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Readers Respond: What do contractions feel like?

Responses: 164


Updated March 19, 2009

smooth sailing

When I had my son 8 years ago I was only 18 years old and very scared but I never felt any "painful" contractions and after a few hours I was given an epidural so I really didn't have this horrible time during labor. Some women think "How do I push with an epidural?" but my doctor told me when to push and after about ten minutes of pushing I gave birth to my 9 and a half pound son!
—Guest mandy2002

labour pains

I had my daughter nearly 9 years ago, and I remember the pain was pretty bad. I had pethidine injections 3 times and felt having your hand squeezed by someone helps to take your mind off the pain a bit. I asked for an epidural, not completely knowing what it was then but it was too late by that stage, I'm not a fan of them as I feel it's a bit of an extreme measure and wouldn't it be a problem when you have to push the baby out. Anyway I'm now 38 weeks with second baby so who knows what will happen this time. I wanna try just gas/ air but maybe it will be so bad I might ask for other stuff.
—Guest Mummy no 2

Not too bad...

Like every first time mother I was worried about how bad it would hurt. I had Braxton Hicks Contractions for 2 days but they would always go away. Finally, when I was 4 days late, the Braxton Hicks contractions kept coming. I dismissed them for hours because I had been having them so much. I decided to go to the hospital and I was already 5 cm! 6 hours later I was a mom! Not that bad, but I got the epidural cause I didn't want to "feel" it come out.
—Guest Rachael


I was in labor with my daughter for fifteen hours. The contractions were horrible. About 10 hours in I tried to get the epidural but it didn't work. I'm pregnancy with my second child and scared to do it again.
—Guest Jess09

22 hours of labor

I was in labor with my first child for 22 hrs. I was induced and I thought it would be a walk in the park. The contractions started out like menstrual cramps but they got worse and worse. I didn't get to have the epidural because I wasn't dialated 4 cm. Then my cervix closed back up so my next option was a c-section. However, I guess my doctor felt sorry for me because he gave me the epidural since I had been in labor so long and my cervix then opened right up. Needless to say my son is 9 years old but I am pregnant with my second child now. I have 5 weeks to go and I am petrified and extremely nervous because of how my first labor went.
—Guest Jameesha

Yup...It Hurts!

I went in on a thursday morning (I was 2 weeks overdue, Doc wanted tests run), awoke that morning feeling a sharp pain in my belly,kind of like menstrual cramps, went to the hospital, they told me I was in labor and they kept me because they were pretty close together. Dialation had slowed to tremendously so they broke my water; it was downhill after that. I had to get the epidural; I was miserable. They let it wear off though and I was extremely uncomfortable and restless and hot and sweaty and oxygen deprived when I tried to deliver again. I vomitted and did other "things". I would not get past 9 centimeters for anything. Anyway, I ended up having a c-section. Didn't have my boy until Friday night. Being stitched up either way sucks.
—Guest Carmen

It hurts, but its different for everyone

I occasionally would have excruciatingly painful menstrual cramps, which once sent me to the hospital for morphine. I figured if I could get through that then labor wouldnt be that much worse? Hello! For me, my labor pains felt like those sharp cramps you get in your neck or leg (charlie horse) and you can't move because it hurts so bad. That's what they felt like times 20. They started off like regular menstrual cramps, progressively getting worse and more intense until I could barely move or talk. I went to the hospital at 2 cm dilated with contractions spaced 4 minutes apart. I was there for 5 hours and only dilated 1/2 cm more and still in bad pain. At that point I agreed to the epidural, with reluctance. I hated being immobile, pooping, farting and peeing without knowing it. I felt helpless. I couldn't sleep because I couldn't feel anything and was worried I would move and the epidural would come out. I have 2 friends who had short and less painful labors, no epidural.
—Guest Lisa


