I have been reluctant to come back to this thread as I was somewhat traumatized by my delivery, but I am coming to terms with it now and I hope my experience can help you.
First of all, not related to delivery, I forgot to mention that I really think that taking fish oil (omega-3) has helped me with pain during sex. I don't know if it helps with tissue elasticity or lubrication but I do know that my pain decreased when I started supplementing and it got worse when I temporarily ran out. You are probably already taking omega-3 during pregnancy, but i just wanted to mention it. (I started taking it before pregnancy.)
Anyway, as for my labour, I had no problem whatsoever dealing with the contractions without drugs. I'm not actually sure when I switched into active labour, as I had contractions for 2-3 days that never seemed to get consistently close enough or intense enough to have me admitted to the hospital. my doula says that because my labour was slow to start/progress, my body was able to keep up very easily with natural endorphin production. Contractions were uncomfortable, but not painful. I just concentrated on breathing through them and I expected them to get worse, but they didn't.
Then I hit transition, where I felt like I had to poop really badly. I ran to the bathroom and felt my whole body bearing down and nothing coming out. I knew then that there was more going on. At that point, I was checked and told I was 8 cm dilated and I was rushed to the delivery room, where I was told not to push until I was fully dilated. This was hard for me, as my body seemed to be pushing, so the nurse actually helped pull my cervix the rest of the way back so I could. At this point, 3 different nurses had put their hands inside me, and it was uncomfortable--painful, even--but not unbearable. I was just so relieved to be allowed to push.
This is where things took a turn for the worse, however. The nurse on duty told me that I wasn't pushing properly and I would have to push longer and harder to get the baby out. I said that I wasn't ready for that yet--I wanted to follow my own urges--and I wanted to go slow so I wouldn't tear. my doctor had told me that controlling the speed of delivery is the number 1 thing that can be done to prevent or control tearing. Also, I was under the impression that you are supposed to pause from pushing when you feel the ring of fire in order to give your body a chance to stretch. The nurse told me that I needed to push through the pain and that "most first time mothers tear and trust me--it will heal." I knew that this was not the attitude I was looking for in the delivery room, so I said I wanted to wait for my doctor to get there. The nurse said that my doctor would have plenty of time to get there and didn't want to be there for the pushing part, and that I had to follow lead, which was to hold my breath, grab my legs, and push through the pain. teI really resented it, but it has been suggested after the fact that my son might have gone into distress if I hadn't pushed him out when I did.
The ring of fire stung up to my clitoris, which I wasn't expecting. It was a weird sensation, since I felt like I was pushing from my bum rather than my vagina, but it was my clitoris that really hurt--not at all what I was expecting. But I was coached to push through this, rather than giving my body time to adjust. And then he was out and then my doctor arrived (after the delivery) and said, "That baby must have shot out of there like a rocket" and then I had to endure 90 minutes of stitching for my second degree tear, and that was truly the worst part of the experience because I just wanted it to be over and the stupid local anesthetic didn't seem to be working, so they gave me gas to inhale as the doctor worked, and that just made me dizzy, and my dh held my son because I wasn't able to. It was all very frustrating.
But afterwards, I talked to my doctor about the tearing, and she said that because I tore up the sides of my vagina and into the labia, it took the pressure off my perineum, which only required 3 stitches. Normally, that's the part that takes the most damage, and it's kind of surprising, given my history, that it took the least damage. It's been almost 3 weeks, and I am starting to feel better physically, so I will get through this and you can too. I guess I will let you know how the sex is if we ever get around to doing that again. It won't be for a while anyway.