Childbirth at Kaiser Oakland

Parent Q&A

OBGYN Recommendations Kaiser Oakland - 1st Time Holistic Mom May 14, 2018 (8 responses below)
Childbirth at Kaiser Oakland vs. Walnut Creek Jul 11, 2016 (8 responses below)
  • Hi BPN Fam,

    I am in early pregnancy with my first and am also new to Kaiser Oakland. I was wondering if you all had recommendations for OBs at Kaiser Oakland who respect, or even encourage, more holistic approaches to prenatal care and birth, for example minimal ultrasounds (if any), avoiding pharmaceutical medications (not forcing them and being open to more natural/herbal approaches), water birthing and pain relief that also doesn't involve drugs, etc. I do not want to feel pressured or made to feel I am doing harm to my baby if I don't want to get a flu shot, for example (I've heard terrible stories from multiple friends/family members what have experienced this - I've never had a flu shot in my life, nor has anyone else in my family including my parents, and we are just fine - so I would rather not be made to feel like I'm endangering my child or am a bad mom if I don't/my mom is a great mom and made these same choices).

    I am also interested in learning more about midwives if there are any recommendations and am considering the Centering Pregnancy program, which is a group program between the OBGYN and Family Medicine departments. Has anyone done this? I think I will probably go this route, but either way, I need to choose an OB asap regardless for my 1st check up and would like for it to be someone I can stick with in all cases for obgyn needs. Welcoming any and all recommendations for OBs at Kaiser Oakland who have a more holistic approach and are also culturally/socially conscious/competent and respectful (toward POC/immigrants/low-income). MANY THANKS!!

    I'm not sure what you've heard, but most of the stuff you're talking about is pretty standard with all OBs and midwives in the area. Unless you have a high risk pregnancy, you really only are eligible to have 1-4 ultrasounds (dating scan to confirm pregnancy is viable, NT [definitely optional], anatomy scan [could also be optional], position check at 36w [could also be optional]). It's not typical to prescribe any medication if you're not having any problems, and everything from the flu shot to getting an updated TDAP to cervical checks is always optional. I believe Kaiser Oakland has options for water birth as well as med-free births. This is all pretty common around here, and you'll likely be fine with whomever you end up with (I don't think you can choose who will do your delivery with Kaiser).

    I can only speak to the Centering Pregnancy option...and this is just my own experience.

    I wasn't sure about it and we went to the first two sessions and ultimately decided it wasn't for us. This was simply because we have a lot of outside resources (a doula, a prenatal psychotherapist, I have been reading books since early on, hypnobirthing classes, etc.) and it felt like a lot of time to invest to be learning the same things we already knew. What we were hoping for was to connect with other new parents and maybe form relationships outside of the group but the particular group we were in didn't seem interested in community building (though maybe we jumped shipped too soon). I would say try it and thankfully they give you the option of going back to your previous OB/Gyn. When you do the CP program the two doctors who run it (and you don't get to choose I don't think) become your OB/Gyn for your pregnancy and the group meetings take the place of your other checkups so that's something for you consider. 

    Hope this was helpful. Happy to answer other questions if you have them. 

    Hi, I don’t have recommendations for Oakland but if you are looking for a  more holistic approach you may prefer a midwife. If you don’t mind travelling a little further out, Walnut Creek has midwives who are great. I delivered there and had epidural free birth, but did use nitrous which was a great alternate to help take the edge off and avoid epidural. As for flu shot, everything is optional  and you can advocate for yourself and let your provider where you stand/prefer and they will respect that.  I only had one ultrasound at 20 weeks through Kaiser, which i believe was standard. 

    Wishing you a happy and healthy pregnancy!


  • Hi, I've read all the reviews to date re: Kaiser Oakland. I think the most recent was from August of 2016. I am eager to hear from new mothers in their 40s who recently delivered at the Kaiser Oakland facility. At a luncheon last weekend a new mom sitting near me recounted a sub-par experience at Kaiser Oakland recently involving a broken monitor during her labor. I have the opportunity to change health care providers this fall but I wanted to check in with this community first. If you've had #1: a high risk pregnancy (in my instance it's an issue of being on the older side!) and #2 delivered a baby at Kaiser Oakland in the last year, how was your experience?  Would you recommend Kaiser Oakland for labor and delivery?  Thanks in advance!

    I delivered at Kaiser Oakland in September 2015 at age 40 and am planning to deliver there again this coming spring. My labor was long with some complications and I had a massive hemorrhage several hours after delivery with an unusually large amount of blood loss. The doctors and nurses were great during labor, although at times I did feel like I was being threatened with a C-section if I did not progress more quickly. I suspect this might be typical of most hospitals. We had a doula, which I would recommend. I believe her attention prevented a C-section.

    I had both of my babies at Kaiser Oakland, first 2014 (in the old Kaiser hospital) and second baby in 2016 (in the new building). I strongly recommend Kaiser Oakland. My first delivery had surprise major complications (placenta accreta) and I nearly died, but didn't because of the hemorrhage cart ( Because of this and my "advanced maternal age" of 36, my second baby was considered high risk. However, Kaiser had me see several specialists before I delivered, we had a full emergency plan, and they induced my delivery a few days before my due date, so they could have a full team and extra equipment brought into the delivery room. When I delivered my second baby, they were absolutely prepared for anything. And thankfully, I had no complications with the second delivery. Plus, the new facility is so much better, no more shared bathrooms with other new moms, the rooms are larger so I could pace around the room, and there was a more comfortable place for my husband to sleep.  


    I delivered at Kaiser Oakland in July 2017.  I'm in my early 40s and my experience was definitely positive.  I did not have much contact with the midwife on duty at the time I delivered,  but the nurses were top notch  and my doctor was great.  I think the facility is quite nice and well-maintained.

  • I'm taking a job with a new employer, and they offer either Kaiser, or a PPO or HMO plan with another insurance company.  I'm trying to decide between them, and the main consideration is whether it would be better to see the perinatal doctors at Kaiser Oakland, or the doctors at East Bay Perinatal Medical Associates (now called UCSF Benioff Children's Physicians) and deliver at Alta Bates.  Honestly, I'd prefer a provider who would be willing to consider a VBAC, and even see if I could deliver at a birth center with a midwife (the non-Kaiser insurance plan may cover that), but not sure given my preeclampsia from my previous pregnancy and my age (36) that any birth center with midwives would accept me.  The Farm in Tennessee would be ideal, but I unfortunately don't have the money to go there.  Would there be a similar place here in the Bay?  And any recommendation on Alta Bates vs. Kaiser?

    I had Kaiser. Then at 32 weeks, I switched to Blue Cross and began going to Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation. Despite clearly top-notch doctors, I found my overall care worse than at Kaiser. Scheduling was challenging as the doctors' schedules were full; appointments were expected to be very short; and they were often running behind, leading to long waiting room waits -- all of which sounds minor, but starts to add up when you have weekly appointments. It also felt like it was my responsibility to make sure I was getting the care I needed. (I even had a few moments of worrying I might simply not fit into any doctor's schedule, and then what would I do?) In fairness, perhaps this would've happened when I needed weekly appointments at Kaiser, and/or perhaps it would not have happened if I hadn't switched late -- maybe they would've scheduled me in advance for all those weekly appointments in weeks 37-41.

    At Kaiser, the process of getting infertility treatment, being handed off to a regular OB, and getting access to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist to discuss prenatal testingfelt seamless. I felt like they were caring for me at Kaiser -- finding the expert I needed and getting them to call me -- whereas I was having to fend for myself, find the doctors I needed, and leave multiple voice messages via the PPO model. Appointments also seemed to run on time at Kaiser. The only part that was frustrating with Kaiser was getting scheduled for an ultrasound; for some reason, it was hard to get on that calendar, especially as we wanted to do it on the earlier side. Ultimately, we went to their Walnut Creek facility.

    I have not heard birth stories from Kaiser, so I can't compare the birth experiences. I can say that at Alta Bates, I had great nurses, as did my friend. Alta Bates has a Level III (highest level) NICU, which was good to know, though we didn't end up needing it. The giving-birth part of my experience felt much more integrated than during prenatal care -- a number of specialists dropped in (e.g., a lactation consultant). Overall, I thought the birth experience at Alta Bates was excellent.

    I have been with Kaiser for almost 60 years.  They had some bad times in the long past but now they are great.  ESPECIALLY in neo-natal issues.  I had my baby at 30 weeks and he was in NICU for 5 weeks but everything was absolutely perfect.  Excellent care.  Kaiser is well-known for their maternity and birth care.

    I highly recommend Kaiser. With my first pregnancy I had a PPO plan and a complication-free pregnancy, and delivered at Alta Bates via c-section after a failed induction. The second time around I had Kaiser and gestational diabetes. The OB who provided my prenatal care was supportive of my desire to try for a VBAC and a midwife-assisted delivery, which fortunately worked out beautifully at Kaiser Walnut Creek. I've had pretty positive experiences with Kaiser San Leandro, Oakland, and Union City as well. Good luck!

  • Hi Everyone,

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

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

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

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

Parent Reviews

I don’t have personal experience with GD but have a couple of thoughts. I delivered my first baby at Kaiser Oakland in June 2017 and am now 22 weeks pregnant with my second. I’ve had a great experience so far both times. I was sure I wanted an unmedicated labor with my first and the staff completely respected that, although they checked with me to make sure when my labor dragged into 36 hours. I felt like my choices were respected. Also, I have a friend who had GD a couple years ago when she was with Kaiser and she was never pressured into a c-section at all. Granted, her GD was well-managed and her baby was actually on the smaller side but my sense is that Kaiser wants to avoid C-sections whenever possible. Good luck!

We had our daughter at kaiser Oakland last July and it was a really terrific experience. Every single person who was in my room or helping in any way were really amazing, knowledgeable, positive, encouraging, and warm. I had an all female team delivering my baby and couldn’t have been happier with them. They also have a midwifery program, but we only saw a midwife in the room for a little bit during or after labor. We have friends who hired a doula to attend birth and were happy they did.

congratulations and best of luck!


ps if you know of a good nanny in Oakland please let me know. We are looking;)

I delivered twice at Kaiser Oakland (2012 and 2017). You mentioned this hospital at the end of your post. I had a very good experience overall. I had a private room both times. Resident doctors, student doctors, midwives, nurses etc were in and out helping with delivery. I can say for my 2017 delivery that the midwife named Ursula was a phenomenal coach. 

I also live in El Cerrito, and delivered both my babies at Kaiser Oakland, the most recent baby in 2016. I can't say anything about Highland (I've never been there) but the new Kaiser Oakland L&D is wonderful. They have large private rooms, pull out beds for partners to stay over (in our case for 3 days), and a highly qualified L&D team. I had complicated pregnancies (due to my age) and would recommend them for anyone who has Kaiser insurance. When I moved to the postpartum unit, it was also a private room (although much smaller) and my husband and baby were with me the whole time. The doctors/nurses did all tests/exams/procedures right in our room. 

