Dare to utter the word "contraction" and see moms cringe collectively. Labor wouldn't be as strenuous if it weren't for the dreaded contractions that serve as a rite of passage into motherhood. Nothing compares to contractions. Not the monthly cramps, nor anything else, no matter what some men might try to say.
And no, it most certainly isn't comparable to a man receiving a certain setback between his legs, as he falls on the floor desperately clutching his parts for a couple of seconds.
But how do you explain contractions to a woman who is on the brink of experiencing them? Describing labor contractions to someone who has never experienced them is a difficult task. On the one hand, you don't want to scare them, but on the other, it's also a challenging process because there aren't enough expletives to accurately describe the woe of contractions.
It's also different for each woman. While one woman might be able to breathe through her contractions using the patterned breathing, others will find themselves desperately pleading for the epidural after just a few minutes. Read on for some pretty accurate descriptions of contractions that some women tweeted about while they were experiencing them.
20 Just Practicing
Surprise! Well before feeling labor contractions, most women go through Braxton hicks or as so many lovingly call them: practice contractions.
As Parents.com aptly describes Braxton hicks saying: "It's a fire drill. Braxton Hicks are practice contractions, aka "false labor," when your uterus starts to rehearse for the big performance. She's warming up her muscles, if you will." She may be loving her body now, but it won’t be long until she is screaming for the epidural and not feeling all that amazing anymore. For some, even Braxton Hicks can be the absolute worse, but it’s different for every woman.
19 A Rare Possibility
This next tweet covers what all of us wish it could be like:
Is a painless birth possible? Natural Birth and Baby Care would argue: “No” ... because painless birth is impossible (women do experience it – and I would say more often than we're led to believe). But I feel strongly that pain is not the focus of giving birth. The focus of giving birth is on working with your baby”, “I do, however, think it's a good thing to acknowledge that women can and do give birth without pain.” Confusing? You betcha, but it just goes to say that it’s certainly possible.
18 Contractions Lasting Multiple Days
But sometimes, contractions aren’t an obvious sign that the baby is coming yet at all. Well before the labor itself, you can experience contractions, which can very much feel like the real thing.
As Fit Pregnancy explains, “It's basically defined as contractions and/or other labor signs that begin much in the way that traditional labor does, but that do not result in the birth of your baby.” The irregularity of these false contractions is one of the best ways to tell if it’s the real thing or not. “These contractions might come and go, but they're usually less than every 5 minutes and do not become more frequent,” Fit Pregnancy goes on to say.
17 Inaccurate Descriptions
Once contractions become the real thing, then things get real FAST, as this Twitter user realized:
The internet and the numerous mommy groups out there are filled to the brim with descriptions as to what contractions actually feel like. Apart from scaring first-time moms, these descriptions also fail to truly put into words the way in which contractions actually feel. It doesn’t help that everyone has a different pain threshold, but as The Conversation points out: “[science] does suggest that over time, many women remember labour and birth pain as being less severe than they originally recalled.” This would mean that most descriptions of labor and contractions out there wouldn’t be 100% accurate.
16 It's Downright Confusing
Unfortunately, labor and the accompanying contractions can also be downright confusing, as evidenced by this Twitter user who was left utterly confused at her lack of feeling the contractions.
As much as you will read everywhere that contractions are painful, they aren’t always “that bad” for everyone. “Not feeling contractions but dilated” is actually a top question asked all the time. The advice given to most women in this situation is to not delay going to the hospital as the baby can make his grand entrance much faster than expected. The process of dilating and effacement is different for every woman, but going to the hospital might also get the woman sent back home if she goes too soon. In all, there’s just no knowing with labor.
15 Not Accurate, But It's Funny
Remember what we said about there being countless different ways of explaining contractions? Here’s just one of them and a funny one at that:
At least if you have sore feet, you can put them up and relax. But with rolling contractions, there isn’t much that can be done to try to ease the pain. The breathing techniques are all fine and dandy, except for the fact that they don’t always work for every laboring woman. That’s also the thing about contractions: they don’t stop. They just keep on coming even when you think you couldn’t possibly handle anymore.
14 Just Playin' Mommy
So you have been feeling contractions for some time, but just when do you finally go to the hospital? This is the toughest question that gets asked, but the general advice is to wait as long as possible because it’s much more comfortable to labor at home. It’s a good thing that this Twitter user had something to occupy her son while she labored on:
Let’s just hope she got to the hospital on time and there was somebody else to help get her there! Along with determining if contractions are regular, Essential Baby also points out that there’s another way to tell: “If contractions slow down or become less painful by eating, drinking, showering, moving or changing the position of the body, then it may not be necessary to leave home yet."
13 Seldom Talked About
It’s common knowledge that with labor, you might feel the urge to go #2, but there is another less-often talked about feeling:
The urge to pee is an early sign of labor. As We Have Kids explains: “This is due to more pressure being placed on the bladder. In contrast, less pressure is placed on the diaphragm, which allows the mother to breathe easily. This will certainly help during delivery.” It’s during this time that the mucous plug might make its appearance, along with your water breaking. But even during the real thing, many women continue to feel the urge to pee every time contractions hit.
12 Expect The Unexpected
During contractions, anything goes. You might feel like going #1, #2 or it might all come back up by the top. Just like babies, labor and contractions are also totally unpredictable.
“Nausea and vomiting are just one of those things that the nurses expect to happen, and are fully prepared to handle it and move on with the tasks at hand,” states babyMed. While that may not be the most reassuring thing to know with regards to contractions, it is something that happens. If you happen to hurl the contents of your lunch, making a huge mess in the process, don’t worry and know that it’s totally normal!
