What Do Early Contractions Feel Like?

For you, early contractions may feel quite painless or mild, or they may feel very strong and intense.

Typically, real labor contractions feel like a pain or pressure that starts in the back and moves to the front of your lower abdomen.

How do contractions feel when they first start?

Labor contractions are the real deal. Some say labor contractions feel a bit like menstrual cramps at first, but then they intensify. Then, contractions feel like a dull ache paired with pelvic pressure. The discomfort moves from the top of the belly to the bottom—think of it as pushing your baby down and out.

How long do early contractions last?

Early labor will last approximately 8-12 hours. Your cervix will efface and dilate to 3 cm. Contractions will last about 30-45 seconds, giving you 5-30 minutes of rest between contractions. Contractions are typically mild and somewhat irregular but become progressively stronger and more frequent.

How do you know when contractions are real?

If you touch your abdomen, it feels hard during a contraction. You can tell that you’re in true labor when the contractions are evenly spaced (for example, five minutes apart), and the time between them gets shorter and shorter (three minutes apart, then two minutes, then one).

Do contractions feel like poop cramps?

During the pushing stage, you will most often feel a strong expulsion sensation with (and sometimes between) contractions, a feeling very much like having to poop. It’s not uncommon for contractions to slow down quite a bit during this time, allowing rest in between.

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When should I start timing contractions?

When timing contractions, start counting from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next. The easiest way to time contractions is to write down on paper the time each contraction starts and its duration, or count the seconds the actual contraction lasts, as shown in the example below.

Should you go to the hospital if your contractions are 10 minutes apart?

If these contractions become regular (i.e., every 10-12 minutes for at least one hour, they may be preterm labor contractions which can cause the cervix to open. During false labor, try to distract yourself. If you have given birth before, call when the contractions are every 5-7 minutes apart, lasting 45-60 seconds.

How do you sleep through contractions?

Prevent this by putting a small pillow or wedge under one side of your back so you’re lying slightly to the side. Your partner can rub your back to help you relax. You may even drift off to sleep, at least between contractions. Rest until you need to be up to meet the intensity.

How can you check yourself to see if your dilated?

Medical providers gauge cervical dilation by feeling the cervical opening with two fingers. They place their two fingers on either side of the cervical opening and estimate how far apart their fingers feel. They can’t see the cervix during the exam since the cervix is located at the back of the vagina.