CHOMP refers to their labor and delivery unit has a "Family Birth Center." It's important to note that the natural birth experience offered by a freestanding birth center is not the same as the "Birth Center" in a hospital. This is just the name that they have given their labor and delivery, it does not mean they necessarily offer a more natural approach to birth. To learn more about freestanding birth centers visit the American Association of Birth Center's
About CHOMP's amenities from their website:
"Our 13 rooms are equipped for labor, delivery, recovery, and mother-baby care. As you prepare for the birth of your child, we thought you might like to know some of the things we believe at the Family Birth Center...
- Birth is one of life's most special events.
- Birth and parenting occur with greater ease, comfort, and joy when parents know what to expect.
- Parents can make decisions and accept responsibility for their own healthcare.
- Family, visitors, nurses, doctors, healthcare providers, and all hospital personnel are regarded with dignity and respect.
- Your support person should be encouraged to stay with you and your baby throughout your hospital stay.
Your nurse will manage your labor according to the instructions from your doctor. Your heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and temperature will be monitored periodically, and your urine will be checked for protein and glucose. Vaginal exams will be done to check the progress of your labor. A test may be performed to determine if your water has "broken." A fetal monitor will be used to assess your contractions and your baby's well-being. You may eat and drink as instructed by your doctor. You will be encouraged to walk and move while you are in labor. If you choose to have an epidural, an anesthesiologist will be called. An episiotomy occasionally is performed at delivery if needed. A special suction device or forceps may be used to assist in the birth if needed. If it is determined that your baby will require special care at birth or shortly after birth, a pediatrician or neonatologist will be called to attend the delivery of your baby. Identification bands will be placed on the baby and on you and your partner. Your nurse will discuss your baby's security at the hospital. The usual length of stay after a vaginal birth is about 1-2 days, for a cesarean birth 3-4 days.
You can learn more about the medical model of care (as opposed to the physiological model of care or midwifery model of care) and your options within it here.
Out of the total of 1045 births at CHOMP in 2012, 32.9% of the births were by cesarean section, (www.cesareanrates.com). Though this rate is below the state average of 33.2%, it is above the World Health Organization‘s recommendation of 10-15%. CHOMP is a non-profit hospital, ”a California survey found that women were 17% more likely to have a cesarean at a for-profit hospital than a non-profit” (Optimal Care in Childbirth by Henci Goer). Though, in 2012 CHOMP did have a higher cesarean rate than the only for-profit hospital in the county, Salinas Valley Memorial.
CHOMP is one of two hospitals in Monterey County* that do not offer the option of vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) to women despite the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and The National Institutes of Health‘s 2010 recommendations to do so. Unlike hospitals who support women in having a VBAC, CHOMP is not required to have an anesthesiologist or obstetrician on the floor at all times.
In 2011 CHOMP had the highest epidural rate (79%), and the highest induction rate (37%) in Monterey County*. (Monterey County Weekly) CHOMP also has the highest episiotomy rate (11%) in the county, which is quite a bit higher than other local hospitals like Natividad (2.8%) and Dominican (2.3%). (CalQualityCare.org)
CHOMP does not offer the option to birth with a certified nurse-midwife, which is the standard of care in most other developed countries and has shown to improve maternal and infant outcomes according to a recent study including 16,242 women published August 2013 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
The following is a Salinas mom's experience touring CHOMP:
I toured CHOMP in spring of 2012. CHOMP seems to only allow pregnant ladies and one other adult on the tour. They also don't schedule a tour until pretty late during pregnancy. I was 6 months (I think) when I finally got to do a tour.
CHOMP is a nice hospital. They have lovely grounds and gardens, a koi pond, and valet parking.
The Family Birth Center has a nice waiting area with comfy furniture and awesome murals. It also looks out onto a garden. There's a place to get food and drinks just down the hall. There are no visiting hours, so family and friends are free to come whenever. You can tell the nurses if you don't want visitors.
The rooms all have adjoining bathrooms with showers. The showers are spacious enough for laboring in. They also have hand-held shower heads and stools. The beds can be raised and lowered and the back can be raised and lowered to allow for all kinds of laboring positions. There's also a sofa that converts to a bed like a futon. It was pretty big, big enough that I thought my 6'3" husband could sleep comfortably on it. Each room has a white board so moms can leave notes about preferences and what not for the nurses. The room we toured look out on to a garden. The rooms also have TV's with DVD players and a little stereo thing for CD's or an MP3 player.
