For those mamas who know they are going to need a surgical birth, or a high intervention birth, perhaps some of the bigger hospitals with high cesarean rates might be your best option. But for the family who is seeking a more personal experience in a Hospital, you can do no better than UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest! (As of the date this blog was published, the brand new Birthing facility at UCSD Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla has not yet opened. Stay tuned for an updated review as soon as possible!) Not only was UCSD one of the first hospitals to become a nationally certified “Baby Friendly Hospital,” but it has been my experience as a doula who has attended many births at UCSD that they are also the most “mama friendly” hospital. Not only do they have a great Labor and Delivery unit, but they have the only actual Birth Center located in a hospital setting where mama’s can labor in a birthing tub and receive the midwifery model of care while birthing their baby in a beautiful room with a lovely queen size bed!
So, you have chosen UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest as your birthing location, so what do you need to know? Call your care provider when your surges/contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting at least 60 seconds, for at least 1 hour consistently. When your provider tells you to come in, depending on the time of day, there are 2 different options for parking and entering the building. If you arrive during the hours of 6am-8pm, you may enter through the main entrance on Arbor Drive. You can valet park your car from 8:30am-4:30pm M-F for $5 plus 50 cents per half-hour up to $5. The daily max is $10. The Arbor parking structure has pay-by-space machines located on levels 1-8, take your ticket with you and and you can add hours after you’ve parked at a machine in the cafeteria. $4 for the 1st two hours, $1 per hours thereafter, maximum $8 per day. You can also park in the ACE parking lot across from the main entrance for $3 per hour. If you arrive between the hours of 8pm-6am, you will have to enter through the Emergency Department entrance on Front Street.
Labor and Delivery
The birthing rooms on the Labor and Delivery floor are decent sized, some are bigger than others. Most rooms have a shower in the bathroom, but there is also a private shower room in the hall for those that don’t. There are cushioned chairs that pull out flat into a small sleeping area for partners and other birth support people who might like to rest. UCSD is the only hospital in San Diego that offers Nitrous Gas (aka laughing gas) to mamas as a method of pain medication during labor. All mamas on the L & D floor have access to squat bars, birth balls, and peanut balls, you just have to request it from the nurse. The nurses at UCSD are some of the best in the county, make sure to get to know your nurses! They can be your biggest allies! It’s always an appreciated gesture when families show up with a little treat for the nurses.
UCSD Birth Center
If you are one of the lucky mamas who gets to birth in the Birth Center, then you may find yourself in a beautiful, homey room with a tub for you to labor in, a shower, and a queen size 4-poster bed for you to birth in. At this time, UCSD does not offer water births, you can labor and push in the tub, but you need to get out of the tub for birthing. In addition to the birthing tubs in the birth center you have access to birth balls, peanut balls, bean bags, birthing stools and many other tools that can help you achieve an unmedicated birth. The Birth Center is only for mamas who are receiving their prenatal care from the UCSD midwives and who are considered low risk. There are many factors that can risk you out of birthing in the birth center, unfortunately. Mamas who birth past 42 weeks, prolonged rupture of membranes, any medical condition that requires continuous fetal monitoring, and any request for pain medication would be some of the reasons why mamas would have to transfer to the L & D floor. The wonderful thing is that you can still receive care from your midwife even on L & D if you do have to transfer!
This gorgeous couple had the most beautiful birthing experience
in the Birth Center. This mama is just glowing!
UCSD Support Staff
Check out this link to a video from UCSD with a sneak peak!