Childbirth at Kaiser Oakland vs. Kaiser Walnut Creek

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi!

    What were your experiences like at Kaiser Oakland or Kaiser Walnut Creek for L&D?

    How did you decide between the two? They are both equal distances from our home, but I am curious about the differences (pros/cons)! Thank you! 

    I delivered my son at 35 weeks at Oakland Kaiser on an extremely busy delivery day in 2019 and got great care. I have also had a somewhat complicated second pregnancy that has brought me into L&D in Oakland several times over the last few months. The staff and doctors are great--very caring, knowledgeable, attentive. The resident who delivered my son is still there and remembered us--she's wonderful. I don't have experience with WC but I can say that Oakland is doing a great job, from my perspective.

    We had our daughter at WC in early Dec. Given we are pretty equidistant between both Oakland and WC hospitals, we opted for WC based on recommendations (although we often got the question why didn't we go to Oakland).

    We hands down had a wonderful experience. The nurses and midwifes were AMAZING. We recently moved from NYC and didn't know what to expect from Kaiser. But it met and exceeded all expectations. In fact, WC Kaiser is the only Northern California Kaiser hospital with a labor tub (in room #7, which we ended up getting). So if opting for a non medicated labor, you will definitely want to select WC.

    In terms of COVID precautions, they only allowed one person to be present as a birthing partner. My wife wanted a doula but opted to have me instead :). I believe, though, they are now allowing both. Otherwise you had to wear a mask during the whole labor process (although we were able to take off when it was just us in the room).

    My wife delivered at KP Walnut Creek in October. It was overall a very positive experience. We decided to go there because it's nominally closer to our home and my wife works in Walnut Creek, so it was easier to go there for her antenatal care. One birth partner was allowed. Both the mother and partner are expected to wear masks when staff are in the room, though when it came time for my wife to push, they did not require that she wear a mask. I was able to leave the room to run to car, home, etc., so there was no issue re: going in and not being able to leave if you needed to check in pets, grab some fresh clothes, etc.

    KP Walnut Creek has more midwives involved, KP Oakland has residents. Neither was important to us (we had a midwife for all of her antenatal care; the deliver was facilitated by both a midwife and OB given some minor complications during delivery). The nurses in L&D were phenomenal. We did not love the lactation consultants in the hospital, but had better experience with them post-discharge in the newborn care center. 

    Happy to answer more specific questions if you have any. 


    I'm actually curious to hear responses from other families, too.  I had my first birth at Kaiser Oakland in Sept of 2018 and it was a planned cesarean for a breech baby so I can't speak to much about the support during the delivery process, but my experience was a good one.  I'm due in May with my second child and trying to decide between Walnut Creek and Oakland myself.  I have *heard* that Walnut Creek has a birthing tub and Oakland does not, but that there is only one and it is on a first come first serve basis, and that they may or may not be using it at all during Covid.  I also had one doula mention she prefers the L&D teams at Walnut Creek over Oakland because Walnut Creek uses primarily midwives and "Kaiser Oakland also has residents which some folks find challenging since there are more doctors coming in and out and some additional inconsistency in care."  I don't have any firsthand experience with Walnut Creek, but thought I'd share what I've heard.  Hope this helps!  

  • Hi Everyone,

    This is my first pregnancy and my husband and I are trying to decide between Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser Walnut Creek. The previous reviews seem to favor Kaiser Walnut Creek, but these reviews are a little old (2014). We were wondering if Kaiser Oakland switching to the new location has made a difference in the quality of care provided there. I'm also concerned about Kaiser Oakland having residents deliver the baby. However,  I live in Oakland so I am trying to weight the pros of Walnut Creek's Midwives vs the Pros of Oakland's close location. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about these two sites!

    I can't address the Oakland site but my daughter gave birth in Walnut Creek one year ago. Both my husband and I were present for the labor, birth and afterbirth. I was so pleased with the experience for her and her husband. People were kind, responsive, skillful and encouraging. When decisions needed to be made the couple was consulted, and when action needed to happen it happened. The 2 days they stayed afterwards, care was not as responsive. It was not awful but not as personal or prompt.

    I just gave birth at Kaiser Oakland in May.  The facility is new and very spacious and clean.  We were pleased with the attention and level of care there, and my labor was long and complicated.  Also, there are midwives there.  If you live in Oakland, I would definitely go there instead of Walnut Creek.

    When are you due?  Something I factored in when I chose between Alta Bates and Kaiser Walnut Creek was when my son was due. My understanding was that the residents start in August and my baby was due late August.  I chose Walnut Creek and avoided the worry that a brand new doctor might deliver my any. 

    I'm due in August and delivering at Oakland. Kaiser Oakland has a midwife program as of 2015 (they deliver alongside the resident physicians) -…

    Oakland also has all private triage and post-partum rooms in the new building. At Walnut Creek you may be in a double post-partum, if they are full. Maybe do a tour of each and see what you think? The outcomes and quality of care is comparable between the two.

    I had both my kids at Kaiser Oakland - one at the old hospital and one at the new hospital last year. I was happy with both experiences. Kaiser Oakland has midwives now at the new hospital and a midwife delivered my second. She was the one telling me what to do and directing everyone else in the room what to do.

    My only complaint about the old Kaiser Oakland hospital was the shared rooms, but all rooms are private now. I personally would go to the closer location. I only lived 15 minutes away from Kaiser Oakland and I can't imagine having to tolerate going 30 minutes all the way to Walnut Creek with contractions. I had a very quick delivery though so I did not have hours of waiting in the hospital with labor and delivery staff. Had I attempted to go all the way to Walnut Creek, I might of had to deliver in the car because my second guy came that quick! 

    We've had 2 kids who were delivered at Kaiser San Francisco, but received all services in the Pedi dept at Kaiser Oakland. One of our children is severely disabled, and has received outstanding care at Kaiser Oakland. I also have a sister who works in the Intensive Care Nursery at Kaiser Oakland, and have nothing but rave reviews about the maternity care at Kaiser Oakland.

    I gave birth and Kaiser Oakland earlier this year.  It was my first birth so I have no point of comparison, but I felt both the midwives and the residents were good, as were the nurses (and that's who you will see the most of).  I had a few minor complications during labor and they were great at explaining what my options were with each one and in the end my actual birth went really smoothly.  FWIW, I also did NOT have a doula.  Not saying that doulas are good or bad, just making the point that the staff really was great and I didn't need to bring my own private support team/intermediary to have a good birth experience.  Our aftercare was also really good--we had a great postpartum nurse and the staff were very responsive anytime I had questions or needed help.

    I assume you are currently seeing a doctor in Oakland?  If that's the case I would at least tour the Oakland facility as there's always the possibility you'll go straight from one of your later checkups to L&D, even if your plan is to go to Walnut Creek.

    I delivered at Kaiser Oakland two months ago and was immensely impressed by the staff and the facilities. It's my first birth experience so I have no point of comparison, but it far surpassed my expectations. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Delivery at Kaiser Oakland or Walnut Creek?

