Re: If you planned a water birth...poll!
Both my babies were home water births. The first was a winter baby, born in a blizzard, and the windows we'd ordered to replace the drafty old ones were late arriving. I was freezing the entire time I was in labor. It's impossible to relax while shivering, did you know? Hot water was the only thing that helped me be comfortable. My baby turned posterior while I was in labor, so there was a ton of back pain, which the water had no effect on. I couldn't get into a comfortable position in the tub, but was too cold out of the tub -- I just couldn't win. I used a rental tub (with heat! don't neglect that if you're having a winter baby!) with a disposable liner that was SLIPPERY. After being in labor all night, I was so tired I couldn't keep myself upright while pushing and needed my husband in the tub to hold me up. I pushed for an hour and a half and tore pretty badly. Looking back, I'm not really sure why I ordered the tub for baby #2 -- guess I just knew I could do it that way!
My second birth was SO much easier. Baby lined up nicely, and I was comfortable for most of my labor. I did a lot of walking, and just didn't want to labor in the tub. I waited until the contractions got unbearable -- transition, probably -- and the baby came in a hurry after that. I do think the water helped with the pain, but not as much as walking during contractions and finding a good position for birth. I was on my knees this time, with my forearms resting on the rim of the tub.
A couple tips if you decide to get the tub:
Put your drain hose in a handy place when you do the rest of the tub setup. (DH had to dig ours out from under the snow after DD1 was born -- we had the nasty tub sitting for a couple days before he found it.)
Think about where you'll go when you get out. My birth team ended up making up the sofa bed while I was waiting in the tub with my baby. We got out with the cord still attached, so we needed to crash nearby, not walk the length of the house. It worked fine, I just should have thought about it, instead of sending people rummaging through my house for the stuff we needed.
Have a lot of towels, and make sure your birth team knows where to find them. For my first birth, we used every towel in the house -- most of them on the floor.
Good luck, whatever you decide!