Different Types of Labor Contractions and How They Feel


A Reliable Sign of Labor

For a first-time mother, it is quite normal to experience anxiety during pregnancy, especially as one approaches their delivery day. The woman might start wondering how the process of delivery feels, and when labor will start. According to a renowned San Antonio OBGYN, there are many signs that labor is setting in but the most reliable of these is consistent contractions. The expectant mother might experience different types of contractions and will need to know which ones mean delivery time is near and that they need to head to the hospital. A skilled OBGYN can guide expectant women on what signs to look out for, how the contractions should feel, and how to tell if there is a problem.

False Labor Contractions

A woman may start to notice occasional contractions in the uterus during the fourth month of pregnancy. These tightening and untightening rhythms are known as Braxton-Hicks contractions or false labor because they give the woman a false sensation that they are in labor. They are quite irregular, and they help prepare the uterus for delivery. Generally, they are painless or uncomfortable and are concentrated in the abdominal area. They should not go on for long and will usually ease up if one stops whatever activity they were doing. If the contractions get stronger, one should immediately contact an expert OBGYN for help.

Preterm Labor Contractions

On the other hand, preterm labor contractions are quite regular and could be a sign that premature delivery will take place. They are a long series of contractions of regular timing, for instance, they could be happening every 10 minutes for over an hour. They usually occur before 37 weeks. The entire abdomen will feel hard or tight during the contractions, and the woman may feel a dull backache, pressure in the abdomen and pelvis, and cramping.

Early labor

Once preterm or full-term contractions begin, they cannot be slowed down with simple measures like drinking water or resting. They get stronger and closer together to dilate the cervix in preparation for delivery. For early labor, the contractions remain somewhat mild and last somewhere between 30 seconds to a minute and a half. The contractions are organized, starting out far apart and getting closer and closer, reaching just 5 minutes apart by the end of early labor. Other signs that the woman may experience include a tinged discharge from the mucus plug, which means the cervix has begun to open. The water may also break.

Transition to Active Labor

As one transitions from early-stage labor to actual labor, the contractions get more intense. However, these experiences are different for every woman, and every pregnancy. The cervix will continue opening up, anywhere from 4 to 10 centimeters, as it paves the way for the baby to be pushed out. The mother’s legs may cramp and ache as the contractions wrap around the body, from the abdomen all the way to the back. The tightening may even overlap as the body prepares to push. Contractions during active labor last anywhere from 40 seconds to a minute, with spacing of about 3 to 5 minutes. If a woman suspects that she is in active labor, she should call a doctor and head straight to the hospital.


Mia Johnson
Mia Johnson is a writer with a ten-year long career in journalism. She has written extensively about health, fitness, and lifestyle. A native to Melbourne, she now lives in Sydney with her 3 dogs where she spends her days writing and taking care of her 900 square feet garden.

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