You probably need to work out what really appeals to you about an IM/worries you about NHS hb, etc.
I'm sure you've researched it, so you won't need me waffling on about how you're far more likely to cope without drugs at home, etc You may be even more likely to cope well if you have a mw you know and trust, however.
There is no reason at all to think you would be better off in hospital unless there is a valid reason why you or the baby might need on-the-spot medical care that can only be provided in a hospital. If you and the baby are healthy, home is the place to be, really.
It is expensive but you are getting a unique, personalised service from a fully-qualified professional and expert in normal childbirth - usually well worth it.
I'm completely pro-NHS hb but there are more variables. Is it just being at home that matters or the relationship you would build with your mw? Unless you're with a group practice on the NHS you might not know who will turn up on the day, as it were, and that can make a difference. If your Trust is supportive you're likely to have a perfectly good experience (for free!) but you might decide you want the security of knowing the mw long beforehand.
FWIW, I think it's very wise not to prescribe pethidine for a hb. Meptid has, I believe, fewer side effects for the baby (must look it up!) - much better for a hb. You may not even need the g&a anyway!
Sorry, bit rambly. Only you can decide but if you can afford an IM, and you really feel you have gelled - why not?
I think the point about post-natal care is a really important one. Most NHS mws, no matter how much they would like to do otherwise - will only have the opportunity to see you an average of 3-4 times after the birth. Most women and babies are signed off to the HV at 10 days. Whilst this is fine for some, it's not ideal and especially not for first-time mums who may need that bit of extra support (e.g. breastfeeding, etc). PN care from an IM who can see you for 6 weeks is...blissful
(BTW, I think your theory about the quiet, dark, calm start to life is absolutely spot-on, banoffi)
I gave birth just 8 weeks ago to my third dc with an IM at home. My previous experiences had been in the hospital, although I had hoped for a birth centre with my first.
Like you when I first looked into it an independent midwife felt like an expensive luxury. But now looking back it seems the best way I could possibly have spent that money - nothing compares to the level of care you will get. Banoffi has said all the key points it is just how it should be. Go with someone you connect with, but also try to imagine how she would be as a colleague as it is that sort of relationship that you end up building together.
I had a waterbirth at home and all was fine. I had had a bad experience with my second dc, I was amazed though how calm and relaxed I was in the lead up to this birth - which I'm sure made the birth itself easier - I put that 100% down to my wonderful midwife.
I have never regretted for a second my IM. The after birth care was fantastic! Once you've given birth it's all about the baby for your visitors etc But they kept their focus on me and I felt really safe and nurtured.
I also keep in touch with mine, and they will be attending dc3 naming day next month.
Do it - you'll never regret it WHATEVER birth experience you have.
Agree with the others, money well spent, especially for the aftercare. If it wasn't for my lovely IMs and the support they gave to me after the birth I would have given up breastfeeding. My ds is 1 now and we are still in touch, see them on a regular basis and will def use them for baby no 2!!
My IM was beautiful, gentle, non-intrusive and helped create a safe calm space... No pain relief needed atall, a truly empowering journey, very very intense but totally manageable with the right support... xxx