When you are a first-time mom-to-be, you would obviously not have experienced contraction pain before, and the little you know about it might not be able to prepare you for the real experience.
So here are some interesting facts that could help you understand this better.
During the course of your pregnancy leading to your delivery and even after it you will experience three kinds of contraction pain.
These are random contractions that are basically nature’s way of preparing your uterus for the delivery. These occur somewhere after the second trimester and don’t lead to cervical dilation or childbirth. Braxton hicks are false labor contractions that will not increase in intensity. These are random and usually go away as soon as they start.
This is the real deal and is an indication that your baby is ready to come out. You can feel your uterus harden every time there is a surge of pain and after a few seconds feel it relaxing. This would feel like a wave which would keep intensifying as time progresses with each wave becoming longer and more intense with shorter periods of fading.
Even after you deliver, your uterus will keep contracting to deliver the placenta and then to seal the blood flow completely and shrink your womb back to the normal size. This generally happens for the next three or four months post delivery.
While some women experience intense labor contractions for hours before delivering the baby, some others might go into labor without feeling any pain.
As your body releases endorphins during labor, you will have a different perception of pain and may not be able to describe it post delivery. Some faintly remember it as an intense period cramp while others associate it with constipation and an urge to urinate. There are others who don’t remember anything about it.
The first thought you will get when you experience your first set of contractions is that of passing gas and a heavy period cramp radiating to your abdomen, legs, thighs and lower back. Since the contractions are a means to push the baby out, your contraction pain would feel as if you are constipated and have to pass stool.
The real contraction pain is the one that starts after your cervix starts getting dilated. If a contraction doesn’t lead to dilation, it is just a false alarm. You will be able to deliver your baby after your cervix is fully dilated to around 10cm although there are exceptions to this.
After your contraction starts, the amniotic sac ruptures, and you will start leaking amniotic fluid. This amniotic fluid is like a protective shield for your baby inside your womb, and once your water breaks, your baby has to be delivered immediately.
While you can hardly ignore the contraction pain, you would have hardly noticed the day your baby dropped down deeper into your pelvis (also called lightening). This marks the onset of the labor two weeks before the actual delivery.
As your cervix gets fully dilated, you will experience double peak contraction pain that gives you the urge to push your baby out of your uterus. This is when your baby will finally be delivered.
If you are not near your due date and the contractions you feel are not increasing in intensity or frequency, try drinking some water. These are probably false labor or Braxton's hicks triggered due to dehydration.
Depending on whether your baby is in the anterior position (back of head facing the tummy), the posterior position (head down and facing your abdomen), your experience of these contractions and the pain associated with it may differ.
It is important that you have a delivery bag ready towards the latter part of your third semester to ensure that you are completely prepared for your delivery. While not all pain is related to labor, it is important to know the difference and check with your doctor when in doubt.
Also read: Braxton Hicks Contractions: What To Expect#pregnancymustknow