We had a great experience with Kaiser Oakland. We had our own room in both L&D and maternity/recovery, and facilities were excellent (and other things like food were better than expected for a hospital). Kaiser Oakland is set up so that there's always one midwife on duty who supervises the residents (so it's essentially a teaching hospital), with one OB on hand. We found that the nurses, midwives, and OB residents were all generally excellent. Kaiser Oakland's C-section rate is also lower than the national average - I think Kaiser's is around 15%, whereas the national average might be closer to 25% (or at least this is what I recall back when I was still pregnant and learning about these things). 

If you want a different experience than this, my understanding is that L&D at Kaiser Walnut Creek is all midwives (you'd want to confirm that to make sure, however). Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser Walnut Creek also both offer nitrous oxide for laboring moms, which is a fairly new addition. 

If you enroll in Kaiser, you can go to any location, but you'll of course be subject to whether or not L&D is full when you arrive. A friend of mine delivered a couple of weeks after me, and when she arrived to Kaiser Oakland, L&D was full, so they had to go to Walnut Creek. Hope this helps!

I didn't give birth at San Leandro but I gave birth in Oakland Kaiser. I had a high risk pregnancy and went for a scheduled C-section. Dr. Minikel my obgyn at Kaiser Oakland was awesome! She managed my care diligently every step of the way. Even when she was on vacation (outside the country) on the day of my scheduled C-section she even called the surgeon to check and make sure everything went as planned. The doctor who did my c-section was Dr. Delearue (not sure if I spelled her name correctly) and my c-section was also high risk and I was very happy with these doctors.

I can speak to Kaiser Oakland, as I just had a baby there in February. It was very comfortable! The labor room was spacious and clean, with good space for my partner. The post-partum room was private (a private room is a MUST! I can't believe some are still shared!) and also clean, modern, and adequately sized, and my partner had a comfortable (enough) sofa that converted to a bed. He is 6'1" and just barely fit on it, however. There was good space for visitors and the nurses. The food was average and edible. I only have CPMC in the city to compare Kaiser to, which was old and antiquated (which is why they're building the new hospital now). Thumbs up to the Kaiser Oakland facilities.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Kaiser Oakland vs Birth Center

Oct 2014

I'm pregnant with my second child and struggling to decide where to have him/her. My daughter's birth was at a midwifery birth center and if money were no issue, this birth would be there again. We now have Kaiser insurance though, which covers no out of hospital birth. I'm looking for advice and experiences of people who have had a birth at Kaiser Oakland, pursuing an intervention free, ''natural'' birth. Basically, were you comfortable and satisfied that the providers let you do your thing and refrained from unnecessary intervention? I'm a bit of a control freak and somewhat distrustful of doctors (tho many are my friends, go figure). I will of course make a birth plan, but my concern is that I'll be pushed into a corner either in labor and delivery or once my child is born. We can technically afford a birth center, but money will be even tighter and I just don't want that worry down the road if I can have a peaceful birth at Kaiser as well. Hands-Off please!

I had my first birth at home with a midwife and opted for Kaiser Walnut Creek for my second. Midwives do all deliveries there--no DRs at all! I liked the midwife model there, and we also had our own doula. I recommend you go there! We did all our OB appts at Kaiser oakland and going to walnut creek for delivery was easy. dani

I posted one of the previous responses to a similar question in the archives, but we've now had two births at Kaiser Oakland--one at the old hospital and one at the new. Both were drug-free and mostly intervention free (only intervention was breaking of the waters in one birth after laboring for many hours with no progress, and it was an effective move). We had excellent staff--nurses, residents, and attending physicians--both times, and would absolutely choose Kaiser Oakland all over again. The new hospital is also much more pleasant for recovery than the old (all private rooms with lots of light) and my only bone to pick is that the technology for patients is not quite ready for primetime...but that just meant we turned it off and had time to enjoy our expanded family without screens. We did have continuous monitoring the first time which was frustrating (hard to move around a lot without monitor falling off) but the second time I declined this and they honored that. Good luck, and congrats!

I just gave birth at the new Kaiser Oakland L&D ward and it was a fantastic experience (as far as terribly painful, 20+ hours of back labor go). The staff was very helpful, really supportive and very accommodating to my wishes. I ended up with using both drugs and an epidural, but I have to say that *I* was the one who brought up both of these things, not the staff. When I brought it up though, they went through all of the benefits and potential side effects or problems that could happen with each in a really helpful and thoughtful manner. They said specifically from the start that whatever I wanted or needed they would do.

Towards the end when the labor was not progressing and I was in a lot of pain, they made several recommendations and really pushed for me to NOT get a Caesarian, even though I was at the end of my rope. They recommended to try a vacuum extraction first, which we did and was successful. In retrospect I am really glad that they really encouraged me not to go with a Caesarian. Given how many negative stories I hear about women being pushed into Caesarians, I was even a little surprised with how strongly they advocated against me getting one. They really felt like it was not medically indicated and made a point in making sure I understood that. They did use pitocin to move the labor along, as well as have an IV going for fluids. Later on I peaked a fever and required antibiotics in my IV and they put me on oxygen as well.

All in all, these things were perhaps more than what you would get with a birthing center, but I think if I had said ''no'' they would have agreed (though probably not with the antibiotics, because that could be dangerous to the baby). They also had a monitor going to follow the baby's heartbeat and my contractions - so I was really hooked up to a LOT of wires, monitors and tubes, which I think you wouldn't get at a Birthing Center.

The other thing that you might not be keen on is that since Kaiser Oakland is a teaching hospital there were A LOT of people coming through my room. There were nurses, student nurses, doctors, residents, baby nurses and more. I probably met 20 people or more over the course of my time there. I imagine this would be different at a birthing center too. It didn't bother me, as I work in science education, so I loved the idea of being part of the educational process and ended up spending a lot of time asking the different students about their background etc., but I understand that this is probably not for everyone.

So, I would definitely recommend Oakland Kaiser, but only if what I described is something that you'd be comfortable with. It definitely worked for me and mine, but I understand that this could sound like a total horror show to someone else. MB

I had an unmedicated birth 6 weeks ago at the new Kaiser Oakland hospital and was very happy with how respectfully I was treated. The staff paid attention to my birth plan, and nobody even said the word epidural to me or asked me where I was on the pain scale. The only intervention they will really insist on is having an IV lock. I was able to walk around as much as I wanted between hourly monitoring, and was told that as long as the baby was ok it was fine for things to take as long as they needed. The resident who worked with me really emphasized that any medical decision would be a dialogue, and that was the case. The new hospital is really nice. I would suggest going to the free Meet the L&D Team class and a hospital tour, which can be booked by calling the health education dept. You really get an opportunity to ask blunt questions, and will get a good sense of their philosophy, which I think is pretty progressive. I believe they are supposed to be bringing midwives on staff this fall as well. Kaiser mama

I planned for a home birth and had to transfer while in transition to kaiser oakland. I must say that despite my aversion to hospitals and my great desire to not birth in one it was a fantastic experience. The whole team was incredibly respectful of the fact that I wanted a homebirth and after I was admitted left me alone with my midwife and doula. They only Checked in very seldom and arrived at the end for the delivery. The didnt push their agenda on me whatsoever, and even immediately discharged me ,once my son was born, directly from the delivery room. They knew I didn't want to be there and let me go home! Also they were very respectful that I wanted no interventions, or any tests or blood draws or shots for baby. Honestly they were amazing! Happily surprised by kaiser

I had both my girls at Kaiser Oakland and was very happy with my care there. I did not go in expecting an intervention free birth as I knew I wanted an epidural, but I know many people who have had drug free births there. If you look at the birth plan form that Kaiser offers, it addresses a lot of what you might be worried about. I recommend taking the tour of the L & D department to get a feel for how things work there. Barring any unforeseen complications during your birth, I see no reason why you can't have a natural birth.

One other thing I just want to mention is they have a top notch NICU which gave me a lot of peace of mind! We didn't need it, but it was nice to know it was there. Also, all the doctors and nurses were so professional and caring. I felt like I was well taken care of without being hovered over. Maria

Kaiser OB/GYN in favor of natural childbirth

July 2014

Pregnant with my second and new to Kaiser. Had an amazing natural childbirth at St. Luke's in San Francisco with my first, and would love to have the same type of experience with my second. Live in Oakland but am willing to travel for the right person and birthing experience. Can you recommend someone who is kind, knowledgeable and not just tolerant of but in favor of natural childbirth as well as minimally invasive prenatal care. Thank you! rachel

Congrats on the coming baby! We also live in Oakland and are getting ready to have baby #2 with Kaiser. The first was a wonderful unmedicated birth at Kaiser Oakland, and hopefully the second will be as well. My experience with my own OB and the few others I have seen is that broadly speaking, Kaiser is very supportive of natural/drug-free childbirth, and pretty minimalist in their prenatal care to start (they have wider windows between appointments than many practices, and unless you are AMA, very few ultrasounds, etc.--you can also always decline these).

The trick with Kaiser, though, is that when it comes down to it, your OB will almost certainly not attend the birth--instead, if you deliver at Oakland, it will be a resident, the nursing staff, and perhaps the attending OB who is on call that day. At other Kaiser locations that are not teaching hospitals, it's midwives instead of residents. So you do not have full control over who is there on the actual day of the birth, and that makes the biggest difference (in my view) in how a natural birth goes, especially if you are hoping to skip drugs.

We were lucky and had an amazing team for our first delivery--all of the residents I interacted with were very supportive of/knowledgeable about natural childbirth and the nurses on shift at the time were stellar, suggesting different pain strategies almost like a doula might. Both nurses and residents asked about our preferences/birth plan and paid attention to our answers. Kaiser's standard practices on things like waiting to cut the cord, immediate skin-to-skin contact, supporting breastfeeding, etc. are all pretty progressive (in keeping with most Bay Area hospitals, from what I hear).

However, I had absolutely no control over that, and it could have been a very different experience with a different set of nurses, in particular (since you will see them much more often than the doctors, who just pop in every once in a while to see how things are progressing and then for the actual delivery). Going into birth #2, I feel pretty empowered to be clear about my choices and decisions after doing this once before, so I think it will be fine even if the L team isn't as supportive as last time. But if you are concerned about it, you can hire a doula, who can help to advocate for you and support you even if you wind up with less than supportive nurses. There are several who work regularly at Kaiser Oakland and are familiar with how things work there.

For OBs, check first to see whose panels are open--these are the people you can choose from. Then you can post again to BPN with the specific names to see what kinds of experiences folks have had with prenatal care with the particular doctors available to you. (I've found that panels often open up early in the month, too, so if there's someone you particularly like, you may have better luck getting a spot in early August, too.) Another Kaiser mama

I had 2 children thru Kaiser both delivered 'naturally' (no drugs, interventions, etc). Since your Dr is not necessarily the one to help you deliver your child it doesn't really matter whether who you see is 'pro' or 'anti' NC, you know? All in all I found Kaiser to be completely encouraging and respectful of my intentions to deliver naturally. Hire a doula so you can have an advocate in the room with you - I found that extremely helpful as well. Good luck! kaiser mama

Kaiser will meet this need. I keep seeing questions on BPN looking for ObGyns who support natural childbirth. I don't understand why people still think this is hard to find. In fact you'd have to work pretty hard to find a doctor around here who doesn't support natural childbirth, Kaiser or otherwise. I had natural drug-free births at Kaiser Oakland 28 and 31 years ago, totally supported by the docs and nurses, and from all indications (see past discussions on BPN) this has continued to be the case.

