Best Hospital Childbirth Centers in Seattle

Person giving birth with partner holding wash cloth to forehead wondering if the other hospital has nicer linens.

If you want to give birth in the hospital, you have lots of good options in Seattle. 

I’m Amity Kramer, birth doula and childbirth educator. I’ve been attending births as a doula over the last 15 years. I’ve seen all kinds of births at all of the hospitals. 

In this post I’ll tell you all that I know about picking the right hospital.

Please remember that I AM NOT a medical provider and do not know which option will be best for your specific situation. Please use this information as a starting point on your exploration of the best childbirth centers in Seattle. 

What does the term Childbirth Center really mean?

This is something that really surprises people – when they are looking for a hospital where they will deliver their baby, they come across the term Childbirth Center or Birth Center. It makes it sound like there is something extra special about these wings of the hospital. 

The only thing special about a hospital based Childbirth center is that:

  • Babies are born there and there is specialized equipment to help the process. 
  • There is a bathtub that is deep and wide.
  • They are locked wings of the hospital that require special access.
  • These areas tend to have nicer artwork hanging around and hospital gowns that are specific for birth. 

All of the other things are the exact same as a regular hospital room. People coming in and out of the room at all hours, odd lighting, tray tables, beeping machines, hospital bed, small TV up in the corner of the room, thin sheets, flat pillows – that is all just the same as any other hospital stay. 

You may be lucky to enjoy one of the hospital based Childbirth Centers that has been newly renovated – there you may find rooms that are more spacious, and have a bigger tub than the older Childbirth Centers. 

Wait one minute – if you are thinking that you need to get into one of the NEW and improved Childbirth Centers – I have some unexpected truths for you. 

  • Bigger rooms are not always better. Like any spectrum, the edges are not the best places to be. Big rooms mean more space between furniture. This means that if a person in labor has an epidural and everyone wants to take a rest, the hospital bed and the bench bed-ish platform reserved for partner’s are VERY far apart. It just feels weird. The distance from bed to tub, or bed to bathroom is far too. This is not a big deal if all is wonderful, but someone in INTENSE labor is not going to want to walk that far, nor is someone who has just given birth. I’m not a fan of the huge birthing suites. 

  • Fancy tubs and showers might be too tech for your own good. Twice, I have helped someone in the shower at one of the new and improved Childbirth Centers and have gotten myself soaked! The fancy shower drains are just built into the floor. Great for the showering one, but not great for the doula or partner who is supporting them. When someone is in heavy labor, they often want hands on support. I can support the heck out of someone who is standing in a traditional bathtub/shower combo. I cannot do it easily, while staying dry, with someone who is in a shower that has a drain directly in the floor. I’m sure this set-up is well intended but it’s not convenient to the folks using it when it matters most. Then there was the shower that had a cool spray out of the wall thing that really soaked me and when I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off, sprayed water right out of the bathroom! Not a proud doula moment for me!! 
  • Depending on how new a Childbirth Center is – the nurses and staff may be new to the facility too. You know how it is when you cook in a new kitchen, the food still tastes good, but it took you more mental energy to get it done. When it comes to birth, you really want a well oiled machine. This is not a huge concern but something to think about when it comes to selecting any type of care provider. 

What does a Hospital Childbirth Center look like?

Then what’s a Freestanding Childbirth Center?

The term Freestanding Childbirth Center, or Freestanding Birth Center are spaces that look a lot like a small apartment or cozy bedroom, where folks can birth with the support of an out-of-hospital midwife. In a freestanding birth center there is no beeping, no pain medication (other than what’s used after the birth to sew up any tearing), no cafeteria, or anyone other than birthing people. 

Birth Centers are a great option for folks that are interested in trying birth without pain relief. The research shows that birthing outside of a hospital is just as safe for people who only require the uncomplicated care that a midwife can provide.  

Should the level of NICU impact my hospital decision?

