Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health (reviews 2010 & earlier)

Berkeley, CA, Orinda, CA
Editors' Notes: 

Note: many of the doctors in this practice are now affiliated with Sutter Health ObGyns at 2500 Milvia.

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Archived Reviews: 

Berkeley: 2999 Regent St Suite 701 510-845-4200 Orinda: 12 Camino Encinas 925-254-9000
Doctors reviewed on this page: Jill Foley, John Girard, Marilyn Honegger, Vineela Poddatoori, Angelyn Thomas (previous reviews here .)

James Sakamoto now practices at Kaiser Oakland
Kurt Wharton now has his own practice.

Oct 2010

Dr. Poddatoori - Does anyone have any experience with her? I just moved to Berkeley and she was the only doctor with availability at Sutter East Bay. Am pregnant so need a doctor soon! Anon

Dr. Poddatoori was not my OBGYN (I had Dr Thomas) but she was the one on shift when I delivered my 2nd child. It was an uncomplicated labor and delivery (unlike my 1st child) and she was good. She is young and newer to the profession. When she came in (and I was in heavy heavy labor - at 10 cm) my insane pain was put on hold for a millisecond by the thought of - who is this child? can she possibly be a doctor?! Ha. All that to say that she is young (and I am only 30) which has both its benefits and its drawbacks. She allowed my bag of water to break on its own, (most doctors do not want to deal with splashing on them) which I took as an indication of her progressive practice. She also tugged too hard, too quickly on the cord after my daughter was born (my husband is a nurse, and he was bothered by this) which meant part of the placenta tore off and she had to go through the EXTREMELY painful process of reaching inside of me to pull it out. So I think her newness has its benefits and drawbacks, but overall I thought she was a good doctor, and had a nice, warm demeanor.

June 2010

Re: Looking for an ObGyn
Although I have always had a female OBGYN (or their nurse practitioner as was often the case), Dr Girard of Orinda and Berkeley (male, can't remember first name)delivered my second child. I switched to him as my OBGYN and could not be happier. He is the first doc I have had that spends time listening. He sits me down in his office (while I am still dressed like a normal human) for about 10 minutes before each checkup to talk about how I am feeling, any changes, etc. He was a fabulous delivery doc but since I will not be having any more kids, I appreciate him even more for taking the time to explain changes to 50 year old bodies, etc. He is a character and may not be for everyone, but he appears to have genuine compassion for people and an intellectual curiosity and love for his line of work. Big Orinda office impersonal but lots of great backup docs if emergencies: 510/845-4200 best doc I ever had

April 2010

Re: OB with great bedside manner
I would highly recommend Dr. John Girard. He is with Berkeley Orinda Women's Health though I think he only sees patients in Orinda these days. He has always made me feel completely at ease and he always makes me laugh. He is honest, concerned and just has that touch. I completely trust what he says and what he does. I've also seen the other doctors in his group during my two pregnancies and everybody has been fantastic. Good luck. Anon

Feb 2009

Re: Ob Gyn who is GREAT at C-sections
I delivered my first baby via c-section with Dr. Jill Foley - and she and the whole team at Alta Bates were fantastic. Dr. Foley has a great combination of warm bedside manner, a very no non-sense approach to answering questions, and has always been very prompt at getting me help with any issues around both my pregnancies and deliveries. She also delivered my second one via VBAC - and was wonderful during that experience, too, very encouraging, and spent a lot of time, not just during the actual delivery, but also the 9 hours prior.

During the c-section, both my husband and I were very impressed by how professional the whole team was - everything was double-checked, with amazing precision, and at the same time, the experience was much more positive than I had anticipated.

Dr. Foley practices in Berekley (right next to Alta Bates) and Orinda; her office phone number is 510-204-8180. Happy with OB/GYN for c-section & VBAC

Dec 2008

Re: Homebirth-friendly OB Gyn
Hi, I had two wonderful homebirths with Beah Haber and was overseen by a wonderful OB as well, Angelyn Thomas. She never once questioned my decision to have a home birth, prescribed whatever tests I needed (although I later learned Beah could do that as well) and was just wonderful. I've recommended Dr. Thomas to several friends who have not had home births and they've all been happy. Also, I recommend a guy named Lance Dursi in Los Gatos for your ultrasounds. He is far more wonderful than any facility you'll find in the east bay or SF. Email me if you have any questions about a homebirth or anything else. Good luck! Jen Jen

Oct 2008

Re: Post-menopause, seeking new female gyn
Katarina Lanner-Cusin, M. D. of Berkeley and UCSF and Marilyn Honegger, M.D. of Berkeley and Orinda are fabulous. Hopefully you could get in to see one or both. Dr. Honegger is my gyn, and a great diagnostician who is much in demand for surgery. Kararina performed surgery on my grown daughter, who flew back here from a job in Hawaii for the surgery because there was no one as good there. You might research their specific areas of surgical expertise, if you can. Both are also wonderful people, by the way. Best of luck. Judy

May 2008

Re: ObGyn for 17-year-old daughter
I recommend Dr. John Girard, who works in a group with offices in Berkeley and Orinda. I have a young daughter who was quite sensitive about going to see a GYN specialist, but who was absolutely delighted with Dr. Girard. He has a good sense of humor and immediately put her at ease. My wife was so happy with him that she switched from her own GYN and now sees Dr. Girard. Robert

April 2008

Re: Female ObGyn who delivers at Alta Bates
Try Jill Foley at Berkeley Orinda Women's Health (name has changed slightly). (510) 845-4200 Jill was my ob/gyn for two pregnancies--very good! Other doctors in the practice delivered, and they were both great! Practice now has a nurse/midwive for consultations. I highly recommend a doula for births at Alta Bates. The two nurses I had did not have the types of personalities that would have successfully gotten me through two non-medicated births. mom of two

