Friday, June 24, 2016

What Do Contractions Actually Feel Like?



That is the number one question I hear! The general sensations for each of the stages of labor can be found at this lovely blog on our Birth Boot Camp website-you'll love the flow chart as well!

I sat for a while, trying to think of how contractions felt to me. Explaining this can sometimes be difficult because everyone's experiences will be unique. With this in mind, I consulted some of our wonderful BBC instructors (you can find us here) and asked them what they would compare that contracting feeling to. Here are our collective thoughts! 

  • "Mine felt like the worst menstrual cramps ever. Not unbearable, but very uncomfortable." Caren Nugent 
  • "I only felt mine down low. They felt like very intense menstrual cramps. A big ball of ache." Kristi Keen
  • "Pushing was way better." Jillian Blakeman 
  • "Pushing was heaven compared to contractions! My contractions were low like menstrual cramps but also radiated around my belly on each side like long fingers squeezing. Jennifer Swiney
  • "Like the worst stomach flu cramps you've ever had." Alexa Gumm 


  • "Diarrhea." Sarah Clark
  • "Like a bulldozer in my uterus." Melissa Mayer
  • "Mine were nothing like what everyone says! They were this all consuming, full body awfulness.. maybe because my labors are only an hour and a half?" Abbie Spreier
  • "The feeling of biking up very steep hills but concentrated in your abdomen. And you can't get off the bike." Lauren McClain
  • "..it feels like a very intense ab workout." Ashleigh Boogaerts 


  • "I once heard someone describe them as a reverse orgasm. Same intensity, but pain instead of pleasure, and a tight grip instead of a release." Jill Christianson 
  • "With my first they started with cramps..my contractions with my 2nd felt like how you would blow up a balloon. It would start low and radiate up and got bigger and stronger." Carol Quintana
  • "I felt them much like a charlie horse in my stomach when I was reaching transition." Ginny Ferguson
  • "..I usually describe it as a charlie horse in the uterus." Cameo Sherman 
  • "..Labor contractions were exactly like an IBS flare for me. Except that I knew exactly what was causing them and that they would eventually end..It's uncanny to me how similar they were." Alyssa Densham


As you can tell, a lot of us have different opinions! For me, contractions felt like a very bad stomach ache that comes and goes. Those contractions got progressively more intense until transition, and then pushing made them so much more bearable! I hope we all could give you some specific ideas of what you might expect to feel. Please don't be worried or scared. Relax and get a massage. Utilize the water. Take a class with your partner and prepare. Be confident; you can do it!

"The power and intensity of your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because it is you."-Unknown