I would have to say that, if I had to choose the single most important thing for a woman when she chooses a hospital birth, it would be WHO she chooses to attend the birth with her.
"Nature, time and patience are three great physicians."
-- H.G. Bohn"If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise."-- Robert Fritz
WHO attends her in the hospital can make or break a safe and good birth.
- MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL - statistically, midwives have lower incidences of unnecessary interventions and medications. I would highly recommend looking into whether your hospital has a CNM practice that works in the hospital. If none do, carefully choose your OB or FP, interview them. If you had a less-than-ideal experience with them and your previous birth (if applicable) don't continue to see them, find a new doctor; don't settle, they won't change for you. For some reason, it is hard for women to change delivering doctors. But all it takes is finding a new one, then calling your old one and asking them to transfer your records. That. Simple. And that can make or break a good birth.
- CONSTANT SUPPORT - your SO can be a great asset during labor and birth, helping to encourage you and assist you. But, even your SO deserves support to support you. A Doula can help support you, as the laboring mama, and your SO to be a better support for you as well. If you have family who want to be there, but they are less than supportive of your choices, either ban them from the room (BTW, it is your birth, not a spectators event) or give them an ultimative: unwavering, unquestioning support and encouragement or nothing (your way or the highway). If you don't want any additional people there, SIMPLY SAY NO.
- NURSE SUPPORT - while in labor, you can request a new nurse if the one you are assigned doesn't mesh well with your personality, believes, choices, etc... I have had one nurse myself whom I simply said, "you know, I don't want to be mean, but I really don't think this is a good match, can I request a different nurse?" She wasn't offended, said she agreed, and got a new nurse assigned to me.
Hospital births can be powerful, beautiful, safe, and loving - but they need to be handled with additional care and caution, planning and thought, if your goal is a natural labor and birth.