Our baby was born with unexpected medical issues, and our doctor, Arzou Ahsan, came to see us in the hospital every day we were there (even though she was not on call), and even went up to the NICU a number of times to check in on the baby. This extra support was above and beyond the call of duty, but shows how much she cares. In the end, it was Dr. Jill Foley on call for the birth of our baby. She, too, was wonderful, and helped us to have exactly the birth we had hoped for: no interventions or drugs, lots of calm reassurance and guidance. I also recommend her very highly. new mama

May 2008

Re: ObGyn for 17-year-old daughter
I liked my old GYN before she moved her practice and had a REALLY BAD billing experience at her new office. Dr. Angeline Thomas, she's really thorough and gentle. (510) 845-4200. Good luck! anon mom

March 2008

Re: OB GYN rec - good with PPD
First of all, congratulations on beeing ppd free and also on making the smart, life affirming decision to take care of yourself the second time around. I would highly recommend Dr. Angelyn Thomas. I also had ppd with my 1st child (not w/ dr. thomas) and began seeing dr. thomas in preparation for my 2nd, so she was with me through the whole thing. She was wonderful and is very knowledgeable about all treatments, from antidepressants to natural stuff. She is very kind and understanding. She also worked *extremely* well with my birth duola, Treesa Mclean, ( I think 510-581-1013) probably the best and most experienced duola in the bay area. Treesa worked with me to help meet all my needs througout my pregnancy, labor and delivery, and well after. It was great to have two wonderful women looking out for me. When my 2nd had complications and had to be sent to the NICU at birth (was very scary but ended up just fine) Treesa was there with us, guiding us through medical decisions for him, advocating for us, and she stayed with me the first night in the hospital when I had to be separated from my son. She helped me pump so my milk would come in and held my hand and reassured me all night that all would be well. Because of this my husband was able to be with our son. It all worked out fine and in the end we had a perfectly healthy mom and baby, but if it weren't for Treesa and Dr. Thomas I'm not sure mom would have been so healthy :-) I ended up w/ no relapse in depression, tho I did take antidepressants for the pregnancy and first few months just to be safe. I hope this helps ! anon

Jan 2008

Re: Berkeley Oakland Walnut Creek OB GYN
I've been going to Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health forever, at least 10 years. I have never once (not once!) had to wait more than 5 minutes. In fact, I often look forward to a short wait at the doctor's office to relax and read a magazine, but at BOWH I have never gotten further than a couple of pages into any magazine. I see Dr. Girard and love him, but saw almost all of the other doctors during my pregnancy (and delivery at Alta Bates) in 2003, and liked them all very much. They have offices in Berkeley and Orinda. Yesterday I called for a yearly exam and they had appointments immediately. They are great. I could do without their new phone system (now THERE's a wait for you), but have had nothing but good experiences at this office. BOWH fan

Nov 2007

Re: Looking For OBGYN
All my friends love either Dr. Girgis in Oakland or Dr. Angelyn Thomas in Berkeley. I go to Dr. Thomas and she's a youngish African American woman who went to Harvard. She's gentle, competant and all the friends I have referred to her are thrilled! Happy Patient

Oct 2007

Re: GYN In Lamorinda
I see Dr. Marilyn Honegger in Orinda. From what I hear she has a very big following and I have been happy with her. Anon

March 2007

Re: East Bay Ob Gyn that answers their phone?
Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health, now Sutter something East Bay Something Medical Foundation or something not very memorable. I have to leave a message once I get beyond the receptionists, but I always get a call back within a few hours. They even called me back after I left a frantic message before I was a patient to give me a same-day appointment when I was only five weeks pregnant and worried about it. Nicole R.

Feb 2007

Re: OB GYN in Berkeley or North Oakland?
Two of the best are Arzou Ahsan and Jill Folley --two different practices which work together to cover call. They are all the things you are looking for. Not sure if they are taking new patients or not. Good luck. lucky

Oct 2006

Re: OB/GYN for VBAC in East Bay area
It's great that you're already thinking ahead to your next delivery, but the VBAC policy will most likely evolve over time. Not only does your OB have to be supportive, but everyone who might be covering her call schedule has to be on board for VBACs. My OB, Dr. Jill Foley, was totally supportive of my VBAC choice in January (and she was great in general), but her office joined forces with another practice for call coverage. Not everyone in the larger group seemed as flexible as she, and you never know who will show up for your delivery. Good luck! A Successful VBAC-er

Oct 2006

Re: Lesbian/queer friendly ob-gyn?
My best friend and I, both queer moms, love our ob-gyns at Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health. Mine is John Girard. He's kind of old-school, but I love him. Very relaxed and funny. I'm a very low-maintenance patient, so I can't say how he would be with a person who asked a lot of questions, etc., but he was always very supportive about my fertility stuff. Jill Foley is my friend's ob-gyn, and she did the insemination that resulted in the birth of my daughter (now 3). Kurt Wharton (now with a different practice) delivered my daughter, and he is absolutely wonderful, too. You can check the archives for reviews of Drs. Girard, Foley and Wharton . . . I wrote one back in June 2005 as well. Hope this helps! Grateful for My Great Ob-Gyn

May 2006

Re: Hematologist Familiar with MTHFR Issues
While I don't have a recommendation for a hematologist I too am homozygous with the MFTHR defect. My obgyn Angelyn Thomas diagnosed me after a couple of miscarriages. She successfully managed my treatment during pregnancy and I now have a very healthy baby boy! She mentioned that she had a few patients with this disorder and seemed very knowledgeable. Maybe you just need a new ob? Feel free to contact me if you want - I was pretty spooked when I started doing more research on this disorder but got some good answers from Dr Thomas and have a happy success story. s.