My daughter was face up, which apparently causes horible back labor. They turned my epidural off about an hour before I actually gave birth--still can't remember the reason they gave me, but I was begging for them to turn it back on. It was like a "movie" for me. I as sweating profusely, I had an oxygen mask on, I was bawling and screaming, I couldn't even open my eyes because they were so swollen, and if I did sweat poured in. I begged the doctor for a c-section. I told the dr. I couldn't do it. I eventually started pushing on my own--that was the only way to feel any kind of relief of the contractions. Imagine the worst kind of charlie horse that goes from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes over and over again. I didn't even notice the baby coming out, didn't even notice that I "tore". I mean I noticed the baby coming out, only because they told me, and I was able to peek through my swollen sweat filled eyes. It was horrible.
—Guest Emily


When the time came to push... the pain was excruciating!! It felt like pooping an actual football.
—Guest teresa

Very long and painful

I was in labor for 3 days solid, no sleep. The last day the pain was like a ball of knives ripping through my insides - pure torture.
—Guest Kay

Not that bad

I used to have horrible cramps when I had my period, so when labor started I was not convinced that it was labor because it wasn't that painful. But I was in labor and I didn't think it was too bad. My labor progessed pretty quickly and at 6-7cm I decided to get an epidural even though the pain was still tolerable. Now I am 34 weeks along and praying for the same labor as with #1. Although I do have to say the after part was HORRIBLE. I couldn't walk, sit, or go to the bathroom. That is what I am not looking forward too. I had stitches that were pretty deep and it was a week before I felt better and 2 weeks before I felt somewhat normal.
—Guest Susie

they are all different

Expecting baby number 8. I can assure anyone all labors are different, some a tolerable and other just are not! I have had 1 csection (breech) I footling pre term vaginal and waiting to have my VBAC, all my other 5 normal vaginal, 2 induced. I found the induced ones extremely painful and the others I actually enjoyed. I have had one epidural with the footling breech, and felt a bit robbed but relieved of the pain. My babies sizes varied from 3 pounds to 9 pounds and honestly in this case size really made no difference to the strength of my contractions, my uterus did the same job every time, and of course hurt as it did its job. Overall I keep going back for more so I guess its all worth a day out of your life to suffer a little for such a reward.
—Guest multimum

Pain does not make you "closer" to baby.

I am pregnant with baby #4. First 2 natural, 3rd with a HEAVENLY epidural. #4 will be epirural too...NO BRAINER!! I was able to relax, and get "out of my body's way" with the epidural. Without it, I tensed up, and actually slowed delivery. I loved laughing and talking all the way through to the fast delivery. NOW...I DID study and practice hypnobirthing throughout my pregnancy, and used this technique to "get through" until the epidural was placed, so it had some value to me. What else??? OH...and walking SPEEDS UP delivery, therefore increases pain...Walking is not helpful for pain control. Birthing mothers have PATIENT RIGHTS to pain control...remember you can call your M.D. on your room phone, press "0"

Yes, they hurt.

I have to say that as they progress, they become more and more painful. Further on in labor they start tightening the stomach & then this nauseous cramping pain raidiates over all your body. I always end up wiggling my toes in an attempt to control it. I have to say, too, that when it gets bad no amount of breathing helps. About all it does is give you something else to do with your voice besides scream. I vomited over & over & finally had an epdiural after 24+ hours of terrible labor with my first. With my 2nd, epidural right away...and what a difference! I had energy afterward to enjoy the baby & healed quicker. I say don't fool around, get the epidural right away. Yeah, you could bear it, but why should you have to?

Not as bad without Pitocin

My first, I had to have pitocin to overcome the remaining amniotic fluid. When they broke the waters, I GOT SLAMMED! The 2nd one, I kept waiting for it to get "bad" and the nurses didn't think anything was happening because I wasn't complaining enough! I think I could have done without the epidural for #2. #3's less than 2 months out and I'm debating on when/if I'll have the epidural this time. This is the LAST ONE though, girls!
—Guest Guest CRB

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