Relaxation. Ritual. Repetition.
These are the three R's Penny Simkin devised that should be utilized during labor. Often, a laboring person will find that they discover what their ritual is during labor, but you can start thinking of things that might help you work through contractions during pregnancy.
Implementing the three R's will help you keep your focus, which is incredibly important to the laboring process. And you know what? Your partner and doula can help you maintain them when you start to falter. Lack of focus can stall a labor, resulting in a longer, more tiring labor.
Contractions get intense. There's just no way around it. Relaxing between contractions will help keep your energy up, and replenish the energy you spent working through your last contraction. The ritual you use (stroking your hair, swaying, rocking, repeating a phrase, breathing a certain way, the list goes on and on and on...) should be repeated during the duration of your contraction. Then just rinse, wash, and repeat.
Your partner can help you to maintain your ritual when a contraction is really intense. Not only will this help you, but your partner will feel more involved as well! And its such a beautiful, intimate time for both of you to be working together. Intimacy creates more oxytocin; ocytocin makes contractions stronger and more effective; contractions bring your baby closer to being born.
So remember your R's during labor. [: