What Do Contractions Feel Like?

on July 20, 2018

It is actually pretty normal among the first-time moms to be a little worried about how the contractions are going to feel like. Although, you will get many signs that you are in labor consistent contractions are something that will give you more reliability. In this article, we will discuss the type of contractions and also, what these contractions will feel like.

All You Need to Know About Contractions

what do contractions feel like

Braxton-Hicks Contractions: What Do they Feel Like?

One may start to notice the uterus contracting from time to time during the fourth month of pregnancy; this is known as Braxton-Hicks Contractions. These are also known as ‘practice contractions’. However, these do not occur on regular terms and are also infrequent. These contractions do not lead to any changes in the cervix. You are more likely to feel them when you are dehydrated or tired. You may notice the following signs during the false labor:

  • Belly feels tight
  • Little uncomfortable at times
  • Painless
  • Concentrated in the abdomen

You can try a few of the following things in order to ease the contractions before you run up to your doctor.

  • Change your positions
  • Take complete rest (on the left side)
  • Drink lots of water

However, if you have tried all these techniques and the contractions still do not go away, it is better to contact your doctor.

What do Preterm labor contractions feel like?

If you experience regular contractions before 37 weeks, then this indicates premature labor. These contractions generally follow a pattern, for instance, you may be in preterm labor if you experience contractions in every 10 minutes or so.

You are more likely to notice the following signs during this:

  • Abdomen gets hard to touch
  • Cramps
  • Pressure in the pelvis
  • A backache, though dull

In case, you experience vaginal bleeding, watery discharge or diarrhoea, it is recommended that you call your doctor.

Risk factors include

Smoking, Multiple pregnancy, Underweight or overweight before pregnancy, History of preterm birth, Infections, Improper prenatal care, Higher stress levels are some of the factors that should be highly avoided during this time period.

Labor contractions

True labor contractions under Braxton-Hicks contractions get stronger together as they work to dilate the cervix. These contractions do not calm down with simple measures like resting or drinking water.

Early labor

These contractions occur at regular intervals which mean that they are organised. Early labor lasts for somewhere around 8 to 12 hours and the contractions occur in every 5 to 30 minutes. These are usually mild and lasts somewhere between 30-90 seconds.

Apart from this, you are also likely to notice other signs during the contractions. For instance, you may notice tinged discharge from the mucous plug as and when the cervix opens. This is generally termed as bloody show.

Active labor and transition

These contractions are more intense in comparison to the once experienced in the early stages. The cervix opens up to 10 centimetres before it’s the time to push the baby out. These contractions generally last for 40-60 seconds and three to five minutes of rest in between.

You are likely to feel the contractions starting at your back and moving all the way to your torso and then, apparently to the abdomen. Legs aching and cramps are also pretty common during this stage.

Considering transition which is the shortest yet the most intense part, transition generally lasts for 15 minutes to 60 minutes. The cervix may dilate to 10 centimeters and the contractions may last for 60-90 seconds, with 30 seconds to 2 minutes of rest in between. Some of the symptoms that you are likely to notice in active labor are as follows:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea

And as and when you make your way to transition, you may notice the following signs of:

  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Gas
  • Hot flashes

When should you head to the hospital?

Your doctor can help you understand in a better way when is the right time to head to the hospital. Moreover, the 4-1-1 rule of labor can always work as a general guideline.

What is the 4-1-1 rule of labour?

You should head to the birth centre or the hospital when your contractions are

  • 4 minutes apart
  • (At least) 1 minute in length
  • Have been the similar way for 1 hour

Therefore, it is always important for you to keep note of the intensity and frequency of contractions, so that a wise decision can be made by your doctor.

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