Account & More
profile picture of The Bump Editors
The Bump Editors

What Do Contractions Feel Like?

You know what contractions mean—but how will you know when they start? Here's the insider scoop on what it might feel like.

Since contractions are experienced slightly differently by different women, we can’t really tell you. (Afraid we were going to say that, weren’t you?) Some women describe contractions as feeling like super intense menstrual cramps; others feel a dull ache in their back that wraps around to the front; and still others only feel a sharp pain in their back, or an intense pain in their belly. Early contractions can also feel like a terribly upset stomach (diarrhea and all), or you might feel contractions radiating through your thighs.

When asked to rate the degree of the pain, mamas-to-be also give drastically different answers, though the pain should always increase in intensity as labor progresses. And while chances are slim that this will be a near-painless experience (childbirth hurts—you knew that), you may be surprised to find the pain far easier—or yes, far tougher—to deal with than you’re imagining. This pain has a purpose—you hurt because your uterine muscles are working hard to push baby into the world.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Tool: Contraction Counter

Abdominal Pain and Cramps

Tricks to Make Labor Easier

PHOTO: Getty Images