Advice about Childbirth at Kaiser

Parent Q&A

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  • Does anyone have any recommendations for an OBGYN who would let me pay out of pocket for a one-time appointment or consultation (almost as a "walk-in" client)? I am newly pregnant and this is my first pregnancy. My current medical insurance is Kaiser and that is not changing anytime soon. So far, I have felt very brushed off by Kaiser and I can not see my doctor until I am almost 10 weeks pregnant. I would love to talk to an OB before that as I have lots of questions! I have messaged my Kaiser OB, but she has not been very responsive. For example, after  I messaged her about my positive pregnancy test, it took 7 days to get a response. In that time, I tried multiple times to get to the OBGYN department via phone, and I continued to be routed to the "advice line" with nurses who are not specialists in OB. They gave me the normal tips "no tobacco/alcohol" etc, but were unable to answer my specific questions about my current workout routine, travel plans, caffeine consumption, etc... and I got different advice depending on who I talked to. I had an "intake phone call" with a nurse yesterday and it was very disappointing to say the least, and there was no room for real prenatal education or questions. I would be willing to pay out of pocket for an appointment with a private practice OBGYN or maybe even a midwife or doula. Looking on yelp, I am not sure if any allow these kind of appointments without confirming to be their patient through the entire birth process. Does anyone have any advice or did anyone else feel weirdly ignored by Kaiser during your first trimester? I usually am happy with Kaiser and I understand that doctors are extremely busy, but I am just feeling so anxious with the lack of communication and not being able to ask a real doctor questions.

    Try switching to a midwife at Kaiser. I was happier with the midwife than with the OB, but both took time to answer all my questions *once I saw them in person.* 

    I agree with you the member services/advice line is awful. I wish I could just call the office and get in touch with my care provider! That’s the thing I hate about Kaiser. 

    I can recommend my MD physician who is an internal medicine doctor but who is the mother of five children and has “caught” many babies --  she’s a midwife at heart. She’s truly an amazing person: Alexandra Johnson at greeting health in Berkeley. I can’t Google it now but you should be able to find it and if not let me know!

    she’s truly an amazing person: Alexandra Johnson at greeting health in Berkeley. I can’t Google it now but you should be able to find it and if not let me know!

    And tell her Tandy sent you!

    I have an amazing recommendation for a CNM midwife, Cynthia Banks. She does home births but has an office you go to for the routine checkups. I went to her when I was about 3 weeks pregnant with my first baby in 2019. She is absolutely incredible and you can pay out of pocket. Also, Congrats!

    Congratulations! It's an exciting time. I had my 2 kids through Kaiser and it was a GREAT experience. You will find that as you get further along in your pregnancy the care will be more often - and if you don't like your OB you can always try another - there are probably great reviews on this site. You are correct that you won't meet with anyone for a while, because things happen, and because they are super busy but also because there's not much they need to do for you before then. You say you feel anxious, and I think that's the point. Do you have any girlfriends/relatives you can talk to about the process? You really likely do not need to talk to a medical professional unless you are at higher risk for complications, your body knows what to do so you need to learn to trust your instincts - this extends well into parenthood. This is a great first step towards doing so. It will all be ok! Reading really good books like "What to expect when you're expecting' was a great help to me, and talking to other women is comforting. I joined a 1st time pregnancy group and that was also a wonderful experience. Working out is fine, caffeine is fine, travel is fine! All will be well! I wish you a happy healthy pregnancy and baby - try not to stress and just eat and drink healthy, and get good rest.

    First piece of advice: choose a new OB/Gyn at Kaiser. I’ve been a KP member for nearly 50 yrs and can attest that there are great docs and mediocre ones. Get a great one, and one who understands that communication is vital. Get some recommendations. My daughter is newly pregnant and is having a good experience with her KP doc. Seven days to respond to patient is a breach of duty. 
    If you file a complaint with member services, you will be doing yourself and others a service. KP takes “reviews” about docs seriously. 

    Thank you all! Appreciate all the responses!

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!

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.  

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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Kaiser Vallejo vs Walnut Creek for Childbirth

Oct 2012

Hi, I'm going to have my first baby in a couple of months and I'm trying to decide between Vallejo and Walnut Creek Kaiser. Any suggestions? Good/bad experiences? Does anyone know how many labor tubs they have at Vallejo? And is there still only one midwife at Vallejo? Does Walnut Creek tend to be busier than Vallejo? Thank you, Rachel

I cannot recommend either place specifically (I delivered at Kaiser Oakland 2x) but just have to chip in my 2c to say you should really plan your delivery at the hospital that is closest to home. A) If you end up laboring at home a while (which I do recommend but realize is not your question!), you will want a very short drive to the hospital b/c driving in car while in active labor is... uh... a unique experience that I personally would not want to be one minute longer than absolutely necessary. B) The drive home with your newborn will be the most nervewracking experience of your life, and again, you will not want it to be one minute longer than it needs to be. Closer the Better!

I was stuck between the two as well when I was pregnant. I ended up going with kaiser vallejo. They do not have any tubs to labor in but they do have showers that I used during labor and helped a lot. The doctors only work the day shift and midwives at night. I had a midwife deliver for me and it was a really great experience. They generally abided by my birth plan I had and listened to me. I wanted to create as natural as a birth as possible in a hospital and they really respected that. The hospital was remodeled not that long ago and is really nice. Walnut creek only has one labor tub so its not even a given if you will get it or not and you cannot birth in them. I am sure walnut creek is nice as well. We decided on vallejo in the end because it was closer, but of course when I went into labor I was in Walnut Creek! Becca

Pregnant, switching from HealthNet to Kaiser?

Nov 2011

Hello, I am 4 months pregnant and insured through HealthNet HMO via my spouse. HealthNet has been refusing to pay for tests requested by my doctor. I am very frustrated, I don't have time and energy to fight every single denial notice I receive and I am therefore thinking of switching to Kaiser Oakland (my employer).

