The joy and ecstasy of being pregnant comes to an end with the final stage. This last stage is something that can get even the strongest women fidget their fingers nervously. Pregnant women often feel stressed out thinking about what labor and delivery are like, and how contractions feel like. Especially for first-time expectant mothers, this is the most often asked question – how will I know I’m in labor? However, even those who have delivered a child before find this feeling quite hard to explain. Different women have different experiences with labor pains. So, if you, too, are expecting your baby any moment and want to know what contractions feel like, read on.
The position of the baby inside the womb may also affect the pattern of pain. For instance, if the baby is positioned in a way that its back is against your back, the pain may increase in your lower back and slowly rise to the upper back. Contractions range from intense menstrual cramps to pressure and back pains. Besides varying from woman to woman, labor experiences also differ from one child to another. Some common experiences during pregnancy contractions are feeling hot and cold at the same time, fatigue, dull ache in the lower abdomen, scared or nervous, pain in legs, pubic pain, menstruation like cramps but stronger, feeling nauseous, pressure on pelvis, etc. Some women may feel more pain in the back while some may feel most of the symptoms given above.
Yes, It’s Time!
Before the onset of the real thing, many women experience false labor pains, known as Braxton Hicks labor pains. Usually these are not very painful, but can be extremely uncomfortable than anything else. Unlike the real labor, this one lasts for a few seconds to half a minute and fades away when you walk or change your position. It is basically your body’s way of preparing for real labor. While some pregnant women experience distinct signs of labor, others do not go through any. To confirm that you are in real labor, just look out for these signs and contact your doctor immediately.
- Actual contractions occur regularly, in context to both duration and interval spacing. With the labor progressing further, the contractions get intense and last for a longer period. Say, for instance, you may start getting contractions every 10 minutes, lasting for a few seconds. Eventually, they’ll get closer and closer for a longer duration. On a general note, 4-6 contractions start in an hour, but if they continue for the next two hours, without a break, you should know that you need to rush to the hospital, as you are most likely to be in labor.
- To answer all the questions of the doctors, nurses and hospital personnel, ask your partner to make a chart of the contractions. Using a stopwatch, time the contractions to observe how far apart they are and how long do they last.
- You are likely to feel increasing pain or pressure in the lower back and abdomen, as the baby starts taking position and moving down into the birth canal. You may also feel the sensation to visit the restroom due to bowel movement or feel like pushing.
- Pain can also be felt in throughout the belly, in the hips, buttocks or thighs, or in combination of these locations. The concentration of pain can radiate from front to back, back to front, or down the thighs, felt in several places at a single time or in just one specific area.
- It won’t be wrong to state that you’ll get distracted or distraught, finding difficulty in focusing, both mentally and emotionally.
- Extreme bouts of fatigue or tons of energy – you may experience either.
- Expectant moms often compare labor contractions to extreme menstrual cramps, though some experience low-intense cramps arising from gas, stomach ache, or a charley horse.
- To safeguard the uterus from bacteria, a thick plug of mucus is created at the cervical opening. However, as the cervix starts thinning and relaxing, the plug gets released into the vagina, resembling a stringy mucus or discharge. Uncertain, this mucus plug can appear minutes, hours or even days before the real labor pain. It can be clear, pink or blood tinged.
- Unlike all the days and months that you’ve spent trying to take a good nap, one fine day, you’ll rise up filled with energy. With a spurt of so much liveliness, you should be able to figure out D-day is round the corner. Hence, preserve this energy for labor pain rather than completing any pending work.
- As the cervix starts stretching and thinning, your health care provider will check you for effacement. The change in the cervix indicates that the lower portion of the uterus is preparing itself for childbirth, thereby allowing it to dilate more easily.
To avoid hurried delivery and reduce the levels of stress, it is best that you start observing the signs of labor in the early stage. These contractions will give you an idea of what labor pain actually feels like.