Cramps vs. Contractions... I am confused! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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No matter how much I google or read stuff on MDC, I can't seem to figure out what real contractions would feel like. I have been having cramping off & on. Sometimes it doesn't hurt at all, but this morning I got cramps after getting up to pee. I went back to bed, and it got a little bit worse at first, then subsided for a bit.

It doesn't hurt like REALLY badly or anything, but feels like mild to medium period cramps. Trust me, I know what severe cramps feel like as I used to have debilitating (doubling over in pain) cramps in high school and even had to go to the ER for it once. That was hell. Anyway, my stomach definitely feels hard when it's happening, but I feel it in my back a bit too. Is this BH or what? I am about to try to go back to sleep as I usually don't wake up for a few more hours. I will check back here then. Thanks!

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#2 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 10:59 AM
 
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Any cramping/tightening that is consistant &/or regular I would at least call the office When i was having pains last Thursday Mavis checked me & I had done some changing but then I petered off Seth came the next am

My contractions Friday am really only hurt down low until I hit transition~ But since i am a Multi I think my body just reacts different than a first timer I sure hope it goes well for you!

Melissa
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#3 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 11:14 AM
 
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from what i understand, menstrual-type cramps, that peak and radiate into the low back, with a firm uterus = contraction. bh are typically a hardening of the uterus that is not necessarily painful or uncomfortable, though they can be. the thing to look for is the regularity of them.

hth! regardless, sounds like your body is getting itself ready!!

: single mom extraordinaire, keeper of eew since 02/09
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#4 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 11:29 AM
 
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Hi
For me early labor felt exactly like menstral cramps...so much that I did not even think I was in labor. However, when active labor hit...I absolutely knew it...because I was not able to talk through them anymore.

Good luck!
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#5 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 11:30 AM
 
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"Real" contractions will have definition- a beginning, a peak, and an end with a break in between. This pregnancy has been confusing for me to tell between the two as well. I get these cramps on and off with no real pattern or peak, so my midwife isn't concerned. She let me know to look for the peak which makes total sense now that I think about my last labor...
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#6 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 12:13 PM
 
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The most I ever feel is that same type of cramping sensation- until after my waters release. Once my waters are released I feel the classic contractions with peaks- and there is NO doubt about what that is. But before that- I just have the menstrual cramps feeling- and similar to your experience it isn't even really bad menstrual cramps. I also don't feel BH contractions at all from the inside- although I recently discovered that I can feel how hard my uterus is from the outside with my hand.

In my last pregnancy I had the PMS/crampy feeling for about 2-3 weeks before the baby was born. It was off and on. I have been having it now for about a week or so. I was told by the MW to call her if I notice there is a pattern to it, or if there is a shift in intensity of the cramps.
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#7 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 12:29 PM
 
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I get the pms crampy feeling thing, and then the full blown start in the back, work thier way around front type of contractions, ouch! I think it varies from mom to mom though

Kristin- Wife to J, Mommy to B (11), M-S (8), and little J (4) and J&J (7 months)
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#8 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 12:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by G&B'sMama View Post
Once my waters are released I feel the classic contractions with peaks- and there is NO doubt about what that is. But before that- I just have the menstrual cramps feeling- and similar to your experience it isn't even really bad menstrual cramps.
Interesting! Maybe that explains why I've never felt that classic contraction thing. My last labour basically felt like period cramps (getting worse to the point where I couldn't talk during them, obviously) all along. My waters don't normally break until the baby is ready to come out.
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#9 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Seems like everyone has different experiences! Do you think having an anterior placenta could change the way things are felt? I can distinctly tell the difference between the baby moving and cramping, but not sure about anything else.

I hate that I don't know whether this could happen in days or weeks. I don't want to go into labor at work. I don't quite understand how contractions can be timed, but I guess I will when the time comes.

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#10 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 02:55 PM
 
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Last night I was having cramps and I kept hoping it was something.. but then they stopped once I went to bed and I haven't felt anything yet this morning. I kept hoping it was the beginning of labor, but maybe it is!

It's so hard to tell.. it makes me happy though becuase at least I know my body is doing SOMETHING. I'm praying it starts again tonight or tomorrow!!!
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#11 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 03:09 PM
 
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For me, cramping usually means very early labor and I usually also feel the cramping in my lower back as well. I have been having them off and on for a few days but labor could still be weeks off. I know I am having cervical changes. It is usually very obvious to me once I get productive cramps because you can tell a pattern and they don't feel only like period cramps anymore. For 2 of my prgnancies I have felt contractions only in my legs like a displaced pain so not only can different women feel them differently but you may feel them differently with each birth.

