Originally Posted by SLPmama
I feel like it will be hard for me to known when I'm in "active labor", unless things are different this time than last time. Last time I was in labor for 12 hours and had contractions 2-3 minutes apart when I was admitted and was only at 1.5 cm. According to the docs they didn't know why my contractions weren't productive and I wasn't dialating. So I guess I don't know how to judge active labor in myself.
If it makes you feel any better, this last one was my fourth labor and I still didn't know whether I was in active labor and had to call the nurse (it was daytime) and have a long conversation, after which we concluded that we still couldn't figure it out
. The first three times it was obvious (vbac #1, p-prom followed by spontaneous labor; the other two times I had a day or two of significant menstrual-like crampy pain before the big bad contractions started in the middle of the night. There was no mistaking it.). This time, however, I wasn't expecting to labor during the day, for one thing, and for another, I thought it would be like my prior labors, where the onset of the really super painful contractions was sort of sudden. But that's not how it happened - I had a pretty painful contraction in the wee hours, then another an hour or two later. I woke up with the menstrual-crampy pain that preceded my other labors, so I was assuming I'd be in active labor that night or the following night. I had a contraction or two every hour that was painful enough to breathe through, but still managed to take the kids to swimming lessons that morning. It wasn't until the afternoon that I started to clue in that this baby was on her way. And even then I had to chat with the nurse - and only a half hour after that I called her back to say I was coming in anyway
. I had a very painful contraction on standing up from the toilet and I had to lean against the wall with all my might. At that moment I decided I'd rather arrive at the hospital too early than too late (to get an epidural, which I had decided I wanted, after being so exhausted all week, etc., and considering the birth prior to this one, which was unmedicated, and seemed rather violent - not peaceful). Fortunately I had skipped my heparin shot that morning so I was able to get the epi (it was heavenly, the best I felt in months). Anyway, my sitter couldn't get there for a while so I had DH and our other five kids drop me off at the front door of the hospital and I walked in by myself
. The car ride had been pretty rough, but surprisingly, without regular contractions (that I *knew* of; I was only counting the really big ones I guess, because I had so much pain in between and when moving around), when I got to my L&D room I was at 5 cm. If I had waited any longer at home I would have been thoroughly in transition before heading to the hospital. Baby was born by dinnertime, less than 3 hours after getting there.
I tell you this story so you can see that (1) sometimes, your next labor indeed can be very different, and (2) even a person who's done this several times before can be confused about when they're in active labor.
Looking back at your prior labor, what would you have done differently - somehow avoid the sweep? I don't have much against sweeps generally (I had one with vbac #2 and it worked like a charm), and this is a wild guess, but might the sweep have caused an infection, which led to your baby's distress? Other than that, I can't see what you could have done differently. Was the baby in a less-than-optimal position? I honestly don't know why contractions would not be productive unless they either weren't true labor or there wasn't enough pressure from the baby on the cervix (though this last time, I was sure I'd have such a difficulty because my baby was posterior and wasn't giving me much pressure, except that it didn't seem to matter. I think that was weird. From what the doc said, the position/pressure only matters for cervical dilation "sometimes").
good luck - I hope for your sake that labor is obvious this time and that it's swift and easy