I was very happy with our birth experience with DS. We had a midwife-attended hospital birth. My water broke at 8am, midwife wanted me at the hospital within an hour as I had been 3cm dilated a few days before that at my regular appt. Our doula met us at the hospital.
I drank freely in labor, could have eaten if I wanted to, I mostly walked around listening to my hypnobirthing CDs and talking w/ DH. Hypno worked like a charm, the nurses just watched us like we were insane as we were laughing and talking during contractions.
The hospital did "require" (I probably could have refused this) EFM, but my midwife was okay with doing it every hour and a half or so for a few mins. That was the only time I had discomfort, and my L&D nurse wanted me on my back in bed to do the monitoring (which is why I was uncomfortable). The doula was a great asset and basically suggested the nurse figure out a way to hook me up to the monitors without me being on my back, and while it took some effort, she did that. THe nurse basically left me alone, which is what I wanted. I didn't really need my doula's assistance for the most part, but she was still a wonderful presence.
I labored in the tub during transition. This hospital did not allow water births but I don't feel I missed out. I didn't feel strongly that I needed to have a water birth, but liked laboring in the water. I was ready to get out after 20 mins or so though.
My biggest complaint is that this particular midwife, when I told her my plans to do hypnobirthing and when she read my birthplan, kind of laughed at the notion of "breathing the baby down" saying I'd want to push and push hard when the time came. It kind of annoyed me. I specified no coached pushing, but somehow, the L&D nurse and midwife kind of forgot about that aspect
: and considering my midwife's previous comments, I shouldn't have been surprised. At that point though, I was not in the mood to discuss it. DS was out with 15 mins of pushing anyway. He nursed immediately (doula helped). I specified in birthplan we wanted cord to stop pulsating before cut, time to bond, etc.and those things were adhered to. We were with him about 1.5 hours before he was taken to the nursery (which I did not want, but they did the exam there with DH watching). Overall, I had an easy recovery (took one motrin for muscle soreness the next day), but I think not having the whole forceful/coached pushing would have helped prevent some of that. My entire labor (first baby) was 6hrs 20 mins or so.
Overall, it was a very good experience. This time around I'm using a birth center, and there will be no EFM and I will discuss beforehand my experiences with my previous midwife (different state) with the midwives at the birth center.
The hospital stay itself sucked (my nurse forgot to bring me food after the labor, they never brought me dinner, and DS was on the list to be circ'd somehow even though every single piece of paperwork said NO circ. Fortunately DH was at the nursery and a nurse asked him about it and erased his name from this list
: . I didn't get much rest from being woken up repeatedly all night long to take my temp and push on my uterus...which seemed pointless since i felt fine. We roomed in and barely saw the nursing staff other than their temp checks, so it felt kind of ridiculous, and I think I'll recover better at home this time. I should have asked for early discharge but wasn't sure if I should speak up...which was stupid in retrospect, as I would have gotten much more rest at home. No problems with refusing vaxes. We were fine with Vit K and we did do eye ointment, although this time I'll skip it for sure.
Overall though, for a hospital birth, we had a great experience. No pressure to give formula, we had a decent LC come visit us before we went home, and pretty low-intervention overall. I could have possibly avoided some of the other interventions if I pushed hard enough I'm sure. I avoided the ones most important to me though. I didn't care for recovering in a hospital, and that's one thing that has pushed me toward a birth center this time around (would have done it last time but the nearest was a long drive away).
I wish you the best. I think the keys are your care provider (midwife or OB), and their personal philosophies and openness to natural childbirth (so many talk the talk but don't walk the walk, kwim?), researching as much as you can beforehand, learning hospital policies (the hospital closest to my house still required hep locks, no eating/drinking in labor, etc. so I traveled 45 mins to a hospital with more sensible policies and one that had midwives), and having a good birth plan. Remember you can say NO to most interventions once you are there but the pressure may make that very difficult.