March 2006

Re: Progressive OBGYN recommendation
I chose Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health in part for their responsive office staff and willingness to see me right away (the Orinda office, anyway). I found Drs. Honegger and Foley to be terrific and supportive of my natural birth. My story is in the archives -- Dr. Foley even stopped the nurse from giving me a postnatal pitocin shot. Even though the practice was bought out, the characters of the doctors don't change. New Mama

Feb 2006

Re: Need new ob/gyn in East Bay for OD pregnancy
I have had wonderful experiences with all of the doctors at Berkeley Orinda Women's health in Orinda. I delivered in August and saw Drs. Foley, Honneger, and Girard throughout my pregnancy and while in the hospital - they were all absolutely wonderful! michelle

Oct 2005

I just found out I'm pregnant again and my OB practice, Berkeley Orinda Women's Health, has had a bit of a shuffle this year that isn't reflected on the website. Dr. Sakamoto left the practice to teach. Dr. Wharton has struck out on his own in Lafayette. They've added another fairly new woman doctor named Dr. Sandu and I haven't heard anything about her. I adore Dr. Wharton but don't know if I want to work with a solo doctor (and all the way over in Lafayette at that). But I've had mixed experiences with the other doctors from that practice. I don't know whether to stay, try Dr. Wharton's new private practice, or just find a whole new practice. Does anyone have any information about the new doctor Sandu, about the changes there, and whether the practice itself has changed much. The last reviews are over a year old. Likewise, it seems that Omni Medical (that used to share call group with BOWH) has disbanded completely. Dr. Huibonhoa (who I always heard fabulous things about) is on her own now. I want a doctor (man or woman) that's willing to let me labor naturally, without IVs and monitoring, and won't rush to intervene if things get a little bumpy during labor. (My last labor stalled out at 15 hours, but I eventually delivered at about 18 hours). Any info is much appreciated.

We've used Dr Foley at BOWH and been quite happy. Don't know anything about the new doctor. We also liked Drs. Wharton and Sakamoto and were bummed that they left. Also heard good things about Dr. Huibonhoa, too. She was actually the one who delivered our daughter as she was on call that night. Bottom line is you need to feel comfortable with your doctor. If you don't like BOWH, then find another.

While I know that the practice has undergone some changes lately, I would definitely recommend you at least schedule an appointment with Dr. Sandu to see how you like her. Granted I am done with my childbearing, however I found Dr. Sandu absolutely terrific, very astute and someone I will definitely trust with my health (I have a history of cancer in my family so I am quite selective about my medical care). Dr. Sandu was very thorough in her exam, asked lots of questions and brought up issues that I hadn't previously discussed, and appeared very well-informed. She is quite young, but IMHO, that works to our advantage in that she is up-to-date on the latest information on women's health issues. I am a former patient of Dr. Sakamoto's and was terribly saddened to see him leave the practice. However I think Dr. Sandu will provide an even better and more informed level of care for my needs. I am interested to see what others say about her delivery and bedside manners. I certainly plan to stay with the practice with her as my doctor. Happy patient

I met MD Sandu and liked her a lot. I gave birth in march, 2005, none of the doctors from the practice were there. personally I think they're better off without MD Sakamoto. He stripped my membranes once without asking or even infoming me. and I was one single day overdue! I'm still kind peeved about it. I didn't know Wharton left. that's a shame former patient

I am a patient of Dr. Wharton's and was under his care for my second pregnancy when he was in the processing of moving to his own practice. I actually ended up delivering early via C- Section with Dr. Honegger two days before Dr. Wharton's first day solo. I was very impressed with Dr. Honegger's bedside manner and presence prior to and during the surgery. It happened very suddenly and she was very understanding and calming. Dr. Wharton had performed my first C-Section and he is tough to beat.

That being said, I did have a slight complication from the second C-Section with a nerve root being tied into my internal incision. Not dangerous but unbelievably painful. Dr. Wharton actually made a housecall on a Saturday morning to diagnose the problem as he didn't want me mobile until he knew what was going on. He really does take a personal interest in your care. I now make the trek out to Lafayette to see him and it is worth the drive.

Hi, I'm a former Berkeley/Orinda OBGYN patient and Dr. Sakamoto's at that. I loved Dr. Sakamoto was my OB with my two children. I had met Dr. Wharton several times. When Dr.Sakamoto left, I saw Dr. Wharton and have followed him to his new digs in Lafayette. I live in El Cerrito. It's worth it. He's available, helpful and personable. He really wanted to go on his own so he could provide more service. It's worked out well for me. Good luck. anno.

As of October 1st, Berkeley Orinda Women's Health has become a part of larger medical group and the name has changed to something along the lines of Summit Medical Foundation (I can't remember exactly). As you say, both Dr. Sakamoto (my former doctor) and Dr. Wharton have left. I really liked Dr. Sandu, who I saw several times after Dr. Sakamoto left, but she has also left. My current experience there as a pregnant patient is that it is much more difficult to get appointments. The remaining doctors (who I think are all good) seem to be stretched very thin and getting prenatal appointments in Berkeley is difficult (have had to go to the Orinda office more often). I'm not sure what the future implications of this merge into the larger practice are, but after this baby I'm planning to look around for another practice. anon

I'm a Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health patient, and I gave birth to my son completely naturally at Alta Bates about two months ago. Dr. Honegger is my ''official'' OB, and Foley delivered him. I was hooked up to the monitors for the pushing, but she didn't make me get an IV, and she even prevented the nurse from giving me the Pitocin injection after delivery. I must say that I labored at home for the first 23 hours, showing up at the hospital just for the last hour (already completely dilated and ready to push). So there wasn't much opportunity for intervention!

I've only been a patient of theirs for the past year, so I can't say if the practice has changed, but over the course of my pregnancy I saw all the doctors, and I liked them all okay. Dr. Sandu I only saw once, but she is young and took the time to sit down and listen (as does Dr. Foley). They are all medically-oriented, of course, with fairly speedy office visits focused on checking the vitals rather than discussing diet, birthing techniques, etc. When I expressed my anxieties about birth, they all thought I would find it reassuring that if labor was too hard or too scary, there were drugs they could give me.