Do you have experience with this? Has Kaiser systematically paid for all your tests? Is there a good OB/GYN who is OK with alternative approaches, even better, does Kaiser cover for midwives? If I wanted to make sure I got fully covered, which plan should I choose?

My profile is high risk and over 35.

I delivered my first in Europe and even though I had basic insurance coverage, I never saw a bill. It's the law in my country that pregnancies are fully covered, no deductible, no extra cost whatsoever. So with the health system here I am at a loss and I am finding very hard to understand what my rights are.

I really appreciate any guidance you may have. Thank you! Isabelle

I don't know anything about switching to Kaiser but I do know they have a great birthing facility in Walnut Creek with wonderful midwives. Not sure their policy on ''at risk'' pregnancies as far as midwife vs OB/Gyn care, but that place is great. If you switch to Kaiser, find a way to have care in WC. A friend birthed there and the insurance paid for most all of it. L

I am now 8 months pregnant and have been with Kaiser Oakland throughout my pregnancy. I am very happy with the quality and convenience of care that I have received there. I have had all the tests/ultrasounds/genetic screening that I have required (all the standard ones and some additional ones to address specific complications I have had) and have never been billed or had pay a dime -- everything is included. Nor will I have to pay anything for labor and delivery. Although there are different plans that your empoyer may have with Kaiser which may require a copay for visits etc., I have never experienced (or heard of) Kaiser refusing to cover a necessary procedure. Not only do I not have to fight for the services I need, but because the Kaiser system is integrated and fully electronic I have been able to schedule same-day tests and appointments when needed and have access to the results of all my tests online within 24 hours. Plus I am in email contact with my doctor whenever I need to check in with her. It is an extremely efficient system. On the question of midwives, Kaiser Walnut Creek and Haywood (and other locations) have midwives whom you can see as your primary provider and who are available during labor and delivery. This would be included in your coverage. I am planning a completely natural childbirth at Kaiser Oakland and my doctor has been fully supportive of this decision. Good luck! Happy Kaiser Patient

Hi, you will probably get lots of good info/ responses on this, but here is mine. i have used kaiser for prenatal care with 2 pregnancies, but had two different plans (under different employers) for each. my first covered absolutely everything prenatal, except a 250 dollar copay for the entire hospital/ birth bill, and some small co-pays for any prescriptions. this was even though the plan had a co-pay for other office visits and procedures- prenatal was exempt. my second experience was with a deductible plan, in which i was responsible for *some* of the cost of routine prenatal visits and procedures, and would have had a higher responsibility for the hospital bill up to a certain maximum out of pocket.

all that to say: you MUST talk to your HR person about what specific kaiser plan they have and what is and isn't covered

re: prenatal and delivery. as for midwifery, they do not cover the cost of a direct entry or homebirth midwife. Kaiser Walnut Creek does have a midwife program and many people are attended by nurse midwives for their delivery. but no matter what, with Kaiser, you will do your prenatal care with a different person, or different people, than you deliver with. you deliver with whomever is on-call when you go into labor. kaiser oakland is a teaching hospital, so you will be dealing with interns too. my prenatal care was excellent with my first, and with this baby so far. they have a very consistent approach to things like recommended tests and procedures, but if you get a good prenatal provider that person will be flexible and help personalize the experience to your particular pregnancy. i did NOT like my delivery experience at Kaiser Oakland, though there was much of it that did go well. this time i am switching to a homebirth midwife and paying out of pocket for the opportunity to avoid the very assembly-line/impersonal hospital experience i had with my first. good luck to you! Ellen

I wanted to let you know that my experience with Kaiser Oakland for my daughter's birth this past August was wonderful. The costs for you depend on the type of plan you have with Kaiser, but with mine all my OB visits were free (normally my co-pay is $25/visit), there were no additional fees for lab work and my overall birth experience was very positive. I did not use a doula or midwife, but my friends had a doula and Kaiser is very open to them. I am not sure about midwives, but I think they are open to them as well.

The thing that I love about Kaiser is that you don't have to fight them over every bill. What you pay is what you pay. Where you do have to be savvy is making sure you know what you want and clearly communicating it to your doctor and the birthing team. One thing to be aware of is that your OB is not going to be the one who delivers your baby. The Kaiser Oakland Labor & Delivery team is staffed by residents and attending physicians (which, by the way, I loved as the doctors on staff are young, energetic, and well versed on the most up to date info related to child birth).

Good luck with everything! I hope the transition to Kaiser goes smoothly for you. Maria

I am not able to answer all your questions, but I can tell you my own experience.

I had my prenatal care at Kaiser and delivered my baby there too. During my whole pregnancy/delivery, I only paid twice (one was at my first prenatal care visit, and the other was for the medicines they prescribed to me after the delivery). All tests, including screening tests were covered. Due to Kaiser's unique system, as long as the tests are requested by the doctor, they won't deny the coverage. So if you don't want to deal with bills, Kaiser is a good choice.

The OB/GYNs at Kaiser, in my opinion, are very pro natural delivery and breastfeeding, which I think is a good thing. I did not know what ''alternatives'' you mean, but I think the doctors at Kaiser will cooperate with you if you have special requests.

However, I did not have a good delivery experience at Kaiser (Oakland). After a long hard labor and an emergency C-section, totally exhausted and feeling down (b/c I really wished I could have a natural delivery), I found myself have to share the recovery room with TWO other families. My poor husband did not even have a chair to seat and lean his back in our tiny part of the recovery room. Me and my husband could not sleep at all because of all the noises. But what really made me upset was when I saw there were actually a few private rooms UNOCCUPIED at the time. I just did not get it. I guess (hopefully I was wrong), they did not let us use the private room maybe because they did not want to clean all of those rooms? Anyway, I was very unhappy about that, especially thinking of how much money we and our employers pay to them every month.