11 Water Breaking =/= Labor
As a result of movies, women have been programmed to believe that the water breaking means that the baby is coming NOW. But that’s not actually true, as this Twitter user shared:
Today’s Parents clarified this confusing process in detail: “In some cases, women have their water break before their bodies are ready to start the labour process. Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) usually requires induction to get things moving. If your water breaks before 37 weeks (known as preterm PROM), your healthcare practitioner might be able to extend your pregnancy, but in most cases, the baby will be born prematurely.”
10 A Laboring Pregzilla
Everyone reacts to contractions differently. While some don’t even feel the pain associated with them in the beginning, others will turn into pregzilla the moment the first contraction hits.
She has nothing to worry about though because she definitely wasn’t herself. Contractions and labor, in general, has the effect to turn even the nicest woman into a monster. When just moments before you had perfect control of yourself, you suddenly find yourself rocked with waves of pain that just never seem to end. Just when you think you have your breathing figured out, you get rocked with another wave that discombobulates you completely, throwing all your mental preparations into disarray.
9 Time To Change Direction
This Twitter user’s tweet definitely well sums about the upcoming labor.
After weeks of wondering if “today is going to be the day”, it can feel unreal when the day finally comes. You suddenly find yourself completely unprepared for what is to come, even you though have been looking forward to ever since the first day of finding out you’re pregnant. Instead of the toilet, the next best course of action would absolutely be to grab that bag and head on over to the hospital. Or if laboring at home, then to call the midwife and everyone else to say: IT’S TIME!
8 Nothing Is Comparable
Many people fear getting IVs or blood tests, but this tweet just goes to show how bad contractions can really be. Despite her fear, this Twitter user still found getting stuck with an IV to be a walk in the park compared to the contractions:
Not to scare anyone, but contractions really are worse than anything. It’s hard to compare it to anything else because they come non-stop and their intensity is more than most can handle, which is precisely the reason for which so many opt for the epidural. A CDC report from 2008 found that 61% of women delivering natrually got an epidural.
7 Even The Epidural Is Nothing
Speaking of epidural, here’s a tweet covering exactly that: the contractions in comparison to an epidural.
Prior to going into labor, every woman wonders to herself if she will end up screaming for the epidural. Most do, as we already covered, and somehow the fear of the needle gets minimized in the face of potential relief from the seemingly never-ending contractions. Any relief is welcome at that point, no matter how scary the prospect may be. From experience, I can tell you that despite your fear and having to sign a no-liability waiver, you will find yourself sitting remarkably still as the contractions keep on rocking your belly.
6 A Triple Whammy
Or is it a double whammy since having contractions go hand-in-hand with being pregnant? Either way, it’s certainly not a fun position that this Twitter user found herself in:
Although it’s terrible timing, situations like this one can happen. The same thing happened to Karen, who wrote on Living Well On Less: “I was exhausted. I hadn’t eaten in a full 24 hours. I knew I was likely incredibly dehydrated. But once your water breaks, you’ve got about 24 hours to get the baby out. So I tried to put on my game face.” Putting on your game face is definitely putting it mildly!
5 Smooth Sailing
For many laboring moms, an epidural is definitely a godsend:
But it should be noted that epidurals don’t work for everyone and I say this from experience! When you’re already exhausted from a long labor and one failed attempt at inserting the epidural, for it to not properly block the pain after the second supposedly successful try, is enough to put any woman off to a bad start with her baby. Not only that, but having to then suffer through a never-ending headache for a week afterward because of the first failed attempt is also enough to make anyone apprehensive to want to go through another epidural next time, let alone another pregnancy.
4 Even Her Make-Up Is Still On Fleek
I know this next Twitter user used the puppy face filter on her picture, but seriously, even her make-up still looks flawless! We’re not even going to mention her perfectly sculpted eyebrows.
Not only that, but she is also one of the rare ones who didn’t seem to be feeling the pain of her contractions. Whether that’s for natural reasons or as a result of the epidural is unclear. But since she is clearly at the hospital, then it’s likely safe to assume that labor was imminent and her contractions must have been close apart. I’m leaning towards the epidural side of things, but anything is possible, especially since in the next series of Tweets, the tweeting women talked about not feeling any pain.
3 Misplaced Facepalm
This one is just downright confusing:
The first part of the Tweet would be a conundrum for many women who have already gone through the pains of labor, but the second part just adds to the confusion. If her contractions aren’t painful, then why is she writing: “What is life right now”? It’s especially confusing with the facepalm emoji that she added. I’m going to venture to guess that she meant it more as she, herself, is confused at her positive predicament. After nine months of being scared of labor, it can definitely be shocking to encounter a relatively painless experience (I’m not even going to mention the ring of fire).
2 Commonly Felt Feelings
She might be excited now, but just wait until the contractions kick in for real:
Ellie’s tweet definitely summarizes the anticipation of real labor. On the one hand, you feel happy and excited that it’s finally happening and that you will get to hold the baby in your arms, but on the other, the nervousness is enough to make any woman want to just go back to bed (in vain of course). She doesn’t mention anything about her contractions being painful – although she did write that she felt it all -- but it likely wouldn’t have been long for them to kick into high gear.
1 An Even Luckier One
The baby would have been born not long after that tweet and it’s probably then that things got real, but it’s still amazing that the beginning of her labor would have been pain-free.
As Natural Birth and Baby Care also point out: “Where you're giving birth and the conditions around you have a huge impact on your birthing time.” The circumstances around the labor and birth play a huge part in the experience, and there is something to be said about creating a relaxing birthing environment. Reading positive birthing stories such as this one is also uplifting for any pregnant woman who has been dreading labor.