Salinas Valley Memorial provides a level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and have a perinatologist on staff for high risk births.
Out of the total of 1686 births at SVMH in 2012, 32.2% 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%. SVMH is a for-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).
SVMH 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 College 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, SVMH is not required to have an anesthesiologist or obstetrician on the floor at all times.
In 2011 SVMH had the second highest epidural rate (66%), and the second highest induction rate (20%) in Monterey County*. (Monterey County Weekly)
SVMH also 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.
I had my first child and SVMH in 2009. I found the rooms to be nice, though when I asked for a room with a tub none of the nurses knew which of the two rooms with tubs had ones that worked. One nurse said "no one ever really uses them." I had an IV and ended up not being allowed to use a tub anyway. About half of the nurses were very kind, reviewed my birth plan and were supportive. The other half seemed more interested in monitors and were dismissive of the importance of my birth experience. A few nurses were unkind and and made unnecessary comments. I was given an episiotomy by Dr. Nelson, even though I have gone on to birth a bigger baby by over a pound without even a tear. You can read my birth story here.
1998 - My labor and delivery with Tyler was awful from the time I checked in all the way to the time I pushed him out. L&D nurses were rude and less than compassionate, even telling me at one point to "shut-up there are other laboring women here." When the pain got to the point where I felt I needed pain relief I asked for an epidural only to be told: "Too late, you waited too long so you will just have to deal with it." The OB was Dr. Nelson, not my OB but was in the same group. He was rude, cold and was basically just doing his job. He told me if I wanted this baby to come out faster we should do an episiotomy (which he did). Second baby, first episiotomy! The ONLY positive was that I was able to stay in the same room the entire stay.
2006 - Went in to be evaluated for possible ROM (rupture of membranes) at 38 weeks and 2 days. Took 3 hours for a nurse to say she was "pretty sure" I was leaking fluid and that I would need to be admitted. Immediately started me on Pitocin and after 6 hours of intense going nowhere contractions I asked for pain relief... they gave was an intrathecal. Pain relief would last for about 3 hours. My heart rate and blood pressure plummeted as did the baby's. The next few minutes were a blur but I heard them say something about "If it continues to drop we can give a shot of adrenaline"...words of comfort, I think not! Spent most of the next 3 hours in and out of sleepy state. As the pain meds were wearing off I was told I was fully dilated and to go ahead and to start pushing. Maybe 2-3 times into pushing the same doctor who delivered Tyler, Dr, Nelson, told me "I want to do an episiotomy rather than let you tear." Yet again I ended up with an episiotomy! Brenna was my smallest baby at 8 pounds 11 ounces & in the future I would push a 9 pound 10 ounce baby out with NO episiotomy!!! Anyways back to this experience. I had asked upon admission that the Hep B vaccine be put off until I had a chance to talk to my pediatrician about it. That note was overlooked and a nurse gave it to my baby anyway. Do they even read the admittance papers? I spent nearly 12 hours after delivery vomiting due to the intrathecal. The nurses kept threatening to take Brenna to the nursery to give her a bottle if I didn't want to breastfeed her. Didn't??? No, more like couldn't, but I did and they were nice enough to give me a barf pan. The nausea & vomiting were the worst I have ever experienced in my life. There was such a lack of support. When we confronted the nurse about the vaccine she basically said that we were just worried about the cost! We were self-pay at the time, no insurance. Took forever to get discharged. Just an all around awful experience.
2007- I went in for an induction at 38 weeks due to leaking fluid... knowing that I would want an epidural for pain relief. This time around I had positive, supportive nurses throughout my labor process... when I asked for my epidural they asked me if I was sure that I wanted one. I let them know that I get nauseous and sick with anesthesia, for which they informed the anesthesiologist who gave me an anti-nausea medicine to curb that side effect. The anesthesiologist was nice and professional with a calm demeanor which I appreciated. He had no problem with the placing... About 4 hours later I was fully dilated and they told me that I was ready to push. Dr Watkins, the doctor on call all night long, had just ended his shift but earlier he told the nurses that he started this and wanted to see it through so to page him when I was ready to push. He was great and very encouraging through the pushing phase, patiently and slowly we worked through every push until my 9 pound 10 ounce baby girl Summer was here! Dr. Watkins was the first doctor to ask my husband to cut the cord! Yes it only took four babies for a doctor who seemed to care about the whole labor and delivery process for all of the family members involved. Summer had a nuchal cord and meconium so she needed some assistance for about 10 minutes or so with some members of the NICU, she never left the room and as soon as all was clear she was placed on me for some skin to skin & nursing. Since she was a big baby they had to check her blood sugar quite frequently which I found to be a little disruptive but other than that everything else went well.