About the midwife - We were told that, Kaiser Walnut creek has midwife service (but not sure if that is covered by insurance or not), but Kaiser Oakland does not. However, per our instructor at birth class, the midwives at Walnut creek are more like a doctor, and they will take care a few patients at a time.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask me if you have more questions. Xun

Good OB and delivery at which Kaiser?

Sept 2010

I have a past of complicated pregnancy,a child with special need and then a DNC, I am not happy with my current obgyn at kaiser oakland , need recommendation for a good obgyn at kaiser , who is understanding and have time to listen to me, and can suggest and guide me through my next pregancy.I don't mind to travel if the obgyn is really good. Also trying to decide on which kaiser has a better delivery facility, any recommendation please.

I did not have any complicated pregnancies or risk factors with my pregnancy, but for my third pregnancy I saw Dr. Tracy Seo, who now works at Kaiser Pinole. (She used to be at Richmond.) I've decided that I will continue to see her in Pinole, I loved her that much. She always made me feel like she would be happy to sit and talk with me, even though I know she was really busy. She was very good at ''reading'' my hesitations and was very good about pausing to investigate them.

By the way, I've delivered at Kaiser Vallejo and Kaiser Oakland. I preferred the Vallejo birth experience but the Oakland post-partum care. Could have been just the particular nursing staff I experienced at both places, or the particular birth situations, but that's me.... three-time Mama

Switching to Kaiser during pregnancy

March 2010

I am 14 weeks pregnant and I am going to be switching jobs on April 1 (when I am about 19 weeks along), and as a result will have to change my health insurance to Kaiser (will probably be going to Kaiser Oakland). My coverage will start April 1. Based on when my last appointment is with my current doctor, I will probably need to see a new ob within about 2 weeks of starting at Kaiser. I also have moderate asthma, and while my pregnancy has been uneventful thus far (and my asthma has been controlled for years), I have been regularly seeing my asthma doctor as well, and will need to pick up with that shortly after switching to Kaiser also. I may be worrying about this unnecessarily, but does it just work that if I call April 1 and tell them I need an appointment with an ob and an asthma/allergy person it will get set up very quickly? Am I likely to have any ability to control who I see given that I can't really wait for too terribly long to get appointments? I've read the archives about the regular process for selecting a doctor at Kaiser, but I am sort of more curious about whether being in the middle of my pregnancy and having a tighter time frame is likely to mean that I will have fewer options.

I am also just a bit apprehensive about switching all of my health care providers and insurer in the middle of pregnancy, and would appreciate any words of wisdom (or maybe just comfort!) from others who have had to do that. I will be getting all of my records from my current doctors and will bring them--is there anything else I should be aware of or any pitfalls others have experienced? Thanks! anon

I have been a Kaiser patient for many years. As an individual and as a parent I really love it. I know changing Doctors mid pregnancy is stressful but once you have made the switch there are many advantages. One is the ease of getting urgent care, same day appointments, even on the weekends. Another is that the lab and pharmacy are in the same complex with the doctors. You can be seen by your physician and, if needed, have lab work done and prescriptions filled before returning to your car.

Kaiser has a great website,, which you can access even before you become a member. On the website you can view a list of available doctors in your area. You can view a fair amount of information about them online then ask around and see if anyone has personal experience with the ones you are interested in. I have been happy with all the doctors I have used at Kaiser Oakland. I love my personal physician, my OB/GYN and my daughter's pediatrician. Only one (the pediatrician) did I request. The others I just lucked into.

I hope this has been helpful in alleviating some of your stress. Once the change is made you will be in very good hands. Good luck with the pregnancy.

Kaiser or Alta Bates for pregnancy/birth

Oct 2009

I would like to hear from anyone who can help me compare the prenatal and birthing experience at Alta Bates and at Kaiser Oakland. My employer offers Kaiser and Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and I am trying to decide which system would work best for my husband and me as we try to get pregnant with our first. I have never had an HMO. Thank you!

If you go with Kaiser for birth, avoid SF. I delivered there and it was several disasters in a row, and callous treatment. I hear good things about Kaiser Walnut Creek, however. Alta Bates also seems fine, my sister had 2 uneventful deliveries there. anon

I've had 2 births in the past couple years. The first was born at Kaiser Oakland, and the second was born at Alta Bates. Generally, for general medicine, I love the Kaiser system. It is so handy to have ''one stop shopping'' when visiting. If I needed a x-ray or whatever, I would just go, immediately, over to the x-ray department. Very handy to have everything right there. Especially handy when you are also lugging around a baby and you don't want to make a zillion appointments around town. I was very happy with Kaiser. That said, the actual birth experience was better at Alta Bates. I felt very pressured to have a C-section at Kaiser Oakland and I had to really fight to be allowed to continue with a vaginal delivery. At Alta Bates, I had a midwife (Hsiu-Li Cheng...whom I HIGHLY recommend by the way) and the birth experience was wonderful. However, like I said before, the convenience of the Kaiser healthcare system is a compelling argument for using them. I'm sure that you could have a better birth experience there than I did (especially if you went to Kaiser Walnut Creek for the birth - they have midwives). good luck!

i planned a home birth but ended up at kaiser oakland at the very end of my labor and couldnt have been happier (well unless i had delivered at home!). they were all so wonderful and accomodating of me and my wishes to labor as i wished and didnt intervene. while this may not be the experience you are looking for my point is that they were respectful of how i wanted to do things and open to a ''different'' hospital approach which i appreciate. kaiser is great

