Mindset is everything!
The biggest difference between women who reported a greater experience of pain and received medication and those who didn't was an expectation that there was going to be pain.
Fear, from movies and TV shows and horror stories, creates physical tension which creates pain, fighting the contractions and their work. This is called the Fear - Tension - Pain cycle.
How do we fix it?
Develop a belief that birth is healthy and normal.
It is! The woman's body was built to give birth easily and naturally and does know best. In other cultures birth is experienced as less painful, fewer drugs are used, birth can be painless, even joyful. At least acknowledge that the pain is different - intentional, not something that indicates a problem.
So make reminder or affirmation cards and put them up where you will see them, repeat these affirmations to yourself through out the day.
Let's get realistic you say, there are dangers, pregnancy and birth can also be dangerous! Yes, this is also true, but it is the exception, not the rule. The attitude of danger and fear has increased health problems in birth and pregnancy.
Fears and anxieties are also natural and normal. When fears and anxieties come up acknowledge and process them.
There is great research behind simply naming your emotions in order to alleviate them.
From there, there are so many wonderful ways to process them and work through them- whether that is through house prep, or seeking medical aid or talking with a counselor, or getting experienced support. Check out my mindfulness and exploration exercises handouts for ideas and tips!
Practice relaxation techniques - a limber relaxed body and mind can ease the fear/tension/pain cycle by alleviating some of the health issues that can cause it.
But there's so much to do during pregnancy! - yoga is a great way to take care of mind and body all in one. Start with just 5 minutes a day. Set a timer. Finish this sentence:
A great time for me to nurture my mind and body is......
If you aren't pregnant, if you are supporting someone who is, or just a person in the world you can help by shifting your own beliefs about birth and encouraging a healthier belief about birth with the people around you.