I'm 31 weeks with my second baby and I'm considering a natural hospital birth. I had planned one with DS but was induced at 40 weeks and ended up with an IV and epi.
I don't like the idea of a home birth and the nearest birth center is maybe 45 minutes away and has a very high transfer rate to their partner hospital. So I had planned to deliver at our local hospital (10 min away) but at the tour this week I got the impression that the nurses there were unprepared to help/deal with a natural delivery. For example, I asked whether women could choose to deliver in a position other than reclining and the nurse gave me a blank stare then said, "I think we have a squatting bar around here somewhere. I'm not sure where it is. We haven't used it in so long."
My ideal would be to labor at home for as long as possible and arrive at the hospital when I'm already 6 or 7 cm (is that realistic?). I'm wondering if it would be worth it to hire a doula. I'm a reserved person by nature and don't love the idea of someone watching me be that vulnerable, but I also really really want to avoid a c-section and will do almost anything to avoid one. The doula I'm considering is also a midwife and could do internal exams, which might help me avoid leaving for the hospital too early.
But I'm wondering if it's worth the expense. Around here, most of the experienced doulas charge around $1000 to attend a birth, unless they're students. I know using a doula can shorten labor a bit and help avoid interventions, but is it worth that much? Did you use a doula and are they necessary?