We are planning our 3rd homebirth, probably a waterbirth. I love laboring in the shower and birthing in the water! We are so close to our midwife that it feels like we are having a family birth. Our daughters are really good friends and get together often to play. There will potentially be a lot of people there, but they are all fine with being kicked out at any time! We don't have biological family nearby, but we have a very loving and close-knit chosen family. Our last birth was one of the best times of my entire life, with our midwives, minister, photographer friend and two other dear friends. I love having a lot of hands-on TLC during labor and always want my husband right near me. So, it's wonderful having others to tend to the children, discreetly take pictures, cook food and be loving gophers for me and the midwives. I don't usually call in the "troops" until labor is really going strong and fast.
I do think that birth is very intimate and that the presence of others has a tremendous impact. We have to be careful. For my first homebirth, I did not chose as wisely and it still feels a little weird and unsettling to me. It was still a great birth, but I wish I had thought it through a little more. I was trying to "educate" a little too much, instead of focusing solely on the needs of my family. They have since moved away, and we talk occasionally...but it doesn't feel as intimate as I think that it should after them being given such an honor. At least that's how it feels to me. I am always blown away when someone invites me to attend their birth! It's a big deal!
I'm a big supporter of the choice to UC/family birth, and, yet, I think it's a shame that we can't all hire exactly who we want to do whatever we want them to do or NOT do... Birth is definitely a private family event and a normal biological function.