Childbirth at Kaiser Walnut Creek

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi everyone, 

    I am almost 37 weeks and our first baby is still in the breech position. We chose Walnut Creek L&D and hired a midwife, because we wanted to try unmedicated vaginal birth.

    Now that plan seems to be out of question. Anyone has any experiences with a planned c-section or an ECV at Kaiser WC? Do they allow "gentle" c-sections there? 

    What doctor did you have? 

    Thanks a lot!

    *a doula, sorry. 

    Hi! We just had an ECV at Kaiser Walnut Creek yesterday. Similarly, we had planned an unmedicated vaginal birth but baby girl is breech. Our ECV was unsuccessful but I'm very glad we tried it. I had a good experience overall, there were moments that were painful but I breathed through it and the actual procedure only took a few minutes. We saw Dr. Kneitel for the ECV and she was fine, I heard good things about Dr. Edgard Sanchez but he was on vacation. If you haven't already scheduled it, when they offer you appt times (I was given 2 options) I'd suggest asking who each ECV would be with. When they offered me times I noted down the names and then looked up both their bios, and called Kaiser back to confirm which doc I wanted. Both of the docs I looked at seemed fine based on their bios and ultimately I just took the sooner appt since my midwife wanted me to do it as close to 37 weeks as possible. 

    My midwife has told me that Kaiser delays cord clamping for about a minute after the c section, and will bring baby to you after a quick weigh. She also thinks that they lower the drape for you so you can see baby being born. But my midwife works outside of Kaiser so I want to confirm this with my Kaiser team. 

    Best wishes for your ECV! 

    Hi you can still do an unmedicated birth if your ECV is successful. They do hurt but very rarely would lead to a complication. The biggest risk is it doesnt work. You just want someone strong to do it. Most places don’t give a choice of MDs, its whoever is in that day that does procedures

    Hey! I had a planned C Section at Kaiser WC in April of 2021. I had a wonderful experience (well, as wonderful as a c section can be!) I felt very confident in every single one of my team’s skills, from my nurse, to the anesthesiologist, to the surgeon. Everything that I had originally intended to ask for on my ‘birth plan’ was their standard procedure, such as delayed cord clamping and skin to skin. They did offer to let me see the birth but I declined, as I am pretty queasy! Recovery was straightforward as well with minimal pain- we left the hospital less than 48 hours after intake. I really hope that you are able to proceed with the original plan for your birth, but if that does not pan out, I hope your experience is as good as mine! Good luck! 

    Also- for what it is worth my surgeon was Shukla and my anesthesiologist was Lee. However, they were who happened to be at the hospital when I was scheduled- I didn’t choose them (although I will be seeing if I can schedule with them for my next planned section.)


    HI!  I had a planned c-section at Oakland Kaiser.  My baby girl was also breech.  I have told this story soooo many times that i almost have it memorized but i'll give you the shortened version.  I went in for an ECV at 37 weeks, against my sister in laws recommendation as she went in for one and had to have an emergency c-section right then and there!  But, I was willing to give it a try, reluctantly.  Before the procedure they have you lay for quite a while to monitor the baby's heart rate and monitor you.  During this monitoring period the baby's hear rate dropped briefly then returned to normal.  When the doctor came in and noticed she said, oh, the baby's heart rate dropped, so the ECV might be too risky so we should just give you a c-section right now!  I was stunned.  I didn't have plans to have my baby right then and there.  Our dog was at home alone with no one to feed or let her out.  We had a pizza delivery planned cuz i was starving! (you have to fast for 6 hours).  I didn't have an employee set to work my business.  Nothing was planned.  So, I said no.  When the doctor left in order to consult with other doctors on the mattter, we asked the nurse what she thought.  She looked at the chart that showed the dip in heart rate and said it looked like i had a braxton hicks contraction causing the dip and the doctor was just being (overly) cautions as everything looked tip top with the baby now.  So when the doctor came back to say that they think i should have the c-section i insisted that i was not going to have the c-section nor the ECV as i felt they were pretty intent on giving me a c-section one way or another right then and there.  The doctor reluctanly let me leave but i had to sign a form saying they weren't responsible and i had to return in 3 days to monitor the baby.  I did so and the baby was fine, so we scheduled the c-section for 2 weeks later and let me tell you, it was a breeze!  The surgeon and team were amazing and made me so comfortable.  The worst part is getting the spinal, but once that was over the procedure was quick.  Recovery was also a breeze, in my opinion.  They get u up and walking pretty quickly.  I was home on Monday (my procedure was Saturday morning) and i was taking a little walk on the lake by Thursday.  The more you move, the faster you recover.  If i had to do it over (which i actually did have a second elective c-section with my now 1 year old) i would NOT have the ECV again and just go with the c-section.  Happy to talk further as my experience was so great at Kaiser and recovery from both c-sections were a breeze!  My scar was minimal and i loved it, haha.  It was a little reminder of my cherished, healthy baby girl!

  • Hi everyone! 
    I’m due to have my baby in May 2021. I’m currently with kaiser in Walnut Creek but so far I’m not impressed with them (or with any kaiser facility, really) I was thinking of switching insurance plans and having the baby at Alta Bates in Berkeley. Does anyone have any experience giving birth with kaiser in Walnut Creek or Alta Bates? I would appreciate any feedback or advice :) 

    I have birth at Alta Bates in 2019 and had a horrific experience. The labor and delivery rooms are run down, small, and grimy. I labored for 48 hours during which time I had some nurses which were great and some who were just completely incompetent. When I was 8 cm dilated, the nurse forgot to check my IV bag despite the machine beeping for a long time and what ended up happening was that my epidural completely ran out and I felt everything!!!! I was having regular contractions and was in so much pain and when she finally came in my room and saw me in pain she didn’t even address me and acted like I was bothering her.  Also, the anesthesiologist did not dose my epidural correctly (my husband is also an anesthesiologist and he felt that I was not dosed correctly and was constantly calling them in to help me because I was in so much pain). Please avoid Alta Bates at all cost. I am still so traumatized from this experience. I’m expecting my second baby in three weeks and will be going to Kaiser WC. Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions. 

    What was it at Kaiser WC you weren't impressed with?

    I gave birth at Kaiser Oakland and the nurses, midwives, and doctors were all terrific during and after the birth. The nurses checked on me and my pain levels frequently throughout the entire process. The nurse, Kim, who helped me push was really good at explaining what I should be doing. The labor & delivery wing is new and I found the facility to be quite nice. I hope to get pregnant again soon and deliver my 2nd baby at Kaiser Oakland.

    One bit of advice regardless of where you end up-both my and my friend's water broke, but I was asked to come in and verify it had broken and she was not. I think she went in initially and it hadn't broken then, but a couple days later it had broken, but when she called the 2nd time she wasn't asked to come in and double check. She subsequently ended up with a uterine infection, which made the labor much more challenging. My advice would be if you believe your water has broken, ask to have it verified even if you need to go in a couple different times so you know for sure.

    I gave birth at Kaiser Oakland in August 2018 and had a fantastic experience, it’s my understanding that you can go to any Kaiser facility with L&D and I recommend Oakland. Rooms are great, everyone was super friendly and helpful. I thought I’d hate being in the hospital but I did not and they were very respectful of my birth wishes. Happy to talk more if you’d like. 

    I think where you give birth really depends a lot on what is important to you. I can only speak for myself. I had my second baby at Alta Bates in 2019 and had a wonderful experience. I had Kaiser insurance because my husband worked there, but I did not want to have the baby there for several reasons. First, it was important to me that the person who did my prenatal care would be at my birth, as opposed to whichever random doctor or midwife was on call. At Kaiser, OBs either work in L&D, or they do prenatal care, so there was no way that I would have had the same person attending my birth who did my prenatal care. Second, I did not want to give birth at a teaching hospital, but wanted to limit and have a bit more control over the number of people who would be in the room with me. Lastly, I wanted to follow with a private practice midwife where I would have more time during my prenatal appointments and feel comfortable asking all my questions and voicing all of my concerns, and there are a few great ones that have admitting privileges at Alta Bates. So I ended up getting a PPO plan through my job so I could deliver at AB. Some pluses about the L&D rooms, a handful of them have birthing tubs where you can labor, and the others have windows. After birthing my baby, I was given plenty of time to adjust and nurse the baby before being transferred to the postpartum room. I'm sure nurses can be hit or miss, but I'm sure you can request nurses based on the type of birth you are planning (medicated, unmedicated, etc), and you can always request a different nurse if you do not like the one you get. My nurse was great at doing hip squeezes during contractions that really relieved my pain. If you are there for a while and able to walk around, there is also a garden you can visit off of the L&D floor. The main downsides to my experience were that the food was not great, and it was bothersome to have so many nurses in and out during the postpartum period, but I'm sure any hospital would be the same. On the upside, I got to meet with a few different lactation consultants that helped me get off to a great start with nursing my baby.

