Birth at Alta Bates Summit or CPMC?

I gave birth to my first at CPMC in SF as we were living in the city at the time. We are now in Berkeley and pregnant with our second. I love my OB in the city that delivered my first and I am very tempted to stay with her and just make the trek for visits and deliver at CPMC again. But just wanted to hear what others thought about delivering at Alta Bates Summit? I know my husband would appreciate the switch since it’s basically walking distance from our place. 

Is Labor & Delivery section and rooms nice at Alta Bates? Has anyone experienced both hospital L&D? One question- does Alta Bates change your rooms after delivery? That is one thing I did not enjoy about CPMC- a nice big room for L&D and then switch to small tight Recovery room. 

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Overall I was pretty happy with my experience at Alta Bates. only 1 kid so no points of comparison. 

To your specific questions:

  • They do switch rooms after delivery. 
  • Personally, I didn't think the recovery rooms were nice. Obviously, nice is so relative. I thought the rooms were small but the bathrooms are what I really disliked. I was also there for like 4 days (which felt so long) due to C-section and jaundice that needed a NICU stay.  If I have another baby, I will probably go to John Muir (I am in Orinda)

Alta Bates is an old hospital and the rooms are not as nice as what you'll get at CPMC or UCSF. However, all of the staff I interacted with at Alta Bates were so amazingly kind. I preferred my second delivery at Alta Bates over my first at UCSF, even though UCSF had the nicer facility. I made the trek from Berkeley to UCSF for the first half of my pregnancy, but I realized it was silly and as the appointments got closer together it was downright exhausting to travel into the city each time. I also didn't want to be so far away from our first kid while I was away delivering the second.

I've never heard of a hospital *not* switching rooms after delivery. There are specific delivery rooms and postpartum rooms and you'll most likely be switched unless you go to a birthing center.

I delivered at Alta Bates in Nov 2020. I had a great experience. The rooms are not fancy but totally fine and I had a room to myself (as did others I heard from) so my husband had a hospital bed to himself post-delivery. We had great nurses both in labor and post-delivery. 

We had a small private room for labor (with a couch for my husband to sleep on) and a private bathroom, then a bigger room with a private bathroom (with the two hospital beds) after delivery. 

I gave birth at Alta Bates in 2018 and at CPMC Van Ness in 2021 and lived in east bay for both. Alta Bates did move me to a new room after giving birth. While I very much liked my doctor and convenience of Alta Bates, CPMC was a better experience for me.


CPMC is in much better condition and the facility is actively being invested in vs. Alta Bates. The delivery and recovery/postpartum rooms were cleaner and more comfortable.

I personally had a better, more consistent experience with the nursing staff at CPMC.

While I hope this is never anyone’ s situation, should your baby need surgery shortly after being born, CPMC NICU does that on site and they have nice rooms for parents visiting their babies who are staying in the NICU. I moved from Alta Bates to CPMC because we thought my baby may be born with a condition requiring surgery shortly after birth and an extended NICU stay. Had he been born at Alta Bates and needed surgery, he would have been transferred to Oakland UCSF Children’s Hospital, and while that is a fantastic hospital, a transfer would have added risk to his condition at only a few hours old and would have meant we would have recovered in two different facilities. I was not ok with the possibility of being in a separate facility from him while he had surgery and recovered, so that made my decision where to give birth very easy.

We were incredibly fortunate that my baby ended up not needing surgery or a NICU stay, but we did stay at CPMC for several days due to jaundice and the pediatricians were wonderful and staff very accommodating, so I was still very happy with my decision to give birth and CPMC.

The drive to and from the city for appointments was A LOT especially at the end for my twice per week antepartum tests. Tolls and time spent driving ultimately adds up and felt physically taxing at the end. My husband went to only a couple appointments with me in the city since the drive was so much. It ultimately comes down to what is most important to you.

I delivered at Alta Bates in November. The nurses were really great and attentive. Food is bad (but lots of delivery options nearby). Delivery rooms are small, dark and old, but our recovery room was very large and spacious with tons of natural light. Seemed like new construction. Personally I think the convenience of being close by outweighs seeing a specific doctor, but that is a very personal decision. 

I had a great experience delivering at Alta Bates after a birth center transfer. I was nervous but felt it was the ideal hospital experience all in all. 

I did get transferred after delivery (which I believe is standard) but found the room comfortable and spacious enough for our 48hours of antibiotics! Please feel free to reach out with any other questions! 

I delivered Twins at Alta Bates August 2020 £.2120. You do have to switch rooms after delivery. The rooms for recovery are really nice, large with two beds and a bathroom and big windows. The nurses were pretty great,A couple of them are kind of annoying. I felt like we all got excellent care there.

You got plenty of responses about Alta Bates but nobody has been real in detail yet, so I will add my two cents. I delivered my first at Alta Bates in 2019. The L&D nurses were renowned and lived up, mostly, to their reputation. I loved them all except one who in my mid-labor rage I requested to leave. The transition to postpartum nurses was JARRING...nearly traumatic. I went from feeling like I was in a cocoon of attentive, loving, collaborative care to...I don't know the proper analogy, but a word cloud might include: cold, bleak, dark, disconnected, etc. There WERE kind nurses but nearly all were ESL so the communication wasn't as intimate. The care FELT (not saying it necessarily was in reality since how much competence is required to come in and hand me meds, check my pad, etc.) half-hearted, haphazard, disjointed, just ugh. Not warm & fuzzy like L&D AT ALL. So however, I DO think this is a common experience based on what kind of skill & talent is represented by those two different nursing departments (obviously L&D is a pretty elite team, while postpartum felt like I was being babysat begrudgingly), so not sure this is unique to Alta Bates. 

When we were there in October 2020, the L&D rooms and nurses were great and energetic and everything you could want. The postpartum experience was horrific, though. Old, small rooms with no air conditioning during fire season (so the windows couldn't be opened) during a pandemic. The postpartum nurses seemed worn out and tired and unhelpfully suggested "keep the door open" to everyone, so everyone was treated to crying from all the other rooms. Just a suboptimal experience. This would all be fine if they've renovated the postpartum unit by now. If not, I couldn't really recommend--especially in the summer--if you have better options.