Sept 2013

Would love any recommendations/advice about whether to plan on delivery at the Kaiser Oakland vs. Walnut Creek facilities. This is my first baby and I have heard pros/cons about each hospital, but would love any recent advice. In particular, I am interested as to whether a new mother is more likely to have to share a recovery room at the Oakland facility (and, if so, how common this is)? Thanks! Jennifer

Hi. I just delivered at Kaiser Oakland mid-July. I too dreaded having to share a room post-partum. But lucky for me, there were not many deliveries at the same time and so most of the floor was empty. I also saw that some ladies were placed alone in rooms setup for doubles/multiples. I have also heard that post-partum at WC may end up in shared rooms as well, just depends on volume. Food was not stellar at Oakland. Not sure about food quality at WC. I had a single room but thought it was small - all the beds, equipment were on top of each other. It's an older hospital. The new delivery suite is supposed to be much better. Not sure when it shall open. The nursing staff was very professional from the time I entered with labor pains til I left. However - if you're deciding on epidural, please ask for it early. I had to withstand responding to a load of questionnaires, albeit read to me by the nurse, before they would order the epidural. It felt like an eternity. tarry

People post this question a lot! I can't recommend highly enough: Plan to deliver at the facility closest to your house. Regardless of what your labor plan is (mine was to labor as long as possible at home, which we did), that ride home from the hospital with your newborn will be the most nervewracking car ride of your life - you want it to be SHORT! That said, I delivered two babies at KP Oakland in 2008 & 2010, both experiences were just fine, and I got the med-free deliveries I wanted. Both times, the L wing was full; I know I shared a recovery room both times for part of my stay but I think was moved to a room with no roommate partway through? The memory has faded, and it was only 2 years ago, so that might tell you something about how important that is in the overall scheme of things. Mom of 2

I want to second what another person said in their reply: Deliver at the one closest to your house. You may go into childbirth with all these plans and wishes, and you might plan it all down to the music that's playing in the background and the color of your gown. But in the end what's important is that the baby comes out safely. All the rest of your preferences--whether you share a room, how good the food is, whether or not you get your own whirlpool--are peripheral, and can and should be thrown out at a moment's notice. I had a friend almost deliver on the highway, so it's a big deal to go to the one closest. Be sure to factor in rush hour traffic and whether or not you plan to go over bridges or tunnels to get there.

Don't be too wedded to one facility. I was told during our tour that on super busy days they have to turn people away to another Kaiser. It didn't happen to us, but it can happen. Also be careful what you read on the Internet. People love to tell you that you don't have to share rooms at Walnut Creek, and that every room has a whirlpool, and when I did the hospital tour there none of it was true. If the facility is full, you will have to share rooms at either Oakland or WC, and no, not all the rooms at WC have a whirlpool. During our tour we didn't even see one.

We ended up delivering at Oakland because it was closest to our house. The delivery itself was fine (it was a blur actually). It was a little disconcerting to see so many residents peek in and introduce themselves, only to be replaced by another resident on a different shift, but actually what REALLY matters is your nurse, and your nurse stays with you for her entire shift. I was induced so I went through 3 nurses waiting for the baby to come, but they were all fantastic, especially the one who was at the delivery. The resident just showed up to catch the baby--I don't even remember her face. I did have to share a room during recovery, and it was pretty nasty having to share a bathroom. The other lady left after the first night and I had a 3 bed room all to myself for the rest of my stay.

Still, none of this is important. My son was born 2 years ago and I barely remember his delivery. The newborn stage causes amnesia. The most important thing is that my son is healthy.

I have to say this about Oakland--there is great food to be bought for take out on Piedmont Ave. My husband went out to get me my meals. I was so hungry I ate that plus the hospital issued meals.

Delivering baby at Kaiser Oakland or Walnut Creek

April 2013

We are moving to Oakland next month and will deliver our second baby in July. We're choosing between Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser Walnut Creek for the delivery. Any advice for pro's and con's welcomed. I live closer to K Oakland but should have time to get to Walnut Creek. I'm leaning towards Walnut Creek since it's s newer facility and after hearing that the bathrooms are shared in post-part in rooms. But also heard that Walnut Creek deliveries are mostly performed by midwives unless the pregnancy is high risk. I'm 38 but besides my age, there's nothing at this point that would put me in the high risk category. I would prefer a doctor. Your experiences at either hospitals are welcomed. Thanks. Sky's Mom

I live in Oakland and switched halfway through my pregnancy to get my remaining prenatal care and deliver at Kaiser Walnut Creek after getting fed up with Oakland -- I found Oakland to be crowded, grimy, and disorganized (they screwed up the orders and reminders for a couple of my tests so that I almost didn't take them in time).

The overall experience to me was far more calming and pleasant at the WC facility, the parking was easier and free, and we were very pleased with the actual delivery and post-partum services. It's true, they have a midwife program, but to us that was a plus. I saw one midwife for all my prenatal appointments, but you get whoever is on call for delivery. The one we had for delivery was as cold and clinical as any old-school doctor, so there wasn't the ''warm and fuzzy'' experience that I was hoping for. If anything goes wrong during delivery, an ob-gyn takes over the show very quickly. That's what happened to me; I wound up with an emergency c-section under general anesthesia after a couple of failed interventions, so I'd say I experienced many types of care there. Everybody got the chance to work on me!

The delivery and postpartum rooms are very nice; you can take a tour beforehand to see what they look like. I definitely appreciated having my own bathroom; it's just a time in your life when you really don't want to be sharing facilities with a stranger. If things get really busy, you could wind up sharing a room at WC just as you might at Oakland, but it sounds pretty uncommon. We really found all of the care and the nurses to be top-notch. The only negative was some pretty dreary food, but hey, it's a hospital. You'll be too busy admiring your new baby anyway. happy WC mama

The midwives at Kaiser Walnut Creek do an amazing job. I delivered two babies there with their expert assistance, and was pleased with their calm, professional demeanor. I also used the midwives for all my prenatal care, and they really made me feel like a real person, not just the next patient in line. So, I would highly recommend Walnut Creek, but BECAUSE of the midwives, not IN SPITE of them. MC

Hi. I never toured Kaiser Oakland so I can't speak to that personally. I delivered my two sons at Kaiser Walnut Creek and I live in Oakland. A major reason why I chose Walnut Creek is because they have nurse midwives on staff. They are totally competent and I wanted the midwife mentality. My husband and I had the support of a doula for both births, which was awesome. With my first birth I got coveted room #7 which has a laboring tub. With my recent birth, in January of this year, it was an exceptionally busy morning in the labor and delivery unit. After my check-in at triage I was told there were no available delivery rooms. However, since things were progressing relatively quickly for me they decided to convert a different triage room into a delivery ''suite'' for me. It was the opposite of homey as it was filled with medical equipment and harsh lighting. The worst aspect was laboring and delivering on a transfer gurney rather than an actual bed. But you know what? It didn't really matter because I was so focused on the task at hand. Even after my son was born I had to wait three hours before a room was available for me. Thank goodness I didn't have to share.

There was one minor complication with my last birth when part of the placenta detached. The nurse midwife did her best to scrape it out but called in for a doctor to assist. I didn't see a doctor at all for my first birth as there was no need.

I also had a male nurse assigned to me for this last birth. I didn't love that but it is what it is. All in all, both experiences were unique and amazing and the end results (my sons) were worth it (no matter what the experience would have been). happy with nurse midwives

I only have experience with Oakland, but we really loved them. While which doctors (residents, plus an attending) and nurses you have is up to chance, the team who delivered our child were excellent. I had a natural drug-free birth and I loved that they were incredibly supportive of our birth plan and all of the choices we made, and when the resident felt an intervention was necessary, the team was very respectful about acknowledging what we wanted, suggesting an alternative, and giving us the information we needed to make a decision. The facility isn't fancy, but it had almost everything we needed. (The one thing I'd have liked would have been a birthing tub, which Oakland doesn't have at all, but Walnut Creek only has one and it is first-come first-serve, so no guarantees there either.) The shared post-partum rooms are definitely the potential down side to Oakland, but they make an effort to avoid putting patients into the same rooms whenever numbers allow--I didn't have a roommate during my stay, nor did most of the women I know who delivered there. If you do have to share, they try very hard to keep the shared time as brief as possible. (The new hospital, which opens next year, will have single rooms only.) We chose Oakland in part for proximity and in part because I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible, which was more feasible with a hospital that wasn't a 30-minute drive away. My husband also really appreciated being close to home--he was able to go home to shower and change, feed our pets, etc., and he would take walks over to Piedmont Avenue to bring back food in the post-partum days. We have never regretted the decision and plan to deliver any future children at Oakland as well.

