I had a 'natural,' midwife and doula attended birth in a birth center that was connected with a hospital. I had exactly the birth experience I wanted except that it lasted way longer than I thought it would--29hours from water breaking until birth. I think if I had been anywhere else they might have forced me to take pitocin to move the labor along or suggested a c-section due to the long time with ruptured membranes. My son and I were fine. I did get IV fluids and antibiotics that is why I wrote: 'natural.' Though I wasn't connected to the IV the whole time which is another benefit to the birth center. I labored where I wanted: shower (majority of the time), labor ball, kneeling on bed, tub, toilet. It is also great to have people around you that know you don't want drugs and can support you when you have weak moments.I think it is important to have the birth experience you want, and if that is the birth center, you need to get the rest of your family on board. Take them on a tour there so they can ask their questions to put their minds at ease. It isn't like you can't go to a hospital if it comes to that, but most likely it won't.You also need to prepare yourself and your partner for the process. Take a natural childbirth class. Read 'Birthing from Within.' Watch 'Business of Being Born.'Good Luck to you.
You need to stay home until that baby is almost falling out. The longer you stay at home, in the comfort and familiarity of your own things and people, the better you will feel.
That's the best advice anyone ever gave me.
I disagree with the others about staying at home as long as possible; it is what I wanted to do but four hours into labour I was in so much pain I couldn't stand it. Before going into labour I had asked my doctor when I should go to the hospital- he said that since I lived so close, that it was up to me. He said that in all his years of practice he had never seen someone who lived nearby leave it too late- he said I would know when it was time, and it might be early in labour or it might be shortly before it was time to push. Either way, he said, it was up to me as I had had a healthy pregnancy and he had no concerns about my well-being. So I had planned on staying at home until the end. When I was in labour I tried everything I could think of to ease the pain at home but none of it worked, and I ended up going to the hospital for the drugs after only a couple hours. I was so disappointed in myself that I only made it a couple hours when I had planned to do the whole thing naturally, but I couldn't handle the pain at all anymore. Nothing I tried- bath, different positions, walking, etc- helped.
So we went to the hospital and the hospital I delivered at was very supportive of natural childbirth. The nurse helped me find natural things that worked to ease the pain. I quickly found that sitting on a birth ball in the shower was the best thing ever, and it made it so much easier to bear. I sat in that shower for around 8 hours, and it was the only thing that got me through without the drugs.
Anyway, I think that if you have supportive people around you who are knowledgeable about the birth process and how to ease the pain, it will be the best thing for you. My husband was very supportive but he couldn't think of new things to suggest and hated seeing me in so much pain, so he couldn't help me much when we were at home. I'm quite glad I sought help when I did, and if you feel you need the extra support in finding something that will help you overcome the pain, then don't hesitate to do it.
Once I found something that helped, I didn't find it to be that bad. Keep trying new things, something will help, and your midwife will be a great resource during that time. I wish I had a midwife, but when I was pregnant none worked in this area. One recently set up a practice here, however, so my next baby will be born with a midwife. Make sure that when you are in labour you only have supportive people around you, and don't listen to anymore of that "you're a loon" talk because it will just discourage you. You CAN do it. Listening to that talk when I was pregnant scared me- someone heard I wanted to do it naturally and she said that I was insane, and that she was begging for the epidural when she was only three or four centimeters dilated. She looked at me like I had told her I wanted to grow an extra head.