When pregnant, a sensation often felt by mothers that are named to be mysterious, a little bit scary but exciting at the same time, are the same sensations that could possibly mean that you are in labour, and that your little one is about to come out to the world. These are your contractions. Some women find contractions a thrilling experience rather than a scary one. It makes them excited that there is a sign that their little one is already starting to want to come out of their wombs. But there are cases where moms to be, especially the first time moms, tend to panic and won’t be able to think rational and all, but you don’t have to worry as these pains are normal.
The feeling of having contractions can be compared to that having cramps. However, several variations of contractions can be felt during pregnancy and not everything relates to labour. Here are the different variations or names for contractions a pregnant woman could feel.
- Braxton Hicks contractions. This contraction type is the one that may come and go and does not necessarily result to labour. The Braxton Hicks contraction is also referred to as false contractions or practice contractions.
- Real Labour Contractions. The contraction that leads to labour and finally giving birth to your baby. Other term for real labour contractions is true labour contractions.
- Preterm Contraction. This pre term contraction usually happens when you experience a true labour contraction but your pregnancy is not yet on its full term. In most cases, this contraction happens around the 37th week of pregnancy.
In line with these different variations of contractions are the different sensations felt. First is for Braxton Hicks Contractions. For this kind of contractions, you may feel a slight cramps or it could be more intense pains too. With this contraction, the pain is usually felt at the front of the abdomen, and these contractions may ebb and flow. For instance, your contractions could feel weak and then strong and then back to feeling weak. In some cases, when you are near to your due date, the contractions may feel stronger compared to the contractions you’ve felt on the second or third trimesters. This is uncomfortable, just like any other pain but there is a way to ease the pain. To help minimize the discomfort due to Braxton Hicks contractions, changing positions and walking around will do. Aside from that, resting also helps and makes it go away. Lastly, staying hydrated helps in making Braxton Hicks contractions to occur lesser than usual, thus drink lots of water.
For the next variation of contractions, the real labour contractions, these contractions are the type that could be hard to predict or describe. The reason for this is that, every pregnant woman has their own tolerance and experience to pain. The feeling may differ from case to case. You might feel quite painless or slightly painful contractions while the other may feel intense and very strong ones. Aside from that, the contractions you feel may also be different pregnancy to pregnancy basis and thus the pain you feel on the first one may not be the same with your next pregnancy. In most cases, real labour contractions feel like a pain or pressure that starts in the back and moves to the front of your lower abdomen. In contrast to the ebb and flow of Braxton Hicks contractions, real labour contractions may feel steadily more intense over time. Also, true labour contractions may occur to you at regular intervals and get closer together in time. This is why it is common and helpful to time your contractions to identify what type of contractions these are. While these contractions happen, your belly will tighten and may also feel very hard. Some soon to be moms relates this contraction to menstrual cramps. To help you lessen the pain felt during real labour contractions, you could try going for a walk, napping, having a shower or warm bath, and doing some of the relaxation techniques which you may have learned at childbirth classes.
For the last variation which is the Preterm contraction, the sensation or the symptoms of which you may identify this one is similar to the real labour contractions. However, you know its preterm contraction and not real labour because these contractions are felt before your due date. As mentioned, this usually falls on the 37th week of pregnancy.
As your labour progresses, contractions can feel more painful and pressures on the lower back and rectum can also be felt. It is recommended to discuss with your healthcare provider or your doctors the options for comfort measures during labour ahead of time. For instance, some mothers-to-be choose medication to relieve the pain like epidural but some moms to be opt to do the non-medication relief or sometimes a combination of both. It is common knowledge that pain management is a very personal process and choice and some may change their minds on the discussed pan relief methods as the labour progresses.
Since your contractions could be a sign of labour, it is best to know the different labour signs to know that you are on the right track on predicting what contractions you have. First is lightening. It is the feeling of having an ease in breathing as your baby drops lower into your pelvis. Next is mucus plug discharge. This is a sign where you would see a clear or blood tinged discharge on your panties. Another one is your water bag breaking. With this, you experience a tickle or gush of clear fluid which is called the amniotic fluid. And lastly are your contractions. When your contractions come into a regular pattern, pain intensity increases as time goes on, and the intervals get closer together over time.
Everyone is different and that is completely normal. The contractions stated in this article might be true for everyone however the feelings or sensations felt may be different. There is no proper answer to the question “how does contraction feel like”. The sensations stated above are what most pregnant woman would answer the question but if you feel any other kind of pain, best to visit your healthcare provider and discuss the issue. Anyone would want to be safe than sorry when pregnant.
Now a message for the husbands, remember to always stay beside your wife and cater their needs. Let them feel that you are there for them and that you understand the pain they are going through. Sometimes, screaming the pain off is never enough to calm their nerves and their selves. They need you most more than anyone.
As a bonus, here are some of the frequently asked questions about contractions and their answers.
- Do contractions feel like period cramps? Feeling your contractions similar to having menstrual cramps is not applicable for all moms to be.
- How long do contractions last? Time for contractions may vary. For early labour, the usual interval is 30-70 seconds while when experiencing contraction can last for about 60 to 90 seconds.
- Where do you feel contractions? You may experience contractions in the back or pelvis, pain usually starts from the back and then moves to the front of the abdominal area.