Unless you had a strangely fast labor you'd realize you need to let the midwife know in plenty of time just because labor keeps coming. A lot of times they say strong contractions 1 minute long, 5 minutes apart is time to go to the birthplace/call in the HB attendant, or sometimes 3 minutes apart to wait til a little further along. A good midwife will also help to assess how far you are by description of the contraction timing and how you feel on the phone at the time.
When I went into labor... the contractions felt absolutely the same & the timing between them didn't change at all, but they didn't stop after 24 hours. At about 45 hours they turned into very painful menstrual type cramps and I gave birth about 5 hours later.
As PP said, time them if they start lasting more than a couple of hours and see if they get stronger in intensity. I was actually a week late but had BH many times between the time she was due and when she came. Each time, though, despite the fact that they were getting closer and closer together, they would abruptly stop after 2-3 hours (except the one time I went to the hospital when they lasted for 8 hours).
Contractions feel different for everyone!
Mama to C (3-25-06) and A (1-17-09) and Jameson Grant (9-25-10) my HBA2C baby!
I had a ridiculous amount of super annoying BH during my pregnancy and felt pretty much the same as you: How would I know when it was really real? Despite the fact that my labor started with my water breaking - I would have known even if it had stayed intact. For me, there was no mistaking that it was real because of how totally different the contractions felt. No question. They did feel a little menstrual like for about 45 minutes, but then they became ... very, um ... labor like.
I also had my first baby at home and wondered about how things would play out...When it came down to it, it was pretty much instinctual as far as calling the midwife (the entire thing was pretty instinctual actually). And when we called her back, when within an hour because my contraction were already a minute long and <4 minutes apart, she arrived at my home about 5 hours later - 2 hours before I started pushing.
ahhh to be able to think well enough to create a clever signature. someday i will have enough sleep to accomplish this task...
Janae, mama to X (1/09) & X (7/11) and wife to J (since 9/96!) Homebirthing, cloth diapering, baby (and toddler) wearing, co-sleeping, lactivist, intactivist.
there were still a few hours to go, but that was the signal.
My labor pains felt like the severe cramps I get with AF, combined with a feeling I associate with constipation or the runs, a sort of uncontrollable muscle straining. No gentle ctx for me, but my labors also only last 4-5 hours start to baby. They start slow, like an ache, peak with a burning pain like a charley horse, then fade to muscle soreness. Don't worry, you will know!
part-time and through infancy. planning a
So, yeah. Period cramps with a repetitive pattern. Just like my sister told me they would be.
- E . Single mom to DS E (15.12.05), T (reincarnated 18.04.08) and DD A (11.02.11) and Hoppy
The longer, stronger, closer together is the formula that you need to pay attention to. Almost every functioning labor will follow this, except for your very rare grand multip who can active labor at 10 min apart and then push out a baby. LOL I like to use BH as practice for relaxing. When they come on, I do my best to relax every muscle, especially my abdominal muscles as much as I can. It trains your body to relax into them and sets up muscle memories. Very useful.
ETA: Oh, also, BH often start at the fundus and move down. Labor contractions start by the cervix and radiate upwards. Some women feel them start in the back and move around the front.
Mom to eight!! Our twin girls arrived 3-3-2011.
I was lying in bed, reading, at about 2am when suddenly I felt like someone was trying to yank my legs out of the hip sockets. It just took my breath away, and then after an intense few moments (30 seconds? Not sure), it just disappeared. According to DH, I blurted out, "Holy sh*t, what was THAT?!", and he said he knew right then I was in labor (even though this was 2 weeks before my due date). In the end, ALL of my contractions were in my hips - I never felt anything like a menstrual cramp until after DS was born, and I was delivering the placenta. THAT was when I had my "Oh this is what everyone was talking about!" moment. But during active labor, all I could do was racewalk across the apartment and back during contractions - because all the action was all in my legs/hips, moving around was the only thing that helped me work through the pain.
As for calling the MW, the other mamas were exactly right. As not-comforting as this may feel right now, YOU WILL KNOW when you need her, stat! When we called our MW (after I'd been in labor exactly 60 minutes), she suggested I get into the tub to relax and try to slow things down. It took me about 5 minutes to realize that that was NOT going to happen - I just couldn't do it, my body was directing me elsewhere. I called her back and said, "No can do. I need you NOW!" And you know, 3 hours later, DS was born.
I promise you - it will all work out! It just might not happen the way you expect.
Because my labor was 44 hours I questioned at first also. But I called my midwife right away. That's what she's there for!
I think it's best to not expect ctx to feel a certain way, or be a certain length, or at certain intervals, because those are the very reasons that friends of mine have felt that they were not in labor, and it was their hubbies who finally simply took them in because my friends couldn't cope with the pain anymore. One of my friends had super long ctx, lasting 10 minutes, and almost completely in her back. Her hubby recognized it as labor, but she did not until she finally got to the hospital, fully effaced and dilated.LOL
I'm pretty sure you will know if you keep an open mind and listen to your body.
Bri helpmeet to Chaise mama to K(2/07) M(3/09) & A(2/11)
With DD my water broke in the middle of the night in one big gush. I rushed to the bathroom to find it was over (no bloody show, no leaking, etc) and thought "Oh my gosh did I just pee on myself or did my water break?" I had a back ache though and couldn't sleep. Two hrs later my 'back ache' was so bad that I couldn't move when it was hurting and it would just disappear. Finally figured out it was contractions and got to the hospital at 5 cm dilated. Had her in 7 hrs from the time my water broke until she was out.
DS I was already dilating before I ever went into labor and waited and waited with nothing. I woke up at 5 am to a SHARP! pain across my back and knew it had to be a contraction. I timed it for about 30 min-1 hr before my contractions were already so strong I couldn't move during them at all. Had him in 5 hrs from start to finish.
I just have back labor. I've never felt the menstrual cramps or the hard tightening of my stomach. My belly does tighten during contractions but my back hurts so dang much I don't pay that any attention. You'll know when you're in labor! Oh and the part about when mom quits joking and being bubbly is right. Even once I knew I was in labor with mine I was okay. Towards the end though it was no joking matter. It's quite likely I would've choked anyone that cracked a smile at me during a contraction! And don't dare argue with a laboring woman!!!
Michelle mom to DD , DS , & lil DD and spending my days