What do contractions feel like

It is important to know what women will expect with labor contractions. Labor contractions will be experienced as the due date approaches. Most especially to the first-time mothers who are curious on what they might feel in the process.

What is a labor contraction?

One of the worst things a first time mother-to-be thinks about childbirth is being completely clueless of what they will feel. Every pregnancy, every delivery is truly unique.

According to the doctors, what contractions exactly feel like is indescribable. One thing for sure, the feeling of labor contractions is excruciatingly painful.

On the other hand, some women have their own beliefs about labor contractions. That below are the following may impact what a woman will feel during contractions:

  • The baby’s position inside the uterus
  • Lack or too much interventions and intensity
  • Birthing environment and surroundings

On the contrary, when one is about to experience a new sensation it always goes along with fear.


Pregnancy week by week


Image source : Flickr by author Remus Perenl shared under CC BY 2.0

Did you know that fear stirs a person to feel more pain? According to the doctors there is a cycle called the fear-tension-pain syndrome.

The fear-tension-pain syndrome states that, when a person is in fears the tension rises up. As a result, the tension interacts with the physiological process of labor contraction and can induce pain.

What is a uterine contraction?

A uterine contraction is when the uterus muscles begin to shorten and be tighter. As a result, the cervix begins to open when the uterus starts to move upward. This also pushes the baby to face down as he enters the birth canal.

During pregnancy, the cervix- the opening of the uterus is closed. Then it thickens and becomes hard. As a woman’s body prepares itself for childbirth the cervix softens and it starts to efface. Moreover, the cervix gradually widens when the uterus starts to pull upwards.

Signs and symptoms of labor contractions

Pregnancy is not a general medical condition. A woman is lucky enough to not undergo such pain during the process. However, labor contraction is always accompanied with excruciating pain of the entire body not just the abdomen.


Image source : Flickr by author Jarkko Lainne shared under CC BY 2.0

Indications of labor contractions

Oftentimes, labor contractions are patterned. There are various signs and symptoms of labor contractions and it varies from woman to woman. Such indications are not experienced constantly.

Rarely, some women are lucky enough to not feel even a single sign and symptom of labor contraction. They do not even undergo the following pregnancy patterns.

However, there are some signs and symptoms that most women experience from labor contractions. The common signs and symptoms of labor contractions are as follows:

A change in intensity

This is the surest sign of labor contraction.

Extremely painful cramps

Labor contractions starts with a feeling of extremely painful cramps. However this time, the pain is much more intense. According to the obstetrician-gynecologists, it feels like having a one big muscle cramp

A dull ache is felt at the lower abdomen. Then as the muscle contracts, expect major discomforts around and deep within the abdomen. The pain is felt on both sides of the lower abdomen.



Image source : Flickr by author Ernie Newton Lawley shared under CC BY 2.0

Muscle spasms

Aside the abovementioned symptom, the stabbing pain becomes intolerable as the due date approaches. The pain starts to radiate within the entire body and the interval of feeling the pain become shorter.

As the conception approaches, a woman will have difficulty i finding a comfortable position to lessen the discomfort.

Back labor

Some women feel slight to absolutely no pain at all in their abdomen. However, some women carry the burden at their back. This is called as back labor or extreme pressure, often termed as back spasms.

Extreme painful cramps during labor contraction are accompanied by back spasms. This symptom usually goes along with cramping and a feeling of having to urinate most of the time.

The abdominal pain starts to radiate in the spine, a wrench around the spine as the baby is nearing to come out. The back pain is caused by the baby’s weight and optimal fetal positioning. In some cases, it is the baby’s skull which pressures the nerves at the back.

In addition to that, as the baby continues to grow… women will start to feel like they are carrying a heavy boulder in their belly instead of a baby.

Pelvic pain

Pelvic pain is much worst during labor contraction. Expect to feel that the hips and pelvic bones are going to break anytime; the legs are going to get ripped out of the body. Plus, this symptom is accompanied by extreme pain that is shoving in her cervix and crotch.

Internal organs being squeezed out

After experiencing severe cramps, the painful sensation gets worse as the pregnancy progresses. Expect to experience a stage where it seems like the internal organs are being squeezed out like a towel.

This is usually accompanied by the shivering of the entire body and feeling cold.

Specifically, what a woman feels is the tightening of her uterus. It is because the entire uterus starts to contract. The strong contractions aid in pushing and placing the baby into the right position.

Extreme gas pain

Labor contraction is also similar to gas pain. Even if a woman is done visiting the bathroom, expect that the gas pain will still remain. 