I was looking for minimal intervention, so I asked questions like, ''Will I have to have continuous monitoring?'' and ''For how long will you let me push?'' Dr. Honegger, in her amusing pragmatic way, would make no promises. It all depends, she would say, and would suggest that I practice relinquishing control. Another day, though, when I was expressing doubt that I'd be able to handle a natural birth, she did say that if I was committed and if I had enough support (meaning my husband and doula) there was no reason I couldn't have a natural birth. I appreciated that. Congratulations! And good luck with your decision. New Mama

Oct 2005

It seems as if Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health has been bought up by Sutter and a number of the doctors have split away (I know that Dr. Wharton has started a solo practice in Lafayette and Dr. Sakamoto has apparently joined Kaiser). Does anyone know who from the old practice has stayed on with Sutter? Are there new doctors there as well? Is the practice worth staying with? I have been unable to get anyone at the new practice to return a call. lost my OB

I just had an appt with Dr. Foley at Berkeley Orinda Women's Health (or Sutter, whatever it's called) and didn't even realize there had been a change until they handed me a slip explaining it all. I have only ever seen Dr. Foley (for 4+ years and love her) so I can't speak to others within the practice. I didn't notice any change in my care or the way my entire appt went and was still very happy with my care and the ease of making appts (love that they offer late appts some nights too). Hope this helps... Still Happy

I can wholeheartedly recommend any of the remaining physicians at what used to be called Berkeley Orinda women's health. Dr. John Girard is amazing; the best OBGYN. Very caring, supportive, honest, doing what is right for both mother and baby.He delivered my son 11 months ago. The other doctors in the practice -- Jill Foley, Marilyn Hoenegger, and Dr. Sandu -- are excellent as well. I saw all of them during my pregnancy and both Dr. Foley and Dr. Hoenegger (as well as Dr. Girard) during delivery. The offices are the best run in the business. I've never waited more than 10 minutes, a tremendous difference from most other practices and the nursing staff is very knowledgeable and helpful. Sharon

I've been with Berkeley/Orinda Women's Health for the past year or so. You are correct that Dr. Sakamoto has left the practice. Dr. Sandhu was new, but has left the practice already. I'm not sure why, but I only saw her once; she was the one doctor in the practice that I just wasn't comfortable with.

My primary doctor there is Dr. Jill Foley, but I also saw Dr. Honneger and Dr. Girard throughout my pregnancy (I just delivered in August with Dr. Girard). I can't say enough good about them and their practice.

I can't speak to your desire to labor naturally, as my water broke and I had to be helped along with pitocin (and an epidural), but I can say that the doctors really listened to me and respected my desires throughout the entire process.

I would not worry about the shuffling. The doctors who are still there are all EXCELLENT - caring, competent, and extremely capable. michelle

I think the Sutter buy-out just happened (they gave me a fact sheet on it this Tuesday, but not when I was there last eight weeks ago), while Drs. Wharton and Sakamoto have been gone at least since January 2005 (when I first went there). They claim nothing will change as far as patient care, but I think it's too soon to tell. Over the last nine months (I just had a baby) I saw Drs. Honegger, Foley, Sandu, and Girard, as well as the practice's CNM. I liked all of them all right, although they tend to rush through appointments unless you practically block the door. Foley and Sandu are the best at actually sitting down and saying, ''Any questions?'' and actually waiting for a response! I'm surprised that no one called you back; I chose them due to their stellar response time and helpful office staff (Orinda office). New Mama

Re: Smart Obgyn (June 2005)
I recently saw Marilyn Honneger for the first time. Dr. Sakamoto was my obgyn but he left the practice and I switched to Dr. Honneger. I too am post-child bearing and was satisfied with my routine visit. Her bedside manner is pleasant and she is open to questions.

Re: Smart Obgyn (June 2005)
I have been seeing Dr. Kurt Wharton for three years. I think he is phenomenal. He has an excellent bedside manner and is a ''straight-shooter'' at the same time. I was his patient when he practiced with Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health and moved with him to his new practice. While I was a patient at BOWH, I saw Foley and Honneger; I did not care for Dr. Foley, I found her to be a bit brash. Honneger was okay. Good luck with finding someone. Satisfied with driving to Lafayette

Re: Smart Obgyn (June 2005)
I've been a patient of Dr. Girard's for many years and I think he is wonderful. Relaxed, funny, definitely a straight- shooter. I also saw Dr. Honegger, Dr. Foley and Dr. Wharton during my pregnancy. I think they're all great and couldn't be happier with this practice. Dr. Wharton delivered my child while he was still at Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health with Dr. Girard and Co.I find all of these doctors to be warm and caring and, importantly, always on time! In contrast to another person who found Dr. Foley ''brash,'' I found her to be really concerned and helpful. I had been given some advice to be more aggressive about trying to conceive and told my ''numbers'' (FSH, etc.)were ''bad.'' Dr. Foley thought that was ridiculous and that I'd be pregnant any moment. In fact, I was pregnant 2 weeks later and Dr. Foley prevented me from spending $1000 on the unneeded ''fertility workup.'' Dr. Wharton is also great and definitely worth a drive to Lafayette. Actually, I live in Albany and mostly choose to see Dr. Girard in Moraga because I work in Co. Co. County and it's easier to park at the Moraga office. Having said all this, I have to say I am a very low-maintenance patient. I don't know what it would be like if I had lots of questions. But Dr. Girard always has an visit in his office before my exam and asks if there's anything I want to talk about, and I've never felt like any of these doctors discourages questions. Big Fan of BOWH

Natural Birth Dr Thomas @ Alta Bates

May 2004

I am a very healthy 38 year old woman pregnant with my first child. My OBGYN is Dr. Angelyn Thomas. It is really important to me to have a delivery that is as free of intervention (i.e. drugs, i.v.'s, monitors, etc.) as possible. We have weighed our options carefully about where to have this baby and decided I will deliver at Alta Bates (Summit's Labor and Delivery is closing this summer). I really want to be able to move around while in labor particularly while pushing (I don't want to be restricted to being on my back while I push unless absolutely necessary). I am wondering if anyone has any experience with Dr. Thomas and her group, particularly around natural birth and her philosophy about intervention and natural child birth? Also any words of wisdom or recommendations about delivering at Alta Bates would be great also. Any information or advice will be welcome.

hi there, I'm also 38 and just had my first child in January at Summit w/ Dr. Thomas. She's really great about listening and adhering to your concerns/desires. If you feel especially strongly, type up a birthing plan ( and give it to the staff at the hospital -- I didn't need one w/ Dr. Thomas -- I told her beforehand what my wishes were (no meds, no episiotomies, nothing that might harm the baby in any way) -- w/ room for flexibility should the medical need arise. the childbirth prep nurse/instructor also advised to tell the nursing staff to not offer you meds (put it on your chart in case of shift change).

