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12 Women Share What a Contraction Really Feels Like

As your pregnant body begins to take shape and your due date draws closer, you'll probably find yourself wondering what labor and contractions are going to feel like. If you've not experienced them, the idea of “extreme pain” can be frightening.

But no two women are the same, and no two women can describe what a contraction actually feels like for anyone else. And, while they are painful, they're usually painful with the happy ending of a baby in your arms, so even most women who describe it as the worst pain ever will tell you it's worth it.

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Contractions, for me, felt like nothing I'd ever experienced before. They're a weird pain that radiate across your abdomen like a leg cramp, but all over. It was painful, but it is hard to compare to other causes of pain because this one I knew was going to happen.

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If you're wondering what labor contractions feel like, since no woman experiences it the same, here are 12 descriptions from 12 women who have experienced them firsthand.

Lightning

“Labor pains felt like being struck by lighting, first coming periodically and leaving me befuddled (why would I do this to myself?) and pondering my agonizing future (why me, Lord?), and then continuously giving me little doubt that my future was filled with doom.

“I swore I would never forget the feeling, and [I] focused on remembering the pain. Then, all of a sudden, it was over, and there was this beautiful fuzzy-headed little boy, who must have come with an unheard clap of thunder that totally erased any real memory of the agony.” – P.D.

Flu aches

“With my two girls, the pain was all in the bottom half of my back — almost like the flu with body aches, but centralized in my back. That's how it started. As it progressed, the pain was towards the front with severe cramps and burning. When the baby was ready to come out, the pain was excruciating, and I definitely needed to hold onto something. That's exactly what my hubby was for. By the time we were done, his hand was black and blue from [my] holding it so hard.

“For my boy, I didn't have the back pain; however, the pain was even more excruciating than the [girls' births]. Ever watch the movie Alien? Well, it felt like an alien was ripping through my stomach with its humongous head because it was lost and couldn't find its way through the tunnel. I definitely needed an epidural for that birth, which was the best feeling in the world after it took effect.” — Lillian

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Severe cramps

“I didn't expect labor to feel like really severe menstrual cramps. And that's exactly what it felt like. The cramping feeling got stronger and more severe as labor progressed. I also had back labor, which felt like strong, shooting lower back pain that lasted for about 1.5 minutes. I didn't realize I was in labor until I was experiencing this back pain every seven minutes.” — Julie

Unrelenting

“An unrelenting menstrual cramp.” – Wendi

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Needing to poop

“Menstrual cramps/needing to poop times a billion.” – Monica

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No comparison

“Can't compare it to anything! Just need to focus and get through each contraction. I was amazed how quickly I forgot about the pain, though.” – Holly

Spine ripped out

“I had all back labor and, more than once, compared it to having my spine ripped out of my, um, backside.” – Terra

Muscle soreness

“For me, contractions were something in between … exercising with strong muscle soreness and a cramp you experience in a leg sometimes. But many times harder.”

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Menstruation

“Overwhelming menstrual cramps that you feel all over your stomach, not just in your lower abdomen. That doesn't even really do them justice, though.” – Devon

Numb

“I would agree with the thought of the very strongest menstrual cramp, but radiating throughout your whole lower body and back. It makes you feel a little numb and unable to do anything else.” – Christina

Frustration as pain

“Envision pushing a football though a key hole. Now after trying for 12-24 hours, think of the frustration you are experiencing. Now convert that frustration to pain, and that's pretty much how I describe labor.” – Kelly

Being skinned

“Being peeled like a banana or, more vividly, skinned like a dead animal.” – Lori

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How would you describe what a contraction feels like? Share in the comments!

Article byDemi Powell