It seems like word would have gotten out by now that Kaiser and practically everyone else supports natural childbirth. It ain't 1959 anymore

Natural Childbirth at Kaiser Oakland

March 2014

I would like to find out if anyone has had an unmedicated/natural childbirth at Kaiser Oakland? The most recent post I've seen about this is from 2010, and from what I've heard, they have delivered a lot of babies naturally since that time. I like the idea that Kaiser Walnut Creek has midwives, but I've also been assured by my OB at Kaiser Oakland that their staff is increasingly more open to natural childbirth. I would love to deliver close to home, in Oakland, if possible, but I don't want to have to focus too much on advocating for a natural birth when we should be focusing on the labor itself. Jessica

I had two unmedicated births at Kaiser Oakland, in 2008 and Nov. 2010 - no problems with the staff either time. Key for me was 1) having a doula work with me through the pain, and 2) not getting to the hospital too early. Hey, if you're not there, they can't ask you if you want any pain relief! With the ''wisdom'' (ha ha - the longer I'm a parent, the more I realize none of us know anything!!) of these two experiences behind me, I realize that even though I was totally committed to the concept of natural childbirth, it does hurt a lot and if I had been there longer or didn't have my doula supporting me, in the moment I would have been more than happy to take them up on their offer of pain relief. Try not to stress about this beforehand - remember, the birth is just one day. KP Mom of 2

I've had two ''natural,'' mostly unmedicated childbirths at Kaiser Oakland, one in 2009 and one in 2013. (In the 2nd one I had some Fentanyl - a short-term sedative for pain - toward the end of active labor, and in both I had pitocin *after* the birth to help uterus contract.) I think they are fairly supportive of natural childbirth. They did read my birth plan, no one pushed me to have any medication (I didn't even speak with an anesthesiologist), and they only suggested the Fentanyl when I asked for some pain relief. I had great nurses, and mostly great doctors who assisted with the birth itself in important ways - I'm very thankful to them.

That said, Kaiser tends to have a fairly regimented, rubric-driven system (''If you have X symptom, we follow Y procedure'') which in my opinion is not very helpful for childbirth. A couple of examples: 1. When my water broke, they wanted to give me pitocin to augment labor right away because of their protocol, and were not flexible about taking my individual needs into account. The stress of this process stalled my labor (which luckily started back up on its own at home and I didn't have to be induced, but no thanks to Kaiser). 2. For first birth, they gave me pitocin afterward because I was bleeding a lot. That made sense. For second birth, they gave me pitocin afterward; when I asked why, they said it was just standard practice. I didn't feel like arguing in the moment, but I didn't think it was necessary.

You can definitely have an unmedicated birth at Kaiser, but it will help to: 1. Have a doula. Definitely. They are invaluable. 2. Go to the hospital as late as possible in labor. Mama of 2

I am a kaiser oakland patient who recently delivered at kaiser walnut creek. I had been planning to deliver at Oakland as my first birth was there and positive and all natural. However, You might want to seriously consider walnut creek. Babies there are delievered by midwives only and it's awesome! Oakland it is residents (students/trainees) delivering babies. The midwives and nurses at WC were very respectful of our birth plan and all of our requests. I found it very easy to do a natural labor there and would highly recommend them.

I have had 2 natural childbirths, one at Kaiser WC and at Kaiser Oakland. My experience is prior to 2010 but if I were to do it again tomorrow these are my observations. Both birthing experiences were good because of the excellent nurses at both facilities. However, the nurses at Kaiser Oakland L/D have been in the news recently as being overloaded with work as open positions have not been filled. This may change as they open the new Oakland hospital and move everyone over. They are also set to open the new San Leandro hospital in June - so depending on your due date you may have some more choices. I had a better post-delivery experience in WC because the rooms were nicer and staff was better there. But Oakland was more convenient for our 2nd time with a child to care for already. The long and short, I think Kaiser really embraces natural childbirth as the best way to go, interventions cost money, I never felt 'pressured' to do anything other than labor naturally at either location - but it will all depend on how you and your baby are doing through the labor. Good luck to you! kaiser mom

Had a natural childbirth at Oakland Kaiser in May 2013 and it was a great experience--the doctors/nurses were very respectful of my birth plan. That said, because I did not want the epidural or other meds there was very little they could do while I waited to dilate. They basically asked that I labor at home until my contractions were about a minute apart, which ended up being great because I was comfortable at home and had easy access to the shower, labor ball, hot water bottle, etc. I also live in Oakland and considered Walnut Creek for the midwives and because the facility is so nice, but when it came down to it I did not want to make the trek through the tunnel and traffic. I am very happy that I chose Oakland in the end. Hope the same goes for you. Good luck ! Anonymous

Hi Jessica, I commend your goal of striving for a natural childbirth. It is absolutely do-able! Highly recommend preparing yourself body and mind through prenatal yoga and Hypnobirthing techniques. Also consider hiring a doula, who can be tremendously helpful in bringing you comfort. She can also advocate on your behalf to the medical professionals.

I gave birth twice at Kaiser Oakland, both times without any medication. I was explicit about my wishes in my birth plan, and found both times that the nurses and doctors had read it and made every effort to respect it. Much will depend on the attending OB, but in general, Kaiser practitioners are not quick to encourage interventions. As between my two births, I had a better experience with the second (in 2011) inasmuch as the attending OB (then chief resident, who was amazing) was younger and more open to allowing me to birth as I wanted. She even allowed my husband to ''catch'' the baby, which was a thrill for him, and felt so natural for me. For my first child, I ended up being pressured by the (more old-fashioned) doctor to deliver on my back, which resulted in much more extensive tearing than I would have otherwise experienced. That was really the only downside. That labor was very long, though, and my resolve to insist on what was important to me severely weakened by that point.

Although the appeal of the Walnut Creek facility is obvious, for me, the convenience of giving birth close to home far outweighed it. Who wants to labor in the Caledcott tunnel?? You will want to labor at home as long as possible, and being able to then transition quickly to the hospital will be a luxury. Please feel free to obtain my contact information from the moderator if I can answer any more questions.

Wishing you a smooth delivery, and the strength to achieve the birth experience you desire. Yes you can have a natural birth @Kaiser Oakland

Our experience at Kaiser Oakland is from late 2011, but it was an excellent one. We also debated going to Walnut Creek for the midwives, but stuck with Oakland in the end because it was close to home and I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible without having to worry about tunnel traffic. As your OB said, we found the staff incredibly supportive of our birth plan, which requested that they not offer pain medications unless we asked and included a number of other preferences (waiting to cut the cord, skin-to-skin before cleanup, etc.) that turned out to be Kaiser's standard of care. The only issue we had was one nurse overnight who was especially insistent on continuous monitoring, which we had asked not to have unless there was a medical need (there wasn't in our baby's case). Continuous monitoring is not especially conducive to moving a lot during labor, and she was clearly annoyed that the monitor kept falling out of place. Other than that, it was a terrific experience. (In fact, when, after a very long back labor, I finally did request Fentanyl, the resident suggested trying several other ideas first and then we could move to medication if there was no progress--as it turned out, there was and I didn't end up needing it.) Our child was born shortly after a shift change, so we had two residents present (the overnight resident stayed to see the birth through) and two nurses as well, because one was in training shadowing the on-duty nurse. All of them were hugely supportive, and the nurses in particular acted almost in a coaching role. Post- birth, we were also very pleased with the lactation consultants (and later the lactation clinic) at Oakland, and appreciated their policy of having both the pediatrician and LC drop in daily (though I assume Walnut Creek does this too). We have absolutely no regrets about our decision to deliver at Oakland, and are excited to return for the arrival of baby #2 this summer (hopefully at the new hospital!) Kaiser Oakland fan

I have had 2 natural births at Kaiser Oakland and they were very supportive. One in 2010 and another in late 2012. They did not push an epidural on me at all. In fact the second time around I wanted the epidural and never got one. Unfortunately I cannot remember her name but there is an amazing labor and delivery nurse there who is of West African decent. Her name is so long it doesn't even fit on her name tag. Anyway if you can get her she is so great and very supportive of natural birth. Everyone told me to deliver at Walnut Creek because of the midwives, but it was more important for me to be close to the hospital. Ultimately I was very happy with my decision. Fan of Kaiser

Delivery at Kaiser Oakland or Walnut Creek?

Sept 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delivering baby at Kaiser Oakland or Walnut Creek

April 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editor Note: Responses were also received for Kaiser Walnut Creek and Kaiser Hayward

Aug 2012

Re: Childbirth at Kaiser SF

I have not had any experience with Kaiser SF, but I wanted to try to ease your mind on the point related to the residents that will be working when you go in to give birth. Kaiser Oakland is also a teaching hospital and they too get the tougher cases. Here is why this fact made me feel better about giving birth there. One, the residents are there every day dealing with moms giving birth. This is what they do! They are young, energetic and knowledgeable. Kaiser is very keen on going with fewer interventions and they have a lower rate of C-Sections than other hospitals, so as long as you have your birth plan written up and you make all who attend you aware of your birth plan, they will do everything in their power to help make your birth experience what you want. The second benefit with a teaching hospital is that they know how to deal with ALL situations. They have seen them all and they have the resources on hand just in case. Finally, my personal experience was that the nurses who attended me were far more important than the doctors since they are in the room a lot more! And my nurses were great. I know Kaiser Oakland does allow Doulas in the room, so if you don't want to risk the drive south, look into that as an option. My friends did this and they really loved having that extra person there to look out for their interests. Getting ready for your first birth is nerve wracking. Trust your gut and do what makes you feel most comfortable. Happy Kaiser Birth

Doctor for delivery at Kaiser Oakland who won't be celebrating Christmas?

April 2012

Do you know of a Jewish (non Christmas celebrating) OBGYN at Kaiser Oakland? My due date is Christmas and I want someone who will be around for me. I am a high risk pregnancy, this will be my first child, and I am very stressed about ruining other people's Christmas or having no one around that I trust when the baby comes. littlebabystress greta

I delivered at Kaiser Oakland this past August and wanted to let you know that your personal OB will not be the one delivering your baby. Kaiser Oakland staffs their labor and delivery floor with full time residents and attending physicians (it is a teaching hospital). But, I don't want that to scare you away! I had amazing nurses and doctors throughout my labor and delivery. They were supportive, attentive, and skilled. All they do is deliver babies! They also get more of the high risk deliveries and are well equipped and experienced with them. If you are looking for a good OB at Kaiser Oakland, I highly recommend Dr. Perry. She is wonderful. I have also seen Dr. Barraza who is very good, but he isn't quite as warm as Dr. Perry, as well as a couple of the Nurse Practitioners. I have never had a negative experience with any of them, but Dr. Perry is still my preferred OB. Maria

That's not how Kaiser works. You pick your prenatal care provider, but you don't pick your delivery provider. Your delivery provider is whoever's on shift at that time. Some people see that as a bad thing. I hardly cared what species those other voices in the room belonged to when I was giving birth, much less whether we'd spent quality time together previously (once had, once hadn't). In any case, you needn't worry about disrupting anyone's cozy holiday dinner. That doc will have known for months that s/he is on call Christmas, and in a place the size and acuity of Kaiser Oakland they'll be in-house. Quite likely it will be someone who doesn't care tremendously much about Christmas and kindly volunteered to take that shift. Not the doc who volunteers for that shift

I also had a high risk pregnancy through Kaiser Oakland. At that hospital whoever the doctors that are on when you go in to deliver are the ones delivering your baby, not your regular ObGyn. You don't show up to labor and delivery and then they call your doctor to come in to deliver, it's whoever is on at the time. I don't know about all the OBs but mine schedules a week every couple of months to work in the delivery room. However I know she has set hours when she does that, something like 9 to 5pm so if you're not going into labor or scheduled to deliver during that time period then you don't get her. I ended up requiring a c-section and it was scheduled for several days after she ended a delivery room stint. Initially I was really bummed about that but in the end thought the delivery staff was fantastic.

