It’s impossible for guys to understand what it’s like to experience contractions. Childbirth is a uniquely brutal and gut-wrenching experience. Here’s how men can get a teeny-tiny glimpse into the pain of contractions.

False Alarm!

Not all contractions are created equal. Braxton Hicks contractions are the false alarms of the contraction world. They can start as early as 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Braxton Hicks don’t actually signal the onset of labor. They aren’t forceful, rhythmic, or consistent enough to induce labor. They’re uncomfortable, but not particularly painful.

Early Labor Vs. Active Labor

When it’s nearing baby time, early labor contractions begin. They typically start as irregular cramping. They can start and stop over the course of several hours, days, or even weeks leading up to labor. Early labor contractions soften the cervix for labor. They’re the warm-up routine before the big, bloody show.

Active labor contractions are the real deal. They dilate the cervix and cause a whole lot of pain. You can’t really walk or talk through them due to the pain. Once active labor contractions start, they don’t stop until the baby is born. Active contractions are different for every woman.

What Real Women Have To Say About Contractions

Epidurals change the pain of contractions significantly. According to a Californian woman with two kids, contractions with an epidural feeling like rolling waves of pressure. She only had 15 minutes of real pain before the baby was delivered.

Her second birth was natural. It felt like a jackhammer was splitting her in two while she saw white flashes of light. Other women get intense “back labor.” It feels like the jackhammer is being taken to the lower back. A Maryland woman describes it as a tension that traveled to her colon until it felt like she had to take a giant dump.

Childbirth is far from poetry. For some, it’s beyond torture. For others, it’s nowhere near as bad as they imagined. For guys, it’s hopefully less of an enigma.