In general, the families we know who delivered at Walnut Creek were also happy with the experience. One family we know who had a good WC experience for their first child did choose Oakland for the second largely to be close to home so that it would be easy for the other parent to go back and forth for their older child--so that may be something to factor in as well. Kaiser Oakland mama

If you live in Oakland go to Kaiser Oakland. Especially if you want to mostly labor at home and then go to the hospital you will be too uncomfortable to make it all the way to Walnut Creek. And for what? Oakland is great and is the place to be if something goes wrong. The staff is excellent. I feel people are so biased to Oakland because of the medical residents and no midwives but let me tell you- almost all the nurses I had were also practicing midwives on the side. They also have the lowest csection rate. I loved my experience at Oakland and since I got to the hospital at 8cm I was glad the car ride was short. You won't even notice what the place looks like once you are in labor and recovering. Most bathrooms are not shared but sometimes the showers are but it is no big deal. Oakland fan

I've had two babies at KP Oakland and both were just fine birth experiences. (I labored at home for the most part, got to the hospital with 3 hours to spare for #1 and 30 minutes for #2!) I didn't want any interventions, and didn't have any. Both times the OB wing was entirely full and I had shared rooms postpartum. Certainly not ideal, but it's not like it would otherwise be some magical restful time, whatever - I just got checked out as soon as possible, since I'd rather recover at home anyway. I always advise pregnant ladies to go to the hospital closest to home. Do you really want a long drive a) in labor, or b) with your precious newborn? NO. KP mama

Hi, I delivered at Kaiser Oakland and the shared bathroom did not bother me. The thing that would have be hard about Walnut Creek is spending any more time than necessary in the car while in labor. That was NOT COMFORTABLE. Also, if they tell you that you are not ready to be admitted at Kaiser Oakland, you can go get an ice cream at Fentons or Tara's and then get back easily. Just a thought. Rita

My OB/Gyn was having her baby at KP Oakland, so we thought that would be good enough for us. Also, I always hear horror stories about how busy WC is b/c everyone wants to go there. In Oakland, we went into triage when my contractions got under four minutes apart, about an hour and a half after I started labor. They took some readings and whisked us into the birthing room within maybe half an hour. The first team to come in the room asked for a copy of our birthing plan and talked it over with my husband, who had been trained as my doula. We brought battery-operated Christmas lights to hang up, and he hung our affirmations on the walls. The nurses encouraged us to use their birthing ball and the shower in the room. They brought my husband juice, crackers, and pudding . We went in at 7pm, and maybe around midnight, a new shift came in, and the nurse whom I remember well was also trained as a midwife. She was so damn enouraging; it was hilarious! I was yelling, and she was praising; I cursed, and she told me that I was beautiful and doing so well!

We went in with the idea that drugs might not be necessary, but I could take them if I had to. Our birthing class teacher had recommended some low doses of things if we really needed them, so after I told my husband my safe word I got some IV painkiller of some sort. It helped a little, I finished my labor 16 hours after it started, and the midwife stayed after her shift to see the labor through. She also came to our room the next morning to deliver a knitted hat for our little man! The nurses encouraged us to stay two nights at the hospital ''so they could do things for us'', but we decided to leave after one. I can't really imagine a better experience. Liz

I spent a lot of time in both labor and delivery and the postpartum wards at Kaiser Walnut Creek, and I have nothing to complain about with either. I decided to go to Walnut Creek because I wanted to have a drug-free birth experience and I thought I'd have a better shot at it with nurse midwives who were committed to helping me have one. In the end, I spent 25 hours in labor without medication, 13 hours with an epidural, and then 1 hour finally having a c-section. I stayed there for four nights instead of three, too. They were wonderful about sticking to my ''birth plan'' and allowed me to make any decisions I wanted to as long as the baby and I were safe (so when I asked for more time to labor without medication, they gave me more time; when I finally realized I didn't have the energy to be in labor any more with so little progress, they brought me an ob-gyn to talk about a c-section). They allowed me an intermittent fetal monitor instead of a fixed one, let me get up and walk around (and around, and around, and around), and even let me eat some (honey and Gatorade).

First of all, my length there means I saw a lot of different midwives and nurses. As you'd expect, there were warmer ones and colder ones, more practical ones and more idealistic ones. The team that really worked well with each other and gave me a wonderful birth experience despite my prolonged experience was midwife Lorraine Rose-Lehrman and nurse Katharine Blank. Depending on how long you want to labor at home (I had planned to, but my water broke and had a lot of meconium in it, so they told me to come in right away), you might end up seeing a doctor or midwife for only a few minutes, at the beginning and end of your time in L Most of the time you'll spend with hospital staff you'll spend with a nurse. The rest of the time, you'll be alone with your support person. This is true in Kaiser Oakland or Kaiser Walnut Creek. I saw the midwives probably for only about twenty or thirty minutes out of my entire time there, and the ob-gyn who performed my c-section for about five (unless you count the surgery itself). I had a doula, and having her there was way more important than any nurse or midwife or doctor. My husband and I both needed the help. My postpartum experience was also very good. I found WC a restful and friendly place to be. I had my own (tiny) room, though, which makes a big difference. Many people share rooms in WC. The only East Bay Kaiser I know of where you don't need to share a room is in Antioch (the midwives and nurses also work there; they're shared between the facilities). Kaiser WC was super, super busy when I was there. They were sending people to Antioch. So there were definitely no open single rooms.

If you want a traditional medicated birth experience, I don't see any reason to go to Walnut Creek. As someone who drives through that tunnel every single work day, I can tell you that those 45 minutes (with bad traffic) could feel like utter hell. I do plan to go back to Walnut Creek if I have a second baby, but only because I'll probably try unmedicated VBAC. As far as I can tell from my friends' experiences, you'll be fine either way.

When it comes down to it, you can plan and consider and stack the odds in your favor about what kind of birth experience you have, but really it'll just be whatever it is, and as long as you have a healthy baby at the end of it, for most people the rest doesn't end up being nearly as important as you thought it would be. Good luck with your birth! It'll be special no matter how it happens. - Happy with how things went

I work at kaiser and was told by everyone I encountered to pick walnut creek over oakland for a number of very convincing reasons. With that said, my experience at walnut creek was outstanding in terms of birthing experience and first night stay. After that it was all down hill in terms of basic care and responsiveness of staff. It wasnt at all busy either! If I had to do it again though I would pick walnut creek just due to the better chance of getting a private room. Kaiser scoop

Editor Note: Responses were also received for Kaiser Hayward

Birth at Oakland vs. Walnut Creek Kaiser?

Feb 2009

I am trying to choose between delivering my first baby at Kaiser Oakland or Walnut Creek. There is quite a bit of information on the website, but all from 2004.

I am leaning towards Walnut Creek over Oakland because I feel that having a CNM attend the birth rather than a resident would reduce my chances of an unnecessary c-section. I have read that residents tend to have higher c-section rates because they are less skilled. My instinct is that a resident would adhere to a more traditional ''medical model'' than a CNM. While I don't require a completely natural birth, I lean more towards a non-medicalized one.

