Quoting The Inconspicuous Raccoon:" Please try to explain the feeling of labor to a woman who has never even really had a Braxton-Hicks contraction ... [snip!] ... clear starting and stopping points? Can you look at your belly and see when they start & stop? What about them hurts? ."
With my daughter I had back labor and hadn't felt any contractions my entire pregnancy, when I did go into labor it was like a tightening uncomfortable feeling. Not knowing I was having contractions till they kept coming back. Basically it just felt my my whole lower body was tightening. When i got into active labor, all I can remember is my stomach hurt so bad and I was having constant bowel movements. Eventually it felt like my spine was splitting in half and I opted not to take the epidural right away, but had to cause LO was in fetal distress. I was 7cm dilated by then and had my bloody show.
This time I feel the contractions and can often see them, my stomach tightens and gets all hard, but when I was in pre term labor it just felt like a really bad tummy ache. Plus my stomach rose up a lil bit, felt like I was pushing my tummy out.