What Does a Contraction Feel Like?

Suzanne Murray | Jul 31, 2012 Pregnancy
What Does a Contraction Feel Like?

pregnant woman
What was THAT?!
Your due date is fast approaching and you've heard all this talk about contractions. "Don't call the doctor until your contractions are x minutes apart ... Don't go to the hospital until your contractions are x minutes apart." But you've never been pregnant before so how the heck do you know when you're having a contraction or when it's something else? You've got to know so you don't end up giving birth in some crazy place. Plus, you want to know how bad they hurt and whether you'll be able to take the pain. (You will! You will!)

So here's your handy dandy guide to what a contraction feels like (as told by moms who have been there, felt that).


Image via oksidor/Flickr

  • Waves of Cramps


    "Contractions feel like waves of painful cramps that take your breath away, make your toes curl, and your eyes bulge. Just when you think you can't take it anymore it's over, but only long enough for you to catch your breath before they start again." — MommasCooCoo

  • A Hard Basketball in Your Belly


    "During my pregnancies, I had Braxton-Hicks contractions—my belly got very hard and it felt like I had a gigantic basketball in there. But those are just practice ones!" — Sharon11675

  • A Roller Coaster Ride


    "It's like being on a roller coaster and going over that first big hill. I always get the feeling my insides are going to fall out, and I have to push my feet against the floor to make myself feel stable. Contractions are like that—plus a lot of pain that takes your breath away." — NoJo

  • Lower Back Pain


    "I had back labor. At first my back hurt really bad like I had been lifting something heavy. I couldn't get comfortable at all. Then it progressed to where my lower back hurt so bad i was scared to move. When I actually went into hard labor it felt like bad menstrual cramps paired with a whole lot of pressure and tightening." — LoriaAnn

  • Your Period


    "Mine was like a really bad menstrual cramp -- but no matter what I did (stood, sat, lied down), they didn't go away. Although they do come in waves—mine were exactly 5 minutes apart for one hour." — littlemansmo816

  • Like You Need to Use the Toilet


    "Your uterus tightens up and it feels like you have to go the bathroom, and it builds until you're 10 cm dilated. The contractions get longer as they go by with shorter breaks in between. You have a very urgent need to push." — Angie32Red

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