So, for Mommies to Be who are possibly freaking out about labor- here's a few things that you can pretty much expect if you go the no-drugs route that I prefer.
1. It hurts. Yep, they tell you the truth about that. Intense, biting, wringing waves of pain that get closer together as the big moment arrives. You can fight them, and wear yourself out into a screaming, moaning crying mess. You can breathe through them and end up spitting out curses in little puffs. You can Zen through them and chew your lips bloody. But they will NOT kill you, believe it or not. I personally prefer a combination of breathing and Zen that may or may not resemble a muttered mantra of "Ihateyouyousorrysonuvabitchandi'msharpeningthefilletknifewhenigethomejustforyou." Especially if the XY donator is patting my hand and trying to be helpful.
2. Your body will want you to MOVE. I mean that. The worst thing that you can do is ignore those demands- if you feel like you should be curled up in a fetal ball in the corner or bent sideways and backwards over a chair- there's probably a really good reason. Walking, swaying, rocking, bouncing, squatting, crouching, rolling, stretching- all of these things are the body telling you "hey, we need some gravity over here on the left!" or "cramps at two o-clock, take evasive action!" Instincts are awesome- and really, who the hell cares if you look silly while in labor? You're pushing a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon- there's no graceful way to weather that particular storm.
3. The shower may be your best friend. I almost lived in the shower during my last labor. I may live in it during this one. Water is innately soothing and incredibly comforting, and it helped me deal with feeling like there were small spikes being driven into my spine at regular intervals. If you can get into the shower- do it. Make a labor partner come in and chat with you while you shower. Bring aromatherapy soap. Have someone wash your hair. Enjoy the little bits of relief you can get, when you get them.
4. Labor is UNcomfortable, so make yourself as comfortable as possible. Fluorescent lights (overhead lights in general) hurt my eyes and head, so I turned on all the little side lamps and turned off the overheads. Hospital gowns give me the shuddering skeevies, so I buy myself something comfy specifically for labor- blood will come right out with Ivory soap and cold water. And awesome socks, because awesome socks are love. Heating pads or hot water bottles, foot massages or ice packs- whatever works for you- do it. Listen to your music or watch a movie that makes you laugh. And if ANYONE in the room makes you uncomfortable or unhappy, kick their ass out. I don't care if it's your husband- if he's being a dick, toss him. Mom being a pain? Boot her. The person who is engaged in pushing a St. Berhard through the cat door is the ruling monarch of that room- so enjoy being the Queen Bitch.
5. Beware the ring of fire. This is the point where you start SCREAMING for relief- and it's too late, because that awesome little person that you're about to fall in love with (after you want to kill them) is making his final descent. Throw on some Johnny Cash and go along for the ride- you're committed at this point and there's no going back. No one ever thinks to warn us about this- and they SHOULD. Because trust me, that last push to get that kid out of you and into the world is the absolute hardest part of labor. It's also the most rewarding, so embrace it whole-heartedly, and go for the gold.
You've got this, Champ!