I have often heard nurses tell women giving birth "they don't call it labor for no reason its hard work."
Indeed it is hard work but no different from many of the other extraordinary things women can accomplish.
If a woman could just trust her ability without someone telling her constantly she needed pain medication than it would never be in the back of her mind in the first place. It is the fear of the pain that makes women give up before she even starts. I am not saying the pain is the same but the effort, determination and hard work required is similar to other things women have done like climbing a mountain, painting a house, cleaning an entire yard. Think about emergency situations, when car accidents happen, when someone is shot, the people who wait in the ER with a finger in a zip lock bag because of a freak accident. What about those situations? Where is the epidural then?
What often happens is that women do not trust their bodies in those moments that pain seems unmanageable. Its like many things in life that if you are afraid you may not succeed, chances are that you will not. 1/3 of the body's ability to heal depends on your thoughts.
When the pain is managed well, with the help of a Doula or other experienced support people than the focus of the labor is less on the pain and more on how to make the woman as comfortable as possible, practicing positive affirmations and staying in the comfort of your own home until it is really time to go to the hospital. You would be surprise to learn that labor pain is so different when it is natural not medically induced. The body does beautifully when trusted and when it is given its right and ability to birth on its own.
Looking back at your own experience what do you think helped managed your discomforts during labor?