Planned hospital birth here. Um, unless we "oops" don't get to the hospital in time.
I'm fortunate to have a Baby-Friendly hospital a mere 4 minutes away. The longest part of the trip will probably be getting from the parking lot to the maternity floor (it's literally the furthest point away from the entrance... down many halls and up the slowest elevator known to (wo)man).
I birthed my first daughter there and my experience was okay - I think it would have been better had I known more... which I do this time around. (So I'm fortunate to be in the "regret" rather than "guilt" stage of reflection on her birth.) This time I'll have a doula. And I also have a different midwife (CNM) who has actually had a homebirth for her most recent kid. Our local homebirth CNM described her as "having a homebirth heart".
(I actually would have liked to have a homebirth, but by the time I processed some mental/emotional blocks, the CNM was already booked.)
Anyway... words of advice from my first experience...
- What the nurses tell you you "have" to do isn't necessary "policy"... it may very well be just what is usually done, or what they know to do. Honestly, the only person I'd accept a ruling of "this is policy" from would be my doctor or midwife.
- Don't sign a blanket consent form (actually, I didn't, but I've heard lots of stories from women who did.)
- Have a doula, or dedicated birth attendant to help you remember what you wanted and/or didn't want
- I didn't have my bag fully packed, as there were things I was still using up until when I went to the hospital. I DID have a checklist of things to be put in the bag. Word of advise... don't check something off until you actually put it in the bag (I checked a few things off as I was going to get them, but then would get distracted... we got to the hospital with a few, thankfully not necessary, things checked off but not in the bag.)
- Eat before you go to the hospital. Even if you have your HCP on board with you eating/drinking at will, the nurses might provide resistance (until you get them on the phone with your HCP). Plan to eat/drink things that you won't mind having come up again, just in case. (My nurse meant well, that was her concern. My concern was the migraines I get if I don't eat!!)
- If you're not at a Baby-Friendly hospital, and plan to breastfeed, make SURE the staff know not to give your baby ANYTHING (including a pacifier). If you're at a hospital that doesn't allow rooming-in, make SURE that staff know to bring your baby too you at the slightest indication of rooting/hunger/distress. (And if you haven't seen your baby in a while... bug them... either go to the nursery yourself, or page the nurses until they bring baby to you!)