I also wanted to have all natural childbirth -- figuring billions of women have done so, so could I. unfortunately, it didn't work out that way (my water broke and the baby hadn't dropped, I wasn't dilating and stopped dilating as soon as they stopped inducing -- after 21 hours, I was only at 6cm) so we opted for the c-section -- which she already warned us might happen (9 lbs. plus baby, bicornuate uterus).

I don't know what Alta Bates is like but Summit had a full range of options -- their birthing rooms have showers (some w/ jacuzzi tubs) and the beds are multi-positional so you can get into any position you want. Unless you have an epidural (requires constant monitoring and they don't offer walking epidurals) you should be able to walk around.

I'm sure Dr. Thomas would honor your wishes unless it's medically inadvisable. My best advice is to request a second ultrasound a few weeks before your due date -- it enabled us to know how big the baby was (he was at 39 wk size at 36 weeks w/ head diameter at 10cm) and gave us a more accurate view of what delivery would be like and to think about our options. also, I have a friend who just gave birth after a healthy pregnancy and the baby turned out to have severe cerebral and respiratory problems and died 2 days later -- they didn't get the 2nd ultrasound and I wonder if it might have been helpful though I don't think it would have changed anything but you never know.

feel free to contact me if you have further questions and good luck.

I had Dr. Thomas birth my now 5-month old daughter. I found Dr. Thomas very open minded and willing to accomodate. I really love her. To my disappointment Dr. Thomas showed up only to catch the baby, she asked to be called when the baby was crowning. I was very surprised since I thought she was going to be with me for a big part of the labor but she showed up for the last 5 minutes. The nurse said that that is very common. It was the nurses who were there for the whole labor and let me labor the way I wanted to. Maybe find out what the nurses at Alta Bates are like. I hear wonderful things about them. Good Luck Anon

Dr. Thomas delivered my baby last September. I also wanted a drug-free labor with the ability to labor in the shower, on a birthing ball, etc. Dr. Thomas's advice was supportive (said many women can go through entire labor without an iv) but also suggested not to make any hard and fast rules regarding pain meds and see how the labor progressed. She encourages laboring in a variety of positions but requires that you are on your back for delivering the baby. I like Dr. Thomas and found her to be very competent and calm during the delivery. If you would like more information, my email is cmshafer [at] Good luck! Cindy

Good for you in seeking what you want! If you want as little intervention as possible in a hospital setting, I highly suggest you find a nurse-midwife. The things you desire are a midwife's goal. Also, most OBs and many midwives show up just to ''catch'' the baby- it's the labor and delivery nurses that really matter (and they sometimes change their style depending on who the OB/ Midwife is). Tell your doctor about your wishes and see how she responds. You'll get a sense of how often she catches babies with mom on her hands and knees! anon

Also recommended: Childbirth at Alta Bates , Childbirth at Summit , and La Clinica Ob Gyns

Re: ObGyn for a VBAC (May 2004)
I missed the original posting, so this response is a little late. I'm happy to say that I had a successful unmedicated VBAC two months ago at Alta Bates. My obstetrician, Marilyn Honegger, was exceptionally supportive throughout my pregnancy, not only of my desire to attempt a vaginal birth but also of my decision to forgo an amnio (I'm 40 years old). The other doctors in her office, East Bay Women's Health, also knew of and respected my choices. My situation may have been a little unusual in that my first baby was delivered by cesarian due to fetal distress rather than failure to progress, so I was a good candidate for a VBAC. Still, I highly recommend that you contact EBWH. In addition to supporting women's personal decisions about their births, it's a wonderful practice in countless other ways, with a well-organized office, kind and sensible nurses, and some really great doctors. Happy Mama

Re: ObGyn for Over 40 (August 2003)
Hi there, I'm only in my late 20s, but Dr. Marilyn Honegger at Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health is a very professional OB/GYN whom you may feel comfortable with. Dr. Foley, who is around my age, is my primary OB in the practice, but I saw Dr. Honegger a few times when Dr. Foley wasn't available for my pregnancy checkups and she made me feel very much at ease, which is no mean feat for an OB/GYN, given the nature of the job. I'd guess she's probably in her 50s and exudes a very calm, capable and friendly manner. Beth

Re: ObGyn for Over 40 (August 2003)
John Girard at Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health may be the guy for you. Very experienced, very funny and very gentle. He does a fair amount of OB, but is moving more toward gyn exclusively.

Re: Fibroid Surgery (June 2003)
Dr. Kurt Wharton at Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health did laparascopic surgery on me last fall. The surgery went fine, and I barely have a scar from the procedure. I have heard others say that he is a fine surgeon too for c-sections and other procedures.

Re: Fibroid Surgery (June 2003)
I would like to recommend my OB/GYN, Angelyne Thomas, she is also a surgeon and removed a fibroid from me last year. She is very gentle, thorough, patient, and knowledgable. She's in Oakland, her number is (510) 653-0846. Her office is on 34th St, and she works out of Summit Medical Center.

