Childbirth at Kaiser

Questions & Responses:
Best Rooms - Labor, Delivery, Recovery(2 responses)
Midwife or Birthing Center Recommendations(8 responses)
Update on Childbirth at Kaiser(8 responses)
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Questions Reviews of Childbirth at ... More Reviews of Kaiser

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

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've had two vaginal, drug free, midwife attended births at Kaiser Walnut Creek. #1 was 2004 and #2, in 2007. Sounds like with what you are seeking, it would be a great choice for you. The midwives do check in with a OB Attending, but they were incredibly supportive of a natural birth with as little unnecessary intervention as possible. I also had a great doula who they were very receptive to and I felt incredibly supported by the whole team. At my second birth, there was tense moment when my daughter was stuck and the midwife called a neonatal specialist stat, but then very calmly and firmly coached me through it with breathing. Having that backup should something happen is why we chose the hospital route but having such an experienced midwife guide me through was exactly what I hoped for. Blessings on your upcoming birth!
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 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

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

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

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