What Do Labor Contractions Feel Like?
The way a contraction feels is different for each woman and might feel different from one pregnancy to the next. Labor pain (contractions) cause discomfort or a dull ache in your back and lower abdomen, along with pressure in the pelvis. Some women might also feel pain in their sides and thighs. Some women describe contractions as strong menstrual cramps, fullness, while others describe them as strong waves that feel like diarrhea cramps.
How Do I Know My Contractions Are the “Real Thing”?
True labor contractions cause your cervix to dilate. The following are characteristics of true contractions:
- Contractions come at regular intervals, last at least 30-70 seconds, grow closer together as time goes on.
- Contractions steadily increase in strength, getting stronger, more frequent.
- Contractions continues despite movements or changing positions. May grow stronger with activity such as walking.
- Wrap around from back to abdomen. Radiate throughout your lower back and high on abdomen
When you think you are in true labor, start timing your contractions and write down each contraction starts and stops.
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References and Resources
- American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – How to Tell When Labor Begins
- Mayo Clinic – Labor and delivery, postpartum care
- March of Dimes – Contractions