Taking a look at shows that Walnut Creek has higher patient satisfaction scores and Oakland's c-section rate at 18% is slightly higher than Walnut Creek's rate of 16%.

Can anyone share recent experience (past year?) who chose between the two facilities? Which did you select and why? I hear that Walnut Creek is referred by those who work for Kaiser as the ''Country Club'' facility. Feeling guilty about not wanting a resident to ''practice'' on me

I got all my prenatal care from a wonderful ob/gyn at Kaiser Oakland, but when it came time to deliver, I chose Walnut Creek . I'd recommend going there. I shared your concerns about the youth and inexperience of the residents; when I went to the meet-and-greet, they all seemed about sixteen years old, plus incredibly tired from the demanding schedule of medical residency. Then there were the philosophical differences between MD's and CNM's, although in a real-life situation I think there ends up being less difference between the two models and the two facilities than you might think (medical model of higher intervention versus ''alternative'' model of lower intervention). Kaiser is Kaiser, it's a big hospital and all they really want is a healthy mom and a healthy baby, however it happens. Which is, of course, all you want in the end, too.

That said, I had a perfectly fine experience at Walnut Creek. It wasn't like I was surrounded by nurturing mother figures singing lullabies, but on the other hand I had a vaginal delivery after prolonged/stalled labor. They gave me every encouragement to keep laboring and working at it, and not once did anyone mention C-section (although they told me afterward that it was a possibility). I don't know if the resident MD's at Oakland would have had the patience or sensitivity to let me do it at my own pace.

I delivered my first baby at Kaiser Oakland on Sept. 30. Early in the pregnancy, I seriously considered delivery at WC, because like you I tend to think that the more medicalization, the worse off for the mom, and that the CNMs might help avoid medicalization. I was swayed to Oakland mainly because I heard a bad WC delivery story from a friend; but now, based on what I learned through my own experience, I am even more glad I stayed in Oakland. I delivered naturally with no meds (not even an IV lock!), and the residents were basically fine with it (ok, they really wanted me to have the IV lock, but took my polite refusal). If you have an uncomplicated delivery and (this is key) labor at home until ''transition'', by the time you get to the hospital, it's showtime and there is no time for interventions! (I arrived at 8 cm dilated and baby was born 2.5 hours later.) Please bear in mind the additional travel time to WC if you live on this side of the tunnel - we had a 10 m! in drive to Oakland Kaiser and it was brutal for me since I was in *very* active labor; can't imagine making it all the way to Walnut Creek. And yet I am so glad I stayed home as long as I did and ultimately had the med-free delivery I wanted. I recommend getting a great doula to help at the hospital, too - she will help you interpret what the med staff is saying. The doula and your own personal emotional and physical preparation will go a long way to helping you get the delivery you envision. Oakland Kaiser Just Fine for Uncomplicated Natural Delivery anon

I had my daughter at Oakland Kaiser in 2006 (mistakenly so...we had just moved to Oakland from SF and didn't quite make it to SF =), and I have done lots of pediatric care at Walnut Creek Kaiser. I am not sure about rates of csections there since I had her 17 minutes after we arrived (yowza!), however, I can speak to the facility. Oakland Kaiser's facility, room space, etc. does not compare to Walnut Creek...they are even more dirty 'around the edges'...a result of (from what I hear) just an older facility. Also, I was shocked to learn I had to share my room with TWO other mothers, when the room was really only big enough for 2 total. There wasn't even enough room on the side of the bed for someone to walk when the bassinet was there, and my family had a really hard/uncomfortable time visiting. The toilet (shared between 3 new mothers, which was gross enough), was also too close to the wall so your leg almost touches the wall, and you had to sort of slide across the seat to wipe. The care I received there was good, though...although a couple of the nurses were a little scary.

I stopped taking my girls to the pediatrician office there after I noticed a drug exchange going on between a couple of pre-teens who were in the waiting room the same time as me & my younger daughter.

SO...don't feel guilty about anything! You have to go where you feel most comfortable. Congratulations & good luck! Sandra

I had my daughter at Kaiser Oakland in Jan 07. We ended up transferring there after our planned home birth became higher risk. The residents and the nurses were truly wonderful. I think (at least then) that all of the residents were younger women, which was really lovely. I had an extremely detailed birth plan and they not only read it, but went through each part with us and respected as much of it as their protocol would allow (pretty much the whole thing). I ended up tearing quite a bit and then resident MD spent a long time sewing me up (it was a weird kind of tear), she was a perfectionist, which in the long run I think is good. I healed perfectly and quickly.

I have heard some good things about Kaiser WC, but the complaints I've heard have to do with how potentially busy they can be, due to Kaiser patients coming from all over in order to have a midwife-attended birth. I have heard things about having to share a recovering room, which you may or may not care about. I liked the privacy we had at Kaiser Oakland, though they did not have laboring tubs or birth stools, or birth balls available. I'd check with them now, as well as Kaiser WC. Also consider how far you live from each facility. Riding in a car while in labor is no fun at all. kaiser oakland fan

My son was born at Kaiser Walnut Creek in 2003. What a great experience! Our nurse midwife was fab. She actually used warm olive oil to massage my perineum to help soften and stretch so baby's head could pass more easily. Lots of pushing, lots of patience on Kaiser's part, vaginal birth!! Delivery room to myself and recovery room to myself. Very nice. happy in Walnut Creek

I didn't do any comparison shopping because i live in rockridge (so very close to Oakland Kaiser ) but i am very happy with my birth experience in june 2008. i can only compare to my first son's birth in jan 2006 at cpmc in sf. kaiser was great - birth rooms don't have windows like cpmc but i the staff was warm and professional. they are very interested in what the mother wants; they check in frequently but let you labor in peace. I had a vaginal birth with no problems.

I was concerned about the recovery rooms. I know they have some single but a lot of double and even triples. I wasn't looking forward to sharing to be honest. But after doing a tour I actually wanted a double/triple because the singles are really small. I ended up in a triple but as the sole occupant. Very nice indeed. Good luck! brenda

I chose to have my baby in 2007 at Walnut Creek Kaiser , because of the nurse midwives. But my experience wasn't what I had hoped for. Maybe it was just bad luck, but I felt that the midwife I got pushed me toward medical intervention and in the end, I did have to have a C section. Another down side was that they were very crowded and most of the time we felt on our own. I would suggest hiring a person to attend your birth, someone who knows about childbirth and can advocate for you and help you through the tough times. Kristin

I can only offer that I had two babies at Kaiser WC and the last one being 3 1/2 years ago and can't recommend it highly enough. I loved both midwives and went drug free. I also had a doula which helped a lot. I agree, I wouldn't want a resident practicing on me either. I didn't love the after birth care as much, but thought the midwives were terrific! Good luck! Loved it

I haven't given birth at either facility, but we are having our first baby this June at Kaiser, so have been doing some research. I initially heard a lot of the same things ? Walnut Creek's better, less likely to have medical interventions forced on you, etc.

