The Three Rs: Relaxation, Rhythm, and Ritual
Women who manage the discomforts of labor well usually exhibit these three coping behaviors: Relaxation, Rhythm, and Ritual. Although every woman responds differently to pain and stress, the general principle is the same across most women.
Relaxation - This may not need much of an explanation, but it's the idea that you remain as relaxed as possible throughout your labor. We naturally hold a lot of tension in our bodies throughout the day. This tension is the enemy of progress in your labor, so it is important to ensure that all of your muscles remain as relaxed as possible.
Rhythm - Most woman - whether they realize it or not - fall into some sort of rhythm during each contraction. You may rhythmically sing, moan, sway, or dance while experiencing these contractions in labor. This rhythmic activity gives you something to focus on and can help calm your mind. A partner or doula can help encourage whatever rhythm you have established, as well, and in some cases will need to help you keep your own natural rhythm as your labor intensifies.
Ritual - This final R is the ritualistic repetition of whatever rhythmic activity you established above.
*If you are planning to give birth at a hospital, it is best to come up with a rhythm and ritual that won't be easily interrupted by the routine disturbances that can happen there. Examples of this can be as easy as counting your breaths as you breathe, rolling your head from side to side, or tapping your fingers against your thighs. Either way, keep in mind the three Rs when your labor begins and you should be able to cope beautifully with your labor.