There haven’t been any conclusive studies about attitude affecting labor pain, but it is a central tenant of Natural Child Birth.
The following is an anecdote, but its a pretty powerful one. Two men agreed to undergo a labor simulation, where their abdominal muscles contracted with similar intensity to uterine contractions. These men thought they could handle it, they had no doubt going in, it was a way for them to prove how macho they are. They were likely more fearless than pregnant women, because as men they didn’t have ANY of the fear or anxiety that can accompany pregnancy (like worrying about tearing or dying or something being wrong with the baby).
They got hooked up to the machines…It still hurt like hell. It brought them to tears and made them cry out in pain.
According to natural child birth advocates, fear=pain. So if you are a woman and are in a ton of pain you just aren’t fearless enough. You just need an attitude adjustment. There is so much judgment heaped on women in natural child birth and home birth communities if they end up wanting pain relief. I think part of the reason why so many midwives seem calloused or cruel is because they have to watch people in pain for hours and hours, knowing that they could be getting relief if they simply went to a hospital. I don’t think someone who empathizes with people in severe pain could handle midwifery as a career.
Labor hurts. Its okay that it hurts. Its okay to ask for pain relief. Really.