Just so you know, this was the same scenario when I delivered previously at Alta Bates. The doctors from the practice I was going to rotated who was on call for deliveries, so you got whoever was on call which may not necessarily be the doctor you saw for check ups. That practice encouraged us to make our check ups with different doctors to get to know them all. When I went into labor I was initially seen by one doctor from the practice and then she went off duty and the doctor that came on duty after her delivered the baby. After all, you can sometimes be in labor for days! anon

Try Lesley Ruth Levine, MD (my obgyn) or Saraleya Schley, MD (my rabbi!). Both are wonderful and neither celebrate Christmas! Luckily, Chanukah's earlier this year. Happy delivery!

Just wanted to say that a Jewish doctor may not be the answer to your particular issue of wanting a doctor who will be very available to you at Christmas time. It is more an issue of communicating your concern that your doctor be available when your baby is expected. My daughter's due date was Christmas Day, we had a Jewish doctor, who let us know before the end of the first trimester that she had a family trip to Paris planned for Christmas time, since that was when her children were off from school. I liked her medical care very much and we'd actually been through ALOT with her, including stillborn twins, so I was indeed sad she wouldn't be around for our daughter's birth. However, our beautiful girl came a few days earlier than planned, and our doctor ended up being there after all! So, I'm just saying, you don't really know when that sweet baby of yours will arrive--early or late--and what you really need is to talk with the practice carefully about your concern about the doctors' holiday schedules--some Christmas-celebrating doctors may be happily available while some Jewish doctors will be on holiday, and vice versa. Find a doctor you like and talk about their December office coverage. Best wishes. Mama to an almost-Christmas baby

I hate to tell you but no matter who you see at Kaiser they likely WON'T be the one delivering your baby - nor can you control their 'holdiay' schedules to make sure they are around for you or not around. You get what you get and you don't get upset

At Kaiser, you should pick the ObGyn doc whom you are most comfortable with to give you routine care throughout your pregnancy. You can choose from available doctors here: The doctor who will deliver your baby is whoever happens to be on the schedule when you arrive at the hospital. The schedules are configured long in advance, so the delivery doctor will likely not be your own, unless by sheer chance your doctor just happens to be on schedule when you are due. It sounds a little bit of a bummer, but it actually works out well - the doctor who delivers your baby is on schedule and prepared to do the job - not roused out of bed in the middle of the night. Anon

Early discharge after childbirth at Kaiser Oakland

Feb 2012

Has anyone else tried to leave Kaiser Oakland after childbirth before the 12 or 24 hour window has elapsed? I just had a rather frustrating exchange on the phone (the nurse was lovely but the message she relayed from the doctor on the floor was less than encouraging) and would really like to hear if anyone else has wanted to leave early/ left AMA and what that was like. Thanks! Likes to be Home

I think you're over thinking the after birth process just a bit. While the hospital can't 'make' you stay, you'll find the time flies by after the birth. You can make use of your time after the birth by taking advantage of the lactation consultants, napping and resting. If you are eager to check out as soon as possible, then let the nurse know this, and they'll start the process; it'll take about 2 hours. But, don't fret - it's all so new and amazing that everything goes by fast fast fast. 3 time birther

I too left Kaiser Oakland early, AMA, about a day and a half after birth. They were not very understanding about our issue, which was that we couldn't get any sleep. There was no bed for my partner. My baby cried unless being held and walked around; but we weren't allowed to walk around the halls carrying her (you have to wheel them in a cart, which my baby didn't like); so we were stuck in the room with a crying baby. Also, until a kind nurse put a ''do not disturb'' sign on the door, we were interrupted a lot of times by dr.s, nurses, etc. coming in and out. In early afternoon, we told them we wanted to go home (it was about 24 hrs after birth) and their response was to delay as long as possible while sending in a parade of people to try and convince us to stay. The nurse, the pediatrician, the psychiatrist, the nurse case manager... Each one would come in and try to convince us to stay, then we'd be waiting for another 45 min, then another person would come in and explain why we should stay. By the time they finally agreed we could go and we signed all the paperwork, it was 9 pm. I've heard from others that Kaiser used this tactic with them, BTW, so I don't think it was just us. (As a side note, you'd think if they were so worried about us leaving, they would have sent a nurse/ lactation consultant to do a home visit the next day, which would have actually been helpful, but no, we still had to go into the office 2 days later for that visit.) Oakland mom

I left Kaiser Walnut Creek at a little less than 24 hours after i gave birth. No one said i had to stay til the full 24 hours had elapsed and i politely asked to go home as soon as possible, so they did everything that needed to be done as quickly as they could(hearing test for baby, blood work for baby, my check up, baby's check up, social security paperwork etc). However, i had a very fast ''easy'' delivery and a healthy baby. They don't particularly want you there if you don't need to be there. BUT, you do not know prior to giving birth that you or the baby won't need to be there and if you are going to go AMA and don't want the hearing test/ check ups etc, then you should probably just give birth at home instead. Didn't want long hospital stay either

I am not sure I quite did what you are describing, but I only stayed 1 night. I was admitted at 7am, gave birth at 1:30pm and was home by 2pm the next day. I think a lot of it has to do with the timing of the birth. I would think you might need to spend at least 1 night in the hospital after giving birth, but everyone is different. I was so worked afterwards I was in no place to go anywhere. But when we all woke up at 7am our goal was to get out of there. My husband took our son for all the necessary tests, I met with the lactation consultant, etc. Then we scheduled our follow-up appointments with the lactation consultant, pediatrician, and OBGYN. There is a lot of waiting to get discharged. Once you do everything you have to do, you have to wait for the doctor to discharge you and then you have to wait for transport. I am not sure they would have discharged me the same day I gave birth. Just make sure to communicate what you want to do and push for that. I had a good experience at Kaiser Oakland, but have nothing to compare it to. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions. suzanne.lytle [at]

Hi and congrats! I delivered our second child at KO - I also hoped for early relesase and was released just shy of the 24 hour mark - I had a very easy and uncomplicated (and fast!) delivery - and I believe they would have let me go sooner were it not for the fact our son had swallowed some meconium and they wanted to monitor him. They did and he was fine. I'm not sure but I don't think they can 'force' you to stay - but if you have any complications at all I think it's worth the few extra hours to make sure all is well, right? Best to you! been there, briefly

I left Kaiser Oakland less than 24 hours after birth (about 24 hours after arriving). I had to sign a release saying I understood the risks in leaving before the recommended time (I think it's 48 hours?), and the pediatrician on duty told me what to look for in terms of jaundice and some other things, but no one gave me any problems about wanting to leave. I didn't talk with anyone in advance, but gave birth around 6, asked the next morning if I could get discharged that day, and left that afternoon. We would have left earlier but we were waiting for the pediatrician to come back around and do the final sign-off, because he was an intern, and was reluctant to do without checking with the resident first. Good luck! I like being at home too

I just thought I'd pipe in to say that I was in the same boat as you, assuming I'd want to get out of there as soon as possible (also at Kaiser Oakland), and I found myself stretching out the time as far as possible. Yes, we were in a tiny little hospital room and I would have loved to have been able to afford a home birth and be comfortable in my own bed. As it turned out, though, the amount of support we got from everyone at Kaiser was invaluable in helping us get through those first 48 hours, and we ended up being eternally grateful for the amount of useful advice and clarification we got that we wouldn't have gotten if we'd scooted out of there right away. Thought I'd want to run but wanted to stay

I'm writing because the only thing I regret about my childbirth experience was that I left Kaiser Oakland too soon. I gave birth at 8:52am on a Tuesday and left at 6pm on Wednesday, so just one night in the recovery room. I wish so much that I had stayed another night. The nurses were great - they brought awesome cold packs to help with the pain from the birth and stitches (I had minor tearing). They helped me manage the pain - taught me about using with the squeeze bottle during bathroom visits, got me ibuprofen (safe during nursing), and even a topical spray to numb the area. They helped with the heavy lochia, helping me with changes of underwear, etc...The lactation consultants were great, and I wish so often that I had stayed the extra day and gotten another consult while we were still there. Basically, you will be sore and dealing with a newborn - crazy meconium diapers, possibly jaundice, breastfeeding, etc...TAKE THE AWESOME HELP WHILE YOU CAN GET IT! My partner is fantastic, but we were so overwhelmed when we got home, we just wish we had taken advantage of the hospital help a little longer. stay as long as you can

Birth at Kaiser Oakland vs. Alta Bates

Nov 2010

I am currently in my first trimester for my second child, and am contemplating switching to Kaiser in February/March in order to save money on both the birth, as well as prenatal and pediatric care (with my insurance coverage, we would have no copays vs our Blue Shield coverage which requires at least $20 for every visit and a hefty $1,000 outlay for childbirth). I gave birth to my first daughter at Alta Bates in Berkeley in 2008 and had a pretty good experience--quick, natural birth, single room to myself, etc.--but did NOT have good help with lactation consultants. I would like to have the same type of experience over at Kaiser Oakland (with better lactation help), but worry about the quality of the residents and care, and whether I'd be crammed into a double or triple room because that would be hell as I have a big family and a young daughter. I also would only what a woman doctor, so that's a concern too as it seems like you get what you get at Kaiser. SO, long question short, can anyone offer insight into Oakland Kaiser births and if anyone is able to compare between Alta Bates and Kaiser, that would be much appreciated. Thanks! Stay ''safe'' or save money?

I wanted to respond, even though my experience is ancient history by now. 16 years ago I gave birth at Oakland Kaiser, and 12 years ago I gave birth at Alta Bates. I had good experiences both places. I had a room to myself at Kaiser, and a room mate at Alta Bates. Even though I always prefer a woman Dr. for everything, I had good rapport with the young man who delivered me. You don't see the doctors very much during the birth process, mostly you see the nurses. If I had to do it again, I would definitely choose Kaiser. Claire

I can't speak for kaiser but I recently gave birth to my daughter at Alta Bates and had a great experience with their lactation consultants. Perhaps things have changed since the birth of your baby in 2008? If it wasn't for their breastfeeding support group (which is free the 1st time and then $10 after that) and their very affordable individual lactation consultations, I would not be breastfeeding today. Believe me, I have had thee ultimate nightmare with nursing and was their longest standing attendee of their support group but they were helpful every step of the way and am now a happy breastfeeding mom. anon

I just wanted to address the question about residents at Kaiser. The night my son was born at Kaiser Oakland, there was a male resident on staff. There was also a female resident and they asked me if it was okay if the male resident took care of me. I saw him a few times over the course of labor, but the female resident actually delivered my son because he was busy at the time. I wouldn't worry about not having a choice. You can say no or ask for someone else. People don't usually work in healthcare because they want their patients to be upset or uncomfortable. anon

Hi, I saw your posting, and I'm going to do my best to give the most balanced reply I can. I delivered my first baby at Kaiser Oakland, and will be having my second baby at Alta Bates in a few months, so I can't yet speak to the experience at Alta Bates.

