Hi OP. I'll answer your questions from professional perspective.
How do you know your going into labour?
- we generally explain to women that labour is when you're consistently getting 3-4 contractions in a 10 minute period. A proper contraction you can't really talk through. If they are short and sharp or you can still talk through them, then it's probably early labour. As @LoveLivesHere said, if you were to lie down for a little while and they disappear, it's not labour. In saying that, if at any point you feel like you can't stay at home any longer, call your hospital and go in to be assessed. They can put your mind at ease by either confirming that you're in labour, or reassuring you that you're in the early stages and work out a plan with you (generally the recommendation will be to go home until you get into labour).
Is an epidural a good choice?
- it can be. Do some reading, talk to your midwife/obstetrician about it. Like anything there are risks and benefits. Only you can make the decision as to whether it's a good choice for you or not. In some situations it will be medically recommended to have an epidural, but that doesn't happen all that often. If you have an epidural you will likely be on the CTG monitor, you will have a urinary catheter in as well as an IV drip with fluids running. They may restrict your food/fluid intake (they also may not do this) as we know that an epidural does slightly increase the chance of an instrumental delivery or a caesarean. The cascade of intervention is a real thing, particularly if you have an early epidural. Do some of your own reading around it and talk to your care provider.
How do you firmly tell the midwives that you want to bottle feed and not breast feed?
- just tell them that you're bottle feeding. It's not our place to judge how you feed your baby, just as long as you DO feed your baby. Check with your hospital what their requirements are. For us we provide pre made formula plus single use bottles and teats for our mums who are formula feeding.
Is there a pill you can get to stop the breast milk?
- yes there is, as a PP mentioned it is called Dostinex. We don't use it that frequently though. The docs aren't all that keen on writing it up - I think because of some of the side effects. The main things to remember is to wear a firm supportive bra (no underwire), and minimal stimulation to your breasts. So when you're showering, let the water run over them but don't handle them to wash them, as this can stimulate them. It will take 3-4 days for your breasts to settle down. Your milk may still come in to a point, but if you do all the right things it will disappear pretty quickly.
Hope this helps!
On a side note, have you booked in for any antenatal classes? Given some of your questions I would recommend going to some as they will be able to answer a lot of these questions and hopefully it will prepare you better for the labour and delivery