Have you ever over-extended your foot and it cramped up?
I remember that it happened a lot at the end of my pregnancy with Silas and it's starting to happen again. Last night I got a cramp up my whole calf in the middle of the night. It was really, really painful.
My first response is to tense up, say, "ow, ow, ow," and walk/jump around on it. But (as dorky as it might sound) I really feel like this is preparing me for childbirth. So, I choose to relax and wait for it to pass.
I've been blessed with really easy labor/deliveries. Of course, it's still giving birth, so while not exactly fun and enjoyable, it's not as horrible or painful as I've heard. And, it's super fast. Most of the reason for this is just the grace of God. Some people assume I have a high tolerance for pain. The opposite is true- I have no tolerance for pain.
But, the other part is that I've prepared myself a lot for giving birth. I've read lots of books and they say that contractions are just that- our muscles contacting to push the baby out. Tensing up just works against what your body is naturally doing. So, during birth I relax my body and think of something other than the pain. I choose not to let my body tense up and I don't scream.
When giving birth to Silas I sat in the tub (I had waterbirths with Judah and Samuel), in silence, in the dark, thinking about what my baby would look like, what color hair he would have, etc...
So, when I have the cramps in the middle of the night I practice relaxing and breathing and not freaking out over the pain. And, I look forward to the day (very soon!) when my newest little babe will be here.
And, my biggest babe will be 5 tomorrow!