Any Experience Delivering at Highland Hospital?

My partner and I have just recently moved to the Bay Area (more specifically, El Cerrito) and are expecting another child. We delivered our first son back in France where the labor and delivery was very much led by a wonderful mid-wife and her team. I'm feeling very fortunate as my health insurance will allow me to deliver pretty much at any hospital/clinic so I'm doing my research to see what options I have. We want to be as practical as possible, so although I've heard great things about UCSF and John Muir (Walnut Creek) L&D units, I don't want to risk sitting in traffic once contractions start. It looks like Alta Bates is our closest and most practical option, but I've heard mixed reviews of Alta Bates, mostly on the negative side. Also, my understanding is that it can be over-crowded and private rooms for postpartum patients don't exist. It sounds silly, but this latter point is really important to me. 

Someone jokingly suggested that I consider Highland Hospital as they've just built a new L&D unit, which I'm now considering! I understand this new unit has all private rooms and is based on a midwifery model of care (something I'm totally keen on). Although I'm familiar with Highland's reputation as Alameda county's ER/trauma center, I know nothing about their labor and delivery unit. With this new unit, I'm really curious to hear from anyone who's had experience delivering a baby at Highland. Could you share your thoughts and experience (with the nurses, midwifes, doctors, labor surprises, etc) and would you recommend it?

Outside of the hospitals I've already mentioned, are there other ones in the El Cerrito/Richmond/Berkeley area I should look in to? Perhaps Kaiser Oakland...??

Thanks in advance!

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We had a great experience with Kaiser Oakland. We had our own room in both L&D and maternity/recovery, and facilities were excellent (and other things like food were better than expected for a hospital). Kaiser Oakland is set up so that there's always one midwife on duty who supervises the residents (so it's essentially a teaching hospital), with one OB on hand. We found that the nurses, midwives, and OB residents were all generally excellent. Kaiser Oakland's C-section rate is also lower than the national average - I think Kaiser's is around 15%, whereas the national average might be closer to 25% (or at least this is what I recall back when I was still pregnant and learning about these things). 

If you want a different experience than this, my understanding is that L&D at Kaiser Walnut Creek is all midwives (you'd want to confirm that to make sure, however). Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser Walnut Creek also both offer nitrous oxide for laboring moms, which is a fairly new addition. 

If you enroll in Kaiser, you can go to any location, but you'll of course be subject to whether or not L&D is full when you arrive. A friend of mine delivered a couple of weeks after me, and when she arrived to Kaiser Oakland, L&D was full, so they had to go to Walnut Creek. Hope this helps!

I also live in El Cerrito, and delivered both my babies at Kaiser Oakland, the most recent baby in 2016. I can't say anything about Highland (I've never been there) but the new Kaiser Oakland L&D is wonderful. They have large private rooms, pull out beds for partners to stay over (in our case for 3 days), and a highly qualified L&D team. I had complicated pregnancies (due to my age) and would recommend them for anyone who has Kaiser insurance. When I moved to the postpartum unit, it was also a private room (although much smaller) and my husband and baby were with me the whole time. The doctors/nurses did all tests/exams/procedures right in our room. 

Hi, Nicolu - congrats with your baby! I recently (April 2017) delivered my first baby at Highland. My situation was unique in that I actually had hired a midwife and planned a home birth that turned into a hospital induction (baby overdue 42wks) and consequently, a c-section (not emergency, just very long stalled labor at over 40hrs). The L&D unit/rooms were recently remodeled. That was nice and you were right: all private and the L&D unit was small, so it wasn't very chaotic. I went to Highland on the strength of my midwife's suggestion (over Alta Bates, which had bigger L&D unit) The midwives at Highland were nice so were the nurses, and they were competent. Because I had my midwife, I did not interact too much, but the overall experience was pleasant. I did not choose the OB as she was the on-call OB for my C-section. I could only share objectively, both my daughter and I had no complication. The pediatricians were also decent though I'd admit I was foggy after the unplanned c-section. My biggest dissatisfaction was actually about Highland's billing/accounting. My insurance is United Healthcare and prior to delivery, I had double checked if Highland was in-network (it was). HOWEVER, Highland was under the umbrella of Alameda Health Systems, which depending on the doctor or how it is billed (under Highland or Alameda HS), it may or may not be in-network. I would highly recommend you double check on that with respect to your insurance. Right now, I'm still in discussion between Highland, Alameda Health Systems, and my insurance to work all this out. The accounting/billing department has not been very helpful, cooperative, nor responsive. Hope this was helpful, feel free to contact me if you have more specific questions on the L&D. Best wishes!

