A Tour of The Birth Center at Mission Hospital

As Doulas, part of our role is to guide our clients through the various options and resources available to them during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. That is why we are beyond excited to share a new option for families seeking a natural birth experience in Orange County;

The Birth Center at Mission Hospital.

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We recently had private tour of this incredible space and are here to give you an in intimate look at birthing here. This state of the art center was pioneered by Obstetrician, Dr. Kenneth James and Nurse Midwife, Allison Molinski of Laguna Beach OBGYN & Midwifery, in partnership with the team at St.Joseph Health Mission Hospital. It is the first of its' kind in OC and only the second in-hospital birth center in all of California. It caters specifically to healthy women with low-risk pregnancies, desiring an unmedicated childbirth and midwifery care.  

A low intervention and encouraging atmosphere.

The birth center features three private suites with spacious queen size beds and beautiful natural light; where you can move around freely and utilize the comfort of warm laboring tubs, aromatherapy, birth balls and hands-on support in a home like environment. Staffed exclusively by a team of Midwives and Nurses, the serene setting features intermittent monitoring with a handheld doppler, avoids routine use of IV’s and permits eating and drinking regularly for nourishment during labor. Providing truly family centered care, they give space for the normal process of physiological birth and encourage women to push in any position that’s comfortable, including hands & knees, squatting or side-lying! Mission Hospital welcomes patients to add a Birth Doula to their team for well rounded, continuous labor support. 

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A new approach to hospital postpartum support. 

The care after birth is slow paced, personalized and respectful of the parent-baby bond. As a certified Baby Friendly™ Hospital, the golden hour with skin to skin bonding and lactation specialists available 7 days a week is the standard of care. Newborn exams are delayed and there is plenty of room for the entire family to snuggle up on the large bed right after birth. After a mom welcomes her baby, parents get to stay in the same room for 24 hours, with around the clock postpartum medical care from skilled and caring nurses in addition to the midwife checking in. This calm transition sets families up for a healthy and happy journey into the fourth trimester.  

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Bringing the Midwifery Model of Care to the Hospital 

We are fortunate in Orange County to have a variety of choices and excellent care providers. Previously, local mothers seeking a natural birth, had the option of a freestanding birth center, a home-birth with a CPM or planning an unmedicated birth in a standard Labor & Delivery unit that may or may not be familiar low intervention birth. With this addition, expectant mothers now have one more option to help find the best fit their family. This is a monumental and positive change for the community that empowers women to birth as their body leads them, in a atmosphere that is safe and supportive. Many families are wanting to welcome their baby in a birth center, but with the safety net of immediate emergency care, on-site surgeons and a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  In bridging this gap, Mission Hospital is changing the status quo and putting the holistic wellbeing of mothers back at the forefront of birth. 

Mission Hospital Labor & Delivery

Our team at Doulas of OC values creating relationships with each and every professional that we refer our clientele to ensure they receive high quality and personalized care. We are thrilled to be able to refer our clients to this wonderful birth center and more than confident in recommending Laguna Beach OBGYN & Midwifery for all your in-hospital prenatal and birthing needs. Their private practice consists of Kenneth James, MD; Allison Molinski, CNM; Nancy Pol, MSN, RN, CNM and Elaine Kopinga, MSN, CNM, WHNP. You can set up a complimentary consultation with their team and book your Maternity Tour at Mission Hospital today. 


We are excited to share more information below about everything you could possibly want to know about working with Laguna Beach OBGYN & Midwifery and welcoming your little one at the Mission Hospital Birth Center. 

Who do patients see for Prenatal Care?

All prenatal care will generally be provided the team of midwives. They are longer 30 minute, in depth visits that focus on holistic care and answering all of your questions. Occasional visits may be provided by Dr. James as needed.

Do the midwives utilize an on-call rotation for birth attendance?

Yes, Birth Center clients can expect one of the three midwives (Allison, Nancy and Elaine) to attend to their labor and birth. They each will be taking on 1-3 days of being on-call per week. You will build a relationship with each of them during your prenatal visits.

How many midwifery suites are there?

There are currently 3 suites available.

Can anyone birth at the Birth Center?