About Kaiser: I loved my prenatal care (which I actually got at Kaiser SF, because I was working full time in SF at the time, although lived over here). I like how streamlined things are, really liked the NP I saw throughout for my regular appointments, and I liked the OBs I saw when she couldn't see me, etc.

My labor and delivery: I think so much probably depends on the doctors and L nurses you get. In general, I absolutely LOVED the L nurses -- and I went through 4 shifts of them during my labor! They were my angels -- truly wonderful. I liked one less well than the others, but in general thought they were great and two were actually midwives also (one called me the next day to see how I was). I do know that the L nurses held the doctors off on giving me petocin for many hours longer than the doctors wanted. So, there may have been more tension/conflict around that kind of stuff than I knew in the moment, but the L& nurses shielded me from it. Ultimately, I did have a lot of interventions -- oxygen, internal monitoring, etc. because my baby wasn't doing well during the labor. The doctors: I think I saw three different residents and a perinatologist during my labor. (As you may realize, I had a long, tricky labor with more doctor ''presence'' than people typically have.) I really liked one of the residents, one I thought was competent but had a crummy bedside manner, and the third -- who wound up delivering my baby while very closely supervised by the perinatologist -- I think was pretty poor. All the residents were women (even though there's no way to control for this, most young OBs tend to be women so it's highly likely you'd get a woman). The perinatologist was a man.

My post-partum care: Utterly dreadful. (Although, at the last minute the L nurse arranged for me to get a single instead of a double because I'd had such a rough labor, so I can't speak to the shared room. I did have a shared bathroom that was filthy.) I had extremely severe post-partum complications that went undiagnosed for two days post-partum even though I was asking for help, asking to see a doctor, etc. At the time, I was doing my best to just function and take care of my baby. Looking back, I'm really shocked and horrified by the care I received. My husband and I finally came to our senses the night before I was to be discharged and spoke to the head nurse who's response was, ''well, actually the nurses have been coming to me really worried about you, but they haven't known what to do so they've been telling you everything's fine so you wouldn't worry.'' After that conversation, we started demanding to be seen by doctors, demanding better care, etc., and my care changed hugely (was finally examined by doctors, a specialist came to see me, I think they actually assigned me better nurses etc., etc., but that was all after was supposed to have originally been discharged). It was actually scary how different my care was before and after we started making a stink, because we fully realized how poor my care had been before. My husband's a doctor, and he hadn't mentioned that until it came up during these conversations. The perinatologist actually apologized to us, saying they would have treated us differently if they'd known he was a doctor. Maybe that's the way the world works, but that was also super-concerning to me. I think it made them take us seriously instead of blowing us off, etc.

Basically, I think if you have a typical labor and delivery, or even a C-section or something where they can ''put you in the right box'' you'll get the right level of care. But I do think (and have heard this from others) if you're needing diagnostic care/have some post-partum complications that are unclear there is a terrible system for getting this type of care. Odds are, everything would be fine for you. That said, I could never go back to that hospital (nor would my husband).

Lactation consultants: I think they tend to be accessible and decent at Kaiser. Bizarrely, I kept asking to see one and no one came to see me until AFTER the day I was scheduled to be discharged, but I really think that's unusual (boy did we have a bad experience:). And after you leave the hospital with Kaiser, you still have really good access to lactation consultants. I think you can make an appointment to see someone individually any weekday (which I took advantage of), and if I remember there may be someone available by phone every day? Not quite sure. I will definitely miss that about Kaiser.

So, to sum up, I think if you had another fairly routine birth things would be fine and (from my experience) the L nurses would be very supportive of your wishes. Having had a birth/post-partum recovery with lots of complications, I couldn't go back because I don't trust the quality of care under those circumstances. I hope this helps somewhat, and doesn't sound too biased. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions. sk

I found the lactation consultant I saw at Kaiser Oakland to be very knowledgeable and helpful. I thought it was wonderful that the lactation services were built-in; there was no need for me to go out and find someone on my own. Also, can people please stop bad-mouthing ''Kaiser'' as a general statement? It is not constructive to be so vague (especially when it's not even your own personal experience). If you have a problem with a specific provider or service, then be clear about it, but usually people who say bad things about Kaiser have an issue with a specific person and not the whole organization. There are good and not-so-good doctors, nurses, etc. everywhere and usually there are two sides to every story. Patients are not perfect either and often have unrealistic or uninformed expectations. Happy at Kaiser

Questions about the Oakland birth experience

Nov 2010

We are planning to deliver our first child at Kaiser Oakland, where we are getting our prenatal care. I've read the archived reviews, and have some specific questions which weren't addressed in the archived reviews. Can anyone in the know give me some answers?

1) 2 friends who had recently given birth (elsewhere) required stitching, which was done very poorly, both instances by a resident. I read that Oakland is a teaching hospital and the delivery team are residents. Does anyone know when the resident cycle starts at Oakland--i.e. when do they come in brand new? And during delivery, is it possible to ask to be attended by a doctor with more experience and refuse to be stitched/treated by a new resident?

2) I read that Oakland only has double/triple rooms after birth. Is it possible to request a single room? This may be my tipping point as it's really important to me.

3) I also read that the facilities are showing their age. Anyone know if any of the new buildings are for labor and delivery?

Right now I'm still planning on staying with Oakland (as opposed to Walnut Creek) but the issues with residents and shared rooms especially are making me sway. Any advice/experience would be greatly appreciated. --Planning ahead for baby

I had a baby at Kaiser Oakland this past summer.

I can't speak to your question about residents, because I had a scheduled C section so my obgyn delivered.

You are right about Oakland doubling and tripling patients. They had told me ahead of time that because I was going to have a surgical delivery, I would likely get a single room. No such luck. It was a busy week and I was there for 3 days in a triple room with 1 other woman. I couldn't have gotten a single even if I requested one - too full.

I have friends and colleagues who get their obgyn care in Oakland but deliver in Walnut Creek to ensure they get a single room. No shame in that. The doctors in Oakland seem to understand. I didn't get that option since I had the surgical delivery, but I don't think going to WC is a big deal. Its the beauty of being part of the bigger Kaiser system! have the delivery you want

I would suggest going to Walnut Creek Kaiser. They have midwives and a much newer nicer facility. Most rooms are singles rather than doubles. I delivered in July and I had to walk around outside in the dark....I felt safe in Walnut Creek and would never have been able to do so in Oakland. It's worth the drive through the tunnel! Worth the drive

As a doula I have worked at both Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser Walnut Creek. Here is what I know about the questions you have asked-

1) Yes, you can request to be treated and or stitched by an attending while at Kaiser Oakland and they will do what they can to get you one. The new batch of residents come in at the beginning of August each year. That does not mean that all of the residents are new though. Some are staying on for the their 2nd, 3rd etc. years and some will be brand new.

2) You can request a private room but there is no guarantee that you will get one. That is the same at Walnut Creek as well. Generally they try to place everyone in a room alone until there are too many people and then they start doubling up.

3) My understanding is that there will not be L in the new buildings, but I could be wrong.

I would tour both facilities and see how you feel. They are very different and just being there may help you make a decision. I have had lovely experiences with clients at both hospitals.

Best wishes for a beautiful birth! Anna

I delivered my first child at Oakland Kaiser in Sept. 08 and am getting ready - literally, any minute now! - to deliver my second there. Overall, it is just fine and the facility is nothing to worry about. Re. your specific questions:

1) Yes, you will see residents, and only a full-fledged doctor if you have a problem (which I did not). A resident stitched me up, and as far as I know, it was fine - I didn't have any particular pain that I attributed to the stitches per se and they fell out without me noticing in the appropriate period of time. I believe the new ''class'' comes in in October, but I think they also stay two years, so you have 1st and 2nd years on the floor at a time. The resident who delivered my baby and stitched me up is now, I see, on staff, so presumably that speaks to the high quality of residents they get at Oakland.

2) The recovery rooms are all set up to be triples, but if the floor is not full, you can ask to be in one by yourself. When I delivered in 2008, the entire place was packed so that wasn't an option, but I have a colleague who was initially with a roommate, asked if there was a free room, and got it. Luck of the draw, I guess, and try not to deliver during a full moon! Apparently that sparks labor.

3) ''The facilities are showing their age.'' Well, yes, that is one of the reasons why they are building a new hospital there. But obviously L is going to stay with the main hospital so it will be a while before it moves. Believe me, when you are in labor, you will not notice any cracks in the plaster or whatever! Since I'm about to have my second child at Oakland Kaiser

just two years later, you can tell I think the quality of the medical care is fine. It is not a touchy-feely birthing center... it is a hospital. They did what they needed to do for me and my baby, and I recommend it. (Like I said, though - I think it would be better if the recovery wing is not full! Can't control everything.) Kaiser mom

I can't answer all your questions, but will tell you about my experience almost 2 years ago.

1) I had minor tearing and stitches; the resident did them and I had no problems at all. I don't know when the cycle is; I suspect you can request the attending, but it depends on what else is going on that night. Ask your OB.

2) It is false that all rooms are doubles/triples. There are a number of single rooms, as well as some doubles and a triple. We were told that they fill all the singles first, then the doubles and triples with one person, and only if necessary double up, and never on the first night if they can help it. I was there on what they told me was a busy night, and had a triple to myself. I only stayed one night; it's possible I would have had a roommate the second night.

3) My understanding is that there are new facilities for L, but I don't think they're open yet. The facilities are old, but I think that says more about how they look than how up-to-date their equipment is. It didn't bother me.

My recommendation is that you go on a tour of both facilities. You can see the rooms, ask your questions, etc. That's what I did, and discovered that I felt more comfortable with Oakland. In retrospect, I'm SO glad, if only because the 10 minutes drive to Kaiser Oakland while in labor was so painful -- I can't imagine the ride to Walnut Creek! And if they'd said I wasn't ready to be admitted and sent me home ... Also keep in mind that when the time comes, a facility can be full and they might send you somewhere else. My understanding from my OB is that this happens more often at Walnut Creek, because they do more births there, but that may have changed.

I know people who've had great experiences at Kaiser Oakland and Walnut Creek -- both challenging and ''easy'' births. I know people who've had difficult experiences at both facilities as well. Go with where you feel most comfortable, and then go in with a positive attitude. Happy Oakland Mama

Hey There!