my daughter delivered there... they were awesome.....(the nurses)....a bad doctor showed up trying to force a c section on my daughter but was sent away and reported by the head nurse.

i would highly recommend....  

don't let your baby out of your sight after delivery.....

I delivered twice at Kaiser Oakland (2012 and 2017). You mentioned this hospital at the end of your post. I had a very good experience overall. I had a private room both times. Resident doctors, student doctors, midwives, nurses etc were in and out helping with delivery. I can say for my 2017 delivery that the midwife named Ursula was a phenomenal coach. 


I just moved to El Cerrito with my husband and 2-month-old baby. We used to live in San Francisco. I do not know the hospital care in the East Bay, but I can tell you that I was very satisfied with the care and delivery service I got at Kaiser SF. They had private rooms for delivery and maternity. I personally will start going to Kaiser Richmond for medical care. I hope the service is as good as in SF.

Good luck!


We had our daughter at kaiser Oakland last July and it was a really terrific experience. Every single person who was in my room or helping in any way were really amazing, knowledgeable, positive, encouraging, and warm. I had an all female team delivering my baby and couldn’t have been happier with them. They also have a midwifery program, but we only saw a midwife in the room for a little bit during or after labor. We have friends who hired a doula to attend birth and were happy they did.

congratulations and best of luck!


ps if you know of a good nanny in Oakland please let me know. We are looking;)

I’m wondering about the negative feedback about Alta Bates L&D. In my 25 years in the Bay Area, I have never heard of a bad birthing experience with Alta Bates. And nightmare hospital experiences in this area are not uncommon, including my own birth elsewhere. Obviously, not a scientific study, but noteworthy. If you had access to ANY L&D, one way to appproach it would be to collect data on percentage of planned and unplanned C- sections, rate of significant complications,  the frequency of unmedicated births and freedom to design birth plan. Of course, these stats may or may not be readily available, but I would bet that these indicators would be a good way to assess which hospital would work best for you. Going by reputation or subjective experience may or may not reflect your preferences or provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. 

Just sayin... Good Luck!

I had a great experience delivering at Alta Bates, and in my view, a friend's delivery there was also great (i was there for the entire thing). They were very helpful in minimizing interventions and handling the needed ones skillfully. Neither of us had to share our post-partum rooms; we used the second bed for our partners. It's also very convenient to a few places to buy food (like Whole Foods) if your partner doesn't want to eat hospital food. I don't know how Highland compares. Good luck!

I delivered both of my children at Alta Bates and had great experiences both times.  Like you, having a private postpartum room was very important to me, and I was fortunate to have a private room both times.  Had I had to share a room, I perhaps would not have had such a positive experience at Alta Bates.  All of the nurses that I had (L&D as well as postpartum) were very kind, knowledgeable and gentle.  They did not mention a word about epidurals until I brought it up, and once I did, they worked quickly to get an anesthesiologist to my room.  I was given a lot of support on breastfeeding after delivery.  An extra plus was the proximity to Whole Foods and the restaurants on College as my family could easily bring me great take-out.  All in all a great experience.  If I were you, I would take the tour of Alta Bates and strongly consider it, and not just because it's close and practical.