I believe how you birth is extremely important. It's really down played in our culture, but your birth experience has profound effects on your emotional and physical health as well as that of your baby. It is paramount that you know your options and explore the pros and cons of them before making a decision. I agree with you that a good care provider is also an important factor, but not the only one! I would highly encourage you to keep your mind open about birth options and know that it's okay to change your mind as you go along. I switched providers at 38 weeks with my second pregnancy! So many first time moms look back at their first birth experience and wish it was different. Don't let that be you! Now, I'm not saying a hospital birth is wrong... no, not at all. It is right for many women. But for a LOT of women it is not at all right and they didn't realize it until afterward b/c they felt that homebirth or a birth center was unsafe. If you'd like more information about homebirth or birth centers, I have a lot of stats I can share with you as well as my own experiences (my first was a birth center water birth, my second was nearly unassisted at home, and my third was a home water birth).
I am against frequent u/s and most prenatal testing. I don't feel like we know the full effects of u/s on the fetus and there really isn't a good reason for frequent u/s with a normal pregnancy. I think there are totally valid reasons for u/s when things are amiss like troublesome symptoms, emotional health, multiples, unsure dating, etc. I had one u/s with my first- the anatomy scan and it was the best part of my pregnancy, seriously. It was amazing to see her in there and learn that she was a girl. I needed that after months of m/s. With my second and third I had an early u/s b/c I was unsure of my dates for several reasons. I think that getting the due date correct is a very important thing to avoid worse interventions down the road (like induction). I also opted for the anatomy scan with the latter two pregnancies for different reasons. With my second I felt it was important to find out if we were having a boy so that dh and I could thoroughly discuss circumcision and come to a decision (another thing to think about!). With my third, and now this may seem silly, but I felt really strongly that it would be sad to have u/s pics of my first two and not my third. I didn't want to start the whole not caring about/not doing as many things for my poor third baby just b/c he was my third. So my final thought on u/s is "in moderation."
With prenatal testing, I am firmly against most of it b/c I think that it leads to more emotional turmoil than it helps. If you know that you would not get an amnio or CVS even if you found out there was a chance that something was wrong from the quad screen or NT scan results then why get those tests done? The false positive rate for the quad screen is pretty high (this is usually done around 14 weeks while the NT is done around 12 weeks. CVS is done a bit earlier than amnio, which is usually done around 16 weeks). I had a friend that tested positive for trisomy 18 which is a fatal chromosomal disorder. So she went ahead and got the amnio and then had to wait the excruciating few weeks to get the results back... negative of course. The anatomy scan seems better to me b/c they can see things- it's not just bloodwork. But that's just my opinion. Others would say the anatomy scan is pretty bad b/c of the length of exposure to the u/s waves. After the 20 week sono there is the gestational diabetes test (I decline... it has a 15% false positive rate), anemia (I get), and GBS (I decline- I would decline antibiotics anyway). But for some that actually did discover something was wrong, they were glad they knew ahead of time so that they could make good decisions about where to birth and get support and advice for dealing with the issue afterward. Others were glad that they didn't know ahead of time. Much has to do with your own/family genetic health and your beliefs about how any of these issues should be treated.
After all the prenatal testing, then you have to decide about newborn testing, shots, vaccinations, etc. All of these things have some valid points on both sides for different reasons and situations and require some careful thought on the part of the parents. I think that it's really helpful to hear opinions from both sides from a variety of people. That's what the DDC's are usually good for! But if your group just isn't cutting it, you can search the threads in the "I'm Pregnant" forum and post your own questions. But one thing I'm very certain of: do NOT just follow blindly what your OB practice usually does or what everyone you know did. Educate yourself, know your options, and make decisions for yourself!