~Lanie mom to Layne, Liam, Maren, Meridian, and Melora
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#12 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 03:49 PM
 
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Perfect timing on this thread!

I've been having steady BH for a couple of weeks now. But yesterday I started having BH with very slight cramping off and on during the day -- nothing regular or increasing in intensity. Today I'm having near constant cramping that feels just like I'm about to start my period....and it is causing some achiness in my lower back and in my thighs. I'm still having the usual BH-type contractions. Still no real regularity. But something is definitely different today.

I'm only 36 weeks this week though. So I'm hoping this is just pre-labor stuff and not an indication that things are ready to go.

With my first pregnancy my water broke first and contractions didn't really start until about an hour or so later. And when they started they were very typical contractions...what I'm feeling today is something else.....

It's interesting that so many of us are feeling this at the same time. : )
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#13 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 08:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by filiadeluna View Post
Seems like everyone has different experiences! Do you think having an anterior placenta could change the way things are felt? I can distinctly tell the difference between the baby moving and cramping, but not sure about anything else.

I hate that I don't know whether this could happen in days or weeks. I don't want to go into labor at work. I don't quite understand how contractions can be timed, but I guess I will when the time comes.
yes, you will know.

And, yes, they sound like they might be real contractions that you may experience off and on either for a couple weeks or just hours, and considered early stages of labor. Thats exactly how I'd describe mine the first day of labor with ds.

Good luck. Drink a bunch of water, then you'll get a better gauge if they stop or not - whether it may lead into a real labor or not.

Oh and second what jenny said, too!

Already!?!?! cold.gif  ~ Lori, doula, childbirth educator, wife to Jermaine 6/04, and mom to two happy and energetic boys - Tatum 6/06 and Keegan 3/09

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#14 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 10:18 PM
 
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yes, you will know.

And, yes, they sound like they might be real contractions that you may experience off and on either for a couple weeks or just hours, and considered early stages of labor. Thats exactly how I'd describe mine the first day of labor with ds.

Good luck. Drink a bunch of water, then you'll get a better gauge if they stop or not - whether it may lead into a real labor or not.

Oh and second what jenny said, too!
What does drinking a lot of water have to do with it?

( I don't mean that to sound rude, I'm honestly wondering, but after I wrote that I realized it sounds kinda mean!)
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#15 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 10:21 PM
 
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If I am not mistaken, if your dehydrated you can cause contrax. So the more you hydrate, the more likely they would be to stop or slow if it isn't real labor.
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#16 of 19 Old 02-19-2009, 10:54 PM
 
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If I am not mistaken, if your dehydrated you can cause contrax. So the more you hydrate, the more likely they would be to stop or slow if it isn't real labor.
thats so interesting- i didn't know that!
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#17 of 19 Old 02-20-2009, 02:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks ladies! I had cramps a few more times throughout the day at work (including now), but haven't had the back pain since this morning. I guess I'll just have to see how it goes. I do drink tons of water as a rule, anyway. Thanks for the tip, though.

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#18 of 19 Old 02-20-2009, 05:45 AM
 
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My entire labors have been menstrual like cramps...it may have to do with my waters not breaking until time to push, but I'm not sure. Anyways, you can time cramps like you would a bh...start of one to start of another. With my dd, I wasn't sure I was in labor because I thought it was abdominal cramps(which I used to get all the time), but when they were coming consistently 5-7 minutes apart I knew it was labor.

S, mama to L(DD)-12/04, K(DS1)-12/06, C(DS2)-03/09 & B(DS3)-05/11

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#19 of 19 Old 02-20-2009, 12:21 PM
 
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The more I think about this and experience it the more I realize that every woman feels pain so differently that we just shouldn't have any "rules" about it at all.
My first labor I felt almost completely in my bum. My belly would get hard, but the pain was in my rear, quite literally. My second labor was very textbook and that was the one I referred to in this thread- peaks in the middle, rhythmic, but even then some were 5-7 min apart then 12 then 4 then 9 then 3 then 12...the whole labor! And this one, last night I woke up in the middle of the night with such stubborn cramps that wouldn't go away, I thought I was going to risk out of my hb by 5 days. I ate, drank, peed over and over again, changed position, took a bath, and finally after 6-8 min apart contractions/cramps for 2 hours finally disappeared and I was able to go to sleep. I honestly don't know whether it's going to be like this for weeks or if I'm in early labor, or if this is what labor will feel like this time at all! It's all just SOOO confusing, and gets to be more so with each child I have. Just some thoughts on the topic and a vent...
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