I would ask those questions of your OB at Kaiser as well. The last thing you want to do is go in with a certain expectation because of information you got here and have it be ''against policy'' or something else that will create a sense of conflict for you while you are in labor. I would recommend that you take a tour of the L at Walnut Creek too. I've attended a few births at the Kaiser in Walnut Creek and it's a very cool place. And, there aren't any residents there. It's where I'm planning on having my first (almost halfway there!). I chose it because of the relaxed atmosphere, nurse midwives, and access to an OB, IF i need it. I definitely don't want my birth to be a teachable moment, especially if stitches are involved.. I don't mean to be selfish, but that's just not how I want it to go, especially for my first.

As far as the rooms go, everything is first come first served. if they don't have enough room for everyone to be on their own, you get a roomie, and there isn't really a way around it. I don't know if one hospital has more recovery rooms than the other, or how many people they serve.

Definitely go get a tour of the L in Walnut Creek and ask your provider more questions about how it works in Oakland. anon

I delivered both my children (now 4 years old and 21 months old) at Kaiser Oakland. My first was born by a medically necessary, unplanned c-section by a relatively new resident. It was clear from the directions given by the attending physician that this was the resident's first try. Perhaps I was too tired from the 36 hours of labor preceding the surgery, but I raised no objection, and the surgery went just fine. The resident stood on one side of me and the attending physician was immediately opposite her, literally ''on top'' of the situation. It was clear to my husband and me that the situation was under control. I found it quite amusing in the days after the surgery that every doctor and nurse who came to check the incision/stitching remarked about how great it looked - I kept on telling them I couldn't take any credit... I don't mean to minimize the surgery, but wanted to say from first hand experience that the supervision was thorough and the resident did a good job.

I had a single room after each of my deliveries, so it's definitely possible to get one. I believe they try to give the singles to c-section moms (to the extent available). The facilities are certainly not new, but I had no problem with them. It's clean, the staff are wonderfully supportive and I was perfectly happy to go back for my second delivery. The food is atrocious, but I just ate it anyway - it was only for a few days - and your friends and family can certainly bring you food from outside.

Good luck with your choice, and congratulations! Happy Kaiser Oakland Mom

I am in the ''love Kaiser camp.'' We are now with UHC, due to a job change, and I'm grieving but trying to move on. I gave birth to my daughter in 06 at Kaiser Oakland and actually considered the residents a plus -- the nursing staff (which was GREAT) does most of the work anyhow. As it turned out, I tore badly in 3 places and the stitching was done by the doc, not the resident. The attending resident was very concerned about me and checked on me several times before we were discharged (it was actually her concern and a conversation with my husband that tipped me off to how bad it was, since I was over the moon about my daughter being with us at last). I subsequently had a scar revision, but that was because I am a notoriously bad healer, not because they did a shoddy job. And in any case, the doctor did the stitching.

Room assignments are the luck of the draw as I understand, but the facilities seemed just fine to me. Take a tour and pepper them with questions -- that's what the L tours are for. We met half the residents and the anesthesiologist on our tour, and were able to put our minds at rest. Still over the moon

2005 - 2009 Reviews

Feb 2009

Re: Baby at Oakland vs. Walnut Creek Kaiser?

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

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

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

Sept 2008

I'm due with twins in March 2009...we live in Hayward but work in Berkeley. I understand you can choose which location to have delivery (Hayward, Oakland, Fremont, Walnut Creek). If so, I'd like to get recent experiences about twin delivery in the different locations. Thanks.

Congratulations on your twin pregnancy! My twins were born almost 22 months ago via c-section at Kaiser Oakland. Our experience there was fantastic. The operating team was great, the aftercare nurses were great. I can't say enough good things about the staff. The rooms were remodeled 2 years ago, and there's a nice covered veranda on one side of the after care ward that you can walk up and down in. Compared to my birth experience with my singleton at Alta Bates, we definitely got more attention with the twins and it was a much more positive experience.

All that being said, my advice on your twin delivery is:

- You may be in the hospital up to 4 days and in certain circumstances longer. With twins there is a greater chance of premies or a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) stay. So my advice would be to pick a hospital that is closest to your home so your husband or any family that is staying at your house can easily commute back and forth from home for a shower and change of clothes, or if you babies have to stay in the hospital, it will be easier for you to commute back and forth. I know some families were one baby was sent home, the other had to stay longer in the NICU. So it's less stressful to be closer to the hospital.

-- Kaiser Oakland had a dry erase board in the room, and I assume others do too. If not, bring a notebook and pen. Keep track of your pain meds and don't get behind - the nurses if they aren't there on time. Pain meds aren't as effective if you are behind schedule. Also, if they aren't working for you, as for something else.

-- Get all the lactation advice you can in the hospital. We got crappy advice from the first one we saw, and the 2nd one gave us great advice that worked for us. So don't give up.

-- Join a parents of multiples club. You will get INVALUABE advice and support, and all of them have email forums to ask questions from more experienced members. I'm a member of Twins by the Bay, which serves Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Albany, Richmond, Piedmont, Alameda, Lafayette, Orinda, & Moraga. There is also the Twin Valley Mothers of Twins Club; and The Tric City Moms of Multiples: I don't know which one would be close to you, but you can also search for a club by zip code at the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs: anon

Sept 2008

I chose to have an elective c-section for the birth of my first child, and plan to do the same for my second. (No interest in VBAC). I recently moved to the East Bay from San Francisco, and now must chose a new OB at Kaiser Oakland. Can anyone here recommend a female OB at Kaiser Oakland who is pro-choice as far as elective c-sections are concerned, experienced and courteous? Thank you. anonymous

My twins were delivered by c-section at Kaiser Oakland and it was a wonderful, positive experience. Much more so than the vaginal birth of my singleton at Alta Bates. My OBGYN is Dr. Erica Breneman and I think she?s fantastic ? just what you describe ? concerned, experienced & courteous. But just so you know, Kaiser is a residency hospital so you?ll get whatever team is on duty when your c-section is scheduled. Since I was delivering twins, I had a double team and thought all the doctors were amazing. anon

Sept 2008

Re: I live in Richmond - which Kaiser for delivery?

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

May 2008

Does anyone have any experience or advice with either Kaiser Oakland or Richmond as far as pregnancy and childbirth? I just found out I'm expecting and don't know anything about the facilities or medical staff here. I've been to Kaiser Oakland for a regular OB apt. twice, and my son has been to both Oakland and Richmond for pediatrician appointments, but our last birthing experience was with a private insurance program and hospital and not at all like the Goliath that Kaiser is, i.e. if I needed to call my doctor I actually called the office and talked to the same receptionist every time--not like the many layered phone tag of the Kaiser system. So I guess my question is, what was your experience and are there people that you would recommend? Thanks so much! expecting mom

It's my understanding that Richmond doesn't have delivery facilities and that all Richmond OB patients deliver at either Oakland or Walnut Creek.

I delivered at Oakland and have no complaints. In fact, I really liked the staff and we had a nice experience there delivering our child. ~Good times at Oakland Kaiser


Richmond Kaiser does not have L Your options in the East Bay are Oakland, Walnut Creek, and Hayward. If you deliver at Oakland, your baby will be delivered by a resident, not the OB/GYN you see for prenatal care. The residents are on a team that is overseen by an attending. Walnut Creek has midwives for deliveries. I don't know much about Hayward.

I delivered at Oakland Kaiser and had a good experience with my residents. Seriously, I was so focused on labor that I didn't really tune into who was doing what. You can go on tours of the L departments and at Oakland, you can go to a session where you can meet all of the residents. Even though you're still early, you may want to do that now so you can make your decision.

had an Oakland Kaiser baby

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I just delivered at Kaiser Oakland, and my pre-natal care was at Kaiser Richmond. If you want to work with a doctor, I highly recommend Carla Wicks. She's warm, enthusiastic, caring and knowledgable. If you prefer a nurse practitioner, I liked Anne McKenzie. She's also warm and caring, with just a slight ''edge'' to her that I enjoyed. I think both these women are pretty popular, so if you decide to pick either one of them (or both, like I did), I suggest that you book appointments in advance (i.e. don't wait until your current appointment to try to book the next one).

I've delivered babies at both Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser Walnut Creek. Richmond does not have a Labor & Delivery unit, so most Richmond patients deliver in Oakland though Walnut Creek is also an option. Both experiences were generally good, though not perfect. In Walnut Creek, the anesthesiologist took two tries to insert my epidural. In Oakland, the triage nurse told me to go home when I was pretty far along. I didn't go home, and the baby was born within an hour and a half. Other than those mishaps, my experiences were great at both facilities. I loved the L nurses and the postpartum nurses, the food was actually pretty good, and I didn't feel rushed out when it was time to go home. My delivery in Oakland was so fast that there was no time for music, lighting, etc ... but I got the impression from my pre-delivery visit there that the staff is open to parents' wishes. The rooms in Oakland were small but adequate. We were in a private room with a shared bathroom. ! My husband did NOT like the pull-out chair that was provided for him ... it was too narrow, so that he spend the night lying on two hard pieces of wood (and he's pretty skinny). Kathryn

Hi, My doctor is at Richmond Kaiser. Her names is Amanda Calhoun. I love her! She helped me through a miscarriage and also delivered my first child in October! I would recommend going to Richmond for your appointments. They are more thorough than Oakland, and seem to be more personable. I had a bad experience with a nurse practitioner at Oakland. She basically put my life at risk.

Richmond Kaiser is actually voted something like number 4 of the Kaiser in Northern California. Unfortunately they do not deliver babies. You have to go to Oakland. I had a good experience their. My labor and delivery was pretty much text book. The only complaint was they do not have tubs to be in just showers.

When I asked my doctor if she recommended Oakland or Walnut creek for labor, she said, Oakland was really good at being attentive for the labor and delivery but lacked in recovery. Walnut Creek was more attentive at recovery but lacked somewhat in delivery, so if you know you are having a c section go with Walnut Creek. Good Luck Happy Mom

I had an excellent prenatal and birthing experience at Kaiser Oakland in 2007. My Ob/Gyn is Dr. Laura Minikel, who I recommend very highly. She is warm, respectful, patient, informed and informative, and very responsive to questions and issues that arise both during and outside of regular office visits. The nurse she most commonly works with in clinic, Margaret, is also great. Dr. Minikel helped me understand all options related to screening tests, showed genuine enthusiasm for me and my husband at every visit (even though she sees this stuff all day, every day), and helped me get prepared for birth by recommending classes, possible doulas, etc.

Kaiser Oakland is a teaching hospital, so they have Ob/Gyn residents who do much of the work on the labor and delivery ward, supervised by attending physicians like Dr. Minikel. So - your usual Ob/Gyn very likely won't be the person who delivers your baby. I knew this from the outset and it was not a big deal to me - had seen a resident deliver my sister's baby at UCSF and knew that most of the interaction you have in labor is with the nurses anyway!

I had a natural childbirth at Kaiser Oakland in Nov 2007 and had incredibly supportive nurses throughout, and had an attending physician (not a resident) with me during a good part of late labor and for about 2 hours of pushing! (Maybe it was a slow night.) She was Dr. Caryn Rybczynski and she was incredible - said all the right things and helped me stay with my planned natural childbirth even when I was starting to ask about an epidural. She has a baby herself and I think she'd be excellent in the outpatient setting as well.

