The things I felt good about during my hospital birth, and things I would do differently If I were birthing in a hospital again (and will also incorporate into this out-of-hospital experience)...
I had a few days of prodromal labor and timed them all day long--my poor husband. This time I will wait until they REALLY get my attention.
I went to the hospital as soon as my water broke, even though my contractions were still manageable. I was so excited that something was "happening" that I thought I'd just go to the hospital and push a baby out. I had 12 hours ahead of me, and the first few of them were so mellow I should have stayed home.
I skipped breakfast and went straight to the hospital because I was so excited. DO NOT SKIP A MEAL! This time I will not only make sure I've eaten "real" food before labor gets active, I'll have snacks and drinks for myself during labor and a solid awesome meal for afterward. In the hospital make sure your care providers will allow you to eat/drink so you can stay off the IV fluids and if they won't, make sure you are keeping yourself hydrated and nourished in whatever way you find yourself able to.
I was incredibly lucky to have a labor nurse who acted as a doula (she had been a midwife prior to moving to the U.S.), having me squat and teaching my husband & mother to do counterpressure on my back during a very intense labor with a posterior baby. For me an epidural was never an option, and her keeping me up and out of bed was essential to my daughter's descent. Even with monitors on, I squatted on the side of the bed or leaned over and rocked. Stay up and mobile as much as you can. Hire a doula. Watch Penny Simkin's "Comfort Measures" video with whoever will be supporting you during labor. Read "The Birth Partner," and have your birth partners do the same.
My final half hour of pushing was "coached" and I did end up with an episiotomy (which sucks, seriously) but my daughter's shoulder was stuck and I'd been pushing for over two hours so at the point where the episiotomy was offered I said "just do it, get her out..." which I now know I should have waited a little longer to see what nature could have done, but the poor thing fractured her collar bone on the way out so I tell myself, to make peace with my scarred perineum, that she needed a little extra help out or might have damaged her shoulder further. I have a friend who suffered a birth injury had had years of physical therapy for an arm with nerve damage.
Also a small detail but that could make a big difference...I brought music on my iPod but during labor wanted nothing to do with wires around my body so I ripped the earphones out and had no music. This time around I'm using a docking station or laptop/speakers instead so we can have good tunes during the birth.
After my daughter's birth I was famished, and the hospital food was horrible. Have a plan for something to be ordered in or bring something delicious to heat up...
We were able to refuse the newborn procedures that we weren't interested in, but I attribute that to being in a smaller community hospital in California. At the births I attend as a doula in NYC, people have a harder time with hospital staff.
I would have gone home earlier. The hospital was SO uncomfortable. The rollaway bed my husband slept on was better than mine!
Hope some of that helps! If you have a doula and a partner on your side, you can totally have the experience you want. I think one of the most important things you can do to have a natural birth in a hospital is to tell yourself that is the only option for you, unless your baby's health requires otherwise. If you're okay, if baby is okay, you don't need anything else.
I'm getting so excited to do this again!