However, while interviewing doulas, the different options were one of the things we talked about. All of the doulas we talked to, who had attended multiple births at both facilities, praised Kaiser Oakland's staff as excellent. All had attended natural births at both facilities, and said the level of intervention suggested depends a lot on which medical staff you get, something that is hard to control. One doula, herself a midwife-in-training, remarked that while many assume that being staffed by midwives means less medical intervention, that's not necessarily true. One tip that we got was to specifically request a nurse who is interested in working with moms wanting natural births during the intake phase. They did say that Walnut Creek is ''fancier,'' but otherwise said they're pretty equal. In the end, we've decided to go with Oakland because it's closer to home, with no risk of getting stuck on 24 during rush hour while in labor. Kaiser Oakland mom-to-be

Hello, I'm sorry my response from fall 2006 was not archived, but I still stand by what I said. My experience at Kaiser Oakland was outstanding. The residents were great -- our crop was a bunch of kick ass young women, who were clearly briefed in the latest and greatest. At no time did I feel like I was being experimented on. The nursing staff were exceptional. Everyone was very supportive. When we moved to pitocin and an epidural, well that was my decision -- before that was my decision, I was fully supported in my desire for natural childbirth. Oakland is just as much the Bay Area as Walnut Creek is, and people in Oakland also want to do natural childbirth, so I don't think this is treated as an exotic request at Oakland.

The main thing is, I think you will find the nursing staff at Oakland very supportive of your wishes. Unless something goes very wrong, you will be dealing more with the nurses than with the residents in any case. Our experience with the residents was that they were quite progressive.

I'd encourage you to take the tour at Oakland and meet the residents and other staff. Our experience was great. Merrilee

I got all my prenatal care from a wonderful ob/gyn at Kaiser Oakland, but when it came time to deliver, I chose Walnut Creek. I'd recommend going there. I shared your concerns about the youth and inexperience of the residents; when I went to the meet-and-greet, they all seemed about sixteen years old, plus incredibly tired from the demanding schedule of medical residency. Then there were the philosophical differences between MD's and CNM's, although in a real-life situation I think there ends up being less difference between the two models and the two facilities than you might think (medical model of higher intervention versus ''alternative'' model of lower intervention). Kaiser is Kaiser, it's a big hospital and all they really want is a healthy mom and a healthy baby, however it happens. Which is, of course, all you want in the end, too.

That said, I had a perfectly fine experience at Walnut Creek. It wasn't like I was surrounded by nurturing mother figures singing lullabies, but on the other hand I had a vaginal delivery after prolonged/stalled labor. They gave me every encouragement to keep laboring and working at it, and not once did anyone mention C-section (although they told me afterward that it was a possibility). I don't know if the resident MD's at Oakland would have had the patience or sensitivity to let me do it at my own pace.

My son was born at Kaiser Walnut Creek in 2003. What a great experience! Our nurse midwife was fab. She actually used warm olive oil to massage my perineum to help soften and stretch so baby's head could pass more easily. Lots of pushing, lots of patience on Kaiser's part, vaginal birth!! Delivery room to myself and recovery room to myself. Very nice. happy in Walnut Creek

I chose to have my baby in 2007 at Walnut Creek Kaiser, because of the nurse midwives. But my experience wasn't what I had hoped for. Maybe it was just bad luck, but I felt that the midwife I got pushed me toward medical intervention and in the end, I did have to have a C section. Another down side was that they were very crowded and most of the time we felt on our own. I would suggest hiring a person to attend your birth, someone who knows about childbirth and can advocate for you and help you through the tough times. Kristin

I can only offer that I had two babies at Kaiser WC and the last one being 3 1/2 years ago and can't recommend it highly enough. I loved both midwives and went drug free. I also had a doula which helped a lot. I agree, I wouldn't want a resident practicing on me either. I didn't love the after birth care as much, but thought the midwives were terrific! Good luck! Loved it

Feb 2007

My partner and I recently made the decision to deliver at Kaiser Walnut Creek rather than Oakland Kaiser. We came to this decision on the advice of our doula and after touring both facilities.

Our doula strongly recommended WC over Oakland Kaiser. In fact, she feels Kaiser WC is one of the best L hospitals in the area, being more sensitive and flexible regarding the mother's wishes for her birth experience. Kaiser Oakland is a teaching facility, and as such, it seems more attached to its protocols. I also believe that the cesarean rate at WC is significantly lower than Oakland. (Although I'm sure you would have ended up with a c-section at either facility with a breech birth.)

As far as the tour went, we found the facilities fairly comparable - Oakland has slightly newer equipment, but WC is more spacious. WC does hand out a letter at the tour explaining their philosophy and some of their standard practices, which I found reassuring.

My daughter is due in just a few weeks, and I also plan for a natural/ drug-free birth barring unforseen problems. I showed my birth plan to the WC midwife and she was supportive. However, she did say that most women there opt for pain medication, so who knows how things will progress since I'm going against the norm. Hoping for the best! Kimberly

Worried about Kaiser Oakland instead of Kaiser WC

April 2006

I just found out today that Kaiser WC is no longer taking referrals from Kaiser Oakland for labor/delivery. I delivered my first child in Kaiser WC with a midwife and had exactly the birth I'd hoped for and didn't have to fight for it. We used a midwife and had an unmedicalized experience--no drugs were even offered. I had planned to go there again with #2, but was told today that that is no longer an option as of a few weeks ago. I'm so disappointed and sad and worried that I'll have a completely medicalized, unsupportive birth experience (I'm due this summer) and that I'll have to fight to have the birth experience I want. There are only a handful of experiences on the archives. Can anyone share their more recent experiences? Am I worrying needlessly?
Mom hoping for an unmedicalized birth

I delivered at Kaiser Oakland in October -- I had to be induced because I was two weeks past my due date. I was given pitocin and that causes very, very strong contractions. (at least for me it did) I had my baby after about 11 hours of labor, and I have to say that overall, it was a great experience. And what made it so awesome was the nurses! I went through I think three shifts of nurses, and every nurse I saw was just amazing. They really worked to advocate for me. Two that really stand out were Evie and Tina. At one point there was a doctor who wanted to do a c-section because she was convinced that my baby was going to be very large, and my nurse helped the doctors understand what I wanted. (a natural labor) I have very fond memories of the nurses both in labor and delivery and in recovery. One of the recovery nurses, Kristen, spent I think a couple of hours as we were waiting to discharge talking with my husband and I, answering our questions about baby care and giving us advice. I know that everyone's experience is different, but I can wholeheartedly recommend the nurses at Kaiser Oakland -- they are the people who really make a difference in your birth experience, because they spend so much more time with you than the doctors do. lambie

It's my experience that at Kaiser Oakland you can have the birth you want without feeling attacked by the medical staff. Just state your wishes when you arrive - or have a doula to support you in this. We live in an area where doctors are aware of the ''types'' of births most of us desire. You will not have a fight there. So, I think yes, you are worrying without cause. Relax and enjoy your Oakland birth. -Kaiser Oakland Fan

I have a client right now (I am a doula) who was told by her OB that she could not transfer from Oakland Kaiser to Walnut Creek Kaiser for the birth of her child. She did some further checking and spoke to member services who told her that they are taking transfers again. This was just last week. She was able to transfer and has her first appointment set with a midwife. You may want to try member services and see what they say. The docs may just not be caught up on the policy yet. For what it is worth though, I have had good experiences at Kaiser Oakland as well. Delivering there does not have to be the end of your vision for your birth. Good Luck! Anna

I'm not sure why there seems to be an assumption that the Kaiser Oakland facility is more intervening or any less progressive than Walnut Creek's, but I've read a lot of posts from people who have not delivered there that seem to imply it is substandard to Walnut Creek's. I'm not sure if there is an underlying socio-economic bias, but in my experience it is completely untrue.

A few notable things about the Kaiser Oakland facility- 1- they're moving towards becoming a ''mother-baby'' hospital (I believe its called) which means that they do what they can to encourage the contact between mother and baby among other things. For example, Kaiser Oakland does not have a ''well-baby nursery'' so unless there is a medical reason to take them from you, the baby won't leave your side (beneficial to them financially too but who cares!). 2- they have a corridor along the outside of the post-delivery rooms which enables your guests to visit without having to stand in your room the whole time or out in the medical area getting in the way of doctors and nurses. 3- they have versitle beds with squat bars that allow you deliver in many ways other than lying flat on your back which is great for a medication free birth!

