The contractions experienced by a mother-to-be depends upon various factors such as the position of the baby, intensity of labor pain, and the physical and mental state of the mother. This article provides brief information regarding the same.
Contractions refer to the periodic tightening and relaxing of the uterine muscle, which is supposed to be the largest muscle in a woman’s body. The pituitary gland releases a hormone called oxytocin, which triggers uterine tightening. They are cramping sensations that begin in the back and move in the front, similar to a wave. The abdomen becomes hard during a contraction and during childbirth. Labor is initiated and carried ahead through these contractions. Actually, they begin the process of thickening and tightening of the upper part of the uterus. Simultaneously, the cervix and the lower part of the uterus stretch and relax. This helps the baby move from the inner part of the uterus into the birth canal. These would not bother you throughout the labor. They would be experienced for around a minute every 5 minutes or so. That is variable and the woman who is pregnant has to observe it.
Some women have described contractions in preterm labor as akin to menstrual cramps or stomach pain due to gas. It will mostly feel like a wave, gaining intensity till it reaches a certain point. It will then slowly die down. However, the pattern of the wave starting from the back and then progressing in the front may not be felt by every woman in the same manner. As the body goes further into labor, it is very much possible that the period of break between 2 contractions is short. The peak of pain of contraction will be sooner and longer in that case. However, contractions which are persistent, with no rhythm, and are 5 to 7 minutes apart should not be ignored, and a gynecologist or a mid wife should be immediately summoned.
Contractions get you all the more closer to the birth of your baby. They are actually pushing your baby downwards. Therefore, instead of resisting or going against this natural process, go along with it and stay as relaxed as possible. You would have to deal with this for around 14 to 15 hours, if you are pregnant for the first time. However, this would not be the case the second time you get pregnant. The time would be shorter the next time. After delivery, the memory of those painful contractions will probably disappear as you hold your newborn baby for the first time.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.