Moms have a nurse who is their primary nurse. If mom ends up in surgery, this nurse will usually attend the surgery/recovery as well. They seem concerned about making sure moms of continuity of care through the entire labor and delivery process.
CHOMP is known for their milkshakes. Apparently, all of their food is good. You can order food anytime. I'm sure they charge a premium for it, but its nice to know its an option if you really want that cheeseburger at 2am.
The nurse on my tour said they encourage laboring moms to move around. They do monitoring 20-30 minutes of every hour, so mom has to be lying in bed for that time.
CHOMP has a surgery room (or possibly 2?) in the Family Birth Center. There's a recovery room across from surgery where mom goes after surgery for a couple of hours. After that, mom returns to her room. Having all that stuff close together means dad/birth coach can stay with mom and/or baby pretty much the entire time. They really seem to have the c-section routine down. They also encourage moms to be up and moving around soon after surgery. On my tour, all of the other moms (5) were having scheduled c-sections and they all seemed very impressed with CHOMP.
Overall, CHOMP is a nice hospital. If I were having a scheduled c-section, it would be my first choice. I decided that we wanted a lower intervention birth so we had our daughter at home with a midwife."
More reviews from Monterey County moms:
"They took me to my room – which was a teeny tiny room that they haven’t used in a long time but had to shove me in it since they were extremely busy. I stripped my clothes off as fast as I could, got my monitors on and hopped up on the bed.
They checked me and I was “just a lip” – I think meaning I was about 9 cm and almost fully dilated and ready to push. I had to pant through several contractions… I don’t even know how many but way too many in my book! I was waiting for the doctor to show up so I could push. I kept asking how much longer, and they couldn’t really tell me! I kept saying how it wasn’t fair that I had to wait, and that I wanted a 15 minute break from the contractions to catch my breath. Luckily there was a nice lady there that was actually a nursery nurse, that came in to help me through my contractions. She told me to blow out birthday candles so that they would just flicker and not go out. That helped a bit, because otherwise I really wanted to push. Everything in the room was chaotic. I can’t remember how many people were in this tiny “closet” like room! One particular nurse came in to put my IV in and I yelled at her saying she can’t do it now! I couldn’t imagine I’d be able to stay still for her to poke me. It took her several tries but she did get it in. After what seemed like an ETERNITY, panting through a billion contractions (ok so it was like 20 minutes)… I was finally told that the doctor was close enough to the hospital that I could start pushing."
"Being a first time mom, and having heard some negative stories about delivering at CHOMP, I had my concerns about being able to have a natural birth, free from interventions there. However because of my insurance, CHOMP was really my only option.
I ended up having a fairly problem free pregnancy, and as my due date approached I wrote a birth plan, which I reviewed thoroughly with both my doctor and my doula. Labor started naturally with my water breaking in the middle of the night and contractions starting about 30 minutes later... I arrived at the hospital about an hour after labor had started and at first was a little put off by the attitude of the nurse who I was assigned to. However after my husband and doula gave the nurses my birth plan, the nurses attitude changed and I was left to labor as I wished. I labored in a few different positions including kneeling, standing, and laying on my left side towards the end. The baby was monitored occasionally, but really the only intervention I was required to have was a Hep-Lock, in case of emergency. I ended up laboring for about 6 hours total with pushing for about an hour. With the help of my husband, doula, and doctor I naturally delivered a healthy happy 10 1/2 lb. baby boy, without any medical interventions. Following the delivery I was put on a Pitocin drip to help my uterus contract and minimize blood loss because my uterus was so expanded from having carried such a large baby.
During the remainder of my stay at CHOMP, my son stayed with us the entire time, and I was happy with the help and breastfeeding support that the nurses provided. The only downside to my stay was there were a lot of interruptions and they did the hearing test in the middle of the night. Because of this, and because we had postpartum and breastfeeding support outside of the hospital, we decided to only stay one night. The only other thing that bothered me during our stay, was that because my son was so large they tried to treat him as if he was a diabetic baby (even thought I did not have gestational diabetes). My pediatrician ended up intervening and they did only 3 of the 6 blood glucose tests that they wanted to do."