Recent childbirth experiences at Kaiser

June 2009

I am a first time mother-age 39-needing to give birth at a Kaiser. I have heard mixed reviews for both Oakland and Walnut Creek.I am leaning toward Kaiser WC but it seems far. My OB-GYN likes Oakland, but it seems like a zoo there. Anyone have expereince with delivering at Kaiser Vallejo? Any comments would be greatly appreciated! Anon

We gave birth to both of our children, who were born in 2006 and 2008, at Kaiser Oakland, and we had WONDERFUL experiences both times. Mind you, both were pretty straightforward deliveries, and I was fairly mellow about the whole thing, with good support from my husband, but overall our experiences couldn't have been better. We had birth plans, which were respected; we said we would ask for pain meds if we wanted them, never asked, and were never offered any. No interventions were suggested. The nurses attending, in both instances, were helpful coaches who stayed there the entire duration of the labor (though this was more impressive the first time, when my labor went on longer--three hours second time so wasn't a stretch!); everyone who attended to us and our babies in the following hours were great. Carrie

We had a mostly positive experience at Kaiser Walnut Creek in July 2007. We live in Oakland and I was a little worried about the drive but it did not turn out to be a problem at all. Also, I asked and you can go to either if you need to check-in asap or just change or mind last min, just be sure they both have your records. I received my PN care at Oakland Kaiser but chose to deliver at WC because I was completely against any ''interventions'' (pitocin, epidural, c-section, etc.) unless absolutely needed. My understanding from our childbirth prep teacher and from what I've read, is that at a teaching hospital (like Kaiser Oakland) the new docs are egger to preform as many procedures as they can, for their own professional experience, and not as supportive of natural birth and letting a womans body do what it does naturally. In labor were seen by the different mid-wifes on duty at WC and they were all great! But even with my husband being a very strong advocate for me and sayi ng NO to drugs and NO to pitocin ''to get things moving faster'' they kept saying, we still received lots of pressure and judgment from some of the older nurses about how long we were occupying the labor room with no baby yet. seriously, I thought!? (18 hours of labor btw, with only 5 min of pushing once I asked them to break the rest of my waters). I should say that the rooms are so much nicer in WC than in Oakland. We had a HUGE room and I was able to walk and pace back and forth. We also had a very small but completly private recovery room and our own bathroom. In the end we had a completely un-medicated birth and the (nurse for the birth)and mid-wife were incredible! Kathy or Kathryn was our nurse and Laura Kaufman was the mid-wife. hope my story helps. GOOD LUCK TO YOU! glad I went to Walnut Creek

I recently gave birth to my first child at Kaiser WC in April and had an AMAZING experience. The labor and delivery nurses were GREAT. They all were knowledgeable, experienced and had wonderful personalities. They were very respectful and open to our requests/birth plan. I ended up having a C-Section (not planned)and I still feel like it was an overall great experience. In recovery, we learned ALOT and felt confident once we were ready to go home. Also, I am a Kaiser employee and had heard from other collagues/MDs that Walnut Creek was a much better choice than Oakland. Good luck! Beth

I gave birth in April 2009 at Kaiser Oakland and had a mixed experience. Overall I would say they have a very ''one size fits all'' approach which was okay at certain times and very frustrating at others. They have protocols for every situation and if you don't fit into their protocol, too bad.
The cons: - I feel like some information given on the L tour was a little misleading. For example, they say you get fetal monitoring 15 min per hour; but in practice the monitor just stays on all the time. - My water broke and although I was having contractions, they did not consider me in ''active labor'' and wanted to give me Pitocin. Once the doctor realized I was not necessarily going to follow her recommendations, she became very angry and confrontational. I know she was genuinely concerned, but she did not listen to me about my experience and my body. - My partner and I hoped for a drug-free birth but were not opposed to medical interventions; however, once we said we did not want to induce labor right away, the staff (especially the dr.) cast us in the role of hard-core anti-medical types and said things like ''So you're going to refuse treatment?!?'', when this was NOT what I had said. The pros: - The nurse and doctor (also a resident) who attended the birth were wonderful. The nurse took the time to go over the birth plan with my partner and really treated me the way I wanted to be treated - e.g. giving suggestions for positions to labor in, but not barking orders at me. The doctor did perineal massage during the delivery which I believe was a large part of why I did not have any tearing. They were both caring and supportive. - We got good postpartum care. Although I found it stressful being in the hospital with lots of nurses in and out all the time, the nurses were really caring and took good care of us. My advice: - Labor at home as long as possible. - Get a doula, no matter where you give birth. It's so hard to make decisions during this altered state, and a doula can support you so you are able to make decisions you will feel good about. - You can get good care at Kaiser, just be educated and willing to advocate for yourself. I learned during this birth experience that many things around birth are not clear-cut and the doctor's word is not the gospel.

I went to all my prenatal visits at Oakland, and I delivered my first child at Kaiser Walnut Creek last Thanksgiving. The drive from Berkeley was fine. I think generally with a first baby there is plenty of time. I had a relatively good experience. I was given a room with a labor tub which Oakland does not have. The midwives worked well with my doula. I did feel that the number of nurses parading in and out was invasive. They also did not give us any privacy following the birth. For the most part, they were fairly respectful of our preferences, They were mostly capable, though a couple of nurses seemed more tired then I was. Not an astounding endorsement, I know, but my doula highly recommended them over oakland. The stats also show that Oakland has a higher percentage of cesarean than walnut creek. Good luck! -

I had a phenomenal experience giving birth at Oakland Kaiser (nine months ago) -as did many people I know. My nurses were great, my resident OB was wonderful (my ob wasn't on-call to deliver...), as was almost everyone I came into contact with there. I highly recommend it. It's not a zoo at all! In fact, Walnut Creek would be more likely to be super-busy because many people choose to head out there (I think because of the nurse-midwives and the birthing tubs). We liked the idea of both of those things as well, but we didn't want to drive far while in labor. Feel free to email me if you want more info. ;-) Mailisha mailisha.chesney [at]

Hi, Recently, (two weeks ago) I had a birth at Kaiser Walnut Creek, but got my OB care at Oakland and debated between having the birth at Oakland or Walnut Creek.

