Will I Know That I’m Going Into Labor?


Welcome to Pregnancy Without a Filter, my weekly series in which I chronicle my life as a first-time mom-to-be. Read along for insights, outbursts, ups, downs, and the real deal about the crazy adventure of making a person.

Week 39

Okay, okay. Stop making fun of me. I am, after all, a first time mom-to-be. But now that we’ve made it to 39 weeks, the main thing on my mind is how exactly I’m going to know when it’s really, officially time to grab our hospital bags and hop in the car. I know it sounds irrational and probably kind of stupid, but hear me out.

My husband and I have taken all the classes, we’ve read all the books, we’ve done our homework. We know the signs and if I were taking a high school health test on the subject I’d totally ace it. But what I’m trying to say is this: How do you know what something is supposed to feel like when you’ve never experienced it before? I had a friend give birth over the summer who had been having contractions for hours and didn’t realize it — she just thought it was another uncomfortable day of late pregnancy. How are you supposed to know?! 

And after more than a few hours of (probably misguided) web searches on pregnancy and birth stories, I’ve read and learned enough to know that it’s different for every woman, and I think that’s why I’m doubting myself. If there were one specific way that all of the action started, I’d be set. But there’s just not. Maybe my water won’t break. Maybe I’ll think the contractions are just the lower back pain that I’ve been having for weeks. Maybe I’ll be taken by surprise and suddenly I’m too far along in the labor process to even consider an epidural. Maybe it’ll be just like the movies and a cab driver will have to deliver our baby and then we’ll have to name the poor kid after the cabbie.

Obviously, I kid. Kind of. And in my heart of hearts, I am starting to believe that I’ll recognize the signs of early labor. I think the most difficult thing to wrap my head around is that my body is going to be taking the lead. It’s not something that I’ll be able to perfectly plan, but my body will know what to do and hopefully it’ll give us a heads-up with plenty of time.

If you have a birth story and remember the early stages, I’d love to read all about it! Do share your story in the comments!