When I was pregnant with my first child, I assumed it'd be obvious when I went into labor. I mean, your water breaks right at the beginning and then you're in horrible agony, right? Well, not exactly. At least, that wasn't how it went down for me. Because I had no idea what labor felt like, there were a number of false alarms that resulted in me heading to the hospital prematurely. And this mom's labor flowchart nails just how impossible it can be to determine if it's the real deal.
In the sub-Reddit "Baby Bumps," a self-identified "third time mom" hit the nail on the head when it comes to the great mystery that is figuring out if you're actually in labor. Because oftentimes, it's not as straightforward as you might think — even for women who have previously given birth.
The flowchart begins with, "Do you have an unidentified feeling in your abdomen? (A "no" answer leads to the question, "Are you sure you're even pregnant?" LOL.) If you answer yes, however, then you'll need to answer, "Is it muscle/ligament pain?" (If, yes, then go lie down.) Other questions range from "Do you have to pee?", "Do you have to poop?", and "Is it gas?" — along with definite answers like "yes" and "no," along with, "I don't know," "Can't tell," and "I have no idea." One of my personal favorites is part of the gas question: "Pro tip: Stick your butt in the air to try to fart."
Toward the bottom of the hilarious flowchart, it finally asks, "Are you having contractions?" to which the only possible response is, "How the f*ck am I supposed to know?" (Yes, exactly!) The final question inquires if there is a baby's head coming out of your vagina. If yes, then, "Congrats! You're in labour." If no, then, "Sorry, can't help you."
If you loved this ridiculously entertaining/accurate/unhelpful way of figuring out if you're in labor, the comments are somehow even better. Because spoiler alert: Labor is different for everyone.
One Reddit user declared, "IF THIS AIN’T THE REALEST THING IVE EVER SEEN ... This needs to be laminated and put in all OB office rooms."
Another fellow mom wrote, "Mine was 'am I in labor? No idea' then my water broke 10 minutes later. Guess I was in labor."
Meanwhile, another mom commented, "I spent the week up to dd’s birth thinking every pain was labor. The my water broke and I didn’t feel my contractions until 3 hours in."
And if you think just because you're a seasoned mom, you'll definitely know when you're in labor — well, think again.
"The amount of times I thought I was in labour and it turned out to be poop pains was crazy," yet another mom commented on the photo. "My 4th child and I still couldn't tell the difference between contractions and needing to poop."
Another Redditor wrote, "My first labour was so painful that I was certain I would know as soon as it started the second time around. WRONG second labour was so much less painful I even went to yoga class thinking i wasn’t in labour. 3 hours later had a baby in my arms whoops."
So what should expecting moms be looking for — as far as signs of labor are concerned — as they near their due dates? For starters, it's probably actual labor if you're having contractions that become increasingly intense and more frequent, according to BabyCenter. You could also experience intense lower back pain during or between contractions.
Ah, but those pesky Braxton Hicks contractions can be so confusing. Real contractions feel more like a strong menstrual cramp, according to WhatToExpect, and typically last 30 to 70 seconds each. Furthermore, they don't ease up when you change your activity — unlike Braxton Hicks, which tend to stop after you move around or sit down for a bit. Additionally, real labor can be accompanied by pink or blood-tinged discharge, your water breaking, or the loss of your mucous plug.
The moral of the flowchart? Who the heck knows if you're in labor or not. When in doubt, call your doctor — or go on over to the hospital. Hey, it beats risking delivering on the side of highway, right?