    I gave birth at Alta Bates (under the care of Sutter Medical Foundation) in late 2018. I had a positive experience and would recommend to others. The rooms didn't look as nice as the Kaiser room I saw when my SIL have birth but that wasn't important to me. Some things that impacted my birth experience: my obgyn group (I really liked them and they supported the type of birth I wanted - low intervention, medication free), I had a doula present, I labored for 6 hours before welcoming baby earth side (shorter labors often correlate with more positive experience imo)... Overall, I was very happy with the labor experience and post labor care. I would suggest you take a tour and also investigate who would be delivering for you, if you were to switch. Happy to answer any other questions you have.

    I've had two sons at Alta Bates (2017 and 2020) and have had wonderful experiences both times. Yes, the rooms are a bit old and dirty, but hospital rooms in general are dirty. You have to take into account the number of people who come in and out of the room all day long and its not surprising. That being said, I love the L&D department. Overall, I thought the nurses were amazing - were some better than others? Yes. But they clearly loved their jobs and really wanted to make sure I was comfortable. Both deliveries had complications - the first being an emergency c-section, the second had to be delivered early (again through c-section) due to pre-eclampsia at 32 weeks. After the birth of my second child, I stayed an additional 2 weeks in the hospital to regulate my blood pressure and liver enzymes. I stayed in the L&D recovery wing for the entire time and really got to know all of the nurses really well. I trust all of them and would not hesitate to recommend anyone to deliver their child there. I should also note that the NICU at Alta Bates is amazing. I had my son when the pandemic first hit so I felt like we were all learning about the virus together. Throughout the entire experience (He was there for 6 weeks), I didn't once feel as if his or my health was at risk. I'm more than happy to discuss in more detail offline 

    I gave birth to my daughter at Alta Bates in late 2017 and had a very positive experience. We spent three nights there as my daughter arrived just after midnight and interacted with many nurses (having stayed through many shift changes). We found them all to be very helpful and caring, though by the end of our stay we were ready to be at home by ourselves (I think this would have happened anywhere). I believe your delivering doctor will depend on which practice you see and most practices rotate schedules so you likely won't end up with your actual doctor - but I think this is also often the case anywhere. I had no problems whatsoever with my care, though I arrived late (already nearly fully dilated) so I didn't require lots of care before the birth. I also opted out of an epidural so didn't interact with any anesthesiologists. The rooms are older but we did not find that to be a problem. At the time, it was easy to take a tour beforehand if you're concerned about this - though that may not be an option right now with COVID. They have a long history of care in this area and perform lots of births every year -- I felt I was in very good hands. Overall, I'd strongly recommend Alta Bates.

    I had my first at Alta Bates Berkeley and my second at Kaiser Oakland. Without going into great detail here I would say there were pros and cons to each, but overall I preferred Alta Bates. 

    One point about delivering with Kaiser in the Bay Area is that even though you intend to deliver at one location you may well be rerouted to another location based on capacity. I've heard great things about delivering at Kaiser WC though. For me, while much of the staff at Oakland was lovely I did not like delivering at a teaching hospital and I did not always feel like I was being listened to and supported in a way I had hoped for. (Happy to go into more detail here if you're interested, but realize you're asking about WC specifically.)

    Alta Bates had its ups and downs, but in the end the delivery team I had made the experience a good one. (Sally the midwife is a rockstar in my humble opinion.) They were accommodating when my husband asked if we could switch into one of the rooms with a tub which ended up being really nice. I definitely felt more pushed towards a c-section by several doctors there which was not the case at Kaiser, but I think based in large part on my first successful vaginal birth. (Both of my births were uncomplicated vaginal births to 9+ pound babies.)

    In the end, in both cases, it more specific people at the facilities that made the experience what it was, for better or worse...I don't know what covid precautions either spaces are taking, but having a doula with you, if possible, can make a huge difference in feeling heard, cared for, and advocated for. I decided for me second birth that I didn't need one, but every time I look back on it now, I wish a little bit more that I had chosen to include a doula again the second time around. Again, happy to chat more about this if you're interested.

    Best of luck to you and your family!

    I think, like the previous response stated, it is a crap shot, even in "baby friendly" L&D's like Alta Bates Berkeley. It is because it is IN a hospital, meaning medicalized care aka not labor and delivery encouraging-friendly for the mama. Even doulas and midwives you hire to be there with you [unfortunately during Covid not universally accepted at all hospitals anyway, Kaiser def isn't allowing more than your partner] aren't necessarily better than a home birth experience, unless you know their qualifications and are used to being advocates for you in a hospital setting. 

    I delivered at Kaiser Oakland in early/mid Oct, and I am a physician, and I am now realizing that birth is trauma for the female, regardless of experience, for the first time birth. 

    Can’t speak to kaiser but I delivered at Alta Bates on May 20th and my experience was great. Only complaint was the hospital food. If you do deliver there, ask for food from the pantry. They have a pantry on the maternity ward floor that I didn’t find out about, until my last day there and it’s the only edible food in the hospital. 
    BTW, I had a C Section there and they did an amazing job. 

    I can't speak to the WC Kaiser location, but I had two babies at Kaiser, one in the old (now torn down) Oakland hospital and one in the new Oakland hospital. The new building was fantastic, clean, and the staff was great. There was a pull out bed so my husband could stay over the entire time. We also had our own bathroom in the new hospital, which we didn't in the old hospital- it was awkward to share with another family when you are mostly naked. I had a difficult and traumatic experience at the old hospital, but the 2nd one was so much better as the entire staff was aware of my medical problems and high risk status and brought extra operating room equipment in to be prepared. Fortunately, my 2nd labor was a breeze, and I didn't have any trouble. I'd recommend the Oakland Kaiser to anyone giving birth.

    Nearly three years ago we had our son at Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek and don't have any regrets. My wife had a long history with her doctor from Kaiser Martinez, but we delivered with her doctor when she transferred to WC. We didn't have any prior experience with WC. We were both very impressed by the expertise in the room during the C-section, and we really appreciated the many nurses who cared for our baby (and us) for the few days after delivery. The only negative I recall from the experience were the large number of different nurses, doctors and other paper-pushers who seemed to come into our room about every three hours 24/7. 


    I had a great experience in Alta Bates! The nurses were great, some of them were exceptional and some doctors too. 


    You might be looking for a hospital birth, but I'll just suggest Pacifica Family Maternity Center as another option if you're interested in that. They are right by Alta Bates (which is where they most likely will send you if you have problems during delivery they can't handle). I gave birth to my third there in January. Best experience so far, and I had possitive experiences in a hospital and a birth center before. They are attentive, collaberative and science based. They also helped us feel empowered throughout the process.

    They do take insurance but our out of network for everyone. If you choose a PPO, that is the best option for them. We had Cigna. They do the billing but you will have to pay up front and then get reimbursed as your insurance pays. We figured out that because the birth center is half the cost of a hospital birth ($7000 rather than $14000) even with our high costs for out of network care, the birth center would cost us about the same as the hospital. They do have funds to help if cost is a barrier.

    I gave birth at Alta Bates in April and had truly spectacular Doctors and nurses. The L&D floor is in a separate building from the emergency room so it felt calm and more safe COVID-wise. The staff was excellent. We had our own room for delivery and then had our own room for the recovery. I labored first 40 hours so it was awful in that regard but the staff made me feel safe and confident that I could deliver vaginally. My doctor was superb and stitched up my third degree tear expertly and I recovered in about 6 weeks. I am very grateful to the Alta Bates team for delivering my healthy and beautiful baby.

    I have had a baby at each of these hospitals and while different, both were positive experiences. If I had to choose I would say Walnut Creek and Kaiser was my top for both the coordinated and excellent care and also the cost. My son's birth at Alta Bates ended up being quite a bit more expensive. At both hospitals I gave birth with a midwife and at Alta Bates that was with Golden Oak Midwives (amazing at each step of the process and I highly recommend)

    The common thread between both births for me was having an amazing doula as I feel that is what defined the experience much more so than the clinicians at the hospital.

    Wishing you all the best.

