In my opinion, the most worrisome part of having a baby, other than taking care of a human being for the rest of your life, is childbirth. I was nervous about it before my husband and I even decided to start trying for a baby — all you hear about is how it’s the worst pain ever. Obviously, this makes sense, since your body is preparing to push something the size of a watermelon out of a hole the size of a lemon. It makes sense to wonder, where do you feel labor contractions other than your uterus? Turns out, it's a full-body experience. Thanks, nature. But why do you feel contractions in other places when the big show is happening in your uterus? And where else can we expect to feel these lovely contractions?
According to Dr. Adrienne Zertuche, an OB-GYN at a division of Atlanta Women’s Healthcare Specialists, “Each pregnant woman experiences contractions differently, but the majority describe a crampy, tight pain throughout the lower abdomen that may also extend to the lower back, buttocks, vagina, and upper abdomen.” This is because the uterus is a muscle that begins to cramp and tighten around a pregnancy, which causes the labor pain and contracting feelings, Zertuche says.
Additionally, according to Parents, lower-back labor pains happen to one-third of pregnant women. This happens because when your baby is descending, its face is pressed against your spine. And sometimes, the baby’s skull will hit your spine, which results in “lower back labor.”
Well doesn’t that sound pleasant? What other reasons do women feel labor contractions in all these places when it’s your uterus that’s supposed to be doing all the work? Zertuche says it’s completely normal to feel pain in any and all of the above locations, because “a uterus holding a full-term pregnancy extends from a woman’s lower abdomen, back toward her tailbone and lower spine, and up as high as her stomach and ribs. In addition, the lower part of the uterus (called the cervix) sits in her upper vagina, and dilates and thins out as contractions strengthen.” According to Health Line, in addition to feeling contractions in your back, lower abdomen, upper abdomen and butt, they may stray down to your legs, causing them to cramp and ache.
How do you know whether you’re having Braxton-Hicks contractions or actual labor contractions? Typically, you don’t feel contractions throughout your entire lower half of your body and up your back like you do during actual labor. And your contractions don’t slow down or feel better after resting or drinking water. They get longer, closer together, and much stronger, according to Health Line. Plus, along with this pain, your water will more than likely break, in addition to the contractions traveling through your lower body and legs, and up your abdomen and your back. In early labor, “the tightening you’ll feel lasts anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds. These contractions are organized, coming at regular intervals of time. They may start out spaced far apart, but by the time you’re nearing the end of early labor, they should be close to just five minutes apart," Health Line noted.
Thanks to the position of your ever-expanding uterus, unfortunately, contraction pain isn’t just concentrated in your uterus, but you get to feel it in your lower back, and even as high as your upper stomach and rib cage. And don’t forget about butt contractions. Your expanding and contracting uterus is definitely close to your butt, too. If you’re not using drugs to numb the excruciating pain, you can always try hopping into a shower or bathtub, walking, meditating, listening to music, or yelling at your partner. Yelling especially helps when you’re feeling those contractions all throughout your body. Good luck — you got this.
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