Moms Reveal: "I Knew I Was in Labor When..."

Once you've got your hospital bag packed, your infant car seat installed and the diapers arranged in little stacks near the changing table, waiting for the early signs of labor can drive you to distraction. Never mind that it can be hard for a first-time mom to know whether that squeeze was just another Braxton-Hicks contraction -- or the real kick-off to childbirth. And the answer that everyone gives -- "Oh, don't worry. You'll know!" -- is just not helpful at all.

To help, we asked moms how they knew they were in labor. (Want to know the official signs of labor? Read a list from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology here.) Of course, if you have any doubts, call your doctor, especially if it's more than two weeks before you due date. Here's how moms who've been there described it:

"I knew I was in labor when I woke up at 1:15am with super-painful contractions. I packed my bag, got a ride to the hospital from my parents (my hubby was away on a business trip) and, at 1:56am,  met my daughter, four weeks early!" -- Jill

"One night I woke up feeling like my baby had done a somersault inside me. What really happened was that he had moved further down in my pelvis. About two days later it was the contractions that woke me up at 3:30a.m." -- Elise

"A couple days before I had my son, I started to feel a little bit crampy now and then like I had my period. A few hours before I realized I was contracting, the generally achy feeling got worse, like I was having a bad period day." -- Liz
"Even though I was exhausted, I couldn't stop cleaning! I organized every drawer in my kitchen and bathroom and was halfway through the linen closet when I started having what felt like the worst menstrual cramps I'd ever had in my life." -- Traci

"I was 38 weeks and there was a thick-ish bloody discharge when I went pee. I thought I'd go into labor right away, but it was another two days before the contractions started." -- Pam

"With my second, I was feeling ever so slightly crampy, and I knew I was already 2 centimeters dilated (from a doctor appointment earlier in the week), but it was nothing that made me think, 'Oh, I'm in early labor." I was at work and not thinking anything was imminent; I figured something might happen in a few days. Then my water broke at 4:30pm." -- Erika

"I had a feeling that my water had broken -- there was a definite leaky sensation going on. I was 38 weeks and my doctor told me to meet him at the hospital. By the time I got there, I was having strong and crampy contractions." -- Lisa

"My stomach was tightening and it felt like someone gave me a firm kick right below the belly. I felt like I couldn’t sit and I needed to run to the nearest bathroom. I didn’t stop clenching my husband’s hand until the epidural kicked in." -- Dina

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