2010 - This was a scheduled induction for my 40 week due date at 7am. Upon check in I was greeted by a nurse who explained what was about to happen, third time being induced [at Salinas Valley Memorial], first time having it explained in detail. At about 8am I was given Cytotec and some weak contractions started. I liked that they didn't do cervix checks all the time, I think throughout the day up until delivery I was checked a total of four times. My nurses pretty much left me to do my thing until about 2pm when they decided to start Pitocin. Throughout the day I had been able to get up walk around, sit in a rocking chair, use a birthing ball which was a nice change of pace from my past laboring experiences! At 6pm my OB came in to do a check...4 cm. She said the head felt low & that if I was ok with it she felt she could go ahead & break my bag of waters to really get things moving, I said sure & away we went. At 7:30 I started to get the shakes & felt quite a bit of pressure so a nurse checked me & found me to be 8 to 8 &1/2 cm! I was having contractions but nothing too bad, so in a pure panic all of sudden I decided I needed an epidural now before the horrible pains started! The anesthesiologist was an older man who had many years under his belt, my epidural was placed & working with-in 10 minutes. Twenty minutes after the epidural took full effect I pushed out a 9 pound 8 ounce baby girl. Madison went straight to the breast where she nursed for an hour! The aftercare I received was excellent, the team of nurses respected my experience as a fifth time mom & I appreciated the time alone bonding with my newborn baby girl. There is only one regret I had with this L&D ...The decision to have an epidural and while that falls on me, I wish there would have been some words of encouragement from the staff or doctor that would have led me to believe I made it to 8 cm without pain meds, I could see this labor through totally pain med free! Even my doctor told me at a later appointment:. " You made it that far, you could have gone all the way." I think laboring women need to hear that as they near the end of their laboring phase, positive words & encouragement can take a person just as far as pain meds without the side effects.
2012 - My first natural birth. I labored at home for about 11 hours before going to the hospital, I wanted to avoid any and all procedures/interventions that come with a hospital labor. In the 25 short minutes that I did labor at SVMH I was asked to leave a urine sample and had an IV started. I did not like those two things. I also had to ask for my baby rather than them just giving her to me immediately. I should note that she had a nuchal hand (hand up by her face) and meconium so NICU nurses needed to check her out, but when they were done I had to ask for her. I did like that I was able to be in an upright position for pushing as Dr. Gilbert said "whatever is most comfortable for you." I also liked the fact the he took the time to explain the super twisted cord and how rare it was for it to twist to the side it did. I liked that the nurse asked if it was ok to give Aubree a bath instead of just taking her to do it. I didn't like that they don't have showers in your postpartum room, they have community showers that you have to walk down the hall to get to. For me that seemed to be an inconvenience.
Discharge was a breeze. From check-in to check out I was at SVMH for a total of 26 hours. That being said, I did not like the cost! I had no pain meds, baby didn't need any special aftercare other than the brief visit from NICU, nothing complicated and still my bill was about 17,600.00, that seemed to be kinda on the high side. I will say that this L&D was by far my fav,the outcome was the most incredible experience I've ever been through!
Cori, I would like to say thank you for being an advocate for natural childbirth and always willing to answer any of my questions."
More reviews from Monterey County moms:
"I gave birth at SVMH in April 2013, it was induced so I spent 40 hours in L&D before my baby was born and 3 days postpartum due to my babys' hyperbilirubinemia...
Overall staff is very friendly, each shift, including the nurse in charge, introduces themselves and writes their names on the board in the patients' room. The nurse call button is answered promptly day or night. I had an opportunity to review and discuss my birth plan in detail with a nurse. Unfortunately, we had to deviate from it due to medical reasons, but my wishes were honored and I was given 2 extra hours before we had to utilize a procedure I was not comfortable with."
