UCSF or Alta Bates for planned c-section?

Hi - I am pregnant with my second. My first was delivered outside of California via c-section after 28 hours of induced, unproductive labor. I have no interest in attempting a v-bac; I would like to schedule a c-section for my second (and believe I have that option since I am 35+). I am trying to figure out where to deliver - UCSF or Alta Bates. 

I have had a great patient experience (for other matters) at UCSF, but the positive reviews UCSF delivery reviews all seem to speak to the birthing experience, great birthing suites, etc.

Alta Bates is more convenient, but I've also heard more horror stories - though fewer about c-sections. 

I would love to hear experiences of scheduled c-sections at UCSF and Alta Bates to help inform my decision of where to deliver. If you've had a positive Alta Bates or UCSF c-section experience, I'd also love to hear who your doctor was, as I'm flying blind. 


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Hi if you are planning a c section i would go to where is most convenient. The surgery will be faster in a non teaching institution and it will be closer to your home.

Im with UCSF and can't speak highly enough of them. I just had a planned c section 3 weeks ago and the whole experience was a great as it could be. Amazing staff, lovely facilities. UCSF is also where other hospitals send their trickiest cases so you'll be in the right place if anything goes wrong.  My obgyn was Dr Lester who I love but another doctor, Dr Tushani Dimantha Illangasekare did my c section due to scheduling requirements, and she was also lovely. 

Go for UCSF is my advice :) Mission bay is not so long a drive from east bay. 

I had a good scheduled c section experience with dr. Lilia Lizano at Alta bates,

I had a planned c section with Dr. Redwood at Alta Bates in early 2020, and my experience was VERY positive. Everyone was very professional and friendly, and I healed much more quickly than I expected to. 

Other details - 

-I slept more or less through the night the night before my c section. Such a nice part of having a planned c section. Went in around 6am, and didn't have to wait around long. Processes were smooth. Once I was in surgery, baby was born in 7 mins. 

-Personally, I did not feel the need to take any opioids after the surgery itself - was able to stick to (prescription-strength) Advil and Tylenol. This was important to me, because I hate the groggy feeling of being drugged up, but I didn't feel like I was being "brave" and suffering through unnecessary pain either. I think it really speaks to how well the c section was executed and the team of nurses who trusted my instincts around pain management. 

-I was able to take short walks by the end of the week, and I was able to go on short runs 6 weeks after my c section. 

-My scar healed beautifully - no scar tissue that I'm aware of. 

Good luck! 


I had a scheduled c-section at Alta Bates this past march; my experience was fine. I think the most important component (b/c it's scheduled) is who will perform your surgery. My OB that I saw throughout my (complicated) pregnancy performed mine and that was made a huge difference to me. 

I will note that UCSF is a nicer, newer building. Alta Bates is older & in need of a face-lift. Their food is also atrocious (I haven't tried UCSF's) - but there is a Whole Foods a few blocks away, so your partner can hopefully supplement pretty easily.

Finally, regarding nursing staff and experience - some are fantastic, others are meh - as I would expect at most other hospitals as well. I delivered my first in the city at Mission Bernal and had to be transferred post-delivery to the new Sutter facility - and had some truly awful care there. I would not recommend them.

All taken, if who delivers you is important, I would definitely consider figuring out where that OB / office has admitting privileges and go from there. As consistent with most practices, my dr's office always rounded on me and was the deciding factor in my care. I also found this comforting - while my actual OB never saw me, her team did and they were at least knowledgeable about my case (note I had a very complicated twin pregnancy, and developed severe pre-e). This is in contrast to being at a hospital where you're under the care of their OB staff (as I found myself when I was transferred from Mission Bernal to Sutter after delivering my first). However, if your OB team is not an important consideration or has dual admitting privileges, all things being equal - UCSF is probably a lot nicer, newer, and if you're lucky- has better food. 

Best of luck-


I had a scheduled c-section at UCSF and a VBAC at Alta Bates. Both great but UCSF is far superior in terms of the general facilities which makes the whole experience much more comfortable. Alta Bates was fine though and they are truly a "baby factory" so the nurses are very experienced and excellent. Typically you'd have to see an OB affiliated with UCSF to birth there which means prenatal appointments in SF which would probably be a deal breaker for me. For Alta Bates, my OB was through Sutter on Milvia in Berkeley and they were all great. Almost zero chance you'll see your actual doctor at delivery but all the ones I met during pregnancy and then delivery were great. 

