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They start out like period cramps. At first they felt much lighter than the lightest period cramps I had ever had. Then, they got worse. At least that was what they felt like for me.
 

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I didn't think I was in labor at first b/c the cpntractions didn't really hurt. Later on they did though. I really like the 'waves' explanation. They started in slowly then got really painful for a few seconds then slowly faded out.

I do feel like it would have been less painful if I didn't try to 'run' from them and just let them take over me. I hope to do that this time, but it's easier said than done. It was pretty hard to focus on anything else.

It is pain with a purpose though. You will be holding your sweet babe soon!
 

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Imagine a really big charlie horse in your lower abdomen. That's what they felt like to me, especially how they would build then fade away.
 

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before having kids i imagined contractions like my whole abdomen tightening. i didn't feel this at all! mine, too, felt like menstrual cramps that kept getting stronger & they radiated from back to front. it starts off slowly, though, so if you can start focusing at the beginning of the "wave" you'll have no problems dealing with the peak & before you know it, it's ebbing away.
 

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Mine started like menstrual cramps that started really mild and got stronger and stronger till they turned into something else entirely. I was on pitocin the whole time though so who knows what normal labor feels like.
:
 

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The first couple hours felt like really bad menstrual cramps but after my water broke at about 4cm, it felt more like someone was putting a belt around my midsection and then tightening it steadily until it took my breath away and pain radiated all around that center. Sort of like a fist clencing and unclenching inside.
 

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For me (the first time) it started out as really bad shit pains. The kind where you're on the toliet, bent over, grabbing your gut with a grimace on your face and having major diarrhea. Very painful and unpleasant. It wasn't until I was "all pooped out" but the pains were getting worse instead of better that I realized I was in labor.

The second time I was given pitocen in the hospital and the contractions started off like mild menstrual cramps... no diarrhea.

I think the first time I probably went through the real mild cramp stage in my sleep and only woke as the pain got more severe, thusly making it seem as if I started out from the very beginning with a more painful labor.
 
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