Emma - I hope not too many people look down on you because of your age. I felt people looked at me while I was pregnant because I was old !! (30) Maybe it works both ways.
As far as the labour-don't worry too much. I read all the birth stories I could get my hands on and was really freaked out about it. I remember saying to my hubby I didn't want an episiotomy-but I ended up with one, but in the end bub's had to come out somehow!! For me personally, I wanted to be informed about what all the different procedures were about, that is, the pro's & con's of each. For example, epidural vs natural labour. I think by understanding what they entail it helps you stay in control during the labour and the doctor says "its going to have to be a c-section"-you don't need the procedure explained whilst your in labour, you already know what they will be doing. Does that make sense?? Also, if you haven't already organised it make sure you go to antenatal classes and ask heaps of questions. I was the only one in my class that asked about pain relief options (I hate needles & I'm a big wuss with pain!)
I decided that I was having an epidural-when I went to the delivery suite I told the midwife who organised it straight away (too many of my friends left it too late to ask & had just the gas). It worked out well because my son had a big head and needed the vacum in the end to help him along. I was in labour for around 16hrs, but only the last 2 hrs were really hectic. Make sure you have good, calm people with you. I had my hubby and my mum. My hubby was gobsmacked most of the labour, but mum was really encouraging telling me she could see the head and to keep pushing.
I think every birth is unique, and will vary with each child you have. It was scary and I won't deny painful, but its so true that the pain is but a memory when you see your child in your arms and what you have created & bought into this world. My son is now 6 1/2 mths old and I'm just pregnant with number 2-so its not so bad after all, if I'm going back for seconds.