I have no interest in home birth because there are no CNMs who homebirth in my area and I am not comfortable with the training and safety statistics of CPMs. I had a great hospital birth with my daughter and will plan another one with my next child. I delivered with a wonderful group of CNMs. They took time during my prenatal appointments to discuss what I could expect in labor, and we discussed various interventions. I also took a Bradley method class with my husband so that he would have enough knowledge about labor and birth to be able to support me. I was prepared to have to fight for a natural birth, and I was worried that I would be intimidated or feel self-conscious by stuff in the hospital like having to wear the gown or having someone come at me wanting to do X or Y. But when it came to game time, I didn't care about any of that. I had a very brief birth plan (which I reviewed with my midwives in advance) which basically boiled down to "ask me before you do anything, even routine procedures" and "don't ask if I want pain meds, I will ask if I want them". Nobody gave me any trouble about it and the staff were all really nice. I think many of us expect to have a terrible experience at the hospital but I think it's important to keep an open mind.
I chose my CNMs partly because they said they would stay with the laboring mom the whole time, rather than just showing up at the end. As it turned out there were several patients on the floor so she was not with me the whole time, although she had a student midwife who was there for most of the process. Both of them were there for most of the pushing phase. As it also turned out, I didn't care all that much about having her there all the time, because my husband was a great support, and next time I won't worry so much.
I didn't end up getting pain medicine, but I do think epidurals get a bad rap on MDC. They're not the big bad--if they help you relax and recover your energy so you can carry on with your birth, sometimes that can be just what you need. And I think the drawbacks are overstated by the natural birth community. That said, I'll still try to go epidural-free with my next birth, just because having to get hooked up to all those tubes and wires seems like a hassle, and I wasn't in labor too long with my daughter, but depending on how it goes I'll keep an epidural in mind as an option.
I stressed out about not being allowed food in labor, and planned to sneak some in, but we didn't make it to the hospital until I was in pretty active labor, and by that time I couldn't have cared less. (I discussed it with my midwife in advance, too, and she basically said that in her experience most moms don't want food in active labor.) My husband did give me water between contractions, though. After the birth, though, we didn't make it up to the post-partum floor until after lunch (she was born just before 11) and it took them forever to bring me any food which turned out to be a bag full of cookies and crackers. Pathetic. If I'd known it would take so long, I'd have sent someone out to get me a sandwich or two.
Post-birth was great. I got to hold her right away, even before the cord was cut, and relinquished her to get cleaned up when I was ready, and they were willing to wait to bathe her until we were ready.
We stayed the whole allotted 2 days, which I think was good because we were still figuring out breastfeeding, but with the next one I'll give serious thought to leaving sooner, so I can relax at home. Also we had people visiting all the time, I think because I still felt weird being alone with her, but with the next one I'm going to kick them all out so I can sleep! I should have slept more in those early days.