    I gave birth at Alta Bates in Berkeley in late April 2020 and it was great. This was early in Shelter in Place so we were anxious about how it was going to work and if my husband would be allowed to come, but it all worked out fine. The nurses that I had in labor and delivery were very reassuring and responsive, as were the nurses afterwards (I learned a lot about what to do with the baby from those nurses!). They practice skin to skin after birth and were happy for me to keep the baby on me for an hour or so, and helped me to get the baby to latch, before they did the weighing and so on. The decor is fairly old but there was a couch in the labor room which turned into a bed for my husband, and he had a proper bed to sleep in in the room they put us in after the delivery. There's a level III NICU on site which I found reassuring. The lactation consultants who came around helped a lot with figuring out how to latch and showing me different positions I could feed in (and I went back to see them after - Kaitlin in the Lactation Center is amazing). We were able to go to labor classes at Alta Bates before Shelter in Place started and found that enormously helpful to understand what was going to happen and what the hospital policies are, so I highly recommend doing that at the place where you intend to give birth if you can. If we have another one I will go back to Alta Bates. Good luck with the labor and with your baby!

    I just want to supply a positive Alta Bates experience. I also gave birth at Alta Bates in 2019 and had a very different experience than the previous reply. I did not find the L&D rooms run down or grimy, and they seemed perfectly average in terms of size, wear and tear, and equipment. The postpartum rooms were a different story - they were small and we were there in July when the A/C wasn't working (they said they'd gotten behind on replacing it), which sucked. Nurses did vary, but most were fine, and some were fantastic. We only had one dud of a nurse in postpartum. My anesthesiologist had a great bedside manner, did a great job placing it, and it did what it was supposed to do - I had no complaints.

    I don't discount the previous reply's experience, but, as with any hospital and hospital experience, there will be differences and your mileage may vary. Positive and negative experiences can happen at any hospital. I plan on giving birth to my 2nd child there in early 2021. I have no experience with Kaiser L&D facilities, so I can't compare there, but I wasn't super impressed with the (non-pregnancy related) care I received through Kaiser when they were my insurance provider. I guess you might consider if you have a good rapport with a Kaiser OB already that you'd want to stick with, or if you're open to switching to a new OB that has privileges at Alta Bates? There is no one right answer, just the answer that's right for you and your family. Good luck with your decision!

    I birthed at Alta Bates in August and had a wonderful experience. I was supposed to deliver at a freestanding birth center, but developed preeclampsia and was induced at AB. Despite that not being my original plan, the staff were incredible (including about a half dozen nurses and 2 midwives) and the room we were in was huge and very nice (and included a bathtub). The postpartum recovery room was small and outdated, but that didn't bother us much (and the nurses there were supportive and attentive). It's an older hospital, but I couldn't have asked for a better "plan b" experience. Good luck!

    I had my first baby at Alta Bates and did not have a good experience. Ended up with a c-section after over 2 days of laboring. Two years later I had my second baby at Kaiser WC, a VBAC supported by a midwife and it was fantastic. I highly recommend Kaiser WC over Alta Bates.

    I gave birth at Alta Bates in May 2018 and overall, had a great experience. My daughter came 6 weeks early, so needless to say, we spent a longer than expected amount of time there (two weeks to be exact!). All the staff I met and worked with helped to turn a very scary experience into something more bearable and reassuring. I found the labor and delivery staff to be generally warm and comforting, and for the most part, they did their best to cater to my needs at the time. I remember asking the nurses and on-call OB a bunch of questions, prior to and during my labor, and each time felt they took the time to explain what was happening. As mentioned, my daughter spent two weeks in the NICU and I spent a total of 5 nights in the delivery ward, which is actually more than I should have been allowed. Since I had a vaginal birth with no medical issues/concerns post-delivery, I was technically "discharged" after my second night (48 hours post-delivery) at Alta Bates. Yet, as my daughter remained in the NICU, I was beyond hesitant to leave the hospital, but my insurance was not going to cover me staying additional nights unless there was a medical reason. That said, one of the nurses was kind enough to inform me that I might be able to stay in one of their unoccupied rooms, as long as I understood that I wouldn't be formally treated as a patient (eg., I wouldn't get checked on by nurses, no meal deliveries, etc), but it would allow me to stay there and be on-site with my daughter, 'free of charge', as long as the rooms remained available (obviously if they needed the rooms for actual patients, I was prepared to pack up and leave!). Who would have thought?! On one or two nights, I actually ended up sleeping in the NICU next to my daughter's bassinet. I got to know so many of the nurses during my time there and I will be forever grateful to the medical team at Alta Bates, from the L&D nurses, the OBs, the NICU nurses, the pediatricians, the social worker (who checked on me daily), the lactation consultants (I could go on), as they were absolutely fantastic in helping me and my daughter get through that initial bumpy patch together. Personally, I wouldn't hesitate to give birth there again.

  • Would love experiences and recommendations on childbirth at Kaiser San Leandro.  How was your experience, do you have any specific physician recommendations, particularly for c-section or high risk pregnancy?  We are considering Kaiser San Leandro facility (which is closer) vs Walnut Creek facility.  Thanks much!

    I gave birth at Kaiser San Leandro because Kaiser Oakland was full when I went into labor. I don't remember the physicians involved because I had an emergency c-section that was very rushed. That said, I felt like the care was great and made a possibly stressful situation go smoothly. When we checked in they only had 2 other active labors going on at the time, so when they were concerned about my child's heartbeat, there wasn't any wait for the team to rush in and assess the condition of me and my kid. 

    The aftercare was also really great. The ward was empty so it was pretty quiet. The nurses came by regularly to check on how I and my kid were doing and were great about answering questions. I was happy to go home, but I felt like my time there was as nice as it could have been. I also think Kaiser San Leandro is a good facility that is under the radar because people don't really think about it. 

    I Didnt have a c-section or was I high risk, but I had a great experience with my delivery at SL kaiser. I was 8 months pregnant when we moved up from LA area. I didn't have a designated OB doc since I was almost due, so I saw midwives mostly. The day of delivery was  great. I didnt have a midwife on my first kiddo, but had one this time around and I loved her! I was skeptical at first but choosing to have a midwife deliver my baby was the best thing I decided on. She was available for me the whole time, unlike my first experience...I had to wait for the doc to come in while I was crowning! Overall the nurses were great! Anesthesia was good (epidural)!  Rumors had it that you had to share a room but I had my own the whole stay. If you are high risk, then you still have the option of having a midwife but theyll need a doc to deliver your babe. Good luck!! You should take the tour. 

    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've delivered at both Kaiser San Leandro ('13) and Kaiser Walnut Creek ('17). They were both VBACs with midwives and they were both great, especially compared to my c-section delivery at Alta Bates ('11). Both Kaiser facilities were top notch in their care - pretty comparable in my experience. I was high risk both times due to previous c-section, gestational diabetes, and polyhydramnios. I felt like I could advocate for myself, and also get straightforward feedback and care. The only thing to consider about Walnut Creek is the driving distance and the possibility of getting there while in active labor (happened to me!). Luckily I went into labor late at night, but traffic can be brutal at rush hour. I'd recommend you do the tours at both hospitals, but if you're closer to San Leandro, you'll be in good hands there.

Nearly three years ago we had our son at Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek and don't have any regrets. My wife had a long history with her doctor from Kaiser Martinez, but we delivered with her doctor when she transferred to WC. We didn't have any prior experience with WC. We were both very impressed by the expertise in the room during the C-section, and we really appreciated the many nurses who cared for our baby (and us) for the few days after delivery. The only negative I recall from the experience were the large number of different nurses, doctors and other paper-pushers who seemed to come into our room about every three hours 24/7. 

I can't speak for new COVID protocols, but also consider Kaiser Walnut Creek for delivery! My OB is at Oakland, but I had a great experience delivering at Walnut Creek, the nurse midwives were pro's and they really considered how I wanted my birth to go. Originally, my induction was scheduled at Oakland and was repeatedly pushed back because L&D was FULL. It was an incredibly frustrating experience, the resident intern was recommending more intervention than I needed (or was comfortable with) and they finally suggested I deliver in the triage room. Very glad to reschedule for Walnut Creek.

