There is no way that you are going to have a good experience running a marathon if you just show up the day of the race and start running. If anyone has had a good experience doing this, keep it to yourself! I have ran and was glad that I trained. I hear from endless women who made little to no effort to prepare for their baby's actual birth. They planned for the nursery, the clothes, their diets, their maternity leave but completely left out the birth. I've heard pregnant women say "I'm just going to show up and get that wonderful epidural" or "my doctor is going to step me through it". I know no one in these situations who looks back on their experience as beautiful and being in control of their body. So here's the issue with those thoughts.
That epidural is usually only given during certain stages of labor. You have to be laying down and cannot move naturally to let the baby fall with gravity. Just picture which way gravity pulls. Yep, the woman's body is designed to let the baby fall vertically and not to projectile shoot horizontally. My friend Liz found herself to be in a painful position unless she was on her hands and knees. Then the pain was gone and it was just the pressure of the baby pushing out. I enjoyed laboring while dancing with my husband (actually that is the last time that I danced with him!). The epidural doesn't even alway work. I know many annoyed women who got the epidural only to find out that they could feel everything and were stuck in a bed that did not feel good to be laying in. Since it causes you to go against your body's natural flow and changes your bodies natural hormones, you are at high risk of having a longer and more complicated birth thus a longer recuperation time. All of this snowballs and causes you to have a less positive experience and less success at breastfeeding. Here are some great epidural free positions.There are many women who had to resort to epidurals during their labors but they were educated and waited until the last minute in case the baby changed positions. If they were prepared and educated then they asked their caregiver the right questions and were okay and accepting of their birth and their body. Here are some Hidden Risks of Epidurals from Mothering Magazine.
I've heard all about your great doctor that you have had since your first period. You have a vision of that caregiver by your side coaching you through every contraction. Really you should be at home until the contractions get rather close and who is coaching you there? Your caregiver might be on vacation in Hawaii and then who is filling in? Doesn't your caregiver have a whole hall of pregnant women that he or she is tending to? Good birth planning programs take weeks to finish and entail a good amount of study and homework. Here are some good birthing classes. I very much recommend a doula for first births, home births, births in need of support, and for you and your loved ones to feel less stressed and more in enjoyment with your labor and birth. My husband and mom enjoyed the massages that my doula gave them.
The more prepared that you are and the more positive planning that you have put towards anything in life, will make it a better experience. Knowledge is key.