Ratbag, this is fantastic, thank you.
One thing which strikes me, the more I talk to people and watch One Born Every Minute etc, is that people's experience of pain in labour is quite varied - it seems to be talked about as if everyone has the same feelings, but some "tough it out" and others have an epidural, but I don't think that's right (correct me if I'm wrong!).
I have had some friends (including yesterday one who had two home births) telling me how really the pain was quite bearable, and you have to think of it as being natural and not something wrong, and be positive etc, and it made me quite annoyed because the implication is that women who don't find the pain bearable are "doing it wrong". I'm not intending to have an epidural if I can avoid it so it's not that I felt personally judged, it just seems a bit smug .... I have another (midwife) friend who had home births but said that (for the first one at least) she really found the pain during the first stage hardly bearable, and didn't think she was going to manage without more pain relief (though she found second stage better) - her mother had to leave the room as she couldn't bear to see it.