Hands down, I would pick Walnut Creek over Oakland any day for a better clinical outcome and overall experience. (The facility in Walnut Creek is dramatically nicer, large private rooms and I labored in the room with the jacuzzi tub. The food is better, the parking is free for you & your guests,there is an outside courtyard to walk/labor in, the list goes on.)

I chose to have the birth at Walnut Creek, but for various reasons, started my labor accidentally at Oakland, so experienced both. The residents at Oakland can be very risk averse and cautious, and I had the unsettling experience of watching the veteran L nurses argue openly with the residents about my case. (The residents wanted to introduce drugs and tests that the experienced nurses told me openly were unneccessary.) We ended up leaving Oakland and making a mad dash to Walnut Creek where the midwives didn't bat an eyelash at my baby's data on the monitor and let me have my birth as I wanted it - largely hands off. The midwives ranged from their 30s to 50s, but the vibe was dramatically different from Oakland. The postpartum care was amazing, and one of my favorite nurses called me after her shift ended to say she missed holding my son the week before and wished us well on our breastfeeding journey... My entire family was amazed at the compassionate care we received in Walnut Creek.

I know other people who have had great births at Oakland, but with any training facility, you run the risk of having residents practice on you or do procedures that more skilled clinicians would rule out. I don't know about Vallejo, but San Francisco is also a training facility. Good luck! Fan of Walnut Creek Birth Experience

My husband and I had a wonderful childbirth experience at Kaiser Walnut Creek in March 2009. We had a natural, vaginal birth and the nurses and midwife were extremely supportive and helpful during the delivery. The nurses were also very helpful with breastfeeding support and we were able to see a lactation consultant the day after delivery. An added bonus was a special celebratory dinner served in our room. We live in North Berkeley and went over Grizzly Peak to avoid any tunnel traffic. It was a long 30 minute drive while in active labor, but worth it for us to have the midwife care. I would definitely recommend Kaiser WC for labor and delivery. Nicola

My wife and I had our first child at Kaiser WC eight months ago. We found the facilities very comfortable and the staff couldn't have been better. You probably know this, but the WC facility is run by midwives and the Oakland facility by OB Doctors, which made a difference to us (but maybe not you). My wife had pre eclampsia during labor and it was an EXTREMELY busy night (12 women gave birth that night) but we were completely taken care of. In particular the staff was very sensitive to my wife's desires and allowed her to decide when and what medical interventions to employ. Above all the staff were all highly professional and worked with a great deal of confidence and empathy. I have no trouble recommendation Kaiser WC to anyone. You should contact them for a walk though tour; we had one and it greatly enhanced our confidence. Ben

i gave birth at kaiser oakland in december 07. although i was planning a home birth i ended up there and i must say it was pretty great. my doctor was anne eastman and she was amazing. she basically left me alone to labor how i wanted to and didnt intervene at all until she needed to in the end (the baby wasnt coming!). my nurse was great too. it was all kind of a blur though since i arrived while in transition and was rushed to a room, so i cant speak too much on the organization/lack of or zoo like qualities it very well may have had. i was pretty out of it! but overall great care and great staff!! best of luck to you

I had my first baby at Kaiser Oakland 3 weeks ago, with no drugs and a lengthy birth plan. Everyone, from the nurses in triage to the doctor, read the birth plan and asked questions when they weren't clear about anything. I found most of the staff very attentive and helpful, (no one was unhelpful, but some nurses were less enthusiastically so), and I felt very supported the whole time. Despite the fact that it was a busy night, I had a private room (I chose to leave the next day; it's possible that I would have shared had a stayed another night). I had visited Walnut Creek and considered that as well, but decided it was too far (in retrospect I'm SO glad I stayed in Oakland ? I can't imagine going down 24 while in active labor!) Oakland is not as ''nice'' looking as Walnut Creek, and I hear the rooms are smaller (I was in a double by myself, so I can't speak to this), but I found the staff to be great. I had a doula who is familiar with Kaiser Oakland, which I think hel ped me feel comfortable, although I didn't feel like she pulled any strings or anything. You have to go with what makes you feel comfortable, but I had a great experience at Kaiser Oakland. Happy Oakland Mom

My baby was born at Kaiser Oakland in February and we had a great experience. It is a teaching hospital, so your baby will most likely be delivered by a resident if you have an uncomplicated labor. We had no problem with this. Also, if you attend the 1 hour class where you can meet the doctors, this will put your mind at ease. We had two great L nurses which made all the difference. The post-partum nurses were hit-or-miss, but by then we didn't care as much. A lot of people want to have their babies in Walnut Creek because they perceive it is better, but sometimes they are way too busy because of that. A friend of mine had her baby there and had a terrible experience. I know at least 4 friends who have had babies at Kaiser Oakland in the last 2 years with no major problems. As long as you have a good L nurse, you will be fine. If you don't like who they give you when you arrive, have your partner ask for someone new! anonymous

I am 38 and just delivered my daughter at Kaiser Oakland 6 weeks ago. It was a scheduled c-section so I didn't compare the Oakland facilities with WC or Vallejo. Everything for the delivery was great - excellent staff, smooth process - I felt it was very well-organized and the staff was knowledgeable. The only complaint I had about the recovery experience was that I didn't have a room to myself. At first I was placed in a triple by myself, but then it got busy and the 2nd and 3rd days I was there I had a roommate. It made it harder to sleep, have guests, and in my opinion its better to have privacy while you recover.

