When your contractions start, you can be sure that your baby is on their way and you will soon be able to hold your bundle of joy in your arms. Your entire pregnancy has led to this moment but until it happens you will be unsure what the contractions will feel like. You may begin to suspect that any twinge or ache in your belly area is the beginning of your contractions and subsequent labor, particularly as your due date nears. However, you may be experiencing a false alarm or Braxton Hicks Contractions. We have pieced together all of the information you will need regarding contractions, hopefully answering any burning questions which you have.
What is a Contraction?
When you experience a contraction, your uterus is tightening. Your belly area will tighten and hard before the muscle relaxes and the pain momentarily disappears. However, the process repeats throughout the labor, heightening in intensity as the contractions develop. The uterine muscle is able to contract at any stage of later pregnancy although you may not feel anything at first. However, when labor is imminent, your contractions may feel overwhelming.
What Do Contractions Feel Like?
When your body begins to go into labor, your waters may break first which informs you that labor has started. However, you may instead begin to experience true contractions first which allows your cervix to begin to dilate and efface. As time progresses, these contractions result in the delivery of your baby, pushing the baby out through the cervix.
As your contractions begin, they may feel like a cramp you feel when you are menstruating. Unfortunately, the feeling of a contraction will worsen and intensify, culminating to a string dull ache coupled with pressure on your pelvic area. Your contractions are literally pushing your baby out from your belly through to your bottom. However, the severity of pain felt during contractions will differ from woman to woman just as every pregnancy also differs. Each individual will also possess a varied pain threshold and so the feeling of a contraction may alter from woman to woman.
Whilst some women will experience fake contractions, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions, you will most definitely know when your contractions are the real deal. If you are in labor, your contractions will come more often and will speed up, becoming stronger and at a higher level of intensity as they develop. Furthermore, once they start, they will be regular and undeniably unstoppable, lasting for at least 30 seconds each time. At the start of labor, you may feel one contraction every 15 minutes, although this gap will shorten during real labor as the labor progresses.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
A Braxton Hicks contractions are fake or practice contractions that occur randomly and sporadically. A Braxton Hicks contraction may feel like a menstrual cramp and can either give you a light fluttering feeling or a more intense feeling of discomfort. Braxton Hicks contractions will go away, for example when you change position or have a drink of water. In contrast, a real contraction only builds to feel more intense and more regular.
It may be possible to additionally feel back contractions due to the positioning of your baby. Back contractions can be extremely painful and occur across your lower back, occurring consistently and does not disappear in between uterine contractions. You can try to remedy back contractions through moving into different positions as well as trying to squat or lunge. Sitting on a ball, walking, or even pelvic tilts may ease the pain also. Try a range of positioning to see what works best for you. Breathing techniques may also work, in addition to a variety of natural pain management techniques. However, in extreme circumstances, an epidural may be the answer.