February 2003

Hi -- I just found out that I am pregnant, and I am looking for an OB who spends more than five minutes per visit with patients and who delivers most of her babies. A friend of mine recommended Dr. Angelyn Thomas. I would love to hear about people's experiences with her, especially when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. Thanks! AD

Hi, I don't regularly see Angelyn Thomas, but am a patient of her partner Dr. Gentry. While I was pregnant, though, I saw Dr. Thomas around the office and she was very friendly and took the time to get to know me. I also saw her once, when Dr. Gentry was away. I was pleased with her. good luck, Michelle

I have been seeing Dr. Angelyn Thomas for about a year now and am completely happy. I plan to have her deliver my next baby. She spends a lot of time with her patients and is wonderful about answering questions. I have found her to be flexible, warm, intelligent, and a consumate professional. I hope this helps. Rebecca

Dr. Thomas is extremely professional. Despite running a busy practice I found her willing and happy to answer all of my questions (which were many) and address my concerns regarding my pregnancy. She was there for the birth and did a fantastic job leading the team. It was a bit of a stressful delivery at the end but Dr. Thomas was very capable and confident in her ability. I recommend her highly. dr. thomas is wonderful- she has been my gyn for the past 3 years-last year i became pregnant and she was my ob- she always took her time with me, answered all my questions and was very caring. my labor was rather difficult in the end and she was very level-headed and professional.if you have any questions please contact me

October 2002

I'm interested in recent experiences and references specifically on Dr. James Sakamoto of the Berkeley/Orinda Womens Health Group. I have read the previous recommendations on the website regarding Drs. Foley and Honegger of his group, but am scheduled to meet with Dr. Sakamoto. Any info about his attitude towards interventional aids for childbirth, bedside manners, etc. would be appreciated. Thanks. Mable

I saw Dr. Sakamoto a number of times during my pregnancy and after my child's birth. I was struck by his reassuring and clear way of communicating. He was very receptive to all my questions and had a great bedside manner with both me and my husband who came to the prenatal visits with me. Also, he was the doctor on call while my friend was in labor, and my friend had glowing things to say about how he handled the birth of her son. I would recommend Dr Sakamoto. Deirdre

My doctor at Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health is Dr. Girard, but Dr. Sakamoto delivered my second baby. He is not my favorite of the doctors at that practice. Once in my second pregnancy at 33 weeks I was feeling regular contractions and was worried and I called the practice to report it. The nurse on the phone was concerned enough to say that Dr. Sakamoto the doctor on call would call me back, but he never did. I called back again, and she told me she had faxed my chart over, and she would try to get him to call me back again. I ended up coming in to see someone else, but my next appointment with Dr. Sakamoto I asked him about it and he told me they must not have faxed over your chart which was not true, since I had seen it in the hand of the doctor I eventually saw. Additionally, I felt as though he should have taken responsibility for the error in any case. I also called him after the birth of my second child when I was passing very large clots, since he was the doctor on call, and he took a *very* (nearly two hours)long time to call back, and then told me not to worry about it based on nothing at all. I decided not to see him at all during my third pregnancy, and was very happy with the practice otherwise. Anon.

I love Dr. Sakamoto. He wasn't my primary doctor at that practice, but I would pick him in the future, now that I know all of them. (However, all the docs there are good.) He's a sweet man, who knows his stuff. He was the one who made the call on Day 3!! of my induced labor to up the pitosin to high enough levels so that I finally responded and did not need a C- section. Pick him. Irene D Irene D

Sakamoto is excellent--clinically and surgically saavy with a nice bedside manner. He would be my first choice after Richard Rudd, M. D.

Dr. Kurt Wharton is my wonderful OBGYN who is part of the Berkely-Orinda Women's Health, of which Dr. Sakamoto belongs to as well.

During my pre-natal care, I had to see all of the doctors, Dr. Sakamoto being one of them. I highly recommend all of the doctors in this practice (especially Dr. Wharton). Although extremly friendly and professionally, I did not find Dr. Sakamoto's bedside manner to be as nurturing as Dr. Wharton and Dr. Jill Folly. He seems to be very clinical. Another friend of mine who delivered with Dr. Wharton also had similar issues with Dr Sakamoto's bedside manner.

He is an excellent doctor though and I think it might just be a matter of personality fit, therefore you would have to see for yourself if he is a good fit for you. However in terms of recommending a practice, I think you would find you would be in great hands with the practice and doctors here in general. Anon

My wife is out of town, otherwise I am sure she would respond . . We think Dr. Sakamoto is fantastic. Great manner, great listener, very flexible. We switched to him for the birth of our second child (the first was with a midwife) and couldn't have been happier. My wife continues to use him for GYN. Stephen

I am a patient of Dr. Wharton's but Dr. Sakamoto was the doctor on call when I went into labor. He was the one doctor from the practice who I had not met so I was very nervous when I found out that he would be the one delivering my child. However, I found him to be wonderful. I had a few complications during labor and in addition to that my husbands father passed away shortly after our son was born. Dr. Sakamoto was very kind to us and spent a lot of time supporting us both as new parents and my husband in the loss of his dad. You would be in good hands with Dr. Sakamoto. Amy

I saw Dr.Sakamoto several times during my pregnancy and have seen him once since, though Dr. Honegger is my primary physician in that practice. He has a very nice ''bedside manner'' and is a thorough clinician. I have had only good experiences with him. Maria

James Sakamoto is one of the finest doctors I have ever encountered, and I have been fortunate in consulting some extraordinary physicians. He is gentle,caring,and sensitive, highly knowledgeable, and smart. He does not hurry you through an appointment, and gauges your understanding--psychological and informational (i.e.,as a matter of health/medical science)--of his assessments and recommendations and acts accordingly, taking greater care and/or going into greater depth as the situation-- and you--require. Dr. Sakamoto has been my OB/GYN over 20 years, shepherding me through miscarriages, 3 pregnancies,the specter of cancer, and now menopause. I have an ongoing OB/GYN medical condition that requires periodic consultation with Dr. Sakamoto. Twice in the past year I have failed to check in and report--once because of a family crisis and more recently because of the death of a parent. In both instances, he initiated the required follow through. This man is a highly skilled and caring physician, and a rare human being. Consider yourself fortunate to be able to secure his services. Appreciative, Long-Time Patient

Hi Mabel, I've been seeing Dr. Sakamoto for 4 years now. I saw him througout the pregnancy/birth of my first daughter almost 4 years ago (although Dr. Girard delivered) and then he was my OB for my last pregnancy, which was a complicated twin pregnancy... (he ended up referring me out to a perinatologist) In my dealings with him, I was always very happy. He is very traditional, though, and errs on the conservative side. Some may even call his attitudes towards certain things ''old school.'' Please feel free to email me if you have any specific questions, but I would definitely recommend him and the rest of the practice! rileynme

I really like Dr. Sakamoto. Like you, I'd initially called the practice he belongs to because of the posts here about Dr. Honnegar. She was busy, so my first appointment was with him. I found him to be wonderful. His bedside manner is great - I've never felt rushed - and he is very genuine. I've seen all the folks in that practice now many times each (I just had a baby last month), and I like them all, but I definitely prefer him whenever I make an appointment. Maryanne M

Dr. Sakamoto was the attending doctor for my daughter's birth at Alta Bates. I had not met him before the labor and birth but I was very happy that he supported my requests (no questions asked) for intermittent monitoring, no continuous IV, no meds, squatting almost to the end of the labor, etc. when the nurse did not want to initially. She said she saw very few unmedicated births.