"I was 1cm dilated and not effaced at all. They told me to prepare for a long road. They inserted Cervadil and told me to rest up... I wanted to go as pain med free as possible; I really did not want an epidural...
Honestly, sitting on the toilet was the most comfortable place to be! The nurses kept telling me they needed to check me and I told them to go away! Around 3am, my body started pushing on its own. The nurses kept asking if I wanted an epidural, I finally caved in. When the anesthesiologist got there I was, big shocker, on the toilet. The nurse came, took one look at me, and said they needed me on the bed immediately and that my body was pushing the baby out...
My husband grabbed one arm, and my mother grabbed the other and they threw me on the bed. The anesthesiologist started the epidural... The epidural did not kick in until the OB was stitching my 2nd degree tear."
"L&D rooms are fairly spacious with full baths [in 2 rooms] for those wishing to use hydrotherapy. Birthing balls are also available, just ask."
"SVMH is a baby friendly hospital: they promote immediate skin to skin contact and breastfeeding. Lactation consultant is available during weekdays (I believe) and free breastfeeding support group meets every Tuesday 1 - 2pm. I would recommend calling Shawna, the lactation consultant, Tuesday morning to confirm the meeting. Both times that I showed up I was the only attendee and ended up having a free private consult!"
"I was only 3cm dilated which was enough to get me admitted and a bed in labor and delivery. Unfortunately, there were forms to sign and it seemed like it took the nurses hours to get these forms ready. During this time, the contractions were increasing with pain and my mom, my fiance, and I were in this small, dark room with a few nurses watching the tragedy of Michael Jackson on TV. I remember my fiance whispering to me, 'If they don't quit watching that TV we are going to pack you in the car and drive to CHOMP.'"
"When I have birthed there (4 times) it was a positive experience with no rush. [With my 4th in 2009] my Dr. at the time anticipated a dinner time baby but I knew better and told him lunch. He was pleasantly surprised. Babies come when they are ready and she was ready before the Dr guessed it."
"Our first nurse was HORRIBLE. She took one look at me and rolled her eyes. I had tested positive for Group B strep and needed IV antibiotics to protect the baby during delivery. Apparently the nurse had little patience for this. She gave me the IV, then hooked in the antibiotics, cold. I immediately forgot about the painful contractions. My arm felt like the bones inside it were freezing and breaking apart! It was so painful and unbearable. I begged for some relief. My nurse offered little help...
At this point, I had to go to the bathroom (again). This REALLY irritated our nurse. Basically she told me that I couldn't get out of bed and I could just go in the bed, and that someone would clean it. No kidney dish, no bed pan...just sheet and mattress. Thanks. So after holding it as long as I could (which made the contractions 10x worse) I went, in the bed. Humiliating. That was the first time during labor that I started crying."
"The labor and delivery rooms were very nice, all the nurses were wonderful. Dr. Chan listened to my wishes (however, I did NOT want staples after my c-section and she forgot and gave me staples....she was very apologetic) My anesthesiologist was the best ever. I did not want morphine and I wanted something for nausea and he was awesome. I was slightly disappointed that the NICU team wouldn't let me see Nathan at birth. I got to hear him cry and they whisked him off to the NICU. I was able to see Adeline and she was much smaller at a different hospital. Recovery was wonderful and Dr. Chan was right there typing her notes while I recovered. That is when she realized she gave me staples and was so sorry. I had to request a breast pump... they kept telling me that I didn't need one yet. They accommodated me but they didn't send anyone from lactation until the next day. No biggie to me since I knew what I was doing anyways. The nurses knew how much I wanted to see my son and got me up there after 12 hours. I didn't get to see Adeline again until over 24 hours. The NICU was wonderful there. We had a private room and that was so nice. Postpartum was awful. Stuffy rooms, super small, no shower. Nursing staff was wonderful... especially Nurse George."
"Thank you for doing these reviews, I think they are incredibly helpful for expectant parents."
Read about other local hospitals:
Community Hospital of the Monterey County
Natividad Medical Center
Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center
You can view and download a chart comparing hospital options and amenities here.
If you birthed at Salinas Valley Memorial please share your experience in the comments below!