Hello flameangel, I'm now in my 36wks 4 days. Can't comment much on contractions as I've not given birth yet but on epidural, I've clarified with nurse frm hospital before.
you can have an epi as long as you r below 7cm dilated. After that, it'll b waste of $$ since most pain r over.
7cm dilation is probably about contractions every minute, so you should have been in hospital by then thus dont't worry about being too late to tk an epidural k?
Wishing you a smooth delivery.