Contraction: what is it really?

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Contraction: what is it really?
Contraction: what is it really?

The contractions! Women would love to know what a contraction feels like so they can better cope with it. helps you unravel the mystery!


Differentiate pains

Early contractions, some never feel them until the day of delivery, while others feel them from the first weeks. The pain felt may resemble premenstrual pain, tightness or a hardening of the belly. The contractions are normal as long as they are painless, rare (no more than fifteen a day), irregular and disappear as they come.

Note all the same the times of the day or following which activities the contractions appear.

Talk to your doctor, although most of the time it is a normal and natural reaction of the body. “It is a manifestation of the muscle of the uterus which changes volume, shrinks, hardens and then relaxes”, we note in the book Waiting for Baby, written by René Frydman and Christine Schilte. However, some women may be put off work if they feel too many contractions, as these may act on the cervix (without necessarily doing so).dilate) and may cause miscarriage.

A false contraction?

Surprisingly, it is true that a woman can feel, throughout her pregnancy, “false contractions” also called Braxton-Hicks contractions.

What causes false contractions?

These contractions are of low intensity and without associated pain. In fact, women feel their bellies harden. This is what happens! The belly seems to get hard as the uterus hardens for 20-30 seconds. They are called “false” because they do not dilate the cervix. And even if you experienced false contractions during your pregnancy, this will not influence the strength of the “real” contractions, nor their duration, nor their regularity.

What is a true contraction?

“How do I know if these are contractions? “, “Will I recognize a real contraction? or “How will I know when the real work begins?” »

These are the main questions of primiparas. Here are some signs:

  • True labor (lag phase) will be accompanied by regular and painful contractions.
  • Effective contractions at cervical dilation will get closer and closer, will last longer and will always be more intense.

Taking a bath or a shower can help you determine if the real labor is starting. If the contractions fade, slow down or completely disappear under the soothing effectwater, no need to rush to the hospital or birthing center. But beware: if labor has actually started and these are real contractions, they can intensify in duration and pain and speed up the process

Where is the pain of contractions?


Twitches are primarily in the abdominal muscles, but you may also feel a twitch in your back, a twitch in your upper or lower abdomen, or a twitch in your kidneys. Some women may also experience lower back pain. They are said to “give birth through the kidneys”. It's actually that the baby presses his head at the base of the sacrum, an area where there are many nerve terminals.

Giving birth hurts, but know that it is a positive evil… considering the cute result that will finally see the light of day. The pains associated with childbirth are the only ones, physiologically, to have “meaning”: they announce the arrival of the baby. It is all the same a happy event, it should not be forgotten. The epic that baby will live during the hours of childbirth constitutes a breathtaking test worthy of all the Olympic Games.

A rush of adrenaline, generated by the increased stress at the time of childbirth, counters the production of endorphins (supports pain) and counteracts the effects of oxytocin which promotes contractions of the womb.

How to time contractions

That's it! The real work begins. To time the contractions,it is calculated from the start of the first contraction to the start of the next. If this is our first delivery, wait until the contractions last 30 to 40 seconds and have been every 5 minutes for about two hours. For a second (or third…) birth, you can leave home for your birthplace after one hour.

A moment of doubt? Call the maternity ward, your companion or the birth centre, we will support you in demystifying contractions… in the middle of labour.


The last contractions

The baby is here! Fresh, all wrinkled and gorgeous, of course! But for you the work is not quite finished. A few more "final" contractions and a few pushes are to be expected to expel the placenta. Do not panic! Once the baby is against you, it seems that the evil evaporates more easily.

Moms tell… without censorship

“Having had a ton of false and regular contractions, I would say that, for me, a real contraction is the one that made me say, 'Damn the bath, rest on the left side, the walking and all the stuff! Call the midwife and my carer Kathleen! Physiologically, I had to change my way of breathing. »


“I had a lot of false Braxton-Hicks contractions throughout my pregnancy which started very early, around the 20th week. At first, I thought it was the baby who was "lying wide". My stomachwas getting all hard and I thought it was her back pressing against my stomach. Until a co-worker touched my belly and told me: it's too big for the back of the 20-week-old baby. And it's hard everywhere, it's probably a contraction. »


“The fake contractions made my stomach hurt a little and the real contractions were the ones that started from the kidneys and resonated all the way into my stomach. I had never felt that before, I knew that this time it was the right ones. »


“The contractions may look like menstrual cramps, but the pain is 50 times greater! I also felt like my stomach wanted to rip. The belly gets hard, hard, hard! And it pulls one way or the other. I may not be the best example, because for both of my deliveries, my babies were posterior. So the pain was in the lower back and in the kidneys. It's really hard to describe. I think you just have to experience it to understand it. But, it is a bearable pain if one decides to accept the contraction and to work with it for one and the same goal: to give life! »


“Even if I want, contractions that hurt… I only had 9 cm! Otherwise, I only felt them behind my back. It was really because of their regularity that my boyfriend (not me!) insisted that we go to the maternity ward… Otherwise I would surely have given birth inCar! »


“The fake ones felt like my belly became a soccer ball…. hard, hard, hard! The real ones were a kidney ache that came back at regular intervals. I didn't have a stomach ache; I had rather the back which wanted to tear me off. »


“As for the real work, it started on the way to the hospital, after my water broke. But it wasn't that painful. But, an hour later, in the hospital, it hurt. It was like a mega big cramp that paralyzes. It hurts so much. But I still found it endurable, even if you can't help but wince and huff. The pains were in the lower abdomen and back. It didn't remind me of any other pain. »


“The contraction at the beginning is special. It doesn't hurt, you just feel uncomfortable. Then, the more the labor progresses, the more the pains are accompanied by pains in the lower abdomen, like heart attack of the ovaries (!), which seem to increase. » Chantal

“For my part, for the big contractions it hurt my stomach, lower back, and pelvis to my knees…Yes! Yes up to the knees! That's what struck me the most about my contractions! I never would have thought it could go this far! With each contraction I felt like my pelvis was going to break. »


“In my second pregnancy, I had false contractions every day for the last 5 weeks! I had been maderecommendation of the bath, telling me that it would calm the contractions… They had forgotten to tell me that if labor had started, the hot bath would speed up the process! So in my bath, I began to have more and more pain and to feel very close contractions. (I didn't have a watch in the bath, so I'm not sure about the timelines!) And let me tell you, it was time for me to leave for the hospital: I gave birth 40 minutes after my admission ! »



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