Dominican Hospital is located at 1555 Soquel Dr in Santa Cruz, California. Many Monterey County couples may not even consider Dominican an option because it's in Santa Cruz. Birth according to the movies is lightening fast and perilous, but in reality the first time mother will labor 14-18 hours, leaving plenty of time to travel the 30-45 minutes from Monterey/Salinas to Santa Cruz. Some couples travel much farther, even over state lines, for a birth place that will respect their desires.
From Dominican's website:
"We deliver small miracles. At Dominican Hospital, we are committed to offering a full service, state-of-the-art, individualized birth experience.
Dominican refers to their labor and delivery unit has a "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. To learn more about freestanding birth centers visit the American Association of Birth Center's website.
Dominican is supportive of women who choose to birth vaginally after having a cesarean (VBAC). Many women travel to Dominican to from Monterey for this reason. Dominican's Jacuzzi tub, birth stools, and access to midwives for low risk deliveries may also play a role in that decision. In 2011 almost 450 women traveled to Santa Cruz to have their babies.
Out of the total of 926 births at Dominican in 2012, 26.7% of the births were by cesarean section, (www.cesareanrates.com). Though this rate is below the state average of 33.2% and lower than all of the Monterey County hospitals, it is above the World Health Organization's recommendation of 10-15%. Dominican 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).
Dominican is certified as Baby-Friendly, meaning they utilize evidence-based practices in the postpartum such as immediate skin to skin, support in breastfeeding, and rooming in.
I had my second child at Dominican Hospital in 2011 with certified nurse-midwife Margann Mentor. The nurses were friendly and encouraging, my nurse knew exactly what to say to me when I felt overwhelmed. I could tell they were experienced in working with women who wanted to birth naturally. You can read my birth story here.
The following is from a Monterey military mom, Esther:
"I can't recommend Dominican Hospital highly enough. They were incredibly hands off through my entire stay, from labor through postpartum. Since I was GBS negative I didn't need an IV for antibiotics and they didn't even ask if I wanted a saline lock. The only needle I ever saw was when they drew blood to bank. I was able to eat while I was in labor and when I did need to be on monitors, they used the telemetry unit so I could still be up and moving around. The telemetry unit is also waterproof so it didn't restrict me from spending time in the jacuzzi tub, which is huge and made contractions so much more bearable I didn't even realize I had hit transition until they did an internal exam.
The following are reviews from other Monterey County moms:
"I labored in the tub at Dominican and the nurses are AHHHHHHMAAAAZZZZZING!!!! As was that tub! I was in there for quite some time and spent a good chunk of time in the shower as well. I wasn't bothered by any of the nurses and they pretty much left me to labor. Absolutely wonderful! Unfortunately baby had a short stay in the NICU, but fortunately, everyone there was wonderful. I even requested that he receive donor milk instead of formula, as I wasn't getting a drop out of me and the doctor accommodated my wishes! This was my second birth at Dominican and I thoroughly enjoyed that full size bed :0) It was like a vacation. Especially because we were served three celebratory dinners."
"Not all OB's at Dominican are VBAC friendly. My frustration lies in the fact that the on call Dr. (Dr. Nicholson) told Dr Klikoff she used the vacuum because they were worried baby's heart rate would dip too low and not come back up and that I wouldn't be able to push him out fast enough. Yet my records say I was pushing very effectively (literally, exactly what the doctor wrote down) and they didn't use the vacuum until he was nearly crowning. Wwwwhhhyyyy?! He was nearly out and I was doing fine! Reading my records just made me even more frustrated than I already was. Another care provider in my doctor's office wasn't surprised at all by his delivery once she saw who delivered him. She said she's far more conservative than Dr. Klikoff...she stopped short of saying she's not VBAC friendly but did say I probably freaked her out, walking into L&D attempting a natural VBAC and already feeling the urge to push."
"I was REALLY impressed with Dominican's birthing center tour last night... They highly encourage using the showers during labor if you want... The beds are specifically birthing beds that are designed to have all sorts of bars so you can labor (and push) kneeling, standing, squatting, in bed or out of bed, in whatever position is most comfortable for you. They also have the birthing stools... The sleeper chairs for support staff are a lot bigger and more comfortable than most hospitals, they actually had dads at one of their tours try out a bunch of different models and pick their favorite and that's the one they went with. Of course they have the Jacuzzi tub too that they encourage women to use...
"I had a great experience at Dominican with Dr. Klikoff, but I got lucky with a nurse who is at Sutter 99% of the time, and was only covering a shift at Dominican. Her name is Carol and I'm certain she's an angel."
"I've had clients deliver there recently and Dominican is fine with eating during labor. They pretty much leave it up to Mom and how she's feeling. You can also bring a few healthy snacks with you--just pull them out when you need/want them." - doula
"I delivered there in 2009 - The staff was wonderful, so grateful to the nurses I had!"
Reviews from Yelp and Google:
"I had both of my youngest children at Dominican - I felt like a queen there. Great, professional staff, beautiful large room, more food than I could possibly eat. I give them 5 stars!"
"The birth center has great security, the nurses were nice, the rooms were bright and clean (p/s the post-delivery rooms where you stay for 2 days had double beds, couches, fridges, etc. - way nicer than the post rooms I've been in at Marin General and California Pacific in SF). The rooms didn't feel like a hospital, more like a 2-3 star hotel. Not bad, come on, it isn't the Hyatt. Before the tour I didn't think I would want to deliver at Dominican, now I am 100% happy with the idea. I especially liked how they played 'rock a by baby' on the loudspeakers when a baby is born (it happened two times while we were there), they have a level 2 and 3 intensive care unit for at-risk newborns (which Sutter does not have), and the security is top notch... not that I am a security freak, but it appears to be pretty much impossible to steal a newborn from that ward, the babies wear a low jack type bracelet and there are locked doors with passwords and cameras, etc. That was nice for the hubby who comes from a much more security phobic."
"Since the birth of my daughter 5 years ago I have visited Dominican many times. The first was when Dr. Hencke knew what was wrong with me (rare pregnancy complication, which a lot of doctors miss). The whole staff is caring. When my daughter begin having seizures at 5 months old we were in and out of ER and pediatrics till she was one. We had to transfer to Lucile Packard children's hospital twice because, even for having such a great staff, do not specialize in infants and seizures. We had an awful time at LPCH. If I had to pick a hospital (and really who would want to be in a hospital) I would pick Dominican for the caring, compassionate staff."
"My son was delivered at Dominican. We were in labor room for 4 shifts, and every staff member we interacted with was amazingly helpful and kind. Same experience in the postpartum section of L&D. Would recommend, 5 stars. Even the food was good."
I include every review that is sent to me, if there is helpful information that you would like me to include, please let me know.
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.
Did you give birth at Dominican Hospital? Please share your experience in the comments below!
Natural Birth Series
Sept 28 – Nov 15
Infant Sleep for Expecting & New Parents
6:30pm - 9:00pm
Gentle Cesarean: Planning & Recovery
Toro Park, 3-6:30pm
Natural Birth Refresher
Salinas, 1– 4pm
Preconception & Early Pregnancy Class
Salinas, 1– 4pm
Sibling Prep for Parents & Kids
November 4th & 5th
Toro Park, 2:-4pm
Fall Home & Birth Center Birth Series
Nov 7 – Dec 12
Natural Birth Series
Nov 29th – Jan 17th