If only there were some kind of magic ball that could tell us exactly how and when we would go into labor. For planners like me who are used to knowing the map of things at the start of every day, the five weeks of pregnancy that are considered "term" -- 37 to 42 -- can be a maddening exercise in suspense, boredom, and fear.
The reality is, just like every human is different from every other one, every labor is different as well. Even women who have had four, five, or six children will readily say that no two of their labors started in the same way. Some had signs for weeks. Some didn't even know anything was happening until they were in the hospital.
So, for me, a pregnant woman in my 39th week, it's good to know that I need to trust my OWN instinct. There is no pattern. We asked around and found 10 different ways women knew they were in labor.
1.) "Had 'bloody show' for two weeks prior to my water breaking and even lost my mucus plug and NADA! It wasn't until my midwife stripped the membranes at 41 weeks that I finally went into labor."
2.) "I'd had bad diarrhea and an irritable stomach for a couple hours, but nothing else. No other symptoms but they sent me to Labor & Delivery. I was five centimeters dilated! My daughter came two hours later."
3.) "My water broke two weeks before my due date. Sitting on the couch with my husband just chatting when I heard a POP! I ran to the bathroom and everything was covered in water. My daughter came 11 hours later."
4.) "This is gross, but I knew when I had a very rare bout of very loose bowels, like my body was trying to evacuate EVERYTHING before starting labor because, OMG, cannot move a baby out and digest food at the same time."
5.) "Water gushing out in bed at 3:00 a.m. Pretty easy to tell I was in labor!"
6.) "My water broke, and while waiting for labor to start, I went on Facebook and asked every woman I knew whose water broke first what was going to happen next."
7.) "I was at the end of my rope with my pregnancy and had tried everything -- sex, eggplant, walking, pineapple, wine. NOTHING was working. After my third time going into Labor & Delivery, I begged them to strip my membranes. They did. Later that day, my mucus plug expelled. The next day, I got one super intense contraction that made it clear the time was NOW. He was out two hours later."
8.) "I labored for two days slow and steady, breathed beautifully through contractions, went hiking and walking. My doula and midwife came to check one afternoon and said it'd be the next day but not before then as I was only one centimeter dilated. My husband went to bed, and about an hour later, I woke him up running around the house like a crazy person. I was in and out of the shower, exercise ball, yoga poses on bed, etc. He kept calling the doula who said things like help her breathe through it, this is too early still. Finally I got on the phone with her and said, 'If you don't get the f*ck over here right now, I'm going to the hospital and asking for every drug possible!' She arrived a few minutes later. My water broke on the way to car and I was at 10 when I got to the birthing room."
9.) "I was only 36 weeks so I had no clue what to expect (with my first). I was getting what felt like period cramps and they were coming more and more frequently. I called my midwife and she came over. I swear she came more as a courtesy to a first-time mom than anything else. Well, she was super surprised to find I was eight centimeters. My son was out less than an hour later."
10.) "I was 37 weeks, so not even expecting the baby any time soon. I met a friend for dinner and she kept commenting about how different I looked. 'Your face,' she kept saying. 'It's so different.' I thought nothing of it, but a couple hours later, my water broke. I always wonder if she saw it in my face."
How did you know you were in labor?