FTM questions, contractions?

I'm a FTM, and I have been dilated at 3cm and 50% effaced since I've been 33 weeks, I'll be 36 weeks on Tuesday. I'm also on modified bed rest. This last Thursday I think I lost some/all of my mucus plug, it was streaked with brown, and ever since then I have been having lower back cramps that feel like period cramps. It's a dull ache in my back. Is that what contractions would feel like? I keep asking my doctor what contractions feel like and they say a pain that would take my breath away and that I will know if I'm having them. To be already dilated and part way effaced I would of already had some contractions though right? I just don't want the back aches to be the start of contractions or actual contractions and not be realizing it, it's an almost constant lower back ache.