Oh, the wonderment and the anticipation of bringing a new life into this world.
For the months leading up to your baby’s due date, you have looked lovingly down at your growing belly, caressed it gently, sung your in utero baby some Bruno Mars and dreamed of what was yet to come.
But as “D-Day” looms the fear, dread and anxiety of labor may set in.
We’ve all heard that contractions aka “labor pains” suck.
We’ve seen the hysterical sweat-soaked laboring actresses in movies showing us “how it’s done” (spoiler alert: it’s nothing like that).
But what do contractions feel like? Labor contractions mostly feel like really bad PMS cramps. “It starts out like menstrual cramps—and the crampy sensation progressively gets worse and worse,” Dr. du Treil says.
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Why Must A Mother Suffer With Contractions?
Every mom experiences contractions differently.
This means some may be in absolute agony while others may only feel their belly tighten once or twice and – ooh! – there’s the baby!
Regardless of what the sensation may be, these contractions are necessary if you want your baby to GTFO.
These contractions cause the upper part of a mom’s uterus to tighten and thicken while also allowing the lower portion of the uterus and the cervix to streeeeetch and relaaaaax.
As unpleasant as “gettin’ loose” may sound, be grateful.
This stretching and relaxing are what will allow your baby to pass from the inside of your uterus into the birth canal so that she is primed and ready to make her grand entrance to the world.
So What Do Contractions Feel Like?
A very simplistic take on this question is this: during a contraction, your abdomen will become hard to the touch for a period of time (almost like you’re struggling to do a sit up – we’ve all been there, no shame).
That’s real labor.
image source: Birth Boot Camp
Some moms may also feel pressure in their back or may have muscle spasms.
We are not one to shy away from honesty here, however, so we have put together a short list of how some other moms have described the sensation of a contraction during their last trimester of pregnancy:
- It feels like having the worst UTI imaginable.
- It feels like bad menstrual cramps.
- It feels like bad gas. Like you ate three cans of beans each day for the past week.
- It feels like cruel gnomes squeezing the abdomen with a burning hot vise.
- It starts as feeling like tiny, uncomfortable hugs which gradually escalate to the point where you are feeling as if you are going to have the worst case of diarrhea in your life.
- It feels like a bit of pressure. No biggie.
Okay, so we all hope that we’re the last mom on this list, but chances are you will experience some discomfort.
But did you know that not all “contraction” sensations mean that labor is on the horizon?
When Contractions Are Being A Jerk
Braxton hicks contractions can happen any time from the middle of your pregnancy right up to when you give birth.
These are more like “practice contractions” that some physicians suspect may help ripen up that soon to be hard working cervix of yours, but they don’t cause cervical dilation.
Naturally Soothing The Pain Away: For When They Won’t Give You Drugs
Whether you have already arrived at the hospital in false labor and demanded an epidural (FYI, most doctors won’t even consider giving you the “good stuff” until you are at least 4 to 5 centimeters dilated) or are laboring at home, there are some things you can do to help ease your pain.
- Walk. Don’t go crazy with it and set off for a lengthy hike, but just moving your body will help allay your pain and help your labor progress.
- Labor Pain Buddy: Make sure someone is nearby to support you in case a contraction causes you to stumble or fall to your knees.
- Warm Water. Warm water helps “distract” your pain sensors a bit so you can focus on heat rather than pain (and get in that shower now because it may be another day or two before you’ll be able to take one again).
- Massage and essential oils. A lot of people find them stinky (if not nauseating), but if this is your gig then these can help relax your mind and body. Lavender is a go-to for relaxation, but rose, jasmine, and frankincense are also good choices.
Contractions: A Memory That Fades Fast
For the majority of mothers, contractions are less than pleasant – and that’s putting it lightly.
But with contractions also comes amnesia.
After all, why would so many of us choose to go in for “Mom Vs. Contractions: Round Two” or round three or round four or…
You get the picture.
We have more kids because they’re worth it.
- Be prepared: Preparation like oils, massage, and other tricks will help.
- Relax: Once that baby is out, those contractions are GONE.
- Get excited: Let go of the fear and focus on the future!
Have any questions or comments? Share them with us below!