I have had four hospital births, then one homebirth. The factors that I feel were the most important in shaping my birth experience whether in home or hospital were the location and regulations, care provider, hospital staff (very random), doula support (I didn't know about this until #5
), education and preparation (reading and birth class).
Birth has been meaningful and rewarding when I felt safe, nurtured and respected by those around me. I had birth trauma when procedures were done without permission/explanation. I felt violated and abused at my fourth birth. I finally began researching my options after this and found that there were more than I had thought. It took me four births to seriously research things. Many individuals will research a new home or car more than birth specifications. This had been me. I recommend to all pregnant women that they spend a lot of time researching and considering their options (I am a doula now too). This effort pays off.
On my personal experience with hospitals vs. homebirth in general: I felt annoyed by the lack of efficiency, kindness, flexibility and availability of staff at some hospitals. (this is why I say to choose carefully) Also, my four epidurals felt like playing Russian roulette because there are common side effects. I experienced my blood pressure dropping and ringing in my ear for one month post birth. These side effects were never explained and the surprise was more than stressful. More importantly, I felt completely trapped and helpless. I hated being numb. Also, the IV opened up pandora's box and they placed all kinds of bags on there, often without asking. I felt that there was so much pressure to conform to policy when it was not specifically needed for me, IV/Baby separation/long intake questionnaires that were torture to answer/separation from kids when we wanted them to meet their new sibling. For me personally, these interventions introduced risk into my birth each time and actually made the contractions more painful. It felt like the control was taken from me and I was an "inconvenience" if I said no or wanted to hold my baby longer. There were people changing the trash or taking my blood at random times in my room, like 2:00am and 4:00am. Sleeping was impossible. I felt like a prisoner the whole time and tortured with sleep deprivation and lack of control over my body and baby. In contrast, two births of those four were attended by an amazing doctor and there were some good and kind nurses, but they were not very available throughout my labor and postpartum. They only spent small amounts of time with me and this could not balance the other negative aspects of the experience.
My home birth was completely opposite. I was able to make sure that my location and birth team were in line with my desires. I took a Hypnobirthing class and then read The Bradley Method among tons of other helpful materials and had an amazing midwife & doula to assist me. I also felt like you did, that it was difficult having people come into my space, but that ended up being a small issue for me in comparison to my invasive hospital births and because they brought love and kindness. It was the opposite of all that happened to me before, thankfully, and I was so grateful for their gentle care. I feel like the location, education and care providers made all the difference in the experience for me. Home is what worked best for me personally, but hospital is best in some cases and could be a good experience with careful planning.
In summary, the research and carefully selected birth team were very helpful in creating the optimal environment for me. If the hospital is appealing to you, then research carefully because each hospital/doctor/midwife/doula will vary significantly in practice and personality. If the hospital were best for me then I would be sure to hire an experienced doula for continuous labor support and to help me in researching my options and find which hospital would best fit my desires for birth. An experienced doula may be able to offer insight and information into the local hospitals and providers that would fit my needs. I would hire a postpartum doula to come help postpartum and I would take an evidence based birth class that is not hospital or provider affiliated. This type of class (chosen carefully) usually offers thought provoking and unbiased information as well as tools for birth.
I am sorry if I am redundant if you are already aware of these things or if they are not relevant to your situation. I hope that you find what you are looking for from your birth experience!