- Knowledge gives you power over pain
Fear and anxiety are labor-enemy #1 because they create an intensified pain response. Adrenaline causes your muscles and blood vessels to constrict and intensifies the sensation of pain.
The more you educate yourself and understand the process of labor, the more competent you'll feel while laboring. The more competent you feel, the less fear and anxiety you'll experience, which means less pain!
- Relax, breath, visualize and count.
During each contraction picture your uterine muscles squeezing your baby slowly down towards the birth canal in a sliding wave motion. Relax into each contraction by pressing your lips gently together and exhaling slowly - making that horse-raspberry-fart sound as your lips vibrate.
As you're exhaling, imagine your birth canal and vagina slowly stretching and loosening. Breathe slow and steady as you count the length of each contraction. You can anticipate how long the next one will be and give yourself an end point to breath towards.
- Hot water helps immensely
A hot shower or bath relaxes your muscles and increases their overall flexibility, which in turn relaxes you as the pain lessens in response to muscle relaxation.
Water births are gaining popularity because they're such an effective low risk pain management option. Progressive hospitals and most birthing centers offer birthing pools.
- Accept your inner cave woman
As your contractions mount in intensity and frequency, relaxing and breathing like an exasperated horse may no longer effectively release the emotional tension that comes with each contraction.
Let the groans, moans, and growls come. The work you're doing is primal in the purest sense of the word. Think about it: human labor existed long before language, the pain and tension is your primal brain and body interacting. Accept that you're in the middle of something primal and don't worry about what others think.