I felt compelled to respond to your post because I birthed my kids at both Kaiser WC and Oakland, albeit a decade ago. I had midwife care at WC and an OB with residents at Oakland. I think you are overthinking things. Whether or not residents are present there will be a midwife (and supervisory OB) helping you. YOU are doing the work of bearing your child, they are just along to help you as needed. Have you toured both facilities yet? Have you thought about the length of time to get to either? Believe me, laboring in traffic to Walnut Creek may not be your best option (been there, done that!). BY FAR the thing that helped me most in both births, besides my doula (and honestly more so) was the INCREDIBLE care I received from the L&D nurses - honestly, those women are ANGELS and much more involved in your labor than any doctor, resident or midwife, and I was lucky to have amazing nurses for both births. I'm guessing most women who have labored would echo this sentiment. Good luck to you!!

I delivered at Kaiser Walnut Creek and had an excellent experience!  The midwives were great, very experienced and new exactly what do to do. My labor lasted a couple of days , so cycled through a couple of shifts. I was living in Oakland, there was no traffic getting to Walnut Creek Kaiser and parking was quick and easy. I felt Oakland wasn't as organized and streamlined and the facility in Walnut Creek is very nice for delivery. Tour both places, go with your gut, good luck.


I had a baby recently at Kaiser Walnut Creek. Unless your Kaiser does things radically different, it won't completely "matter" who you choose as your ob/gyn, because when you deliver you are going to be delivered by whichever nurse midwives and/or ob/gyn happens to be on duty that day. That is just how they do things at Kaiser.  The clinic is also pretty much that way as well (i.e. you won't see the same person each time you go to clinic).  I was happy with the care overall, however, and the way they do things does keep the costs down.


I have shared my positive experiences with the midwife team at Kaiser Walnut Creek on BPN before.  I had a fantastic experience and cannot recommend their team highly enough!   They did not force me to do anything I was uncomfortable with - no drugs, and they were clever enough to keep me out of stitches the second time around. They encourage each mom to write a birth plan and, as far as I could tell, they went with it all the way.  Good luck in making your decision.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


L Nursing Staff at Kaiser Walnut Creek

Nov 2012

First-time mom and I am planning on delivering at Kaiser Walnut Creek, and am aiming for a drug-free birth. I've looked into hiring a doula, but the cost of hiring one feels prohibitive, even to hire one in training. I'm curious about the nursing staff at Kaiser Walnut Creek and how much attention and support I can expect to have there while in labor? I know midwives deliver there and, having taken their tour, they say they are very open to natural births. While I don't expect to have the same level of attention if I had a doula with me, I'm looking for some reassurance from anyone who delivered at Kaiser WC and who wanted a drug- free birth that they felt like they had a pretty constant level of support from the nursing staff there. Thank you! Corinne

I delivered at Walnut Creek Kaiser 3 weeks ago, and was absolutely impressed by the attentiveness of the nursing staff. I did not have a doula either, but every nurse I encountered during my 27 hour natural birth was supportive, kind - they comforted me and held my hand during contractions, and encouraged me throughout the birth. The experience was better than I could have ever imagined. I think some of it depends on when you are there, how many other births are happening at that same time, etc. - there was a nurse in my room pretty constantly, but I am not sure how busy it was that night/day. I felt like I received top notch care, and don't worry, you will do just fine without a doula! If you are worried though and have not already, I might look into hiring a doula in training or a doula who charges on a sliding scale, because I know they are around. Best of luck to you! New Momma

I delivered my first daughter at Walnut Creek Kaiser. They were great! I had a nurse with me almost the whole time I was in pain. She was amazing, very attentive and supportive. I had a mid wife deliver my baby there and she was also very supportive and took great care of us. I delivered my second in Antioch (we live in Concord and it was a new facility). I wish I had gone to WC. The only draw back is that there's a possibility of sharing a room afterwards which I really didn't want and ended up not having to do, thankfully. But your in good hands there..Good luck! Lindsay

I gave birth there (8 yes ago). My experience was good and I had a mid wife, but you must talk with them first and be firm. I was not drug free, but the did try and want to give me a c section. I asked them if I or the baby was in trouble and they would not give me an answer ( this was in the middle of birth ). It turns out that many hospitals prefer you to do c sections because they get more money for them. I ended up giving birth to a healthy baby the natureal way because i said NO toa c section and was firm about it.Just make sure you plan and discuss this with your partner and the mid wife. Good luck and Congrats. mom

First, a thought on price of doula service - a birth can last many many hours, esp a first birth. When you divide the cost of the doula by the number of hours they usually end up spending with you, it's a bargain.

I had a friend who is also a doula with my for my first birth at Kaiser WC. My husband and I also took a hypnobirthing class, though we never really followed through with the training program the way we should've. Still, something must've clicked, my doula friend said that she'd never seen a couple so in-sync (or something like that) and I barely remember her or the nursing staff from that first birth - my ''labor'' was very internal with support from my husband, everyone else was just distraction.

Where your support crew is really needed I think is in the pushing, and with #1 I never really got that far b/c baby got stuck (fully dilated but no urge to push and attempts got us nowhere) so we ended up with a c-section after 48+ hours of labor. Exactly what I was trying to avoid with a natural birth, but inevitable - baby was 10 lbs and presenting wrong part of his head. No one was to blame, and I was very happy with the doctor, I had a very easy recovery and did not feel ''scarred'' by the experience, just disappointed.

For our second birth, we had a VBAC also at Kaiser WC. We didn't really prepare much ahead of time. This time again I was relying on my husband's support but didn't have a friend there. The nurse and nurse midwife who were there with us for the most intense part were GREAT - AMAZING! I was so grateful. They were wonderful, such good energy. Though afterwards I had some regrets that I didn't have a friend there - I was at a friend's birth who had her husband, 3 friends and her sister there and it was so wonderful. But I didn't think I'd be comfortable with such a crowd. In the end you're going to have a faster, smoother birth if you are supported and comfortable. Studies have shown that just having someone sit in the corner of the room while a woman is in labor without participating at all makes the birth go easier - it's all about that subconscious feeling of support I guess. Do you think your partner can step up and really BE THERE for you? Do you have a friend or family member who could be there with you? Happy with Kaiser

My friend delivered at Kaiser WC last summer and I was one of her labor support. She had several nurses and all but one were very helpful and friendly. I think that's just the way it goes anywhere though, most are great and a few are not. She ended up having fentanyl during her birth which she said made her tired and didn't do a thing for the pain. That was her choice though and they were definitely open to her natural labor. Any hospital will probably have you hooked up to fetal monitors. Depending on the nurse, they can help you request to have time away from them to move about, shower, etc. But all in all, I was impressed with Kaiser WC. L

Birth experience at Kaiser Walnut Creek?

April 2012

Hi there, I'm pregnant with my 2nd child and thinking about where to give birth. For my first child I did a homebirth and we had a great experience (as much as you can say this about labor), but the cost (close to 5k, we'll be paying completely out of pocket, not even FSA support this time) and driving all across town for hour-long prenatals with the midwife (I'm a full-time working and commuting mom with a very active toddler) makes me wonder if we should do this again. I looked at Kaiser Walnut Creek (at least they have midwives!) and was wondering if anyone has recent experience with it; I'm hoping for a natural birth with no IV, minimum internals, no continuous monitoring, no drugs offered by them unless I ask. How do they support you \xc3\x82\xe2\x80\x93 do they use techniques to prevent tearing? Did you feel pushed to get epidurals/labor augmentation/C-section etc.? Do they give you the impression they are \xc3\x82\xe2\x80\x9cdoing the birth\xc3\x82\xe2\x80\x9d or do they accept that it's you who is deciding what to do next? How much are they adhering to their internal, rigid guidelines?

I'd be especially interested hearing from moms who went in wanting natural birth and came out with a C-section. I've been at the info night but they don't really let you in the labor ward and I don't like that you never know who's going to work with you so you have no idea about the caregiver's philosophy and competence. You need to trust them obviously and I just find that very hard if you have never met them before and had a chance to probe a bit. Thanks for your help!! 2ndtimer

I had a very negative experience at Kaiser Walnut Creek with my first baby with exactly what you mention. I went in wanting a natural birth and ended up with a C-section. To keep a long story short, I might have needed a C-section but many issues were mishandled, my emotional needs were neglected, my baby was not brought to me until more than 4 hrs after my C-section and I ended up with a great deal of birth trauma. I would advise you to take a look at having your baby at Kaiser Hayward. I just had my second baby there 6 months ago and had to have a second C-section due to similar issues with my first. However, the experience was so different and they were so caring. No mistakes this time and I had my baby 5 - 10 minutes after she was born. Even if this a bit of a distance for you they are committed to following your birth plan as much as possible but even more important all staff have been trained in seeing each patient as a whole person. Plus they are baby friendly and must do everything possible to encourage breastfeeding and bonding or will lose their UN designation. R.

