How Will I Know When I’m in Labor?
Once you’ve passed the 40 week mark in your pregnancy, you’re desperately seeking any and all signs of labor. Personally, I was desperately seeking them at 38 weeks, but my search came up disappointingly empty at that point. So by the time my due date came and went, you can rest assured that I construed nearly any and everything out of the ordinary into a labor sign. Backache? I must be in labor! Baby’s moving less? It’s time! Hair out of place? Let’s go to the hospital! Ok, the last one is an exaggeration, but your desperation can lead you to some pretty strange conclusions. Time and time again, I Googled, “How will I know I’m in labor?”…“What do the early stages of labor feel like?”…“What do labor contractions feel like?” And we won’t even go into the “natural ways to induce labor” searches I conducted.
I had Braxton Hicks contractions pretty regularly for the last half of my pregnancy, so I had this irrational fear that I wouldn’t know when I was in labor. Having now gone through labor, I know just how irrational this fear was; you can rest assured that Braxton Hicks contractions and labor contractions are two very different things. You will know when you’re having labor contractions.
Unfortunately, I think everyone’s labor experiences are quite different. That’s why you can never find a clear-cut answer on what labor feels like or how you’ll know you’re in labor. For those of you searching for signs of labor, I can only speak from my own experience, and yours may turn out to be completely different from mine.
For me my first sign of very early labor was a “crampy” feeling. Keep in mind that this began on Tuesday afternoon, and Beckett wasn’t born until Thursday morning. It wasn’t an incredibly painful feeling. The feeling was very similar to that of menstrual cramps to be honest. At some point, the crampy feeling began to coincide with my contractions. Because these contractions felt different, I paid more attention to the timing between them. By Wednesday afternoon, I was pretty sure I was in labor because of the increasing frequency and painfulness of the contractions, and we made our first trip to the hospital that evening. Yes, first. There were two. Being sent back home from the hospital made me question whether or not I really was in labor. Less than two hours after returning home, though, my water broke and things progressed quite quickly from there. At that point, there was no denying I was in labor.
During those last couple of weeks, I would’ve given anything for a sign of labor. Anything that would have signaled that my baby would be making an entrance into the world, but there was nothing until two days before. It really is mentally and emotionally exhausting knowing that your baby can arrive at any time, but you have no idea when. Your Google searches sometimes get your hopes up and sometimes crush them. It’s an exciting time, but it can also be very taxing. Your baby will make his or her entrance right when he or she is supposed to, though, and you will have your own unique labor experience to recount. Until then, close the Google search tab on your browser, step away from your computer and relax now while you still can. I promise you-you’lll be happy you did.
- Bright Horizons Online Community: Did You Feel Different the Day You Went Into Labor?
- Bright Horizons Online Community: Hospital Packing List
- Read more posts about pregnancy and posts about labor and birth and posts from the Family Room bloggers
- Read more about being a first-time parent including Tips for a First-Time Parent – from The Family Room bloggers