I didn't really at first, others told me.
Same with my 2nd. Until the very end, theyn I understood and said HURRY- Go NOW!
It can be hard to tell, especially when you've been around this subject a lot. You can know there are a LOT of "warming-up" things that can make you wonder.
Having outside eyes helped us to call in and get ready to leave. Then I knew when it was time to get ready to push baby out & was then ready to get going, lol.
You might consider having a birth doula to help you. I have helped moms get their contractions close & steady, not leaving home too early.
You can also plan a home birth. Even with a birth center, your midwives can come check on you at your home.
I say the 4-1-1 rule about when to go in, in general, but can better gauge and wait longer when observing in-person.
at 9:40 AM on Dec. 2, 2009