I had planned a homebirth but moved to the hospital since the baby came early and I had no regrets at all. Dr. S. was respectful and I and the people who supported me created an environment where I was in charge. happy mom

I highly recommend Dr Sakamoto. My baby is now 11 months. He is sensitive, has excellent bed-side manners. comes highly recommended by my Ob/Gyn doctor-friend, and is willing to work with low interventions. When my husband suddenly left me during the pregnancy, Dr Sakamoto was very supportive and he helped to make the birth as low stress as possible (he promised to stay beyond his shift to help me with a VBAC). Yvonne

I love him. I cannot tell you the nightmare he pulled me from. 1st time pregnancy, young OB overreacts: forces an early induction and then announces that she is leaving the practice and won't be delivering baby. Girard and Sakamoto came in and told me to go home, wondered what I was there for anyway. 18 days later Sakamoto was there for the delivery. (of course its really the nurses that get you TO the delivery, not the OB!!!) Calm, level headed and warm. He did not perform an episiotomy, though afterward he discovered a fairly large tear on the inner vulvo -vaginal wall that needed a bunch of stitches. 4 weeks following delivery, I needed a deep cervical excision. This he did with precision, and I healed far better than my previous excision 5 years earlier. I can't say enough good things. ljennings

I am a patient with Berkeley/Orinda Women's Health - Dr. Foley is my primary OB, but I saw Dr. Sakamoto while she was on maternity leave. In total, I saw him three times and loved him. He was kind, listened, extremely friendly, and very attentive to my needs. I almost wished he was my primary!!! Cynthia

James Sakamoto wasn't my OB/GYN but I met him several times during my pregnancy, and when I finally went into labor (several days late) I was enormously relieved that he was the doctor on call. I think his bedside manner is fantastic; he's caring, conscientious, and extremely gentle. (He's also fairly blunt about not wanting his patients to gain too much weight, which didn't bother me too much but did annoy some friends of mine. I don't know if this would be an issue for you.) I love my regular OB/GYN, but I'd switch to Dr. Sakamoto in a heartbeat. anon

I think Dr. Sakamoto is a good clinician and is good with typically sized women. I am overweight saw him only twice, but got two rather unpleasant lectures about my weight from him, both unasked for and inappropriate to a nine months pregnant woman who was not his regular patient. I also was unable to get him to handle a skin infection that I had because he told me it was caused by my weight and wouldn't go away until I lost weight.This was both wrong and unhelpful. The other doctors in the practice were less judge mental, particularly Dr. Honneger who prescribed something that worked for the skin infection and although she told me at the beginning of the pregnancy what additional risks I might have as an overweight mom, asked if I wanted to discuss it further and moved on. Anon.

I also recommend Dr. Sakamoto, and I wanted to respond specifically to his thoughts on intervention. Dr. Sakamoto has been by ob/gyn for 6 years, through the pregnancy and birth of 2 healthy kids. While he is definitely a medical doctor, I found him to be very much inclined to let the body of a healthy pregnant woman do its work without intervention. My first daughter was breech at 39 weeks -- many doctors would have scheduled a C-section immediately. Instead, he and Dr. Wharton attempted an external version, which was successful, and my daughter was delivered vaginally. I also asked him what he would have done had my daughter remained breech, and he said that he still wouldn't have done a c-section, because in his experience, many breech babies turn in labor. I found this to be a great attitude. I think in some circumtances (if the baby is under 8 lbs) he will also deliver a vaginal breech. He also won't push epidurals or anything.

In my first pregnancy, when I started bleeing at 8 weeks on a Sunday, he called me back immediately and met me at his office soon after. I have always found him very responsive.

I like all the doctors ot Berkeley/Orinda and I am very happy with Dr. Sakamoto. Julie

For what it is worth, although I have not myself had a personal experience with Dr. Sakamoto, I have been a Doula for about 10 years now, and over that time I have heard nothing but great things about him. Much more so than about any other OB/GYN in the area. From the things I have heard, he appears to truly respect birthing women and the birth process. If I am not mistaken, he has a low c-section rate too. Good luck to you. marianne

April 2002

I called to make an appointment with someone in the Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health OB/GYN practice after reading lots of praise for Drs. Honneker, Girard, and Sakamoto in the archives, but they've scheduled me with a Dr. Foley, who's not mentioned in the archives. Anybody seen him/her? Praise? Criticism? Elise

I got a recommendation from a friend who is an RN and delivered her son with Dr. Honegger, to the Berkeley-Orinda practice.

I too was scheduled with Dr. Foley, since Dr. Honegger is semi-retired. I've been seeing her since October for pre-natal care and my overall opinion is that she's great.

Dr. Foley is the newest doctor in the practice and is quite young, I'd guess she's in her mid-thirties if that. Her general manner in office visits is what I'd describe as 'kindly-professional'. She makes good eye-contact with me when we speak, and listens to my concerns, answers my questions and is very upfront about informing me about options in my care.

I'm taking Bradley Method classes with my husband and once we got halfway through the class sequence, we had a huge long list of questions to ask her about Alta Bates and her own policies and philosophies about birth.