I noticed you also asked about physician - I saw Pantea Pahlavan at Sutter East Bay OB/Gyn. Couldn't have asked for a better dr or practice. Note that they're big, and while that was initially intimidating at first, it also means that anytime you end up in the hospital (I was in L&D triage a lot), they come see you - which is great, and someone from their practice will likely also deliver you (or do your c-section). All of the other doctors at her practice ranged from good to stellar. I've also have a number of friends go there for their care and have similarly shared positive experiences. 

Feel free to reach out with any questions-


I had a C-section at Alta Bates, unplanned but non-emergency, with Dr. Lizano in end of 2017. She is no-nonsense and wants you and your baby to be healthy and safe, so we were philosophically well aligned. She had another surgeon along with her and it was extremely uneventful. She also reminded me that you are allowed 4 days to recover in hospital with a C section (not sure if the pandemic has changed that), and that it was my job to heal and take my time. She practices alone which is good (you know your doc) and bad (I'm sure it's exhausting for her)-- she has a backup relationship with another doctor when she is out of town, but otherwise it's her that attends your birth. The nurses and lactation support were also fantastic. The only drawback was the food, but hey, you can't win them all. Congrats and good luck!

Had a c-section at ucsf and was happy with the experience. Facilities seem far more modern and food options during your stay were way better (pre covid though so not sure if it’s changed). Alta Bates, I cycled through several obs and hands down Dr Nseyo is top. Competent and great bedside manner. Preference will always be a personality thing but sounds like lots of people like her a lot. 

Birth and surgery

I intended on giving birth at the wonderful Pacifica Family Maternity Center, but after 57 hours of hard labor and no progress, I made the decision to go to Alta Bates. After getting meds to ease the pain, get me to sleep, and allow labor to advance, I woke up several hours later. When I saw the surgeon walk in I knew. She and the rest of the nurses gathered around me to explain their reasons to recommend a c-section and the surgeon sat next to me and saw how scared I was. She said,"This is all I do. You are in good hands," and continued to reassure me that everything was gonna be fine. The rest of her team were supportive to the degree they allowed my midwife in addition to my husband to be with me during the surgery (they usually only allow one person). They played the music of my choice during the operation, and were very professional. I was very happy with my experience and truly felt I was taken care of by one of their best surgeons. I can barely even see the scar from the surgery now and the midwives were also impressed with how little it showed after surgery. 

As much as I didn't want a c-section, we found out during the surgery that the umbilical cord was wrapped around both baby's arms like suspenders, so there was no way she was coming out naturally, and it also explains why the pain was so intense, but yet, no progress was made. So I was thankful that there was an option for c-section in this case.

Nurses and postpartum care

I also have to mention the amazing care I got from several nurses during my recovery. I had very good treatment, care and support from a lot of them, but in particular Cheka. When I was going through the hormonal peaks right after birth, she sat with me, holding me and encouraging me in the middle of her night shift - she had a great sense of humor and often filled our room with laughter. She continued to check in me even when it wasn't her round. I really appreciated her so much. There were others that were really kind too. They come in a lot (every couple hours) to check in, but you can put up a sign so they don't disturb you if you're trying to sleep.

Recovery room

It's worth mentioning that we were put in a remodeled room that was very nice, but you can tell it was designed by someone who didn't quite know what women go through after birth. The nurses also made comments on how far the sink was from the toilet and such and that they had offered feedback to the designers, but it wasn't taken. Hopefully, they've made some improvements by now - it was fairly new when we stayed there from what I gathered. The extra bed for your partner or other family to sleep was a plus (although COVID protocols might affect this).

I know different people have different experiences, so I'm sure at any place there's a spectrum, but this was mine. It occurred in the fall of 2019, so I can't speak to how it is now. I hope this helps though. I've also heard great things about UCSF, we just happen to live in Berkeley and went through Pacifica Maternity. Best of luck and congratulations :)

Delivery surgeon: Dr. Bonagura

I delivered twins by planned c section in August. Our experience was extremely positive. I felt that the staff in surgery was extremely competent, the recovery nurse was amazing, and the nurses that looked after us during our stay were, for the most part very respectful, professional, helpful and kind. The lactation consultant’s at Alta Bates are amazing too. We had our own private room with two beds so my boyfriend could stay overnight and sleep. The doctor I had was Samantha Varner. But I think your surgeon depends on who your primary care provider is. I only had access to the doctors that work in the clinic that I go to. There is lots of hospital protocol that you have to go through which is kind of a pain but I think that’s the case at all hospitals. Alta Bates is very pro breast-feeding so if you don’t want to breast-feed you might encounter a little pushback, but in my experience the nurses were very open to letting me do what I want. I felt very supported at Alta Bates.