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.
We believe every birth is special, from our tiniest 26-week preemies to our robust 12-pound full-term babies. That is why our Birth Center is designed with the latest technology and staffed with a highly specialized obstetrical team of physicians, nurses and auxiliary staff, available 24 hours a day. We are prepared for any type of birth and any situation that may arise.
At Dominican, we have high standards for both safety and patient satisfaction. Our birth rooms are well-equipped and cozy to help emphasize bonding while “rooming in” with your newborn. With patient safety as our first concern, our Birth Center includes an operating room in the Labor and Delivery area, and a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) equipped to care for high-risk babies who need closer observation. The Birth Center, Postpartum, and NICU areas are staffed with highly trained registered nurses. Specialized staff such as anesthesiologists, neonatologists, perinatologists, clinical nurse specialists, lactation consultants and occupational therapists are available to meet with you and your family for any routine or emergency needs that may arise."
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.
When it was time to push, they helped me take my gown off so Aaron could be skin to skin immediately. He stayed on my chest until it was time to clean and stitch me up, at which time my husband was surprised to be told "Okay Dad, take your shirt off, it's your turn for skin to skin". They didn't even consider clamping the cord until it stopped pulsing. They helped me get him latched on to nurse right away. EVERYTHING (bath, vitamin k, assessments, etc.) was done in the room with me. Literally the only time he left the room before we were discharged was when we moved over to the mother-baby unit. When they did the heel prick for the Newborn Screening, it was with me holding him, still clothed, breastfeeding him, lights down low, and she was very gentle with him.
They have a variety of bars and equipment for pushing so that you can deliver in the position that works best for you. I had been looking forward to trying giving birth in a position other than lying down but didn't get to because he came when they were doing an internal exam and unconstipating me. I literally only pushed once. I wonder if I would have pushed at all if I'd been standing up... lol. Once we moved rooms after he was born, they left us alone for the most part, except for the necessary vitals, checking if we needed anything, etc. They didn't push us to do this that or the other. The dry-erase boards were very well-organized with sections to write requests, considerations, and preferences. They encouraged us to use the boards for that purpose. It was also nice having it on the board when I could get another dose of pain medication after the baby was born.
We loved having a mini-fridge in the room and especially loved the double bed. My husband did sleep on the pull-out bed-chair in the birth room and the rest of the night after Aaron was born in Mother-Baby and he said it was actually pretty comfortable. The chairs are wider than the ones you see in most hospitals and have an actual mattress that folds out.
The nurses were FANTASTIC. I can't remember which night it was, Aaron was extremely fussy and didn't want to sleep unless he was being held. The nurse knew we were having a rough night and when she was busy, had another nurse come in and check on us. That nurse sent me back to bed and took Aaron and rocked him to sleep, then rearranged the bassinet to incline it a little and rolled blankets on the sides. I could have kissed her. The food was amazing too. I've never had hospital food before that actually made me happy for meal times to come around. One of the juice options is Martinelli's sparkling apple cider, that was my drink of choice. I'm also not a big seafood fan but I did like the salmon. They give you a celebration meal for two one night, that was nice. The food all tasted fresh, like they actually cook FOOD instead of just sticking packaged processed food in the microwave."
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...
The [postpartum] bed is a traditional double bed with (gasp) more than one pillow! The postpartum rooms do not have showers in them. I was a little iffy at first until she explained their reasoning. I guess too many moms try to go to the shower by themselves and get lightheaded and have issues, so they want you to be communicating with the nurse. The nurses will go in the shower and help you if you need it. Support people are "welcome and encouraged" to use the showers too. Of course the rooms do have toilets and sinks in them and a rocking chair...
I talked to her afterwards and explained how fast things moved with [my last baby], and that we're going to be coming from Seaside and that I don't plan on sticking it out at home and risking a car birth, and said 'But what happens if I get here and I'm not 4cm, are they going to send me back home?' She said 'Absolutely not. If that happens, just explain to them where you're coming from and they'll go ahead and have you stay there, they might have you go walk around outside and in Santa Cruz some but explain the situation to them and they absolutely will not send you all the way back to Seaside.' They encourage medication free labor but support whatever decision the mom makes and have a team of anesthesiologists in LDR to administer meds if asked for/needed."
"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!