Most babies will not need to go to the NICU and many that do have known complications prior to delivery. The cool thing about giving birth in Seattle is that there are 3 hospitals that have NICU’s that offer the highest level of care. If a baby did have an unexpected need, beyond what a hospital could provide – they could be transferred to another facility within a short time. 

If you have a complicated pregnancy or know that your baby might require a higher level of care, then it is important for you to consider this in your decision making. If you are really risk averse and want to know that all of the technology is available for your baby, even though it’s a low likelihood that they will need it, then go with what puts your mind at ease.  

For more information about NICU’s in the US and WA State check out these websites:

 Pineda, R., Kati Knudsen, Breault, C.C. et al. NICUs in the US: levels of acuity, number of beds, and relationships to population factors. J Perinatol 43, 796–805 (2023). 


Should I choose the Childbirth Center that is closest to my home? 


The distance from home should not be the main factor in determining your birth location. Here are a few reason why:

  • You might work near a birth location where you can get prenatal care and enjoy the ability to swing by during work hours to limit your travel time. This means that you might drive further during labor, but all of the other times you need to see your provider, you are already there. 

  • The hospital by your home might be known for treating people badly. Ask the folks you know in your area how they were treated during their birth, look at reviews, check out online parent groups. Beware if you see a lot of people sharing stories about the hospital staff saving their baby’s life, or saving their life. This can happen when providers use fear based tactics to get birthing people to agree to interventions that may not be needed. They create an emergency, so they can save the day and be a hero. I’m not trying to scare you, but if you see many stories like this, you have to wonder what’s really going on. A doctor who is doing a great job is not going to center themself as a hero, they will center the parenting family that had to make hard decisions and go through the ringer to meet their baby. 

  • If you have a provider that you trust and have a long relationship with who delivers at a hospital away from your home, it might be best to stick with them. I normally don’t encourage people to stick with a provider just because they have seen them for every pap smear since they were a teen. A long relationship does not alway mean it is a good relationship. Stick with providers who listen to you, take what you say seriously, and ensure that you are comfortable and cared for during your visits. Anything other than that – get a new provider. 

There is a lot to consider when choosing a hospital to birth your baby.

Hopefully you learned something new by reading this and feel more prepared in your search. I have been to births at home, birth centers, and hospitals. What I know is that the place of birth doesn’t matter much in the end. What does matter is if parents are ready both physically and emotionally to face the unknown.

What matters is, they have a birth team, that hopefully includes a doula, that is willing to go the distance to ensure that each step of the way is supportive and hopefully meaningful. 

No matter how a baby comes out – it will be a BIG deal. I mean, a BABY has to come out!! There is not an easy way. It’s all work. 

Below is a list of hospital based Childbirth Centers in and around Seattle and links to the FreeStanding Birth Centers if you are interested in seeing the difference in options. 

Take a look and please reach out if you have any questions. 

There is not a right answer, just the right answer for you. 

Thanks for reading, 


Hospitals with Childbirth Centers

University of Washington Hospitals 

UW Montlake

UW Northwest


First Hill



Virginia Mason


East Side


Evergreen Health

Freestanding Birth Centers

Center for Birth

1500 Eastlake Ave E

Seattle, WA 98102

Seattle Home Maternity

3830 South Ferdinand Street

Seattle, WA 98118

Rain City Midwifery

1500 Eastlake Ave E

Seattle, WA 98102

Puget Sound Birth Center

13128 Totem Lake Blvd NE, Suite 101

Kirkland, WA 98034

Eastside Birth Center

14700 N.E. 8th Street, Suite 115

Bellevue, WA 98007

In Tandem Midwifery

14924 8th Ave Southwest, Suite A

Burien, WA 98166

The Birthing Inn

6002 Westgate Blvd., Suite 120 

Tacoma, WA, USA

About Amity Kramer

Amity Kramer has been helping families cultivate unconditional love since 2008. She is a Birthing From Within Mentor, Certified Gottman Educator, and founder of Thresholds. Amity leads soulful workshops for families in transition. She also is a practicing birth and postpartum doula which gives her a unique window into the joys and struggles of family life.