4- is my personal experience: I ended up having to schedule a c-section and I could not have been more amazed by my experience. The all-female staff was so friendly and nice that they put me very at ease. Not only did they not take my baby away from me immediately after the birth, but they actually offered to let me breastfeed on the operating table while I was being put back together. The baby NEVER left my side and the anesthesiologist held my baby over my chest for about 15 or 20 minutes while she nursed. I can't tell you how much that meant to me after having had a previous c-section at a different facility where I got to look at my baby for about 15 seconds and then was wheeled into a post-op room to recover (alone) for about 4 hours- no breastfeeding, no eye contact, and my husband wasn't even allowed to come in to see me.

All in all, I had a wonderful experience at Kaiser Oakland. I didn't get the opportunity to use my doula for my attempt at a VBAC, but in the tour it was made known that the birth could be what I wanted it to be- you just needed to know what you wanted.

I think you will be fine- I wouldn't be too disappointed about having to deliver at Kaiser oakland- Its a great place.

Good luck with your delivery- I hope its everything you want it to be. Kaiser Oakland Fan

The team at Oakland Kaiser seems pretty open to minmal intervention--have you been to one of their ''meet the doctors'' sessions? You should go so you can get a better feel for how they work.

I had a baby at Kaiser Oakland last June and it was a good experience. I was not as ''unmediacalized'' as you want, but then I had a high risk pregnancy and had to have my baby a month early. (She is doing great!) Mary Ellin

I gave birth to my son in December at Kaiser Oakland and was VERY happy with our experience. I had planned a home birth and after 40 hours of home labor transferred to Kaiser due to lack of progression. Our midwife called ahead and they had a room ready for me. They did take some time making us get checked in in some other non-labor room but then put me in the labor room. I labored for 10 hours overnight and had the same kind and compassionate nurse (Lisa Davis) and resident (Ametha) the whole time. The doctor was respectful of us and our midwife, explained everything and answered my questions about pros and cons of interventions. I asked for and got an epidural and pitocin but in no way felt anyone pushed anything. Nor did anyone seem critical of the planned homebirth or the amount of time I had already been laboring when I arrived at Kaiser. There was one nurse who came when the baby was born and tried to override our wish to wait to cut the cord and to leave the baby on me untoweled off for a few moments, but I feel the doctor actually tried to divert her some without being confrontational and when she saw we seemed at cross purposes she just left and never came back.

Our baby never left us, we didn't get almost all of the ''standard '' tests/needles/blood draws. We told the hospital we wanted to go home and they told us we could leave anytime but before 12 hours we'd have to sign some waiver so we just waited the 12 hours. The nurses on the floor basically left us alone and the nurse who was on as we were closing in on the 12 hrs got us the wheelchair and got us all ready and said it would be 12 hours by the time we were pulling out of the parking lot basically, so I feel she was helping us to get home asap within the parameters of their allowable time.

Anyway-I felt we were so lucky with the resident and nurse who provided our primary care and we had a wonderful birth and have a great son. Melanie

I delivered a baby at Kaiser Oakland by planned c-section during the winter (hoping for a VBAC, but didn't go into labor within a week or so after my due date). I was very happy with the quality of medical care at Kaiser Oakland, but I was somewhat unhappy with the facility itself, as well as with the way I was treated on a personal (non-medical) level by a couple of the staff members. I had a private room for post-partum care. It was VERY small; so small that it was crowded even with just my husband there, much less than when my mom visited too, or when one or two staff members were there. The privacy curtain was too close to my bed, so no one could stand on that side of the bed without either having the curtain open, or having it drape down their back. In addition, when it was drawn, it blocked my view of the clock. Most of the nurses requested that I record when and how long my baby nursed - how can I tell if I can't see the clock?

Another post mentioned the corrider along the outside of the building. I personally found it to be a misuse of space. It must face a westerly or southerly direction because it gets unbelievably hot in there in the afternoons when the sun shines (and as a result the rooms on that side also heat up - I was using the air conditioning, even though it was at most in the upper 50s outside). In addition, it is strewn with extra chairs from the rooms because the rooms are so small. As a result, there isn't room there for new mommies to walk with their babies in their bassinets (my only option since my husband wasn't around much due to issues of his own and I wasn't about to leave my baby alone in the room), so I had to walk in the main corrider and contribute to the chaos there, getting in the way of medical staff who were trying to do their jobs. (Speaking of the main corrider - most of it is lined with desks/counter space and even stand-alone tables where the nurses (mostly) do some of their work. It is cramped and noisy; medical records lie all over the place, or are being displayed on computer screens. Not exactly private.)

Another problem with walking in the main corrider with your baby is the alarm system. I appreciate the unfortunate need for having babies tagged so they cannot be removed from the facility without ''permission'', but the system is set to be extremely sensitive. I was told that if I walked by the elevators and doors with my baby while either was open, that the alarm would go off, so I made a point of walking by that area as quickly as I could, which admittedly wasn't very fast at first. A staff member walked up behind me at one point and opened the door and guess what, my baby set off the alarm. Surely the staff members are aware of this issue and could wait an extra five seconds to be sure they don't set off the alarm. I didn't even know the person was behind me. Anyway, once the alarm goes off, it is not only surely annoying to staff and patients alike to hear the thing blaring loudly, but it also requires that my baby's nurse turn it off (persumably she would be the one to ''verify'' that everything was ok). So, I hated walking in the main corrider because I felt like I was in the way (which I was) and because of the alarm issue. And I would have hated walking in the outer corrider, had there been room, because of the heat.

I definitely did not like having my baby taken for the hearing test/vaccination(s?)/etc. Part of the reason for this is that I simply don't even know what was done. I don't know how long the absence lasted, but it seemed like forever; I had even asked my husband if it didn't seem excessively long for what we thought was happening. The baby's picture was also taken at that time, and then offered for sale. That is all well and good - in fact we planned ahead of time to buy the pictures. But, I didn't know the photo shoot would be happening. If I had known, we would have changed the baby's shirt at least. We were hoping to have the picture taken in our clothes, not a hospital t-shirt - and certainly not a t-shirt on which there was a huge yellow spit-up stain. Of course, the stain wasn't visible in the proofs - and I didn't know know it was a problem until the pictures came in the mail $$$$ later.

Even though I had a private room, I had a shared bath. I was less than thrilled about this for two reasons. First, I know I sometimes spent quite a bit of time in there myself, as did the women on the other side. The room is then obviously not accessible to the other patient. Second, and more importantly, they just cannot be kept adequately clean. This is disgusting and I apologize, but there was blood (not mine)in the bathroom on at least two occasions when I was in there. I know that the first time I used the restroom with the help of the nurse and then again when my catheter was removed, there was a pretty big mess in there, so it isn't a big surprise that there would be blood in there. The nurse did clean up afterwards, but I suspect she isn't as thorough as the housekeeping staff (who did clean in there regularly too). I know there were doing their best to keep it clean, but I still think it is extremely unpleasant to have to share a bathroom with someone who leaves blood here and there, through no fault of her own.

In terms of personal treatment: one morning I got up around 6:00 and took a stroll with my baby. I saw food trays in the hallway and saw someone delivering food to patients. I still had not received breakfast by 9:45, so I finally asked for it. I did get my food, but the person who brought it to me treated me like I was making an unreasonable demand. I realize I undoubtedly interupted whatever task she was doing at the time, but I don't think it is unreasonable to have breakfast before 10:00. Then, they brought me lunch about 11:45. Hmmm - not hungry then.

