I am a first time Mum also and for most of the pregnancy, was scared stiff of the pain at the end (as I have a really low pain tolerance). I coped by not thinking about it (like someone else has said, easier said than done!).
In the end, my labour, while LONG.... (43 hours start to finish!) wasn't two hard. The first 39 hrs were just like period cramps coming and going. The birth plan went out the window as my labour started with my waters breaking, I ended up going to hospital instead of the birthing unit for the necessary antibiotics - (didn't look forward to that at all. Hate needles with a passion) and for bub to be monitered. Had planned a waterbirth, but because of the monitering, ended up sitting on the bed, then couldn't be bothered moving. Once the midwife did an internal exam, (37 hrs and only 2cm!) things progressed quickly, especially helped by syntosin! Didn't end up having any pain relief, but that wasn't planned. Just never even thought of it. By the time my husband suggested it, I wasn't allowed anything cause I was so close to pushing. Anyway, the last 4 hours seemed to drag, but at the same time, I wondered where the time had gone. At the end of it, I had a beautiful little girl. So exhausted, I was shaking. But looking down at the precious little bundle made it all worthwhile.
I'd do it again - not for a little while! but hubby doesn't seem too keen! Got to see a little more than he had planned!
Although, nothing went to what we planned (except our decision on the Vitamin K), we went into it with an open mind, and it wasn't as bad as I had led myself to believe - 9 months of dreading the pain, and it was all over in what seemed to be a short space of time. I was also suprised at how soon I was up and around after the birth and how well I felt. Except for feeding issues, everthing went great.
Cayley''''''''s Mum 15.8.04