What Does a Contraction Feel Like?

by Melissa

(Fpo Ap)

Can you tell me what a contraction feels like?



You’ve asked a very good question, and I don’t know that I can give you a good answer 😉

Different women feel contractions differently, so the way you feel a contraction, and the way the woman sitting next to you feels her contraction may be radically different.

Here are some common ways women describe them:

  • Feeling like the cramps you have during your period.
  • Feeling like those cramps, only stronger.
  • A feeling that your entire belly is tightening around.
  • A feeling like your entire belly is tightening from top to bottom (like it’s clamping down).
  • A feeling like the front of your belly is tightening up.
  • A tightening from down around your pubic bone.
  • A dull ache in your back.
  • A dull ache that radiates from your back to your front.
  • A pulling that goes from your back around to your belly.

Usually light crampy feelings and tightening only in the front indicate Braxton-hicks, or practice contractions. Tightening that radiates from front to back is usually true labor contractions. Lots of “period-like” cramps can also be an indication that labor is starting.

If you’re having any of the above feelings at regular intervals, and they don’t change when you change positions, activities, or eat and drink something, then they have a good chance of being real labor contractions.

The best thing to do is to go about your day normally (or if it’s nighttime, try to sleep). If they keep coming and pick up in intensity, you know labor could be starting!

About the author 


Kristen is a pregnancy coach, student midwife, and a mama to 8 - all born naturally! I've spent nearly two decades helping mamas have healthy babies, give birth naturally, and enjoy the adventure of motherhood. Does complete support for a sacred birth and beautiful beginning for your baby resonate with you? Contact me today to chat about how powerful guidance and coaching can transform your pregnancy, birth, and mothering journey <3

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