When we finally got around to leaving, things did not progress as smoothly as I would have liked, and we took forever getting out. I am pretty sure the unit was pretty busy at the time and they probably really did need my bed, but I didn't think it was necessary to overhear one staff member asking my nurse if ''that lady in Room X ever get out of here''. Part of the delay was their own fault (pharmacy didn't have my prescription because no one had ever sent it to them). In addition, when we did finally manage to leave, we stopped to pay our bill, as we had been instructed by someone from the business office who stopped by. The person who wheeled me down to the parking lot therefore just had to stand around while my husband took care of that; why they couldn't have told him to take care of it immediately before we left (as he did with picking up the pharmacy order), I don't know. But that was a waste of at least fifteen minutes of her time.

In sum, although I haven't commented on medical care at all, I was very happy with that and have no complaints. The doctors I saw were all great and definitely spent the time to explain whatever was necessary and answer questions, and the nurses were really terrific too; they did their jobs in what I would consider to be less than ideal conditions in a professional, caring way. I'd recommend Kaiser Oakland for medical care (including L) in a heartbeat. But be prepared for a less than ideal facility.

Trying to decide between Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser WC

Nov 2005

Has anyone recently delivered at Oakland Kaiser? I am trying to decide between Oakland Kaiser or Walnut Creek. I am being strongly encouraged to go to Oakland because Walnut Creek Kaiser is very busy. I had a bad experience with the residents at Oakland Kaiser/Alta Bates in 2000 and then a great experience with the mid wifes at Walnut Creek 2003. So we are inclined to hedge our bets and trek out to Walnut Creek. Thanks for all your stories and recommendations anon

I would love to hear about anyone's experience who's given birth at Oakland Kaiser recently (since the new building was completed and they stopped using Alta Bates for deliveries). Any suggestions on obtaining a natural birth there are especially appreciated. Thank you! Annie

I gave birth at Kaiser Oakland a year ago and it was fine. It was my first child so I have nothing to compare it with, but it was not lacking in any major ways. Since you have had prenatal and other care at Kaiser, you know how it it--if you want something, you sometimes have to ask for it firmly, but they do give it to you.

I arrived after my water broke, with contractions just starting. It was busy so I waited in the triage room until a L room was available. The nurse it the L room tried to give me the hard sell on an epidural but backed off when I said firmly that I did not want one. The nurse was the main person taking care of me, with the resident and the ''real doctor'' popping in once or twice to check on me, and finally to deliver the baby. I had an almost natural birth as I requested Fentanyl and was given it promptly.

I was in a triple recovery room but the two other ladies left that day and the nurses moved me to the window-side bed that night and I was alone until the middle of the night when someone else came in. The triples have divider curtains so you do have privacy, and you have access to a big glassed-in hallway with a great view of the east bay hills and the bay so you can show baby where he or she lives!

Not knowing anything about Walnut Creek Kaiser, I can't imagine it is that much better. I think if you live closer to Oakland there is no reason not to have your baby there. It would be terrible to drive out from Oakland to WC and get turned back around! I would recommend however:
- Telling the nurses what you want, ie, no epidural, right away and in no uncertain terms. (It is busy and I think some nurses just want you to be quiet and make their life easier.)
- Bringing one more support person besides your partner, ie, your mom or a doula, so if someone needs to go get someone or something, you will still have a friend with you.
- Bringing bottled water to drink during labor (They do let you drink but they will just give you dixie cups!)
- Bringing a hot pad for your back and washcloths to put on your forehead (You would think that they would have these things in a hospital, and no doubt they do, but it is a lot easier if you have your own. Otherwise you will get paper towel compresses.)

One more plus of Oakland Kaiser--you can send your husband out for food from Piedmont Avenue! anon kaiser mom

I gave birth to my baby at Kaiser Oakland in December of 2004. My husband and I were pleased with the care I received. And as for your worries about overcrowding? We had a triple room to ourselves for the entire two days after we gave birth -- a wonderful way to rest and bond with our baby! happy with Kaiser

I gave birth at the newly renovated Oakland Kaier last December. I found all the staff to be superb. Unfortunately, I never dilated so I had to have an emergency c- section. They were very sensitive and told me exactly what would happen. I found the after-care amazing, too. When I needed someone tough (a nurse who would MAKE me stand up after the surgery) they had just the right person assigned for that. I was very happy with the whole experience. I only encountered one nurse who made me uncomfortable, and I told her to leave. Just like that, it was done. Contrary to what some folks say, I felt I did have ''control'' over my care.

Very happy with Oakland Kaiser delivery. Susan

I had a natural childbirth at Kaiser Oakland near the end of August 2005. I have to say I had an excellent experience and Kaiser Oakland followed my birth plan to the letter wherever possible. The birth itself was beautiful and almost coreographed (lights very low, doctors and staff coming and going and setting up very quietly in spite of the fact that the baby decided to come right at shift-change!) They also seemed to go out of their way to set me up with nurses who understood the desire for a natural birth and all were very supportive. My only complaint was too much time spent in triage when we first arrived (which caused my labor to stall).

I would strongly recommend getting a doula if you hope to go natural. Most hospitals are so used to the medicated approach they don't know what else to do if you don't want the meds. A doula will have other choices to offer you. Her support alone might make the difference.

I'm happy to talk with you more about my experience. Just send me an email. Kim

I work for Alta Bates but have health insurance with Kaiser. My first child was delivered at Alta Bates and the second at Oakland Kaiser. My husband and I both agree that our experience at Oakland Kaiser was much better than at Alta Bates. Too many specifics to go into, we were just taken care of better at Kaiser. anon

I gave birth at Kaiser Oakland in August. It was my first baby and I felt very well taken care of by the labor and delivery staff. The room was great. It was busy, but we got in with no problem--I think it was during a lull between two storms. The labor and delivery nurses I had were wonderful. Everyone really explained things to me and my husband and were just very supportive and caring. I didn't have a natural childbirth (I had an epidural), so I can't really speak to that concern, but I didn't feel pressured by the nurses to get drugs.

My experience in the maternity ward was completely different however. We were put in a triple that was being used as a double, which means sharing a bathroom with another woman and her partner. Even as just a double, the room was way too crowded to move around. Just a few hours after my delivery (in the middle of the night!), the engineering dept wanted to move everyone out of the rooms to fix the toilets. The nurse kept it from happening, but the whole scene was chaotic in a lot of ways and I hardly slept. Dealing with the bathroom is enough of an issue after giving birth! The nurses seemed very competent, but they were just too busy to really take care of everyone. We got an early discharge and left less than 24 hours after delivery, which looking back was really too early for me physically, but I just wanted out of the whole place. Laura