The staff that helped with my recovery were all wonderful at Oakland. The nurses were helpful and friendly, the lactation consultant was great, the pediatricians were all good with my daughter. They seemed to take my cues as to how much help I wanted, what my daughter and I needed, and worked hard to support my vision for my recovery. I would recommend Kaiser Oakland to other moms delivering. Just be ready to share a space after you have the baby! a new mama

I had a wonderful experience at Kaiser Oakland. My first child was born at Alta Bates, and while I have no complaints about my care there, I found Kaiser Oakland a much more positive experience. I had a high risk pregnancy with twins, so I delivered in the operating room with two teams of doctors and two teams of nurses (there was a mix of residents and non-residents.) I had to have a c-section since the first baby was breech. One thing I had heard before is that because Kaiser has residents, the doctors tend to be younger and less jaded than some of the folks you can get at Alta Bates, so they are really positive, take the time to engage and talk with you and it shows that they are excited and thrilled to be doing what they are doing. I found this to be true, and I jokingly asked the anesthesiologist during my c-section if it was his first time doing this because he was so excited about my babies being born. It of course wasn't.

Also, the nurses afterward were amazing. Simply amazing. They were very helpful working with me to get my post-surgery pain under control. One nurse even stayed after her shift was over so she could meet my older son since she heard he was coming by. They were truly caring; I'll forget one nurse who helped me with horrible post-surgery gas pains coming in the next day saying how she had come back to check on me and was so happy to see me and my husband finally sleeping peacefully. You could see she she took our well being to heart. I also liked the fact that it's not a large maternity ward, you don't feel like you're in a baby factory. Happy Oakland Kaiser Mom

I live in Richmond - which Kaiser for delivery?

August 2008

I live in Richmond and need to choose a hospital for delivery. Would love to hear your experiences. I like the idea of a midwife at Walnut Creek, but am concerned about the drive while in labor. Anyone make that drive from Richmond/El Cerrito area?

Have you thought about Kaiser SF ? I know it means going over the bridge, but it is about the same distance from WC from where you are and I LOVE my doctors there. I've had a surgery there already and will be delivering my son there in November. SF does not have midwives but is super-progressive and has a low c-section rate and is doula-friendly. Kaiser Oakland is my emergency hospital and we did the tour there and thought ''wow, I hope there's not an emergency.'' They are very nice and clearly competent, but the rooms are dark and TINY and it just isn't as modern as either WC or SF. The problem I've heard with WC is that EVERYONE wants to deliver there so you can get diverted to Oakland pretty easily. SF doesn't divert very often, so says my OB. Also, while Kaiser Oakland has a Level 3 NICU, the level 4 is in San Francisco at UCSF, so close to that hospital. Also - MOST of the postpartum rooms in Oakland are shared. They do try to keep you in a private setting but it's not guaranteed like at SF. Hope this helps! Lara

Definitely Walnut Creek . I will be delivering my second there in Nov. We live in the Annex and did the drive around 9pm the first time I delivered. It was quick and easy at that time. Our plan was to leave earlier if it was rush hour or a more congested time of day and head over San Pablo Damn Rd as an alternative. Really, labor is uncomfortable/painful so distance doesn't really matter. You won't like being in the car but being out of the car really doesn't matter that much because you are in labor. Pillows and being in the back seat with more room did help but again you are in labor it's just unpleasant. We choose WC over Oakland for several reasons. Oakland is a teaching hospital so there could be many people in your room while you deliver. My friend said she didn't even notice but I relished in my low lit room with only my husband, the midwife and a nurse present at the birth of my little one. She was welcomed into a very calm and serene environment. Oakland, at least two years ago, also had no midwives. I was very set on a midwife as I was very set on having a natural birth. WC's are some of the best and I wouldn't have made it through without our wonderful midwife. We also went for three tours at Oakland and still never saw the facilities because the guide never showed. I wasn't taking myself to a flaky place like that. The only complaint I had with WC was my bed didn't go down. I didn't really notice till after the birth. During labor they just hoisted me up but after when I needed to pee the nurse expected me to hop off the bed. A true impossibility after a natural birth. Thankfully I spotted a stool and the nurse finally helped me to the bathroom. So I'm a WC fan all the way but either way just be VERY prepared in your relaxation techniques, PRACTICE ALL THE TIME especially in early labor when you can still communicate with your coach what is and isn't working for you, and those should carry you through your drive to Oakland or WC. Alexis

We made the drive from the Richmond Hills to Kaiser WC . I was also considering both Oakland and WC, but liked the midwife and laboring tub options at WC. We planned to take San Pablo Dam Rd. to 24, but decided against it at the last second because it was dark and raining really hard (no traffic though since it was late). So, we just took 80 to 24. My husband was going fast to get us there, but I kept yelling at him to slow down because of the rain. I guess I had 4-5 sets of contractions in the car. It was fairly awful. However, the contractions were also fairly awful at the hospital. I too was worried about the longer drive to WC, but I don't think it mattered because getting there didn't take the pain away (I didn't get meds). So, it is certainly doable. And I loved the care I got there so I would definitely do it again (though hope for no rain). Shauna

Our youngest grandchild, who is now 3 months old, was born @ Oakland Kaiser . My daughter-in-law felt that she got extrememly good care, as did the baby. There were some complications that had not been expected (a Caesaean was absolutely necessary to save the baby from possible harm because of a change in the position of cord & baby), but she recuperated rather quickly. She was kept in the hospital for about a week, no move made to kick her out w/a minimum stay; had excellent nursing care, got several visits from lactation specialists, was given help in getting her own body back into shape, & liked the pediatric care. The food wasn\x92t very good, but good medical care is a lot more important. (We brought in some good salads & pizza from nearby Piedmont Avenue for them.) The baby is now 3 months old, gaining weight amazingly well (breast fed), strong, alert, & now beginning to take long stretches on some nights. The parents are on the older side. They live in the Richmond Annex-El Cerrito area. Oakland Kaiser has some incredibly good medical personel. Sorry for the spelling mistakes; I am a dreadful speller. Happy Grandmother

