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  • Life's first hellos start here.


    If you're having a baby, take a birth center tour to explore
    our hospital, and say hello to our staff and nurses.

    Schedule a Tour

Birth Center


Dominican Hospital offers the most advanced care available in the Monterey Bay area, combined with the comforts of home. Our Birth Center provides a welcoming environment for families, advanced technology for new moms and babies, and a commitment to a positive birth experience for you. We are a certified Baby Friendly hospital, which means we offer comprehensive lactation support, and your baby will stay by your side throughout your stay.

Birth Center Tour

Thinking of starting or adding to your family tree? We invite you to take a free Birth Center tour, where you will view our spacious, private birthing suites, learn what to bring to the hospital, and participate in a group question and answer session.

Our Birth Center tours can accommodate larger families and children upon request. Tours are held twice per month (dates below) and begin at 6 p.m. in the main lobby of Dominican Hospital, 1555 Soquel Drive, Santa Cruz, CA 95065. We also offer Spanish speaking tours by appointment - please call 831.465.7948 to make a reservation.

Tour dates: 12/4, 12/18.

Pre-registration is required. For dates and times, and to schedule your free tour, please register through our Classes & Events or call 844.849.2099, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Please leave a message after business hours and we will get back to you the next business day.

Register Online

Before you come to the hospital, register online sometime during your third trimester. 

Pre-register here

Birth Center Features

Dominican Hospital offers comfortable labor and delivery, recovery and postpartum rooms for you and your family. We know how important it is to have your loved ones around you, especially at this special time. For your comfort, we offer: 

  • Caring and experienced Birth Center staff of nurses, certified nurse-midwives, and OB/GYN physicians who are available around the clock
  • 24/7 access for your support person, with comfortable overnight sleepers
  • Showers in all Labor and Delivery rooms 
  • Access to a soothing Jacuzzi tub during labor
  • Beautiful private outdoor patios in Labor and Delivery
  • Access to labor support kits with ambiance lighting and LED candles as well as aromatherapy and sound machines to enhance your delivery environment
  • Birthing balls and peanuts to promote movement and position changes
  • Optional pain relief including nitrous oxide inhalation, IV medication, and epidural analgesia
  • Private refrigerators in all Birth Center rooms
  • A family kitchen stocked with snacks and beverages for you and your support person
  • Skin to skin bonding immediately after birth
  • Lactation and breastfeeding support services at all hours
  • Safety and Security in our locked Birth Center where you, your support person, and your baby will receive matching armbands
  • Postpartum rooms designed with a double bed, a table with chairs, and a couch to facilitate rooming in with your infant and bonding 
  • A special celebration meal
  • Free WiFi in the Birth Center and throughout the hospital
  • Free car seat base fittings provided by certified staff prior to your discharge
     

Birthing Options

We believe in providing our moms and families with a warm, safe, and homelike environment, but you are never alone. We are here 24/7, gently supporting you every step of the way, empowering you to have the type of pregnancy and birth you desire. 

Most people use the phrase natural childbirth to refer to the process of going through labor and birth without the use of pain medication or other medical interventions.  There are a variety of reasons why a woman would choose to pursue a natural childbirth.  

Advantages of natural childbirth include: 

  • Avoiding the “cascade of interventions.” Sometimes one intervention can lead to others. A woman may choose natural birth because she wishes to avoid medical intervention during birth if possible.
  • To fully experience labor and birth. Some women want to feel completely present during birth and desire to experience all the sensations of labor and birth.
  • Desire to avoid side effects of medications. Pain medications used during labor can affect the process of labor, the baby, and or the mother.

Natural childbirth may not be a suitable option if:

  • You have a high risk pregnancy that requires careful monitoring of your or your baby’s condition throughout labor.
  • You are receiving medication that requires continuous monitoring of your baby.

Learn more about natural childbirth here.

