractions did come they didn't hurt because pushing was pain reliefing. as for what one poster said, they were like going up an hill and down. my labor was only about 4 hours. i'm hoping again for a short fast labor.
DH & I were just talking about this over the weekend. Although I found the contractions mentally and physically overwhelming, they were more like intense expansions that came and went than like pain. It never occurred to me to think about pain medication. I've heard LOTS of mamas talk about how painful they were, though, so I think my experience was pretty atypical.
Later, when DS got stuck crowning (tangled 3x+ in the cord), THEN things got weirder and the peaks & valleys went away, but that's a totally random situation.
I had a simmilar experience to the pp in my last labor: not really pain, just waves of tightening and by the time it got intense I was so turned inwards that I really didn't feel anything. I guess kind of like the 'observer' part of me wast there to say "wow, this really hurts", I was just really in the moment.
This time I have had some REALLY painful BH that felt sort of like food poisoning felt. I'm hoping this is not what labor is going to be like this time around!
Mine started as like a rythmic cramping. They would start towards the outer edge of my belly and radiate in and across my back. I don't really know why, but when I was in labor, I KNEW they were different than the prodromal labor that I had had in the weeks before. They gradually got more intense as the day went on and really weren't hard to cope with until I was getting close to transition. But the whole labor, from start to finish, I had breaks in between cx where the pain stopped and I could think clearly and even crack jokes,
I can't remember the EXACT feeling but I can talk of my impressions at the time based on things I remember saying to others.
I remember my contractions just feeling like very regular BH contractions at first. Then a little more intense with a crampy feeling. I went on like that for half a day and it was so mild that I could done it for a very long time.
Then it picked up. I remember it got uncomfortable at that point. I did perceive pain but it was bearable. I remember that as it got stronger, I was surprised because it was not what I had imagined. I think I thought it would be like menstrual cramps the whole way through and the stronger contractions were not like that. I remember feeling very much like I had to focus on relaxing through them and breathing in and out...taking them one at a time.
I have to say that mine didn't get to be as bad pain wise as I was thinking they would be. Instead, because I was induced with pitocin, I had really looooonnnnggg contractions and I wasn't progressing. THAT really stunk. They also didn't ebb and flow like I expected but I could manage the pain. As I was telling my BIL, it was PRODUCTIVE pain instead of just PAIN like other situations. There was an empowerment in being able to work with my body like that.
Hmmm . . . good question. Well, I'm sure they were painful at the time (I did take some pain medication because things were getting really intense), but I don't really remember that anymore. My contractions were pretty regular all day long (like, from 7 in the morning until I went to the hospital for the second time at 4ish pm) and just got more intense and longer. But we went to the mall (we even tried to buy some sheets, but I finally told dh "you know, this is just not the time. I can not concentrate on what colour and fabric I want my sheets to be right now."
), and I went for walks and had a nap while I was having contractions (well, you sort of doze, then you're woken up, then you doze off again. It wasn't until my water broke and I was about 6 or 7 cm dialated that things got really intense (around 4 pm).
But as for what they feel like . . . for me it was just like my whole lower abdomen and back were being clenched really tight and then relaxing again. It was different than the pain of, say, breaking your arm, which is kind of constant. I don't really know how else to describe them.
I found, the same as pp, that the best thing to do is just get "in the zone" and sort of ride them out -- they do sort of ebb and flow, and you just sort of find that place inside yourself where you can let your body take over. Just relax and don't try to fight them or hold them back. Its easy for me to say because I was only in hard labour for 5 hours or so and I did take drugs.
I was totally alert for pushing, however, and that was awesome (again, it was an hour and very productive, so I can't speak for what it would be like otherwise). But again, there are breaks -- you push, then stop, then push, then stop. There's a natural rhythm and rest time built into it.