I highly recommend Kaiser-Oakland. My oldest is 18, but 18 years ago, I went through the same dilemma. When I toured Kaiser-Oakland, it seemed like something from Calcutta. I decided to go with Kaiser- Oakland over Kaiser-Walnut Creek because it was closer and had larger facilities in case anything went wrong (I was 35 then). I had a birthing room, which is private, constantly monitored by really good RNs and good doctors-----though if the Maternity ward is busy when you're there, it'll seem like they're darting in and out of several rooms at once (they probably are). At delivery time, they stay in your room throughout the delivery, which can take a really, really long time. If you're looking for country club personal treatment, it may be disappointing, but the level of professionalism is way up there with the best. Also, if there's ANYTHING wrong with that baby when it comes out, Kaiser-Oakland is where you want to be, not Kaiser-Walnut Creek. They have a terrific Intensive Care Nursery----if there's any problems and the baby gets whisked off to Intensive Care, you don't want to have to be going to Kaiser- Walnut Creek to visit or nurse your baby in Intensive Care------- you'll want to be close by. Both my kids ended up in Intensive Care and I was a wreck. They both received top care and also, I have had the BEST Pediatric care imaginable at Kaiser-Oakland since they were born there. You may get a resident during the wee hours, and they're not as experienced. Also, when you are in labor and decide it's time to go to the hospital, it's hard for me to imagine you'd choose a lengthy journey when you're in dire pain, over a short ride. Very important, if you don't already know: which ever Kaiser you choose, go in to their Admissions office at least a couple weeks before your due date and get all your paperwork filled out ahead of time---they keep it on file for when you go in, so that when you arrive in dire pain and ready to push your fist through some slow clerk's face, there won't be any wait. Good luck and congratulations. Linda

Delivering at new Kaiser Oakland vs. Walnut Creek

Nov 2004

Hello all! We are due in January and as Kaiser patients have the choice of where to deliver. I've heard that Kaiser Oakland L is staffed by mostly interns, whereas Kaiser Walnut Creek is primarily staffed by CNM's. We are hoping for a natural birth, and would welcome hearing about any and all experiences relating to delivery at the new Kaiser Oakland facility vs. Walnut Creek. Thank you in advance for your reply! Yvonne

I delivered at Walnut Creek Kaiser because I wanted to have a CNM attend my birth. Overall, I was pleased with the experience and really liked the midwives that took care of me. A few caveats though... I was forced to transfer my prenatal care to Walnut Creek at 35 weeks. Once I was there, I didn't have a consistent prenatal provider. I had four appointments and saw four different people. My chart often wasn't handy, and the continuity of care was very poor. Also, the midwives don't provide prenatal care at all, except at the 36 week visit. Labor and delivery care was good though, and the rooms were pretty nice. I haven't seen the new Oakland facility to compare. In particular, the labor and delivery nurses at Walnut Creek have a very good reputation. You might want to consider going on hospital tours at both facilities to get a feel for the type of care you might receive. Sandra

I gave birth to both of my boys in Walnut Creek. We live in Richmond so I went there for my early OB checkups. Walnut creek has (or at least had) nurse midwives on staff and at the time Oakland didn't (my boys are now 9 and 13). It turned out that we had the same midwife for both boys. Both times were wonderful experiences (oh yeah, aside from labor!!!) I had very normal births, the nurses in the birthing unit were soooo kind and there was always a peaceful, calm feeling which I think is really important when you're in your own chaos of labor/contractions, etc. My first child was natural, my 2nd one I chose an epidural.... HOpe this is helpful...I realize things may have changed since my 2 guys were born. Good luck anon

I delivered my first child in July at the Kaiser Hospital in Walnut Creek and still rave about the incredibly positive experience I had there. From the OB MD, to the birthing midwives, to the post-partum nurses, everyone one was kind, thorough and knowledgeable. They are all first-rate! I heard that many medical professionals come from all over the world to learn about the state-of-the art child birth facilities and processes. Congratulations and good luck! sn4akis

I delivered naturally at Walnut Creek in September, having chosen that L over Oakland because I wanted a midwife. My experience there was excellent--I never saw a doctor until I was discharged! The nurses and midwife I worked with were wonderful--they listened to what I wanted my birth experience to be and helped me achieve it. The birthing rooms are large, comfortable, and sunny (not that I cared once the tough contractions started coming). I would highly recommend going to WC--the drive is worth it. Barbara

For my 2nd I drove to Walnut Creek 19 months ago. It was a wonderful delivery- great nurses and very confident and relaxed Mid wifes. Plus, it was one of their busiest days, and I still have not complaints about my care. And there was a student that wanted to observe and I was asked very kindly by her teacher if she could watch. I did allow the studen to observe and she was so grateful afterward. Nothing like the mystery tour at Alta Bates. I ran into someone at the Zoo right after my 2nd delivery at Walnut Creek and she had practically the same story. Make the drive! Linda

I delivered last March at Kaiser Walnut Creek. I also wanted the least amount of intervention possible and I had hired a doula. I would say overall that the midwives were pretty good. I had a very fast labor (pitocin induced because my water broke) and they seemed sort of unprepared for how fast the delivery itself went. This was frustrating because I was telling them that the baby was coming. I did tear a lot but the doula said that the midwife did a great job stitching me and I have healed well. I didn't miss having an OB at all. The nurses were really good also. One strange thing, after the delivery I never saw the midwife. She didn't come by on rounds which I think is unusal. Don't expect to be coddled afterwards, either, they give you the bum's rush after 24 to 36 hours and I wasn't overwhelmed with the lactation support either.

I delivered both my children (now ages 4.5 and 1.5) at Kaiser Walnut Creek and had excellent experiences both times. The facility is very nice and the staff is terrific. I was so impressed by the CNM's - both had great bedside manners and were obviously skilled and experienced. I even ended up with a private room after both deliveries, which isn't guaranteed, but is really nice if you can get that. I don't know anything about Oakland's L - Alta Bates used to deliver the babies for Oakland Kaiser patients, so I think that's a pretty new addition for Oakland Kaiser. Even though I live in Oakland, I'm so glad I used Walnut Creek to deliver (and still use it for my OB/GYN and Pediatrician) - it's just a very top-notch place (not that other facilities aren't, of course). If I have a third child, I will go to Walnut Creek again to deliver. Good luck to you and congratulations! Kaiser WC fan

We were faced with a similar dilemma when our daughter was born 2 years ago -- to give birth at Kaiser Alta Bates or Kaiser Walnut Creek. I, like you, wanted very much to have a ''natural'' childbirth. We chose to deliver at Walnut Creek, despite the longer drive, and I'm really glad we did. It came down to this - - I didn't want an epideral, but if I had to get one, I REALLY didn't want a sleep-deprived intern giving it to me. Of course, nothing went as we had planned, and after 2 days of labor, I opted for the epideral. The doctor who administered it was very experienced and patient, as was most of the staff. (We did have one surly nurse and asked her to leave and send someone else. She did. Keep in mind you always have that option.) I'm not sure how different the nurse midwives were from regular nurses. I was in so much pain that there didn't seem to be much that they could do. I would have died for a tub to sit in -- I've heard they may have them now, although they didn't then. You might want to ask about that. Last thing -- not everyone gets a private room, but we lucked out and got one, which was really great. -glad we went to WC

Hi! I just faced the same option as you and chose to deliver at Walnut Creek. I highly recommend it. The midwives are incredible. I was really impressed by how competent the midwife was who delivered my daughter. She got me through pushing with no tears, something I just don't think a new resident would necessarily be able to do. amy

I posted a message asking for labor experiences at Oakland Kaiser about a month ago. I got a number of 'off line' responses. For the benefit of others, here are the main points I picked up:
* the staff are nice, experienced and knowledgeable (''terrific'' in the words of one mother); many hired from other facilities in the area
* the place is small -- no one felt pressured to leave because of overcrowding, but there wasn't much room to walk around
* there are various communication/regulation 'kinks' related to the newness of the facility (for those who gave birth in Sept/Oct), e.g. around enforcement of visiting hours, some problems working in teams, general disorganization
* staff is supportive of mother's choices re: medication and interventions
* staff is supportive of breastfeeding

I'll probably deliver there, just because I don't want to get stuck in traffic going to Walnut Creek, but I'd be very interested in hearing about more recent Oakland birth experiences. Irene