Midwife or Birthing Center Recommendations

i am 21 weeks pregnant with my first child.  i have kaiser coverage but am increasingly unhappy with the kind of care i am getting.  for instance, appointments with my doctor never last more than 15 minutes and there is little chance i will have met the doctors or nurses working during my delivery.  i am hungry for classes or training in how to prepare for childbirth but kaiser offers only one hour long class on the subject.  i would like to have a natural childbirth but the assembly line nature of previous appointments makes me skeptical that can take place at a kaiser hospital.  i am looking for a more holistic experience.  i wonder, though, if i am too far along (or too late) to find a midwife who can work with me.  can anyone recommend a midwife or birthing center they loved and felt like they did a good job preparing the mother for labor?  or, can anyone recommend a doula that gives classes or training leading up to delivery?  right now i feel like i'm coming to this subject late in the game and there is a lot of information out there on the internet.  i'm hoping for a little advice or guidance to narrow my search for the perfect person to help this new mama.

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

It is absolutely not too late to switch your care! I recommend Pacifica Family Maternity Center, a birthing center in Berkeley: http://www.pacificamaternity.com/ You can also look at this extensive list of Bay Area midwives: http://www.bayareamidwives.com/ Best of luck to you!

Not to sound critical, but just to let you know I found the Kaiser birthing experience to be quite responsive to what I was asking for.  Also I took an all day child birth class there and I know they offered one that met multiple times.  We also attended classes for the different stages of pregnancy.  I felt adequately educated for a first time delivery.  (Honestly I think there is only so much you can prepare.)   I had a doula who I loved, Cindy Curry at Stork and Sprout.  If everything is going well then your regular dr appointments shouldn't need to be any longer.  At this point in your pregnancy they are looking for red flags and if there aren't any then you are good to go.  I hear ya on the thing about not knowing what doctors will be there for the delivery.  That was a bit of a bummer.  There was a hospital tour and "meet the birthing team" walkthrough and Q&A that they offer, which I did and that was helpful.  So when the day came I knew where to go and the processes and also had met some of the staff or at least seen them.  If you do end up staying the Kaiser route, definitely look further into the class options because they are enormously helpful and there are a lot of them.  Also highly recommend the breastfeeding class!  Take that one before you deliver.  

I second the recommendation for Pacifica. I just gave birth there in September and was very pleased with the care. 

You're not too late at all! I suggest contacting Treesa McLean of Birth With Treesa, and one of the midwives who runs Bay Area Midwifery Community Birthing Center in Oakland. In this setting, you will know that she will be the midwife at your birth, and won't have to question which of the many possible unknown providers it will be. www.birthwithtreesa.com
There are also birth center/home birth focused classes that take place at Bay Area Midwifery that may be of interest to you as well.


While not answering the question about midwife/birthing center, I can speak to the experience at Kaiser. Hopefully this will help ease your concerns, or be helpful to someone else who is navigating Kaiser.

First, yes. The visits are quick. Quick at the beginning, especially if all is well. If you have questions, ask them! I've also found that Kaiser docs are generally great at responding to emails. Also, when there was anything remotely abnormal, visits got longer and I was amazed with how quickly I was able to get additional tests (all was actually totally fine). No, you likely won't meet the doctors and nurses who will be there for delivery. 

Here's a (2016) link to prenatal and postpartum classes. The two/three day childbirth session covers laboring and delivery positions and pain management options, including med-free. I see now that they also offer a "Coping with Labor the Natural Way" class. (FWIW, I had a non-medicated, simple birth at Kaiser Oakland, as did a friend of mine.)


Re: midwives... Kaiser Oakland and Walnut Creek both have midwives on staff in L&D. The midwife who was with me was top notch and fully in charge (over the resident MD). I felt like I was in very capable hands. And while I hadn't met her prior to birth, she did come to visit the next day, which was really great.

I trust that you'll find the right option for you!

I just gave birth to my daughter a couple months ago and received care from Bay Area Midwifery. They do both birth center and home births. My midwife was Pearl. I received such an amazing level of support. It is so different from my Kaiser experiences! Besides long and holistic prenatal appointments, she actually did at least 7 postpartum visits in the first 10 days after the birth. There would have been 10, but the breast feeding and weight gain of the baby was going so well, she didn't need to. She even helped me immensely with breast feeding. I didn't even leave home for an appointment until my 6 week post-partum appointment! 

I attended pregnancy support groups (free with care) where there was sharing and education as well as birth prep groups with Tabitha (an extra fee). I had the natural home birth that I wanted. Not only that, my husband learned pain management techniques that were critical to me during labor and I had a quick, relatively easy birth. I continue to attend free post partum groups there twice a month. I highly recommend it. What a difference it makes to be seen as a whole person not just a patient and to have everything geared towards preparing you for a natural birth experience! 

Pacifica Birth Center is amazing. I gave birth there 3 months ago. I also had Kaiser- so its $5000 out of pocket. Worth every penny- we had an amazing birth there.  You are definitely not too late to switch. 

Definitely not too late to switch, I switched from a midwife practice in a hospital (though no Kaiser) when I was farther along than you.  I felt so strongly that the environment was too medicalized and I would feel uncomfortable giving birth there, and knew I wanted to give birth at home.  I found an incredible midwife, Leopi Sanderson Edmunds, who I can recommend very highly.  Her visits were holistic, and took us through what my partner and I would be experiencing at every stage of the pregnancy, as well as during birth.  She had good recommendations for a healthy, natural pregnancy in terms of diet, supplements, etc.  She and her partner helped me give natural birth to a very large baby without tearing.  She was also able to make the call, soon after the birth, that my baby needed to be seen at the hospital (he's a beautiful, healthy 3yo now don't worry :-).  It was so important that she was professional in recommending the hospital when necessary.  So you have my recommendation for Leopi, but I suggest meeting several midwives and seeing who you connect with, we are lucky there are so many great options in the Bay.  Also the book "Ida May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth" really helped prepare me for what I would experience in birth (caveat - it has a strong 70's hippie vibe which can be too much, but the benefit is that it has lots of birth stories and science).