So, I can't speak to Kaiser Richmond, but my experience at Kaiser Oakland was really wonderful from start to finish. (The only downside is that they have some shared rooms on the recovery ward, until their new hopsital is built. I shared one my first night - not the greatest, but not such a big deal.) I'm sure experiences vary by what nurses or doctors you get and what's happening in your labor, but I found everyone to be very respectful, supportive, and knowledgable throughout.

As for dealing with the ''behemoth'' - yes, when you call your doctor, you are calling a call center, but they can leave a message for your doctor just like a receptionist in a non-Kaiser office would, and my doctor always called back that day. With Kaiser you are also able to e-mail your doctor through the website, which I used several times and my doctor always responded within a day or two. The fact that Kaiser is all one system can actually be really helpful if you ever have to work with other doctors as I did - they all see your same electronic medical record and know what's going on with other doctors, pharmacy, past medical history, etc. GOOD LUCK!

Full disclosure: I am an employee of Kaiser Permanente in their national offices, but feel I have an objective view as a patient (my work doesn't involve clinical care, service, or insurance issues). New mom in '07

Note: A review was also received for Kaiser Vallejo

March 2008

Re: Childbirth at Kaiser Walnut Creek
Hi, I can't advise on WC Kaiser, however, can let you know that you have another Kaiser birthing option in the east bay and that is Oakland Kaiser. I just gave birth to our first child (2 weeks ago!) at Kaiser Oakland and was very impressed with my experience. Loved the nurses, the lactation specialists were fantastic, the doctor I dealt with and the peds were great. Our experience was quite positive.

Their labor & delivery and family care floors are relatively new as well. Having never given birth before, I don't have anything to compare it to, but I was pleased.

I know you can sign up for free Labor & Delivery tours at both facilities (Oakland and WC) and then you can compare them to what you remember from SF Kaiser. Good luck & congratulations! Carol

Feb 2008

Does anyone have any experience with Kaiser Oakland Hospital's maternity ward? When I gave birth to our first child, they did not have this facility open for birthing. We had a choice of Alta Bates or Kaiser Walnut Creek. We chose Walnut Creek, which was fine. They have nice facilities and midwives on staff. This time around however we may want to use a maternity ward closer to home since we'll have to arrange for care for our first child during delivery. We'll of course be going on a L tour but if anyone has any experience with KP-Oakland, we'd be most appreciative. anonymous

We delivered baby #1 at Kaiser Walnut Creek, but opted for #2 at Kaiser Oakland, also to be closer to home - I have to say that I liked Oakland better for the birthing part, the doctors and nurses were just lovely and it felt great (it was also a LOT faster the second time for me) - the aftercare was not as good, I had a semi private room but the nurses were not as good, there was a lot of noise, it was not very clean, etc - if you want more details feel free to email me....and good luck! anon

I delivered at Kaiser Oakland and for the most part it was great. The resident on duty had a lot to learn about bedside manner, but the nurses, especially the one attending me during labor, were lovely. We were lucky in that there was hardly anyone else on the floor, so we got a lot of attention. I think a good deal depends on how busy they are when you happen to go into labor, which is beyond anyone's control. JS

I delivered my twins at Kaiser Oakland and have nothing but praise for that facility. I had a high risk pregnancy and went into triage several times late at night to make sure I wasn't in pre-term labor. Everyone was fantastic, down to the security guards who would see me sitting on a bench waiting for my husband to come out of the parking garage and would offer to get me a wheelchair.

I ended up having a c-section and thought the team we had was amazing. Very positive, supportive and skilled. I was impressed at how they treated the birth as the special occasion it was, the weren't at all jaded like the doctor and nurses I had the first time around at Alta Bate. My twins totalled 15 pounds and I had a rough and painful recovery. The nurses were fantastic; they were responsive to my needs and worked to find ways for me to get relief. We were there for 4 days and although I was ready to go home, I was sad to leave. anon

Jan 2007

Please bear with me, this is yet again, another search (albeit one for more recent aka. 2006) for advice on Kaiser's L - our first baby was born at WC - good experience but nothing so stellar, our second is due in a few weeks and we're looking at Oakland to be closer to home - whatever your experiences with the Oakland facility (and/or vs. WC or Hayward) would be MOST appreciated - specifically, quality of care, access to private room, thoughts on residents/vs. midwives in terms of respecting your wishes and general asetetics... curious about new l

I gave birth to my daughter at Kaiser Oakland in October. I have decided that I will have my next child at another Kaiser location. First off, I wanted a natural birth and I made that clear during my paperwork and birth plan. I was under tremendous pressure to use uterine stimulants (which lead to pain medication). I had to suggest that we use drug-free ways to get labor going after a couple of hours had passed and I wasn't as far along as they wanted me to be. It ended up working, but after 6 more hours of labor the doctors never checked on me. I had to call them in when I was ready to push...but, at that time (10cm dialated) they found out that my daughter was breech and then I was rushed in for an emergency c-section. The machines that were attached to me were also not working very well so I was having long and strong contractions that were not registering. I did have an amazing labor and delivery nurse, Evie, that really helped my natural labor possible and helped with the acceptance of surgery. As far as the recovery goes, I had pretty much no help breastfeeding...especially from the lactation consultants. My daughter never learned to latch at the hospital and I was given nipple shields and a supplemental nursing system that I was never taught to use. Because of the poor breastfeeding relationship, I was pressured by the night staff at the hospital to give my daughter a bottle of formula. The nurses used guilt and fear to get me to do it, and I'm now sure they wanted her eating formula because they had NO training in helping new moms breastfeed. The day staff in recovery was very helpful and reassuring. My experience giving birth at Kaiser Oakland really was like night and day. I had troubles with the L doctors/residents, but the nurses were really looking out for me and my wishes. In recovery, I had great experiences with most of the day staff, but when nighttime rolled around it was completely different. If you have any other questions feel free to email me. HTH. Christina

Nov 2006

I'm looking for recent childbirth experiences at either Kaiser Oakland or Vallejo. The most up-to-date ones I could find in the archives for Oakland were over a year old, and I couldn't find anything on Vallejo. If you received prenatal care and/or delivered at either facility in the past 6-12 months, would you mind sharing your experience (and any recommendations for NPs or MDs)? If you have your own doula, does that work within either facility? Thanks
Choosing between Kaisers

I gave birth to a healthy little son at Kaiser Oakland last year. The nurses varied in experience and attitude widely--the first woman we worked with was very flexible and informed about different midwife-type positions, how to move a stuck baby, etc. The next woman was not so inclined but was amazing when we had to quickly move to a C-section (after something like 32 hours of induced labor). One thing to ask about at Oakland is if they are staffed for the weekend--this seemed to be a problem last year. They didn't want to admit me for an induction (I explained it was imperative--I was over two weeks late) and one night I was left without meds, no answer to my nurse call button, no food, stuff like that! My room was next to the nurse's station and I heard much bellyaching about too many patients all night. oakland mom

We gave birth at Kaiser Oakland w/in the past 6 months and had a great experience. The classes they offer seem designed way more for the partner than for the Mom-to-be, but otherwise very informative, friendly, and supportive about alternatives to today's birth norms. Since Oakland is a teaching hospital, though, make sure you have a birth plan or they'll do what's easiest to teach with. We found out the hard way when they raised the delivery table and I had to push while lying flat (not the norm at good hospitals these days). Also, make sure you get the printed layout of the floor plan they have so you can ask for the larger delivery rooms. There's a big discrepancy in their size and the smaller rooms made us so claustrophobic on the tour! happy in oakland

I delivered at Kaiser Oakland in November of last year. It was a great first birth experience. I had some reservations because I hadn't heard anything about the facility, but it turned out to be fine. The nurses were awesome. The rooms very clean and comfortable for me and my husband. I had all my pre-birth visits with NP Linda Franz who is patient and kind, but very down-to-earth and comforting.

The only thing that I didn't like about my experience there was the birth preparation class. I'm sorry that I don't remember the instructor's name, but she was awful. She talked about herself the whole time and was just a ditz! We signed up for the class where we attended once a week for a few weeks. Each class got progressively worse, but we kept going because we were afraid to miss something! The last class was taught by a substitute instructor named Joan Bryant. She was amazing!! She is also a doula and she was so wonderful. She answered all of our questions and gave us some good tips that were actually useful to us during the birth.

Good luck and have a wonderful pregnancy/birth! nm

Our daughter was born Sept 2006 at Kaiser Oakland and it was a wonderful experience. I highly recommend their Labor & Delivery Unit. The care was personalized, top notch and patient-centered. The medical residents were an amazing group of diverse, talented, friendly, skilled women. We went through three nursing shifts and everyone was great. Our doula was welcomed by both doctors and nurses and easily incorporated into the care team -- she even led the pushing. The nurses asked us for our birth plan to ensure that it was not overlooked. We were not rushed after the birth of our baby and were given plenty of time to hold her before the bathing and exams began.
satisfied new mom

Hello, We had our baby at Kaiser Oakland on November 6th, so this is a very recent recommendation. In short, we were very impressed and pleased with Kaiser Oakland.

We went in with our expressed intention to have as few interventions as possible, and the staff and doctors were very supportive of this. At no time did a doctor or nurse walk in and say, ''so, are you ready for your epidural now?'' Things didn't go as we had planned -- my contractions were close together, painful, and my labor was slow (typcial with first labors). I wound up opting for pitosin and an epidural, but up until then, both doctors and nurses were very supportive and offered suggestions for different techniques and positions. I had great coaching from one of the nurses (named DL) when it came time to push. Our little one was born with her hand by her face, so I wound up having some pretty significant tearing (unanticipated -- up until then it looked like I'd have no tearing). The doctors did a nice job sewing me up, and the doctor who delivered us came by the next morning to check on us, saying she hadn't been able to sleep because she was worried about me (until then I hadn't realized how bad my tear was). Our little one also swalllowed miconium, and there were two pediatricians on hand to help with her post birth.

Kaiser Oakland is unusal and unique in the Kaiser system (at least in NoCal) in that it's a teaching hospital on both the ob.gyn side and on the pediatric side. The residents in labor and delivery work in teams of three. The current crop are all female, competent, and pleasant to deal with(and TV good looking, I'll add, in every size, shape, and color). Our labor was long, so we had an opportunity to meet many of them.

The labor and delivery rooms were nice enough, private, quite, with a shower but no tub. We could control the lighting, the temp, etc. They all have a tv with a DVD player. In recovery, we were in the family care unit, which has singles, doubles, and triples. We lucked out and had a double to ourselves for most of the time there. We asked about how singles are doled out and it's first come first serve, although one nurse commented that the singles were for C Sections and ''emotional cases.'' The pediatric residents were also very cool. The nursing staff in the family care unit is great, and offered useful tips on breastfeeding and other things. We had a daytime nurse named Laura who we loved.

