Here are some ways of preparing yourself for labour.
Prepare for labour by reading up on it. When you understand what's happening to your body, you'll recognise each stage as it comes and feel more confident. Try to attend antenatal classes too. You'll make friends as well as learn about the birth.
Choose a good supporter
Studies have shown that the right companion during labour can reduce the need for painkillers and even result in fewer medical interventions.
Consider a birth pool
Some women find that labouring in a birthing pool makes a terrific difference. If you're planning a home birth, a pool needs to be hired, set up and tried out ahead of time. (See Types of birth/water birth).
Hire a TENS machine (from a pharmacy) and try it out before labour starts. Most women find it more effective in the early stages of labour. (See Pain relief/TENS).
Try out positions for labour
Upright positions - such as leaning supported against your partner - will mean that gravity is on your side. When you are in labour 'listen to your body' and do what feels right.
It is worth learning breathing techniques so you can teach yourself to relax by breathing through each contraction when it comes (see Your pregnancy - 29-40 weeks/breathing exercises).
Learn massage with your birth partner
If you can enjoy regular massage sessions during the weeks running up to the birth, your partner will become familiar with the kind of touch you like and you will be more certain that you'll be well looked after.