I mustn't have bad periods because I didn't think it was anything like that! I don't have active labour to compare it to either.
Focusing on breathing makes me feel panicky too. Don't do that. Perhaps try pinching yourself? Your brain only has so many pain receptors so this distracts them from what's going on (sterile water injections are based in this theory) and I find it can snap me out of overthinking when heading towards a panic attack on my own.
I had to labour mostly alone as I wanted DH to sleep and have some energy for the day ahead. The bath felt amazing, helped so much. I should have had ready the following items: a pillow for my head that I didn't care if it got wet, a fan heater as it's hard to fully submerge when you're huge so knees etc got cold, a basket with a water bottle, a bottle of lemonade, some crackers, lollipops etc., lots of towels on the floor for all the water I kept sploshing over the sides.
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