I had two good natural birth experiences at Kaiser Walnut Creek and highly recommend their midwives. Both deliveries were by midwives I had not previously met, although in both cases I knew the midwives on duty for at least some point during the labor. I highly recommend using the midwives for prenatal care, as well, so that you can meet as many as them as possible prior to delivery (also, they are very nice). I'm not sure what the ''internal, rigid guidelines'' you're referring to are, but I filled out the form that said I didn't want pain medication ahead of time, and it was never offered to me. In fact, during my second delivery I was secretly hoping they would offer it, but nope! They did break my bag of waters the first time around, but I was full party to that decision. The midwives used some techniques to prevent tearing and I only had one stitch between the two deliveries, so not too shabby. M

I just delivered my second baby at Kaiser WC, and like you, I wanted as close to a home birth experience as possible. As it turned out, my delivery happened so quickly that we barely made it into the delivery room in time, so most of the things you are concerned about (and I was, too!) were complete nonissues. That being said, I was impressed and pleased with Kaiser WC because even though they did not have time to read my birth plan (I'm assuming that's the case, as the midwife and nurses were still donning gloves as my baby crowned!), almost all of my birth preferences were followed. When I thanked them afterwards for paying attention to these preferences, they said, ''oh, these are our standard practices.'' For example: they let me push with my own rhythm, no coaching. The placed a big mirror at the foot of the bed so I could see. They suggested I catch my baby and pull him onto my chest, which was, in fact, one of my stated preferences. They asked what I wanted to do about cord clamping. I really did feel like the birth was in my control, and I know many other women (with longer labors and therefore more interaction with the midwives) who felt the same. Good luck! happy birther

I had an extremely positive birth experience at Kaiser Walnut Creek. The midwives, nurses and doctors were wonderful. I had a difficult labor that did end up with a C-section, but they never rushed me and tried everything possible so that I could look back with no regrets. I should add that I had a wonderful Doula with me who I hired separately. Her name is Felicia Roche. Felicia was by my side and always anticipated and explained what was going on. She worked really well with everyone at the hospital, which instilled confidence in me. Between Felicia and the wonderful hospital staff all I have are good memories of my son coming into this world. The sound of my baby's first cry could not have been more joyful--even if I had had the natural child birth I had planned. The team of nurses who helped after the birth were also super. A happy Kaiser mom

I had a baby at Kaiser Walnut Creek after having my first two at Alta Bates. I had to change my insurance and was so sad about losing the ability to choose my own midwife. At the end of the day, however, I ended up being very happy with Kaiser for prenatal care and delivery. I saw different midwives throughout my pregnancy, and then the delivery was done by a midwife I'd never met. I had to be induced ( I was two weeks late), and I was terrified of getting a C-section. It was a long, stressful labor (my baby wanted to stay right where she was), but I never felt like I was getting pushed into anything. I had many interventions but no c-section. I thought the staff was pretty awesome through it all and really wanted to help me not get a c-section. Kaiser WC fan

Kaiser Walnut Creek prenatal/birth experiences

March 2012

Wondering if anyone has experience doing the whole pregnancy/birth thing at Kaiser, either WC or Oakland. Pros? Cons? Any good doctors? I'll be either doing a scheduled C or a VBAC, so wondering if anyone has experience with the midwife groups, VBAC or C-sectons at either locations. Also, be sure to mention anyone to avoid... LOL Thanks! Mom

I just delivered at Kaiser WC in January. I was originally getting prenatal care at Oakland but wound up switching to WC when I was about five months pregnant to take advantage of their midwife program, and because the parking was easier and the whole vibe of WC was more calm and relaxed and less crowded.

At WC, I saw midwife Jennifer Blattner for prenatal care, and am now seeing OB/Gyn Amy Yakaitis post-partum. Both of them are fantastic. I didn't see much of the midwife on call during my delivery -- I got to the hospital at 8 cm, so things moved very quickly and then I needed an emergency c-section. But I was very happy with my choice of WC, even though it meant a longer drive during labor. I also had a wonderful experience in the Mom/Baby Unit with some outstanding nurses. anon.

Experience with labor and delivery at Walnut Creek Kaiser?

May 2009

Hello, I am emailing to ask if anyone has any experiences with labor and delivery at Walnut Creek Kaiser. Due to difficulties with my last delivery, I was told by my OB that I will need a C-section this time. Does anyone have any experiences/ opinions about delivering at Walnut Creek Kaiser? Thanks, Bev

I delivered at Kaiser Walnut Creek and it was fabulous. I had a 4 hour labor, was considered high risk and all went smoothly. I had midwife who was amazing support and competent. Just keep in mind that babies are born every day to ''high risk'' mothers and you will indeed do well wherever you go. No matter where you go you will need to advocate for yourself and be in the ongoing discussion of care. I would suggest visiting the facilities, you will know where you feel most comfortable. Consider the distance to each facility as well, and your comfort level with that. The outcome will not necessarily be better or worse at any particular facility. Believe me, medical errors and oversights happen at every hospital, we are all only human. So what is better for one patient may not be for the next. You'll do great

Sept 2008

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

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

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

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

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

March 2008

Hi there, I checked the archives, but the information is 2 years old. I am pregnant with twins who are due at the end of June. We had our first daughter at Kaiser SF and were happy with our choice. However, we've moved to the East Bay and Kaiser WC would be more convenient than driving over the bridge. Anyone have any advice about having a c-section at WC (our first was breech and apparently Kaiser wont do a VBAC for twins)? Is it still super busy and harried? Should we drive to SF? Thanks! anxious for #2 and #3!

Hi, I had my daughter at WC Kaiser this last August. They are very popular, but we were there and had no problems with it being busy (we were even able to get the room with the jet tub). I wound up having a C-section and it was done very nicely. Dr. Bui did mine, I would highly recommend her, she has a great bed-side manner and is very good. I healed easily and she checked in on me each day and answered all of my questions. WC is a really nice facility and has a nice garden on the new mothers wing that you can sit outside, nurses were great. Also, make sure you talk to Barbara the lactation consultant, she made our visit. Jessie

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. (click here for the rest of this review.)

I gave birth at Walnut Creek Kaiser in July 2007. I was not nearly as pleased as I expected to be. They had a huge number of birthing women that month, unfortunately, and we spent 2 hours in an overflow room waiting for a midwife to check us in (this was not a terrible thing, but it gives you an idea of how busy they were). Lots of women from other Kaiser locations go there...I was one of those and wish I'd stayed in Oakland. I went there for the midwives, but foudn them to be a lot like the doctors...I wanted a ''real'' midwife. Instead, the second (of three) (I was in labor 31 hours) recommended I have an epidural even though my birth plan indicated I didn't want one and I wasn't asking for one. My feeling is that she just wanted to get me on the meds so she didn't have to pay attention to me - because they were so over-booked. Anyway, all this ended with me pushing for 3 hours then being recommended a c-section. That was a tot! ally traumatic experience mostly becuase they wouldn't let my doula into the operation room after my partner & baby left for the nursery. The surgeons nicked my bladder at some point druing the c-section so the operation lasted over an hour and I was all alone for most of it. I am still really traumatized by the whole thing. While I really liked one of the midwives I saw prenatally at WC, I'm not sure I would recommend going there for the birth...especially if it's a busy month for them. It's a beautiful garden-oriented location but you won't see any of it, since you'll be in bed recovering! Obviously my experience will not be your experience, but I think it's worth hearing about. Good luck with your decision! cv

Feb 2007

hello, i just wanted to describe my very wonderful experience with kaiser walnut creek l+d. i had a midwife, whose name now escapes me, who was fabulous! she was right there with me through my entire delivery. so much more than i ever anticipated. i knew going into my delivery that i would want an epidural, and that was delivered flawlessly by the anesthesiologist. (i do have friends from other institutions who had difficulty obtaining the medications they needed due to short staffing / the medications were not offered by her attendant or whatever). not so great things do happen at all hospitals, that's for sure. the staff at kaiser walnut creek was very professional and responded to my needs in a timely fashion. when i arrived at the hospital, i was 6cm and things went quickly, yet my experience is one that i look back on fondly. medication was offered in a timely manner and there were no problems there. i would consider myself in good hands for my 3rd child there. happy birthing at kaiser wc

April 2006

Re: Childbirth at Kaiser - where to deliver?

