With my last birth, I had irregular contractions that never got really intense, just felt like strong cramps with no discernible pattern or timing in between. This was from the beginning of pre-labour until the pushing phase- some contractions had minutes in between all throughout. It was weird. I was almost 2 weeks "over due" and went in to be checked, found I was 4 cm dilated so they told me to go home get our stuff then come back to the birth centre. We ended up in the birth centre for about 18 hours from the time we arrived till my son was born! Too long and I wished I had stayed at home.
My sister had a very similar labour and birth at home and so did my mom so I'm thinking my next one has a good chance of being a similar experience.
This time I'd really like to go to the birth centre at the last possible minute- but how do I know when that is if contractions aren't regular or increasing in strength? I have no experience checking dilation and I'm not sure I'd be comfortable doing that. Is that the only other way to estimate just where I am in my labour progress?