What does a contraction feel like during the child birth?

    Labor and baby birth    Labour contractions

Sometimes you hear stories from women who find child birth “a piece of cake”. They deliver the baby as if nothing has happened. For most women, though child birth is a painful experience because contractions are painful.

The first contractions feel a bit uncomfortable and are far from painful. You can carry on as normal with what you are doing. If they are getting stronger and your abdomen hardens it is time to think that labour may have started. Later you may notice that the contractions become more substantial and are more like cramp experienced during your period. Then you begin to notice them having a definite start and finish and they are more painful. Gradually you can no longer talk during a contraction as the pain catches your breath. As soon as you feel a contraction coming then start to breath slowly and deeply. At the high point of the contraction, blow the pain away until the contraction has faded. As the contractions progress the high point becomes more painful.

After the peak of the contraction the pain quickly diminishes and the contraction is over. Those in labour who experience the contractions building up slowly reach a point in the delivery where they feel they can cope and perhaps have a high pain threshold, until the serious contractions start to announce themselves.

Overwhelming contractions

In the last stage of the contractions the high point is simply unbearable. The pain from the final centimetres of dilation is extremely sharp and cannot be compared to any other pain. The pain from these contractions dominate everything else. The pain is in the abdomen, back and legs but can be felt over the whole body. You cannot talk and think about anything else. As labour progresses you will feel the baby suddenly press down on the vagina. It can be very painful if during a contraction you get a sudden downward pressure on the vagina and anus.

As a contraction begins to fade you already feel the next one coming.  At this point you may begin to panic as there is no time to recover before the next contraction. However you need to remember that if the contractions are this unbearable and this frequent you have almost reached your goal – the birth of your child!

Pattern of contractions.

labour contractions

Here is a picture of how a contraction might feel. You feel the contraction arriving from afar. It becomes a bit sharper and more painful and fades away again until it is completely gone. You can rest and take a breath. Sometimes there are contractions inbetween which are sharper and more painful than others. There may be several like this one after another and then returning to normal. The further the delivery progresses the sharper and more frequent the contractions.

Internal examination

During the delivery the midwife or gynaecologist checks on how far the cervix has dilated. You may not have experienced an internal examination before and are not in favour of it. This is not unusual.  Do not hestitate therefore to tell the person who is about to examine you. It may reassure you to know that the examination will achieve something. It is good to know if labour is progressing.


Take care to keep warm during the delivery. If you get cold the contractions can reduce. That might seem nice but it just means the delivery will take longer. Make use of warm socks and a hot water bottle during child birth.

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