Healthy women with low-risk pregnancies may be able to give birth in the Birth Center suites. There are some prenatal conditions or circumstances that would require one to birth a standard Labor & Delivery room to utilize continuous fetal monitoring, certain medications, etc. Contact the center today to see if you meet the requirements.

What can a patient expect upon check in?

Once the family enters through Labor & Delivery floor, they will be checked in the the standard Triage room. The nursing staff will provide continuous monitoring for the policy of 20 minutes and check dilation. Once it is determined the mother is in active labor and the health of both baby and mom looks good, they will be assigned to their private midwifery suite at the birth center.

What is the standard fetal monitoring policy?

Intermittent fetal monitoring with a traditional Doppler is the standard at the midwifery suites. Fetal heart tones can be taken while the mother is whichever position she finds comfortable, whether that be on the bed, in the tub or squatting on the floor. This means, say goodbye those uncomfortable belly bands and beeping machines in your room!

Can patients choose to get an Epidural or Pitocin?

The midwifery suites will be for natural births births only. There will be no administering of Pitocin, routine IV’s and no epidural pain relief. If a mother decides she would like to have an epidural or pitocin augmentation, she absolutely can and care would then be transferred just down the hall to the Labor & Delivery units for the rest of her labor and birth.

Are there any alternative medical pain relief options?

Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) is available for comfort as needed.

What additional natural comfort measures are provided?

All suites are stocked with birth balls, peanut balls, tubs and showers. A peaceful atmosphere is provided through aromatherapy essential oil diffusers, salt lamps, LED candles, soundbars for your music playlist and overhead lights with a dimmer. Ice packs and washcloths are stocked in the nourishment room down the hall. Various plugs are available for heating pads. They are well versed in position changes, movement, massage and counter pressure as well.

Can you eat and drink during labor?

Yes, and it’s encouraged! So pack your fresh fruit, organic yogurt and coconut water to stock in their patient fridge.

Can those planning a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) give birth at the Midwifery Suites?

Not at this time. Due to the hospital policy of continuous fetal monitoring and an Obstetrician to provide care, all clients seeking VBAC will need to give birth in the standard L&D suites. Dr. Kenneth James and the midwives can still provide supportive and expert care to those planning a vaginal birth after cesarean outside of the birth center.

If a higher risk situation occurs during active labor, what happens?

In high risk situation (such as troubling fetal heart rate patterns, thick meconium or postpartum hemorrhage), the client would be transferred to standard L&D room down the hall. Care would then be provided by high risk obstetrician, Dr. Kenneth James or the on-call laborist, along with the attending midwife.

What happens a need for a c-section arises during labor?

One benefit and appeal to many families in choosing an in-hospital Birth Center, is the direct and quick access to emergency medicine when needed. In the case of a non-emergent cesarean is needed (prolonged pushing, breech presentation etc.) , Dr. Kenneth James would be attending physician to perform a c-section. In the scenario of an emergency cesarean (fetal heart rate drop, prolapsed cord, etc.) the on-call physician will perform an immediate surgery in the OR.

Can you have a Water Birth?

While spacious inflatable tubs are available for comfort throughout labor, birthing your baby in the tub is not permitted at this time. If you desire that option, keep asking the hospital!

Is after care similar to regular L&D at the hospital?

It is unique in that they provide a hands off approach in the moments after birth. Baby stays with mom and nursing staff and midwives are not engaging in immediate stimulation, wipe down and suctioning when not necessary. As a certified Baby Friendly hospital, the golden-hour with skin to skin bonding is routine and lactation support is provided.

Is Delayed cord clamping available?

All of the midwives are familiar and supportive of delayed cord clamping. Clamping and cutting once the cord stops pulsating is the routine policy.

Is Placenta Encapsulation permitted?

Yes! Mission Hospital approves of releasing placentas, but requires them to be removed from the room within 2 hours after birth.

Can children attend the birth?

Siblings of the baby can absolutely attend the labor and birth. However, the require that one responsible adult (not the laboring mother) is available to care for and able to remove the child if the need arises.

Can patients have Dr. James be their OB at the Birth Center?

The Birth Center will be exclusively staffed by Midwives. Patients seeking the wonderful care of Dr. James specifically can choose to hire him and birth at the standard Labor & Delivery rooms at Mission Hospital.

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