Image source : Flickr by author Ernie Newton Lawley shared under CC BY 2.0

Preparations for labor contractions

Preparing for labor contractions can help a woman to experience a more positive process of pregnancy. Below are the following preparations for labor contractions:

Have an active lifestyle

Exercising during pregnancy is one of the questions of pregnant women, whether it is safe to do or not. The verdict is: Yes it is totally safe to exercise when pregnant.

A woman’s body that has an active lifestyle (like that of an athlete) can handle the pain of labor contractions more compare to a lax woman.

In fact, women who are physically active even before pregnancy is a helpful way to be prepared for labor contractions.

In addition to that, doctors recommend overall exercise during pregnancy since child labor requires a lot of stamina. Also, take note to engage in exercise for strictly 20-30 minutes a day only. Keep the exercising activities to ‘moderate’ to prevent being over-fatigue.

Being physically fit during pregnancy makes a woman stronger and healthier. Below are the following benefits of exercising during pregnancy:

  • Exercising decreases the risk of undergoing caesarean birth
  • Increases the possibility of shorter and easier labors
  • Aids in both the mother and baby’s blood regulation
  • Allows the baby to easily access oxygen and nutrients
  • Controls the body’s weight
  • Boosts a mother’s moods

However, pregnant women must also be aware of her body’s changes. Exercises during pregnancy also have some negative impacts for some women.

Below are the following negative side-effects of exercising when pregnant:

  • Shortness of breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vaginal spotting
  • Amniotic fluid leakage
  • Pelvic pain
  • Back pain
  • Swelling of the face, hands, ankles
  • Decreased movements of the baby

Childbirth education

Take a childbirth education class, this is  a big help to answer the worries of a soon-to-be-mom.

Below are the following things a woman will learn in childbirth education classes:

  • Everything a woman needs to expect from labor contractions
  • Indicate signs and symptoms that are normal and not normal
  • All about the process of pregnancy and conception.

Hire a doula

Doula, this stems from a Greek word which means ‘woman servant and/or caregiver. It is widely known as a professional birth attendant, is the one who ‘mothers the mother’.

A Doula is someone who is trained to offer emotional and physical support to couples who are expecting a baby. Doulas are usually mothers themselves.

Below are the following duties of what a Doula can do for pregnant women:

  • Educates a woman about birth
  • Helps a woman prepare for childbirth
  • Teaches family planning
  • Serves as a massage therapist
  • Optimal fetal positioning
  • Soothes the mother’s environment (aromatherapy, essential oils, relaxing music)
  • Encourages and keeps the mother assured throughout the painful process
  • Captures every precious moment of the family (photos/videos)

Not only that, a Doula is also there for mothers even after childbirth. Doulas that assist mothers after conception are widely known as post-natal doulas.

Below are the following services that post-natal doulas offer:

  • Supports the mother in breastfeeding
  • Serves as massage therapist
  • Educates the mother to helpful infant massage techniques
  • Plays as a birth counselor
  • Helps the mother with the household chores such as cooking and cleaning
  • Running errands for the mother
  • Lulls the baby to sleep

Treatment for labor contractions

Of course, no woman wants to endure the pain of labor contraction for a long period of time. Every pregnant woman wants to take a break from pain even just for a while.

Pain relievers for labor contractions

A woman must always be cautious of the medications she is taking during pregnancy. The baby’s health and development is at risk when a mother takes medications that are unsafe.

Below are the following natural pain relievers to ease labor pain:

Calm birthing

Calm birthing is an Australian pregnancy method that is similar to America’s hypnobirthing method. This is a natural pain reliever where it teaches a woman on how to relax and keep calm when in labor.


A naturopath is a person who provides natural pain relievers for labor contractions. Naturopathy is a way to be aware of the natural pain relievers for pregnant women.

Heat pack

A heat pack is a pain reliever for back aches. This is also the perfect pain reliever for after conception pains.

However, take note to use a non-wheat heat pack when giving birth. Some wheat packs are no longer allowed to heat up in microwaves because some burns out.

Wheat pack

A wheat pack is also a form of heat pack. However, wheat packs are a non-pharmaceutical alternative.

Sterile water injections

Sterile water injection is a non-pharmacological pain relief. This is used to treat back pain.


TENS is a machine which works when two strips of electrodes are attached on the lower back and on the spine. This machine manages the body’s impulses and sends signals to the brain. The brain impulses will then attack the pain impulses from the uterus.