Fotolia

21 Women Describe What A Contraction Actually Feels Like

By
Share
Ad failed to load

When people ask me what labor and childbirth were like, I invariably give the same response: imagine the most horrible menstrual cramps you've had and multiply that by 1,000. Then imagine that stabbing feeling you get in your bowels when you seriously have to poop and multiply that by 1,000. Now let that go on for 18 hours. That's about right. Of course, pain is relative and every person, every body and everyone's pain tolerance is different, so when women describe what a contraction feels like it can differ considerably from person to person. (That said, I have never personally encountered anyone who has told me it feels like butterflies and rainbows cheerfully co-mingling inside of them, so some things are just straight-up universal.)

Pregnant women have months to get themselves used to the idea of labor. Many (myself included) will reach a certain point in their pregnancy and start sobbing because they just want to be done and it all to be over with. They'll try everything they can to try to induce labor, thinking, "I need to meet this baby, besides, nothing can be worse than feeling pregnant for another godforsaken minute." Then the contractions start. Usually, they start off relatively gently and seem completely manageable but, inevitably, there comes a point where many a loving and dedicate mom-to-be will think to herself, "I've changed my mind. I'd rather be pregnant forever." (This feeling usually goes away once you finally see your little one. That's pretty great, too.)

Look, I don't want to scare you, but it's intense. Usually it's tremendously physically intense, but just the fact that you know you're bringing a new human into the world can be pretty heavy all the way around. As I said, everyone experiences labor and contractions differently, so I talked to other moms who have been there and done that, to see what things were like for them.

Ad failed to load

Dakota

giphy

"Like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) that's too legit to quit."

Emily

"I had contractions for 24 hours with my second and had no idea that is what was happening. I felt a little achy and tired. No contractions with my stubborn first, who decided she was never coming out and would still prefer to be in womb if I left her there."

Amanda

It feels like what my menstrual cramps feel like multiplied by 100.
Ad failed to load

Karen

giphy

"Like a little person living inside your stomach is twisting and tightening it. I also learned that there is a big difference between pain and pressure!"

Ella

"With my first, I was induced and then had an emergency c-section. [I] never felt a contraction. With my second I was scheduled for a repeat c-section, and I had no idea I was in labor. I thought I was having bad gas/food poisoning from really delicious fried chicken the night before, until I realized the cramps were coming at evenly spaced intervals. Ergo, fried chicken = great labor inducer."

Christy

Like an ace bandage being wrapped around your body and being released, with my second. With my first I had back labor, so that felt like someone was literally breaking my back in half.
Ad failed to load

Allison

giphy

"Like the Incredible Hulk wringing out a wet towel....except that towel is your uterus."

Susan

"I never experienced it with my first two (c sections for both were planned). With my third I started having a coughing fit which led to vomiting (story of every single day of all 3 of my pregnancies with my boys) which resulted in my water breaking. The contractions started to come on shortly thereafter. They weren't intense because I never got that far before I had a c section but it was a clear, rhythmic tightening of my midsection."

Desiree

"Like being pulled apart with meat hooks from the inside."

Ad failed to load

Liz

giphy

"Like your insides are being squeezed in a vice, and then your back catches fire."

Ashley

"Intense. A wave slowly begins to roll through you. Your belly physically hardens and tightens as the wave contracts, bear-hugging your uterus and gently moving baby down, then slowly releases and recedes as quietly and uncontrollably as it came."

Ramandeep

Have you ever seen Alien...?
Ad failed to load

Zimra

giphy

"Like a thousand waves crashing into my midsection all at once, and then pleasantly receding."

Tanya

"It feels like you're being punched in the stomach, only the punch is going in slow motion and you're feeling the full force of all the pain the whole time."

Beth

Terrible.
Ad failed to load

Laura

giphy

"At the beginning, I hardly felt them. It was small twinges, not unlike period cramping. They eventually lasted longer and grew in strength. By the end I equated it to a Plasma Globe lighting up. My entire stomach would tense and the pain felt electric."

Wendy

"It felt like menstrual cramps x100 and then after they broke my water, I just remember seeing black - the pain was so intense and I couldn't really pinpoint where or what was going on."

Kim

Like your insides are being put through a meat grinder.
Ad failed to load

Shasta

giphy

"I have only experienced Pitocin contractions, and those are straight from the devil himself. It was mind numbing pain. Very stabby. In my back and stomach."

Courtney

"Like insanely bad gas pains."

Debbie

giphy

"Like you're body is finally fed up with all the complaining about it you've been doing for nine months of pregnancy and it's getting it's revenge."

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}