I read Homebirth in the Hospital: Integrating Natural Childbirth with Modern Medicine - there were parts I liked, but parts I didn't... if the hospital is where you feel the safest for emotional or physical reasons, then obviously that's the best spot for you to labor! But ultimately birthing in the hospital really cannot be compared to birth center or homebirths - they're dramatically different and moms may sometimes become frustrated when their birth plans come into conflict with the hospitals protocols. Where you birth is a very personal decision, and priorities for each family will also vary dramatically.
Birth where you feel best!
That said, if the hospital is where you need/want to be but you want to make it a more warm and welcoming environment then here are some ideas to help get you thinking - feel free to share your suggestions in the comments!
* Labor in your own clothes - personal labor gown, sports bra, tank top, sarong, maternity dress or skirt, your husband's dress shirt, whatever feels best to you! The staff will need access to your belly for monitoring (continuous or intermittent) and for vaginal exams. They'll remind you that your clothing may get messy, and in the highly unlikely event that you have a stat cesarean they may need to cut off your clothes. (HIGHLY unlikely, but I've heard nurses say that to moms who wanted to wear their own clothing.)
* Dim the lights - hospital rooms have lots of lights, play around when you arrive to see what feels best to you. You can bring LED candles for some nice mood lighting! Alternately if you need a burst of energy then turning the lights on and opening the shades (or getting out of your room into the sunshine!) can help.
* Create a music playlist and bring your speaker base and ear buds. One for early labor that's full of energetic songs, one for active labor with slower songs, and some focus songs for transition can all be helpful. You may not use them, but it's nice to have the option ready. Even a white noise track can be helpful in drowning out sounds outside your room.
* Talk with your care provider about your options for eating and drinking in labor. Bring your favorite drinks in a small cooler, along with some easily digested high energy snacks - dark chocolate, honey sticks, nuts, protein bar. If you don't eat them during labor (and you may not, as in active labor most women lose their appetite) but they'll be handy postpartum and for your husband.
* What's your favorite scent and how can you incorporate it into your birth experience? I bring sweet orange and peppermint essential oils in my doula bag, but I suggest moms bring other scents they love - a favorite lotion, your husband's cologne, or whatever smell makes you smile!
* Tactile concerns - bring a favorite pillow or blanket from home if you want something soft near you in bed. Pack massage lotion or oil in your bag. Do you want some fuzzy socks or your favorite slippers?
Hopefully this will get you thinking about what you can use in the hospital to make you feel more comfortable!