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

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

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

Nov 2005

Re: Childbirth at Kaiser - where to deliver?

I recently gave birth at Kaiser Walnut creek (August 27, 05) and I thought that the facilities there were wonderful along with the staff. I had unforseen complications and ended up having a c-section. The midwives and DR's handeled everything so kindley and were so wonderful.I had a great experience with this hospital. It was not busy at all when I was there. If you are worried about the ''crowds'' what I did was this...I was torn between Oakland and Walnut creek. So when I was ready to go to the hospital I called both places, which you are suppose to do anyway to let them know you are coming so they can get your records. Anyway when I called Oakland all of their birthing rooms were occupied so I went to walnut creek. Whether or not either of your choices will be busy all I can say is don't worry about it. They told me that around my due date it would be busy too and it was very slow at Walnut creek. Happy birthing! Gina

I had my daughter at Kaiser Walnut Creek this past May and I can't recommend them highly enough. The midwives and nurses were great: helpful, kind, and competent. They were very respectful of my initial decision to forego medication; however, when it became apparent that I could really benefit from it (after hours of vomiting and dehydration) they discussed options with me and respected my right to decide what to do next.

I ended up needing an emergency c-section, and although it was scary, the professionalism, efficiency, and sensitivity of everyone involved made the experience a very positive one in the end. I would definitely go there again.

I believe that Hayward does not have as many midwives on duty as WC does; check this out before you commit to going there.

You can call to go to Walnut Creek first; if they're full, they can reroute you to Hayward. I think it's a positive thing to keep Walnut Creek in such high demand; it may ultimately make Kaiser management sit up and take note that the midwife program there is something to be studied and emulated elsewhere.

Congratulations and good luck! Kimberly Cross

I delivered both of my boys at Kaiser WC in the last 2 yrs. and most recently in Aug. Fabulous experiences at both. Loved both midwives, especially Kristen Caulley (sp?). They were supportive of my desire to deliver naturally and w/the support of my doula. I am convinced that the reason my tearing was minimal was due to the midwives' efforts on both deliveries, specifically massaging the perinium. Can't imagine your average OB doing that! Not as crazy about the post delivery care, but it was still fine. Caroline

I highly recommend Kaiser Walnut Creek. We too were told that it is overcrowded, and yet we were admitted into Labor and Delivery with no problems, and we got a single room for recovery. I loved the midwives and felt that my daughter and I were taken care of very well. We toured Oakland, and what turned me off was the fact that residents deliver babies and there were only 6 LDR rooms, plus you have to share a bathroom if you get a single. I also didn't like the fact that they had triples. Who wants to recover from labor with two other women and their families? I have heard horror stories of Kaiser Hayward. My mother's friend had twins there, and she said it was the worst experience and that she would never go back. I have heard that some doulas won't even work with clients who are going to deliver there because it's so bad. Anon

I gave birth at Kaiser Walnut Creek a little over a year ago. It was my first child, so I can only comment on my experiences there. I live in Berkeley, but chose to go to Walnut Creek because a) they have midwives and b) the Oakland facility had only recently been renovated and a few people said it's better to go somewhere where they've worked out all the kinks.

I had a perfectly fine experience that resulted in a perfectly healthy baby. The staff was very professional on the whole. But, as I think is very common, I was surprised at how medicalized my whole experience still was, even though I had a midwife. Now that I've been through it I know: once you enter the hospital, there are certain protocols and procedures that must be followed regardless of whether they actually result in a better birth. For instance, right when I got to triage they detected that my baby had a decelerating heart rate. This led to constant monitoring...which led to not being able to walk around...which meant my labor was probably longer...which meant I had to push lying on my back as opposed to squatting, etc. It's a very common story, I think regardless of what hospital you give birth in. I had a midwife assigned to me, but she was so overloaded that I spent most of the time with two (very wonderful but pretty traditional) labor nurses. I ended up giving birth naturally, but got the definite impression that this isn't the usual end result of births there.

I'm telling you in the hopes that it'll help you prepare for whatever happens with your birth. I think I had higher expectations because of the midwives, but ended up realizing that because they're working within the hospital system, they don't have a ton of options. I think if I had it to do over again, I would have just gone to Kaiser Oakland because it's a lot closer to home. Good luck with your decision! anon

Kaiser Walnut Creek is wonderful but can be so crowded as to cause problems. I had my son there last year and they were PACKED when I arrived. (We even called ahead and they said to come in. I too chose Walnut Creek over Oakland because of the midwives.) When I got to triage, I was in active labor. They did not have a room ready for me so I had to wait and labor in triage for a long time before they got a room cleaned. It was probably between 20 to 60 min but it seemed like forever for me and it was awful being in active labor there. (I was desparate to get to my room and into the shower!!) My labor stalled in transition and I am sure that having to labor in triage contributed to that. I also had to share a room after the birth (even though they have about 20 private rooms) so I did not get much rest as my roommate had people visiting all the time and watched lots of TV. It also took forever for us to get check out as we were 18th in line out of 20 people wanting to leave and we had to wait hours for the pediatrician to get to us to sign out my son. My advice: if you are in labor and you call them and they are not busy (sometimes they aren't) go there. If not, go to Oakland or Hayward. I have two friends who had goog experiences birthing at Oakland and I may consider it next time, although I really like the midwives at Walnut creek. Oh, the nurses at Walnut Creek are WONDERFUL!! We wanted to take home one of the maternity nurses, we loved her so much. Anon

I had my son at Kaiser Walnut Creek two years ago and had an excellent experience from start to (nearly) finish. After the first few months of prenatal care at Oakland, I toured the WC facility and much preferred the atmosphere there. Plus, at that time, Kaiser Oakland patients delivered at Alta Bates with residents, which was not what I wanted. I really wanted to work with a midwife, and I saw midwife Julie Haymes for nearly all of my prenatal appointments from five months on. She was actually the midwife on duty when I went into labor, and she was fantastic. Although I had a very long childbirth, I felt like the two subsequent midwives and all of the nurses had read my birth plan, and were doing the best they could to give me the birth I wanted. The surroundings were quiet and comfortable, and the staff was very supportive and low key. I never felt like I was ''on the clock'' for interventions. When I eventually chose an epidural, the anaesthesiologist did such a good job that I could feel the coming pressure of all my contractions and push really efficiently. My only complaint would be the whole recovery process. I had a shared room with a mom who wanted the temperature set at freezing. Also, the nurses were not nearly as kind or thoughtful. I escaped after one night! Finally, regarding the concern about being turned away. Yes, the night I was admitted was very busy. I got the last delivery room available. The admitting nurse said it often depended on the time of the month...the night I went into labor there was a full moon and it was pouring rain. I guess water was breaking all over! However, when I left to go home, half the rooms were empty. Hope this helps! Michelle

Hi- I recently delivered my son at Kaiser Walnut Creek (August 2005) and had a great experience. We used a midwife who was terrific (Kat King). The nurse and midwife were very encouraging and positive. I also have had two friends deliver there - one in August and one in September who live in Oakland and they were able to get in. I hope that helps. K

I gave birth to my daughter at Kaiser Walnut Creek in June 2003. I had a wonderful experience. The nurses and midwifes were great. At first I thought our nurse was too attentive, but then my husband and I were so grateful for her help and experience. They are very busy at different times of the year, but it can be hard to tell when the babies are actually going to come. I haven't heard that people get turned away; that certainly wouldn't be good. It was busy when I was there, but not overly so. I have no idea what Hayward Kaiser is like, but was actually born there MANY years ago. Good luck with whatever you choose and wherever you go! Monika

Jan 2005

Ok, so what's the real deal with Kaiser? Is it truly a progressive HMO as they claim it to be, or second rate health care for the poor? Here's my concern, specifically: I delivered a baby by c-section, 3 (yes, THREE) weeks late, at Kaiser Walnut Creek about 18 months ago after receiving care at their Pleasanton medical offices. Things were just OK through my prenatal care- there seemed to be a lack of communication between health care providers (rarely saw the same NP or dr twice), contradictory medical advice given, no real plan for moms 42weeks+, very chaotic labor unit (they claim to have been very busy, but I hear that they are just always ''very busy''), and way, way too much medication pushed after surgery among many other things. Anyway, anytime I read things about Kaiser Walnut Creek from other BPN members, it seems like they have nothing but great things to say- and I wonder, did I really deliver in the same place? How could my experience be so far off from other people's wonderful experiences? Granted, I did like most of the nurses I met and the dr who did my c-section seemed very competent (though I was never given a real medical reason for the c-section), but it's unlikely I'd see any of them again. Now, I am pregnant again and about to start the whole thing over- should I give Kaiser another try or should I go with a private practice/different hospital? Am I really the only disappointed Kaiser WC patient?

