Don't be scared. Think of all the hundreds of generations of redheads who've birthed before drugs were an option.
Not a redhead, but definitely someone with a low tolerance. period cramps have always torn my world apart, even after having my first baby. my first labor was somewhere around 20 hours, and I was exhausted, scared, and loaded with adrenaline and anxiety when I greedily accepted an epidural. That decision may have numbed my birth, but afterwards, I was in SOOOOO much pain. I had searing back pain for about 3 months pp. Really not fun for a girl who doesn't like to hurt. And really not worth it, in retrospect.
With my second, I knew I did not want another epidural. I was planning on a birth center birth, but it did not happen like that. I did not realize I was in labor because my contractions were not coming in at regular intervals; they were a lot like pre-labor. Their intensity was also different than my first time, too. I was basing my pain on the first labor, and it never felt as strong. I did not recognize I was in labor until my husband went over our birthing literature, and said he thought I was in transition. Mentally, I did not comprehend pain the way I normally do. It was a completely otherworldly experience. I surrendered so completely to my labor, birth, and baby. I had never before in my life surrendered like that. Transition lasted about 10 mins. it was SOOOOOO fast, it wasn't fun, but it was tolerable and before we knew it, our baby was born... And, there was NO pain as he emerged. It was a beautiful feeling of release. In recovery, it has been so easy. I happily would recommend to anyone to brave labor w/o drugs. If I can... anyone can, and the rewards for how it feels afterwards is incredible. I never felt so strong.
In my mind, I thought a lot about the stories in Spiritual Midwifery. That culture of birthing really resonated with me.