After tens of thousands of births, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital has opened a new birthing center.

Called The BirthPlace, the new facility, which opened Saturday, January 5th, will enable the hospital to provide expectant couples and their families with more efficient and compassionate care in a more comfortable environment, hospital officials said.

The BirthPlace will feature LDRs — rooms where expectant mothers labor, deliver and recover in one place. The rooms provide a comfortable home-like setting, yet also contain the latest technology to ensure a safe birthing experience, hospital officials said. There will also be two special delivery rooms to accommodate scheduled and emergency C-sections (Caesarian sections) and other procedures.

Additional amenities include chairs that convert into sleepers so that the expectant father or other support person can stay overnight in the room, flat-screen televisions and wireless capabilities.

The BirthPlace also will feature a new 16-bassinet Neonatal Intensive-Care Unit for premature infants and other newborns with life-threatening conditions. Santa Monica-UCLA has the city’s largest Neonatal Intensive-Care Unit and is closely linked with the area’s only Level-III facility at sister hospital UCLA Medical Center, hospital officials said.

“Expectant parents may never need these services, but they can rest assured knowing this level of expertise is readily available, if needed,” said Lynn Sullivan, community programs manager for The BirthPlace.

The new center also will contain a remodeled Postpartum Unit, with all private rooms, and a new Well-Baby Nursery, where newborns will be bathed and undergo nursing assessments, screenings, hearing tests, pediatrician exams and procedures such as circumcision. Besides the latest technology, the nursery will feature large windows to enable family members and friends to view and welcome new arrivals.

In addition to the new facility and technology, the BirthPlace will continue to offer services such as high-risk pregnancy care, 24-hour obstetrical anesthesia and daily breast-feeding instruction and education. Last year, Santa Monica-UCLA had the highest exclusive breast-feeding rate of any hospital in Southern California, according to the hospital.

The BirthPlace will continue to provide a wide range of prenatal and parenting classes. The classes run the gamut from childbirth preparation, baby care, infant CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and first-aid to sib- ling preparation and new mom support groups.

“Our BirthPlace Office also provides personalized assistance to help expectant couples with class selection, physician and community referrals and other birth-related decisions,” Sullivan said. “Additionally, rooms in our BirthPlace will offer ‘The Newborn Channel’, which broadcasts a full spectrum of educational programming for parents.”

Santa Monica-UCLA also features the city’s only “Emergency Department Approved for Pediatrics” and dedicated Pediatrics Unit to ensure that infants, young children and adolescents receive “age-friendly” care when they require hospitalization, according to hospital officials.

Information about The BirthPlace at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital or for tour and class information, (310) 319-4947.