I live in Pinole and delivered at Kaiser WC . I didn't drive there in labor because I had complications that required a c-section. But I did need to travel there unexpectedly several times for pregnancy complications. I ended up hospitalized on the OB unit on more than one occasion and cannot say enough positive things about the nursing care and the physicians. I've heard many positive comments about the midwives there, but sadly my pregnancy was considered too high risk for me to receive midwifery care. Good luck with your delivery! Kaiser Mama

I delivered at Kaiser Walnut Creek in June (I live in Oakland) and was absolutely thrilled with the care I received there. The Midwife who was on call and all of the nurses that took care of myself and my son during my 3-day stay (my son was born a month early) were simply incredible. They were very supportive of my plan for an unmedicated birth and the Midwife in particular was an incredible labor coach and was able to help me visualize the pushing in a way that made it really effective for me. I can't say enough good things about the L team in WC. While I can't speak from experience for Kaiser Oakland, I've also heard good things but keep in mind that Oakland is also a teaching hospital so there tend to be more observers around (but you don't have to allow them in the room if you're not comfortable with that). And of course WC has the Midwifery program which certainly gives it a different atmosphere. If this is your first baby, I would not worry too much about having time to get to the hospital. Most first babies come with long labors but even if you are like me (3 hour labor - first baby), that's still plenty of time to get there. That said, I HIGHLY recommend taking a good childbirth preparation class so that you can identify what stage of labor you are in and know when to go to the hospital! I would have had my baby at home had I not realized (based on what I learned in my class) that my labor was progressing abnormally quickly. Best of luck to you!!! Cindy

thanks everyone for your input. that's exactly the feedback I needed, especially about the car ride being uncomfortable but so was being at the hospital. next up is the tours. geraldine

Kaiser WC not accepting transfers - where to deliver?

April 2006

Up until my 25-week appointment today, we have been planning on switching from Kaiser Oakland to Walnut Creek for the labor and delivery, so we could have a midwife at the birth. Well, lo and behold, at our appointment the doctor told us that Walnut Creek is not accepting new transfers now because they are too full. She said we could transfer to Hayward if we want a midwife.

So does anyone have any recent experience at Hayward? I know nothing about it. Advice from 2001 on the website is mostly positive but it says there are no private rooms and midwives are only there 8am-8pm M-F... has that changed at all?

Are there other, better Kaisers we could switch to? Could we transfer to San Rafael from Oakland? And what is L like there?

I was excited about Walnut Creek's midwives, mostly, but also about bigger rooms (we plan to have quite a support team, plus our 3-year-old and someone to watch him for part of the time) and the fact that they are installing labor tubs. I don't need to have a tub, but I want to be somewhere where it will be comfy to have my 3-5 people with me, where they will be fine with a natural, unmedicated birth with as few interventions as possible, and where I can have a private room.

Thanks in advance! Jen

I had a fabulous experience at Hayward last year. It was my intention to deliver at Oakland, but when I called to say we were on our way, they said they were full and diverting to Walnut Creek. Called them next and they were full too. They were diverting to Hayward - we didn't even know where that hospital was! In any case, the drive was rough - traffic on 238 was busy as usual. (It was a Friday afternoon.) But, once there, it was great - 25 minutes of pushing with the help of my doulas, husband, fabulous nurses and a wonderful, nurturing mid-wife and out popped baby #2! I don't know about the midwife hours. And, I would think San Rafael would be too far - at least for me. Labor in the car is no fun. All that said, If I were doing it again, I'd choose Oakland for proximity - hands down. -Not sure I helped answer your question.

It is true that Walnut Creek is overwhelmed right now with a skyrocketing birth rate, and that they are trying to discourage women from transferring there. That being said, Kaiser members have the right to deliver where they choose, even if they do not formally transfer to that facility prior to delivery. It is BEST to transfer your care prior to delivery as you can be oriented to the practice and facility and have your records easily retrieved by Labor and Delivery once you are in labor. Transferring also allows the facility to project an anticipated delivery rate and staff accordingly. Walnut Creek anticipates about 415 births for the month of May, the busiest East Bay location by far.

The last information I have about tubs at Walnut Creek is that installation has been placed on hold due to the need to upgrade electric wiring in the location that they will be placed. San Rafael does not have a Labor and Delivery service. Locations besides Walnut Creek with CNM services include Santa Rosa, Hayward, Redwood City (currently only at night and weekends- they have CNM openings that need to be filled), Vallejo (M- F 7am-7pm), South Sac, Sac (sporatic coverage), and Santa Teresa. I believe Hayward CNMs are covering L and D 24/7. You can call L and D and ask to speak with the on-call midwife at any facility to confirm current CNM coverage. The CNM chiefs are working on a web page that will give everyone the ability to learn more about our services but that will not be ready for a while. We will also have a phone number for each service at that time. I will continue to monitor this site to answer questions as they arise. I hope this information is helpful! Thanks, Kathy Heilig, CNM. Co-chair, CNM Chiefs, Kaiser Northern CA

I gave birth June 2005 at San Francisco Kaiser and am planning to go back there with our next in the future. I originally was going to go to Walnut Creek so I could have a midwife but because of pre-term labor (and receiving care in San Rafael) they sent me to SF because it was closer. The staff is caring and supportive. I actually got to go home and carry my son an additional month (very lucky) and decided to go back there for the birth. Again, my experience was similar and the staff in labor and postpartum were wonderful, answered all my constant questions (first baby) and found a nice bed for my husband to sleep on too. If you have any specific questions I'd be happy to talk to you. kim

Oy. When I did my tour of Oakland Kaiser's labor and delivery department in the fall, another woman who was as concerned about what she was seeing as I was asked about Hayward. The person leading the tour said that if Oakland wasn't what she wanted, Hayward certainly wouldn't be either. Apparently that facility is even older and more cramped. I have heard that if you just show up at Kaiser Walnut Creek in active labor they will not turn you away. If I had been unable to successfully transfer to Walnut Creek, that is what I would have done. Good luck! anonymous

I wanted to add my experience with Kaiser Walnut Creek . I had one child there in 99 and another in 03. With my first birth experience the midwife apologized to me for taking too long to contact the doctor that I needed a C section. My son was in distress for quiet a while before I finally had a C section. That went fine. Then the circumcision was crooked ( my sister inlaw had the same experience with that at Walnut Creek). Oh, and they left a staple in me.