A vaginal birth is one in which the baby passes through the birth canal, or vagina.  It is the usual, natural birth process, and babies are typically delivered vaginally unless your obstetric provider finds a medical reason for delivery by Cesarean section instead.

Advantages of a vaginal birth include:

  • Quicker recovery
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Low risk of infection
  • Decreased risk of respiratory problems in the baby
A vaginal birth may not be the best choice if: (expand bullet points)
  • Your baby needs to be delivered immediately.
  • You or your baby has a health condition that could be worsened by labor and birth.
  • You have placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta covers or partially covers the internal opening of your cervix.
  • You have an active genital infection, such as herpes.
Women who are pregnant with more than one baby or who have had a previous C-section may or may not be good candidates for vaginal birth.  You and your obstetric provider will discuss the safest option for you.

Learn more about vaginal birth here.

A cesarean birth is surgery to deliver a baby through incisions in the mother’s abdomen and womb.  At Dominican Hospital, a cesarean birth is considered when your doctor feels it is the safest delivery option for you, your baby, or both.  

Reasons for a cesarean birth may include:

  • Problems with the placenta, such as placenta previa or vasa previa
  • Health problems in the mother, such as an active herpes infection
  • Health problems in the baby, including certain birth defects
  • Unusual positioning of the baby
  • Multiple babies
  • Previous cesarean birth
  • Failure of labor to progress
  • A very large baby
  • Fetal distress
Learn more about cesarean birth here.

What to Pack

The most important thing to bring is an approved infant car seat. During your hospital stay, Dominican Hospital offers free car seat check and installation so you can go home safely.

You may also want to bring a going-home outfit for the baby and perhaps a receiving blanket for extra warmth. As a special gift, Dominican provides a newborn outfit.

Dominican will provide whatever is needed for the baby during your hospital stay, i.e. diapers, t-shirts, blankets.

Download and print our helpful guide.

Breastfeeding Support

As a Baby-Friendly Hospital™, Dominican prioritizes breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, and provides the support and education needed for a successful breastfeeding journey. Learn More

For more information on breastfeeding tips, please download our Breastfeeding FAQs here.

Newborn Care

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Level III NICU (neonatal intensive care unit)

Families can rest assured that if their newborn needs extra attention, Dominican Hospital offers the highest level of care available in the Monterey Bay area. Through a partnership with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Dominican Hospital offers a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) staffed by Stanford neonatologists and NICU-certified nurses. Learn more


Childbirth and Parenting Class

Dominican Hospital is proud to offer a number of classes to help women and their partners prepare for their newborn.

View Casses

Register 

Car Seat

Did you know that three out of four car seats are installed incorrectly? Dignity Health Dominican Hospital’s Safely Home Car Seat Fitting program offers car seat checks and installation for patients and community members. 

Learn More

FAQs

Frequently asked questions about Dominican Hospital’s Birth Center for you and your family.

Complete the pre-admission form on the Admitting/Registration page within 48 hours prior to your hospital stay to save time and so we can be ready for your visit. For questions about pre-registration, call 831.462.7703.

The main hospital entrance, off Soquel Drive, is open 6:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. Please follow the signs to the Emergency Department entrance when the main entrance is closed.

Complimentary valet parking is available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Yes, we encourage skin-to-skin with your newborn. This provides a unique opportunity for initial bonding with your newborn baby within the first hour of birth. While skin-to skin is especially beneficial in facilitating breastfeeding, non-breastfeeding parents are also encouraged to participate in this special time.

For vaginal deliveries: This begins immediately after birth. Newborn birth medications, weight/length measurements, and first bath happens after baby’s first feeding/bonding effort.

For cesarean deliveries: At birth there will be a quick examination before the baby can lay on mom’s chest for skin-to-skin.

We are a Certified Baby-Friendly Hospital that encourages breastfeeding.

Yes. If you choose to breastfeed, our nursing staff is well trained to help you get started and maintain healthy breastfeeding.

International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) assist all patients during their hospital stay.