I have to say that I find a lot of the comments about Kaiser Oakland to be somewhat offensive, and wonder how much of this is socio-economic. I find Kaiser Oakland to be delightfully diverse, and also just a great place to get care. There is a ''meet the doctors'' orientation session that's held weekly, and I'd urge you to go to this -- they will happily answer any questions you have. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch! Merrilee

Another really incredibly positive birth experience at Kaiser Oakland -- and with the same nurse mentioned in the Nov 19th edition of this newsletter, D. L. Betts. Our daughter was born six months ago, so the first year residents that are there now would be a different group ... but the folks that we worked with were all great. Being a teaching hospital earns Kaiser Oakland points in my book -- folks are flexible, friendly, and not at all jaded about giving care.

Here's why I was delighted with them: My water broke and my contractions were not starting naturally within their ''legally allotted'' time frame. The nurses encouraged me to come in, but were never rude about it, and then when I checked in they were very friendly and accommodating about allowing us to try to get labor started naturally. I ended up with pitosin, which I was not happy about (I have a huge fear of intravenous needles etc), but the attending OB was totally open about listening to my fears and discussing how they wanted to administer it (I requested that they give it to me slowly, having attended a birth (not at Kaiser) where it was not administered slowly, which led to a brutally difficult delivery). D.L., our nurse, rocked. She was fantastic. My husband and our friend were coaching me, and D.L. checked in periodically, always at the right time. She made sure I was not attached to too many wires and tubes, she made great suggestions about ways to manage labor, and she made the key suggestion that got me through without anaesthesia: putting me in the shower. And then she convinced the resident who delivered our girl (Dr. Karen Maloney) to check my progress *while I was in the shower.* The two of them did not make me move to a bed, which would have been a lot more comfortable for Dr. Maloney. Now, if I had been at a non-teaching hospital with doctors established in their ways, I am betting this would never have happened. Also worth noting - Dr. Maloney is an osteopath.

The staff was incredibly caring, they checked up on us the next day and came by to snuggle the baby, and we really made a human connection with them. Post-partum, equally good. I'm rambling on here, but I'd also like to tell you that we met our doctor's pediatrician during our two day stay. (Dr. Anjana Ray at Richmond Pediatrics, which is worth checking out. She was the attending at the hospital while we were there. Her practice was full but when we asked she agreed to take us in.) Another thing you should know -- Kaiser Oakland averages about seven births a day. They are not a baby factory, which we really liked. After hearing birth stories from other area hospitals, we always feel like we made a great decision
another happy Kaiser Oakland mom

[Editor]a review was also received for Vallejo

October 2006

I'm due to deliver baby #2 at Kaiser Oakland sometime in the next 5-10 weeks. #1 was also a Kaiser baby, but delivered at Alta Bates. I had a terrible initial experience at Alta Bates in that we requested a private room, but were put in a FOUR person room! I've never been more miserable. It's VERY important to me this go-around to get a private room and I have to know how likely that is at Kaiser Oakland? Who do I need to know? I'm not above bribery, I just need to know who to schmooze (I'm kidding...a little). In all, I'm a happy Kaiser patient, but still wondering what to expect at the new maternity ward I need my sleep!

Hi there- I think there is no way to plan for or ensure your own room at kaiser Oakland unless you have a high risk pregnancy or a C-section. Those women are given first priority. It's pretty much the luck of the draw--if they have a lot of deliveries that day, then you're stuck sharing. When I gave birth, Oakland was full. I ended up at Walnut Creek and had a WONDERFUL experience. I think that they have a larger facility so your chances of getting your own room might be greater. I had my own, but I also had an emergency C-section. Regardless, Kaiser has a maximum of 3 to a room. I think Walnut Creek has 2 to a room, max. Not sure though. Oh, and also, even if you get your own room at Oakland, you will likely have to share a bathroom. This was a struggle for a friend of mine who had her own room but shared a bathroom and the woman in the other room kept locking the bathroom door and forgetting to unlock it from her end. It was kind of a problem. In any case, my experience in WC was so positive that I am planning to go there for number 2, should we have another. I apparently can continue to see my OB here in Oakland and give birth wherever I want. Anyway, the main point is that you cannot designate it because it's truly about capacity and how many women go into labor that day. I've been told by Nurses that it tends to get full closer to a full moon, not that this helps you any, but given that I had to be in the hospital for 5 days, before, during and after the full moon, I found they were least for that particular cycle. Good luck! Anon

Unfortunately, it doesn't matter who you know but rather how many babies are born on the same day as yours. In fact, for Baby #2, Kaiser Oakland turned us away for my delivery because their L rooms were all full. I was redirected (by phone, thankfully) to Kaiser Walnut Creek - which was also full! They redirected me to Hayward & I had my baby 20-25 minutes (3 pushes - and this was a VBAC) after arriving there. It was a beautiful birth with a wonderful midwife. However, they have NO private rooms in hayward, but I was out in less than 24 hours so it didn't matter as much to me. Best of luck with getting your wishes. -Anon.

Regarding getting a private room at Kaiser Oakland, it is all going to depend on how many other people are having babies at that particular moment in time. I'm sure there are people on every shift you can try to appeal to, but my understanding is that private rooms are on a first come, first serve basis. And frankly, I wanted to be on the good side of everyone working my delivery, so I didn't even press it- when I went into labor earlier this year, they told me they were packed and didn't even know where they were going to put me after. Then 16 hours later I had a private room. So you never know. You can always call and see how full they are, but if that baby's going to come, the it's goning to come. Good luck
Kaiser Member

I believe that unless you have a c-section or things are slow you will probably have to double up. I had a c-section so I had a room to myself. I shared a bathroom though. Before my delivery I took a class on childbirth, through that I was able to arrange a maternity ward tour. We got to see all the rooms and setups as part of the tour. We might try to schedule something like that so that if you are able to influence your room selection you have a better idea of what's available. My delivery & hospital stay were very positive Jennifer

It's been over a year and a half since I delivered at Kaiser Oakland but I do remember that they were very clear that the singles were given out on an ''as needed'' basis. Basically, they spread the mothers around as much as possible (depending on how full they are), but the only women who were guaranteed a single on the maternity floor were those who had had complications during delivery. We were in a triple-converted-to-a-double and the family we shared with left after about 18 hours. Good luck!
Oakland Kaiser Mom

April 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very happy with Oakland Kaiser delivery. Susan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 2005

Hello, This question was asked in '04 but there's been nothing new for about a year and at the time, the new L facilities at Kaiser Oakland were still quite new. Any more recent feedback? Is getting a private room likely? Are there tubs? Do residents still do most of the deliveries? Are there any midwives? Thanks much! Expecting

My first baby was born at Kaiser Oakland in November 04. I had a very fast labor (arrived fully dilated and delivered 30 minutes later), so I didn't have time to suss out the place very thoroughly, but I thought it was pretty good. I had gone on the tour, so I know the answers to some of your questions. All labor and delivery rooms are private, with showers, but no tubs. Deliveries are performed by residents, with an attending physician available if anything comes up. There are no midwives (you have to go to Walnut Creek for that). The L rooms are pretty nice, and everything is new and shiny. The recovery rooms are singles, doubles, and triples, doled out on a first come, first serve basis. We had a double to ourselves for the 24 hours we were on the maternity floor. The staff was generally respectful, friendly, disinclined to overmedicalize the experience, and supportive of my desire to avoid drugs (not that there was time for drugs anyway). The nurses, as is the case anywhere, varied widely - the delivery nurse was very nice, and the baby nurse who transitioned us to the recovery floor was terrific, friendly and funny and flexible. (When we balked a bit at giving the baby a bath, she said frankly that there was no particular reason to do it, and she cheerfully helped my husband wrestle the baby into her clothes.) Another baby nurse was curt and not very helpful, scolded me for keeping the baby in bed with me instead of leaving her in the bassinet, and got very huffy about the fact that the baby was unbathed (thus posing a health hazard to other, cleaner babies). The resident who did the delivery didn't have great social skills (and looked to be about 12 years old), but seemed perfectly competent. It was overall a positive experience, and I'd certainly do it again. Sara

I just had my 2nd baby at Kaiser Oakland. I had my first at Alta Bates in 1999. My experience at Kaiser was 100% better than Alta Bates especially for post partum. The staff was attentive, friendly, and helpful. The atmosphere was quiet, relaxing and respectful. I would highly recommend Kaiser Oakland. However, I do not think they have midwives. sherna

2004 & Earlier

June 2004

Although Kaiser patients (Oakland) have been delivering their babies at Alta Bates Hospital since 1998, someone told me that it is going to change very soon. Since Alta Bates-Summit is planning to take all L to Ashby campus, there will not be enough space for Kaiser patients, and Kaiser patients births will be in the Oakland facility... Is that true? It is very important for me to know this. I am switching health insurance carriers and I am considering Kaiser but only if L can be at Alta Bates... Thank you for your help! Alta Bates nurses made a difference in my life

It's true that Kaiser patients will stop delivering at Alta Bates starting about August 11. It's not because Alta Bates doesn't have room, though, it's because Kaiser is completing a new labor and delivery center of their own on their Oakland campus--it actually sounds really, really nice. Tours for Kaiser members either have started or are starting soon; if you're considering Kaiser, you could probably ask for a tour. I'm a Kaiser patient with a baby due August 6, so I'll probably still be at Alta Bates, but from what I've seen, I'd be quite comfortable going to the new center. Kaiser's pre-natal care has been good as well; I switched over from HealthNet shortly before getting pregnant, and have been comfortable with the change. Don't worry!

Yes, Kaiser's L is moving back to Oakland. They told us (in April) it was originally supposed to happen in June, but has been pushed back to August (but who knows?). You could call Kaiser to get the latest news.

I have also heard that kaiser is taking their L contract back from Alta Bates though I don't know why. I heard this from a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) nurse at Alta Bates who is a friend of mine so I think it's pretty reliable information. though how soon this will happen is anyone's guess. kaiser now has to hire a whole new crew to replace the nurses and others that they laid off or relocated when they sent L to Alta Bates back in the 90's ilona RN

Kaiser will open on August 11 to use the Oakland Medical Center for all L If you plan to deliver after that date - Alta Bates won't be an option for you. But the delivery system at Oakland will be new and improved, so I hope if you stay with Kaiser, you find out more about it through your provider or NP. Joyce

As far as I know Kaiser is moving out of Alta Bates very soon. It was supposed to happen in July, but the date has been pushed back -- I've heard September or even November. I'm not sure where the Kaiser patients will go. I know this because I'm due 8/1 and was unsure whether I'd be delivering at Summit campus or Alta Bates since Summit maternity is due to close and move to Alta Bates as soon as the Kaiser patients transfer out of Alta Bates. I would call someone at Kaiser to confirm where their patients will deliver after the move. Sierra

Yes, Kaiser is moving to it's Oakland facility in July 2004. Then the nurses at Summit are being forced to close their labor and delivery unit and move to Alta Bates in August. Needless to say, not many people are happy about these changes but we were not asked. Now the only place in Oakland to have a baby is at Kaiser and Highland. Very sad for the community and the physician and nursing staff at Summit. A Summit Nurse

I received a letter last summer telling Kaiser patients that their Oakland facility would be re-integrating their L services as of July 2004 and would no longer be delivering at Alta Bates. As far as I know, this is still true. I left Kaiser in January for this very reason. Erin

Editor Note: from 1998-2004, Kaiser patients' labor and delivery took place at Alta Bates Hospital. See Alta Bates Birth Stories