My next child was delivered in 2003 at Walnut Creek. My baby again went into distress, they wheeled me into the operating room, after 3 hours of pushing hard, and I was told that if the baby did not come out in the next 10 minutes they would push her back up and give me the C section. She did come out. They did not have the right needle yet she stiched me up anyway. The thread broke later. In my room nursing my beautiful daughter in recovery my husband thought she was breathing hard, nurse said she seemed fine but would check. Off to the NIC unit for a week due to breathing problems. I boarded there (if they have empty rooms you can stay on which is a huge blessing). I went in every 3 hours and was able to breastfeed her within a few days. Most of the shift care was amazing. Wonderful, considerate nurturing nurses. The 2 am shift does not seem to have a doctor on rounds. It was loud in there. The manager yelled from one end of the room to the next, a nurse put a radio really loud next to an 5 month old who kept crying, and the topper was the nurse who said ' stop crying or I will throw you in the trash'. I kid you not. I chose not to report the staff until we were out ( she was in a week).

I was told that the manager was fired, yet I heard from another manager that she was transfered. I sent a complaint to the Chief of the hospital who later forwarded it back to the head of NIC who heard my original complaint. She wanted me to come in so that she could reasure me that it was all better. She was also upset that the complaint I sent to the Chief 'passed through a lot of hands before it got to her.' So, there it is, my experience at Walnut Creek. In hindsight I think it would have been a great choice to have a doula who would have had the experience to shepard us through the experience. I do want to add that I have had a great many positive experiences with Kaiser but this was not one. Anon

Walnut Creek, Oakland or Hayward?

Nov 2005

My first child is due in early December, and I'm trying to decide whether to deliver at Kaiser Walnut Creek, Oakland or Hayward. I've toured Walnut Creek and Oakland, and liked Walnut Creek much better--both the physical space and the midwife, natural-birth-oriented approach. But at a check-up today my nurse told me that Walnut Creek is overcrowded and I may get turned away. She suggested that I check out Hayward, which also has midwife births and which has apparently recently been remodeled. I'm wondering if any mothers who've given birth at any of these places recently can comment on their experiences. The previous postings I've found on BPN about Kaiser Walnut Creek and Hayward are quite a few years out of date. Thanks! Erica

I am the co-chair of the Northern California Kaiser midwives and can answer some of your questions about where to deliver. I live in the East Bay and was in private practice here until I joined two other CNMs and established Kaiser Walnut Creek's CNM service in 1990. I now deliver in Vallejo.

Kaiser midwifery coverage is 24/7 in a number of our No. Cal medical centers including Hayward and Walnut Creek. There are no midwives in medical centers with large OBGYN residencies except for Sacramento where there is part-time CNM coverage.

Walnut Creek is very busy these days but you can deliver there as long as there is an open bed when you go into labor. It is rare that a client is asked to deliver in a location other than the one she planned on. It does happen, however, so it is important to call the Labor and Delivery unit before you leave for the hospital.

Walnut Creek asks that women who receive prenatal care elsewhere transfer their care to WC around 35 weeks so they can plan and staff for your delivery. An extra midwife has been added to the WC staff through December as they anticipate a sustained baby boom there through the end of the year.

Hayward has a wonderful midwifery service. If you are uncertain where you want to deliver, I would recommend taking a tour of the facilities on your list. I hope you all find this information helpful. Thanks and take care, Kathy Heilig, CNM Kathy

Also see reviews for Childbirth at Kaiser Oakland and Childbirth at Kaiser Walnut Creek

Deciding which Kaiser to use


I'm a Kaiser patient and I have been in prenatal care since October. There is a lot of confusion at the moment about the question in which hospital Kaiser patients have their babies and what role Alta Bates plays in this. It took me about 20 phone calls to find out, but these seem to be the facts:

Every Kaiser patient has the right to get care at every Kaiser facility anywhere in the US. It doesn't matter where you live. For example, I live in Berkeley but I got my prenatal care at Kaiser SF because it was more convenient - the SF Kaiser hospital happens to be in a walking distance from my workplace. So if you decide to have your prenatal care and deliviery at Kaiser Walnut Creek, that's okay regardless of where you live.

Kaiser would like you to have your baby in the same place in which you have obtained your prenatal care. For SF, Walnut Creek etc. that is not a problem - you just deliver at the hospital at which you got your care before. For Kaiser patients of Richmond and Oakland, delivery is no longer possible at these hospitals and will usually happen at Alta Bates in Berkeley instead.

It is, however, possible to have your baby at a different hospital if you go through some paperwork beforehand. This is what I will do - I've stopped working now, so I no longer drive to SF regularly, and I want to have my baby at Alta Bates because that's closer to my home. This was clearly not Kaiser's preferred method, but in the end all I had to do was to make sure that the records about my prenatal care got faxed over to the East Bay after my last prenatal appointment in SF.

This DOES work, and I think the same must be possible the other way around (a woman who got her prenatal care at Oakland Kaiser should still be able to deliver at Walnut Creek as long as she sorts out the paperwork beforehand and gets a referral from her doctor). I hope this helps. Good luck, Angela