I have a suggestion: ask to see your chart. Call ahead and make an appointment so you don't wait while they fish it out. Even with medical mumbo-jumbo, it should explain what the medical folks were thinking at the time but were too busy to communicate. Then feel free to discuss your concerns with your doctor.

I've been a Kaiser member for 15 years and had 2 kids with them. Like any other large, bureaucratic system, a lot depends on the individuals you come in contact with. There have been times when procedures seemed capricious and burdensome and other time where the bureaucracy has actually meant better communication and timely intervention. But even in my most frustrated moments, I've stayed because I'm not convinced that the other HMOs or PPPs are any better. In fact, with other plans, the communication between doctors is often worse because other HMOs aren't as centralized. To sum up, Kaiser works best if you have a pleasant, non-confrontational, but persistent advocate with you (I say with you because in labor you or your partner are unlikely to be any of those things!). Good luck. Brenda

I am wondering if you can contact me offline. I work for Kaiser and want to direct your concern to the Medical Group Administrator of the Walnut Creek facility. I work closely with him and I think this is something that he would want to know. Please let me try to address your concern. If anyone else has issues, please call me. That is after you have went through the facility's member services and have seen no change in your services. lena

I noticed in your message that you are pregnant now. You should know that you won't be able to get insurance anywhere else right now since you're already pregnant. You might want to work on finding out how to get the best prenatal care you can at Kaiser. I'm a health insurance broker and would be happy to answer any questions you have on the topic. Denise

I can only speak with regards to Kaiser Oakland, but our family's experience has been great for the entire five years that we've been members. I, too, am pregnant with my second. I have had the same OB/GYN Doc & NP since we signed up, the same family doctor and pediatrician all along, and a good birth experience - in the Kaiser Oakland Alta Bates days. I look forward to excellect care at the new Labor & Delivery in the Kaiser Oakland Hospital, and, in fact, have heard only good things from doulas, etc about the new unit. When I struggled with depression due to miscarriages, the therapist selected for me was great and caring - and even recommended a Meditation and Mindfulness class offered there, which was beyond any expectations I would have of a ''normal'' HMO. I will use things learned in that course throughout life's tough times, and even in labor.

So, my advice, give Kaiser Oakland a try this time. Ask to see if Rebecca Avery, NP OB/GYN, is available. Roberta Cunningham is a fabulous pediatrician. And, I'd recommend Dr. Lawrence Sirott for a primary care doc.

And, no, I don't work for Kaiser, though it sounds like it, huh? signed, A happy Kaiser family

I'm so sorry you had such a horrid experience. (Interestingly, my experience with post-CS pain meds was the opposite--I practically had to beg for them with one nurse, at Summit Hosp!)

I've had a very, very good experience with Kaiser Oakland. My physician and pediatrician have been top-notch, as have been the specialists. But don't take my word for it: there are surveys every year of health providers by Consumer Reports and others, and of the ones available in California, Kaiser No Cal & So Cal always come out WAY above anything else, including HealthNet, which I left after my son was born. I mean, like on a different page, the others are so much farther down in terms of satisfaction rating.

I don't discount your experience, and have heard of others who have been dissatisfied (sometimes deeply dissatisfied) with Kaiser, but that doesn't seem to be the norm. If Kaiser Oakland is convenient for you, drop me a note and I'd be happy to supply the names of my doctors. Hope this helps. Jennie

I'm sorry to hear that you had such a negative birth experience at Kaiser Walnut Creek. I too delivered at Walnut Creek and went to the Pleasanton Medical Offices. I truly had a great experience and was really impressed with the whole prenatal care and delivery (also a c-section)process.

I say give it another try but you need some consistancy. Pick a doctor as your primary OB and see only her/him. You can also pick a secondary Doc or NP, in case your primary is on vacation or sick. I only saw my doctor and loved her. In fact, she did my c-section as well.

I'm not one to whole heartedly endorse Kaiser, as I have not always had the best experience with them but after my pregnancy/birth experience, I really hope I have Kaiser with the next child.

Hope this helps, Karen

Hi There. Kaiser Walnut Creek is a little dirfferent in the fact of having midwives staffed there. As a doula, I have witnessed a variety of situations good and bad. Of all the Kaisers, Walnut Creek and Hayward have been the most outstanding when circumstances have arose. I do validated the fact that they tend to be chaotic in their commincations and their protocols. I think that since you are pregnant again, check into giving Walnut Creek another chance. Maybe you could have a personal support team that would allow you to labor, and leave all the business affairs to your support team. Walnut Creek has responded positive in having family/friends/doulas present for the birthing mom. Last note- KWC does stay busy, its a populare site because they are more relaxed than other Kaisers. Niccole

I've been a Kaiser member for over 20 years, and have been a patient at WC, SF and now Oakland.

Overall, I really like Kaiser, but I notice now that I have Primary Care Physicians for both me and my kids, the Kaiser system is even better. Do you have a PCP? For years and years I didn't have one, and when I was pregnant with my kids I saw whomever they gave me.

Now I just call my personal physicians, and I have had nothing but excellent customer service and care.

It's true, different doctors will sometimes give you conflicting information, but I think that is true of any practice, not just Kaiser.

I also had c-sections, but I know for a fact that Kaiser is pro-natural. They tried to talk me into a VBAC, and they also let me go 2 weeks and one day the first time around. Their policy is not to induce until you are 42 weeks. They also won't give you an epidural until you are 4 cm.

I think just like any other organization, some years they give better service than others, and some branches might be better than other branches. Maybe WC is having a bad year. Kaiser fan

I had my first child at Kaiser and was very disappointed with the chaotic care I received. Although my daughter is seven years old, I remember seeing a different doctor throughout the entire pregnancy and did not even know the doctor that delivered my baby. The only thing good was there were no medical bills. I switched after being a member since I was a kid because they wanted to perform surgery on my six month old daughter for constant ear infections. Now my second pregnancy was high risk and my doctor was wonderful and proactive throughout the ENTIRE pregnancy. His name is Dr. Kevin Smith and he has an office in Oakland (Chinatown) and Oakland(Montclair). I too had a c-section at Kaiser & was able to give birth to a boy vaginally. I also had gestational diabetes, early onset depression (due 2 post-partum blues with the first, spotting and a host of other things. It was like when one thing got repaired something else happened. But I was confident throughout the entire process and didn't worry. Kimberly

I have delivered at Kaiser WC twice in the last 2 years. I had both bad and good experiences respectively. My first labor was 36 hours long. I went into labor with the birth plan to have the least amount of intervention as possible, but not totally closed to pain meds if I truly felt I couldn't handle it. I ended up with every intervention - okay not EVERY, but plenty, including water droplets to help stop back labor pain (which it didn't), narcotics (which made me hallucinate), and an epidural at about hour 24. I was there for so long I went through plenty of nurses, and ended up with a real loser for the actual pushing and delivery. I was threatened that I was going to have a C-section for the last 11 hours of my labor. I was dilating REALLY slow, but I WAS dilating, and the baby was not in distress. I begged and cried for them to let me keep trying to have a vaginal birth. Reluctantly they let me go. The nurses were rude to me when I was contemplating the epidural, asking ''what are you afraid of'' in a condescending manner. They didn't encourage me by telling me what a good job I was doing, or that I was strong and could do. When I was finally pushing no one was telling me what was going on, and when I asked the nurse replied ''it's going to be a while'' in this bored tone. The Midwife came in at the very last second to catch the baby. After the baby was born, my after care wasn't great either. I had very bad tearing and a hematoma (a big pocket of blood protruding from the perinium - VERY painful). Yet I constantly had to get out of bed to get myself juice or call for a nurse as they weren't answering my pages.