The doctor wanted to induce me at almost 37 weeks because the non-stress test was 94% and they wanted to see 100%. The doc told me he didn't want to have to have me come in every other day for a non-stress test and said I needed to be induced. I didn't have any problems throughout the pregnancy...
I told the doc I didn't want to be induced and that I wanted a natural birth. I felt my birth plan was a waste of time. He assured me this was the best option and I could still have a natural birth... natural meaning vaginally. So, the next morning I was induced. Having my water broke felt like the biggest violation to me with our unborn child. I will never forget that eerie moment. Within less than 1 hour, baby's heartbeat went from the being in the healthy 145 bpm range to 119 bpm and slowly decreasing. Before I knew it, the doc called and said we had to deliver via c-section. He was at home watching the monitor when he made the call. I was never asked to rotate, etc.
After 9 painful attempts to give me a spinal anesthesia, the anesthesiologist was ready to give up and have me go under for general anesthesia. I wouldn't have that. So I told them I felt my position was wrong sitting up right on the OR table. I told them maybe I should have the back of my knees to the table and then lean over to open up the spinal column. So we tried it again. Each time more painful than the last. It felt like your sorest muscle being pulled apart. At last, 45 min later, the 10th time worked like a charm. I immediately felt a weird, cold sensation run down my legs. I remember shivering, even though I wasn't physically cold.
Once the baby was out and they allowed me to hold her, I asked for back up hands from daddy because I couldn't stop shaking. There she was. Born 3 weeks 2 days early. An unnecessary preemie, in my book. Went against all my motherly instincts I felt as a mom. Fortunately, she was healthy. I had weird heart palpitations and flutters for 4 months (I attribute that to the chemicals put in my body) never had that happen before.
In the end, I wasn't even in labor for more than 2 hours. My body could not birth naturally once the intervention took place. I was angry for a long time. Instead of having me rest more, whether at home or in the hospital, and be monitored, to let the baby grow and come out when ready, the interventions started, leading to a c-section. Never thought I'd have one of those. My mom had 10 babies naturally, I felt I could birth naturally too.
I was banned from CHOMP if I wanted a VBAC for any future pregnancies, so 4 years later we had another baby, this time born at home.
I've had my 3 kids at CHOMP: 2010, 2012 and 2013. I had gone in the first time expecting to do an all natural birth, no meds. I had an open mind though, knowing and telling myself it would be okay if I did end up getting an epidural. I did and it ended up saving my life and my babies, I truly believe that. I had to be turned on my side and my pelvis/hips slid out of socket because of the weight of the baby and my super lax tendons. If I had not had the epidural, I would have been in immense pain, and not have been able to push.
Anyhow, after that, my next two, I knew my plan, and the hospital staff was very accommodating to my needs and wants. One birth we had to be moved out of our room because there was so many babies being born that night. They gave us a nice room overlooking the forest and had great nurses.
My third baby, which was born this past March, was born at 36 weeks. I had gone 3 times before for pre-term labor. I ended up having to stay and extra 4 days, and they accommodated me by giving me a room for free to stay close to my son. Even though he was under lights, the nurses allowed me to go into the nursery to nurse him and see him. Excellent, nurses, every time.
"My daughter was born at CHOMP. We hoped for a natural birth, but one thing lead to another and I got to experience the "cascade of interventions" first hand. We ended up with pitocin, my water was broken, an epidural, episiotomy, vacuum extraction and then my baby had to stay in the NICU for 5 days because of the infection we got while in labor, which I've learned can happen when nurses do many cervical checks after your water has broken."
"I had a c-section at CHOMP 5 years ago. I was moved three times starting the day after the surgery. The second room I was in was atrocious. There was a jack hammer breaking apart the neighboring wing. It was so loud I couldn't hear my husband talking nor my baby cry. I asked the nurse if there was anywhere else they could put me and she said 'would you rather be in the hallway?' Anyway, I waited in a wheelchair in the reception/waiting area until a room became available. It took a few hours, but I was grateful, all 13 rooms were full. I went on to have a VBAC at Sutter for my next child."
Learn more about local hospitals and read reviews from local women:
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula
Natividad Medical Center
Salinas Valley Memorial
Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center
You can view and download a chart comparing hospital options and amenities here.
If you birthed at CHOMP please share your experience in the comments below!
*hospitals included were those with 200 beds or more