I'm 39 weeks here and anxiously waiting for signs that I might be in labor. Nothing yet! I'm just curious--how much of a buildup did you have? Did you know ahead of time that labor would be soon, or did it just happen suddenly?
With both of mine I knew from the first contraction that 'This is it!" I didn't have any BHs that I could feel or prodromal labor, though. They started really comfortable/easy and worked up to painful and intense over time but even the easy ones I did not mistake for false labor or stomach cramping.
It built up for me. Three weeks before I went into labor I started feeling these menstrual-like cramps, that came and went. Then I didn't get them for a while..and the day I went into labor they suddenly came back again, stronger than they had been, and went from being down low in my uterus earlier in the day, to cramping at my back, and then moving around to the front, and wouldn't go away when I sat, and only dulled minimally when I laid down. Then my water broke a few minutes after I laid down.
In comparison to the cramps weeks earlier, I knew nothing would come of them. But the day I went into labor I had the notion, "I'm REALLY not sure if these are false..."
With my first, pre-labor cramping started around 2 am the day DS was born, about 14 hours before I went into true labor (4 pm) and 20 hours before he was born (10 pm). My water also broke around that 2 am mark, we think, but DS's head was low enough to act like a cork, so I had no leakage and didn't realize my water had broken. When labor really started (with regular, closely spaced contractions) at 4 pm, I knew I was in labor. We checked in to the hospital 2 hours after that, and DS was born 4 hours later.
With my second, my water broke at 6 pm, but labor didn't start until almost 9pm. I'd had no indications of labor before my water broke at all. He was born just after 10pm.
With my first, I hadn't been experiencing contractions really at all. They were there, apparently, but I didn't feel them or recognize them, I should say. I was 2cm dilated when I actually started early labor. I knew because there was a distinct menstrual-like cramping feeling that came and went about every 20 minutes. They simply progressed from there to every 15, every 10, every 7, every 5, and then every 2. This was a 15 hour process or so. They didn't really get stronger or much longer, for me, until they were 2 minutes apart for quite some time. I was still moving around, eating, etc. and just relaxing during the contractions. Eventually I reached a point where one or two brought a tear to my eye and I realized I was really breathing through them and couldn't talk during. That's when we went to the birth center and discovered I was 8cm! From there it was another 4ish hours of contracting and then pushing until dd was born.
With my second, I had been experiencing painless (just pressure) contractions for weeks prior to actually going into active labor. All those contractions dilated me 5cm. When I actually went into labor I knew because they turned cramping feeling and got closer and closer together. It was about a 5 hour process the second time around.
When my first time mommy friends ask, I tend to say, if you drink a glass of water, take a bath, lay down and the contractions go away, then it's not time. But if they stay regular and get closer together then that is most likely it!
Both. I started losing my mucous plug (blood streaked) 2 days before labor started, so I knew it would be coming along sometime but labor started suddenly at 1am with my water breaking, no...GUSHING, everywhere, like in the movies. Contractions started exactly 1 hour later. I knew it was the real thing. They were all in my back. The BH were not. And they were consistently 3-5 minutes from the get-go. 27 hours later, DD was born in my bedroom ON her actual due date.
My first 3 were all very similar. Long slow early labor that gradually built up. My last one with the twins came out of nowhere. I'd had some bloody show and a few more cntrx than normal the day before but still felt it could be another day or two, then suddenly bam I was in labor and hit transition within about an hour and total was 2.5hrs. Caught me completely off guard since I was expecting another long slow labor lol.
At 37 weeks I was 2 cm dialated and expected to pop any time. At 39 weeks 4 days, I lost my mucus plug, it was like a big snot floating around in the bath. The next day I could not do anything- the house was a mess and I was expecting company but I just let the mess sit there and watched TV all day, not exactly like myself. I had my first labor contraction (during lovemaking!) that night.
With my first, I had been having more and more Braxton-Hicks contractions during the nights leading up to labor. I can't remember how long that had been going on for - maybe a week. They would always die down if I got up and went to the bathroom and had a drink, but one night they didn't die down, and that was the start of labor.
With my second, there was no sign at all. I hadn't had any increase in BH contractions or anything else that made me think I'd be going into labor soon. One night I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep (just like many other nights during that pregnancy, nothing unusual), and while I was sitting at the computer, I started having mild, regularly spaced contractions. That was the start of that labor.
I lost my mucous plug, had my first contraction about half an hour later and he was in my arms less that 6 hours after that. There was no build up - the contractions started just as long and close together and intense as they ended. There was no variation, and other than being irritated and restless, there was no sign that I was going to be having a baby anytime soon!