For me contraction pain is like really intense menses cramp. And I really mean very very very INTENSE cramp, so much so that I felt like my body is going to break into half (no joke!). It never felt like diarrhea or churning to me though some of my friends experienced it. Maybe cos my water broke first then I felt contraction pains.
I relied on laughing gas during my birth. Actually I wanted epidural later on cos cannot tahan the pain already but I dilated too fast. Was already 9cm so they told me cannot take epi. If you aiming for drugfree birth, you have to really focus yourself and n tell yourself you can do it. Breathing the correct way helps alot also. That was what I did after knowing I can't take epi. Thought I was gonna die but I changed my mindset n kept going until my son pop out LOL!