Labor number 2 which was this last April was totally different. I had a GREAT experience, but my labor was also totally different. This time I was only in labor for 2 hours (and I mean from the very first contraction). I got to the hospital at 9cm, let out a wail like only a woman in labor can do, and was literally swept off my feet to a delivery room. I begged for the epidural, was told it was too late, that the baby was coming, and was ENCOURAGED that I could do it. The nurses helped me breath through the contractions, and in general were there for me in the intensity of the moment. Right away the baby went into distress, and they called for the doctor. I was told they couldn't find the heartbeat, and I needed to push the baby out right that moment or they were going to do an emergency c-section. I opted for bearing down and pushing with everything in me, and the baby was born in about 3 minutes. My after care was also great. The nurses were friendly and helpful, and seemed to have my best interest at heart. My only complaint this time was that ALL NIGHT LONG people were in and out of my room, and I got very little sleep. Nurses came in to do vitals on me and baby, came in to check serial numbers on the beds (or something like that), they came in to empty the trash, the circumcision doctor came in at 2am to discuss the circumcision with me, then a half later (just as I was getting back to sleep) the nurse came in with the cicumcision paperwork, they came and took the baby to do the hearing test, and Lord only knows what else. It was INSANE. I had to stay another night (because I fainted for some unknown reason), and my doctor left a note to leave out room alone. There were still a couple interruptions, but nothing like the night before.

So, I would have to say that you just don't know what you are going to get. Do I think they improved that much over the 21 months since I had been there. Not really. I think it's the luck of the draw. But I also think it's that way anywhere you go. The only predctable thing about labor and delivery is that it is unpredictable. There are no guarantees no matter where ou go. Good Luck in your decision! Done with L & D

hello, after reading your posting, as a healthcare professional, i got a sense from some of your comments that you need to take more control of your health care. for example, thoroughly research your kaiser's prenatal practitioners, and by all means understand why your c-section was performed (i assume you signed a consent form and had the risks and benefits of your c-section explained to you). surgical procedures are NOT performed without reason. i would encourage you to even follow up on this and ask your ob precisely why your c-section was performed, aren't you curious? i am a very pleased kaiser patient, and i thoroughly researched the obstetricians in our office prior to committing to one for the delivery of my daughter. and i continue to see him for my routine well ob care as well. in order to see your chosen practitioner as often as possbile, you should book your next appt whenever you are at an ob well baby appotintment. yet at the same time, as in many multi-physician offices, you need to accept that you will see different practitioners occassionally.

you'll feel better about your care if you connect with your ob on SOME level (who you see quite often during pregnancy!). read about the birthing process and convey how you would like your delivery to go to your delivery team. i guarantee that you too can be a happy kaiser patient if you do your research and voice your concerns and needs. PARTNERS in health = patient and caregivers working together! good luck!

I was a Kaiser member for over 20 years. I even paid for the plan for several years even though my employer offered a fantastic indemnity plan that let me choose any dr. I wanted to and had no co-pays. I chose to have my baby at Kaiser WC even though I could have gone anywhere (and did tour Alta Bates and other are hospitals). I happened to tour KWC on a night it was pretty empty and not chaotic. I happened to go into labor on a day when apparently everyone in the Easy Bay did too. It was very busy the entire 3 days I was there and a nurse was yelling for a dr. while my daughter was coming out on her own. That said, I loved my experience at Kaiser in every way. In my 20+ years as a member, there were many things that I didn't like and many doctors I was unhappy with. So I would switch doctors until I found one I liked. Now that I have an outside plan, I may see ''the best'' docs out there but I still wait months for appointments and have yet to impressed by any of them. I also don't like having to go to so many different offices and feel a big lack of continuity in care. While at Kaiser, I felt that there was good communication between all the doctors and staff about my care vs now where i feel like i have to wade through a huge system on my own. That was all taken care of at Kaiser. It is not perfect, but I do believe it is good. My family has had Kaiser for minor and major medical issues and we never felt like we had low quality care. We only stopped with Kaiser because it seemed ridiculous not to take advantage of my company's free coverage. If I had a choice, I would happily stay with Kaiser. Nic

I have had great experiences with Kaiser Walnut Creek-both with my care and delivery in 2003 and my care in my next pregnancy, due in April. I think Kaiser can be a wonderful resource if you are willing and able to be a strong personal advocate for yourself. During the course of my care, I found a few things to really help the quality and continuity of care:

1. If possible, see a MD. Now I know they want you to see a NP, and a lot of them are very good. If the pregnancy is complication free, seeing the same NP is fine. However, I found that if there was ever a worry or complication, I'd have to first see the NP and then come back to see a MD--a waste of my time to do both. Finally I saw a doctor that said I could just continue seeing him over the course of my pregnancy instead of switching. His name is Francis Wright, and he can be brusque and a little by-the-book Western in his approach, but he is a kind, caring man that is pleasant to see and he lets me e-mail him questions and is always very responsive to anything I need. Once I settled on him, it was a much more personal experience. Even if you do see an NP, you must insist on seeing the same one (see below).

2. Don't let them switch providers on you. The nurses that schedule the follow up appointments have tried, several times over the course of this pregnancy, to schedule me with someone totally random. I just give a big smile and very sweetly say ''Oh, I'm sorry, I only see Dr. Wright, what are his available times?''. You shouldn't be expected to see more than one person, unless its a vacation or something unusual.

3. Talk to the doctor about all of your concerns, if they are good they will help with this scheduling business.

4. Having a single provider helps when you are in labor, too. Dr. Wright would call up to my room and come in to check in. He wasen't there to deliver, but I did feel like I had an outside resource.

5. Have a friend or doula at delivery. I think their delivery ward is great, but I also think its somewhat typical that you need someone other than yourself to help ask questions/make the big decisions. If you feel that you didn't have a real reason for the C-section, you needed someone advocating for you (no, it can't be you in labor!) and getting those questions answered. Also, if things are not living up to your expectations, talk to the doctor on duty. We had one nurse we didn't feel comfortable with, we talked with the attending, and we never saw that nurse again. We found that when we communicated our needs, they were willing to go the extra mile to make us happy.

In answer to your question, I love Kaiser WC and will continue to use it (even though I drive from Livermore, I have worked to establish myself with one doc in one place and I'm sticking with it). I do think you have to be a firm advocate for the quality of your own care. If you are willing to do that, Kaiser can be a great resource. Good luck! Rebecca

I can't comment on whether or not Kaiser is ''progressive'', nor can I comment on the Walnut Creek facilities (I use the Oakland facilities). However, I can say that I have been overall happy with my care with Kaiser. I've been with them for nearly three years now, and had a few medical issues that were, for the most part, dealt with well. The same medical issues that were brushed off by previous doctors were quickly referred to specialists with Kaiser. The problems that did arise were not Kaiser-specific. I'm now pregnant and expect to deliver at the Oakland hospital in a few weeks.

All that said I am also the type of person to take a very active role in my healthcare in general. I make sure that I see the same doctor/nurse for my visits, ask lots and lots of questions, and research things independently. I also have hired a doula to be with me at birth, because, yes, hospitals are busy, chaotic places. The last time I was in a (non-Kaiser) hospital I was forgotten about in the recovery room!

From reading your post it sounds like it is possible that you may be happier in a small private practice. I have little experience with such practices, so I couldn't compare. Either way, it is important that you make your concerns known to your practitioner and take the time to develop a relationship with them. Best luck with your pregnancy and healthcare decisions! Kaiser patient

A dear friend of mine is due in March, and I will be with her during the birth. She has been going to Kaiser S.F., and I have had some opportunities to check it out. We are very impressed with their birthing center, their staff, and how informative they are. they also really stress how willing they are to work with her needs and wants during the birth, and claim they are supportive of doing as little intervention as they can. They also claim a very low C-section rate, and were able to cite statistics, as well. Since we haven't gone through the delivery yet, we don't know how true this all is, but we're hoping it's as good as it seems. Anon

Nov 1999

You should check out Kaiser's Walnut Creek hospital. There they have a shiny new facility with nice birthing rooms, in-room showers and lots of postpartum rooms. When we had our daughter 2 years ago there, they had several nurse-midwives who did deliveries (as well as OBs, of course). We had a quick, easy delivery with a midwife and didn't see an OB until we were in a postpartum room... which was how we wanted it.

Both of my children were born at Kaiser Walnut Creek, the eldest is 7 and the youngest is 4.5 years old, so the judge the information as not too current. During both births midwives were on duty, but for the first child, the midwife was too busy (too many women in labor and I think some difficult labors) and the OB/GYN doctor delivered my daughter. For the second child, the midwife was available and did deliver my son. Some of my observations as the husband/father follow. I was horrified to see the male doctor with the first child take out the scissors and just start cutting my wife. While with the second child and the midwife, she massaged my wife to reduce tearing, which did occur, but was minimal. So just as you expect, the midwife spent more time with my wife and generally had a better bedside manner than the doctor. So even if there is a midwife on duty, you are not guaranteed that she will be able to assist.