I was very pleased to find that in her answers she was receptive and understanding of our desire to have a natural childbirth and very supportive of the decision. She also didn't strike me as being a doctor who is overly fond of pushing various interventions on a couple who doesn't want them. Her attitude was very open and her general policy seems to be that barring emergency needs, most decisions regarding labor and childbirth should be discussed between patient and doctor. If you're expecting and would like more details about what we talked about, feel free to email me:)

My only complaints about the practice (the Berkeley office) as a whole, is that like so many other practices, appointments are scheduled in 15 minute slots, and it's devilishly difficult to get through to the front desk to make an appointment. It took me 4 weeks to get through to a human being at the desk to make my initial appointment, after leaving voicemail after voicemail with the receptionist.

Also, while Dr. Foley is very accomodating and willing to answer my questions, the practice sees a lot of patients and if my 15 minute slot starts to run over, she can occasionally seem rushed, especially if she's in the practice alone on any given day as can happen.

I'm feeling confident however, that we chose the right doctor for our needs, despite the annoyances of dealing with the front desk staff and the occasional brusque nurse. Beth

Dr. Foley is wonderful. I saw her a few times during my routine visits to their office for my last pregnancy and always found her warm and attentive. I had severe sciatica at the end of my pregnancy and had some questions about inducing b/c of it. I had a lot of concerns about induction, and Dr. Foley spoke with me about it, answering my concerns and questions in a thoughtful and caring manner, but w/o pushing me towards or away from induction. I felt like she really listened to me and gave me the information I needed to make an informed decision. Jenifer

Dr. Foley is the newest doctor in the practice. I had an appointment with her several weeks ago and really liked her -- she was both knowledgeable and very friendly/kind (I'm 7 months pregnant so am now seeing all the doctors in that practice, since any one of them could deliver my baby). Dr. Honegger, my primary OB, told me that Dr. Foley was very heavily recruited by various high-profile practices in SF and the East Bay, including my former WONDERFUL SF-based practice called Bayspring. Apparently Dr. Foley turned down Bayspring to join the Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health group, even though she lives in SF. All good news for your choice of doctor and office! - Stacy

I saw Dr Foley a few times during my recent pregnancy. I think she is really great. She isn't mentioned in the archives because she is new to the practice but I felt she was just as good as the other Dr's in the practice. She probably took more time with me during my appointments than any of the other Dr's in the practice. Gabrielle

I am a patient of Dr. Honegger's, but Jill Foley attended the birth of my son. Dr. Foley was absolutely great, I really can't say enough about her. She spent hours with me during my labor and was encouraging and patient with my very long pushing phase (3 hours), never once mentioning the possibility of a c-section. When my doula asked her about episiotomies she replied that she doesn't do them. y husband claims that her calm demeanor had a hugely positive effect on his nervousness at facing his first experience in the labor/delivery room. I too felt so secure in her competent care. I feel that having her as my doctor largely contributed to my positive birth experience, mostly because of her caring, calm and optimistic attitude. Prior to my birth I had two office appointments with her and again she was wonderful. She didn't try to rush me out and answered all my questions, even though it was obvious by the crowd in the waiting room that she was very busy. I HIGHLY recommend her. Dinah Mattick

My husband and I both immediately liked Dr. Foley the first time we met her. She is very personable. However, I had a pregnancy that was threatening to become high-risk (which fortunately it did not) and I didn't feel comfortable that she had the experience (or perhaps the attention to detail?) to follow up. I switched to another practice. In one instance, I had to remind her that I needed an important follow-up test for a cvs. Another time, I called her to have test results passed on to another doctor, and instead of faxing the results to them, she left them on my home answering machine which, of course the other office wouldn't accept. So, I guess it would depend on whether you need routine care from her or something more.

I would also stay very on top of any paperwork that you need to have sent anywhere from that office - I had a battle every single time I either tried to get something sent, or tried to get copies myself. One time, I was told that they would fax something right away, then told that they needed more information, then told that they were NEVER allowed to fax medical information, and that if I wanted it right away would have to pick it up myself in the Orinda office (where they keep the records), and this was just one such instance. In one case, I actually had to get the lab to send test results because Berkeley Orinda Womens Health couldn't get their act together!

I just started seeing Dr. Foley for a new pregnancy. She was recommended to me by my first child's pediatrician who had seen another Dr. at Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health for her recent pregnancy and birth. Dr. Foley is new to the practice, which is probably why you couldn't find info on her. I have only seen her once, but I feel very comfortable with her and confident of her skills. She handled all my questions (I have some concerns about the pregnancy) with sensitivity and evident knowledge. I was also very impressed with the efficiency of the office, without making me feel rushed (but I've only been to one visit, like I said). Dr. Foley is relatively young, in her mid-thirties maybe, which I like. I'm not sure how available the other, more established Dr's are, but I'd recommend that you give her a try. Jessica


I couldn't be happier with the Ob/Gyn practice I belong to: Berkeley- Orinda Women's Health, and their Berkeley office is accross Alta Bates. My primary doctor is Marilyn Honegger. She has delivered my first son, 18 months old, and is now responsible for the pre-natal care of my second child under way. She is one of the most professional, knowledgable, respectful, caring, and sincere people I have ever met. I have had the same type of experience with the other doctors -- Dr. Gerard, Dr. Sakamoto and Dr. Wharton. I moved from Asia 7 months pregnant and was referred to their practice by a friend. They suggest you meet all the doctors during pre-natal care since it is the doctor on call who will be present during labor. As a result, I had a hard time to select my primary doctor... I find the nurses and staff equaly nurturing and respectful. Regarding office wait, I find that there is no such thing as the on time appointment. Nonetheless, the wait at their office is fairly short. The longest I've waited is 20 minutes, and if the doctors are going to be substantially late due to emergencies, the office notifies you immediatelly. Their number in Berkeley is 510-845-4200 and Orinda is 925-254-9000. Good luck! Valeria

I go to Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health and see Kurt Wharton, I like the practice very much (4 drs. and one nurse practitioner) Of all of the drs. there is only one that I didn't connect with. I expressed these feelings to Dr. Wharton before when I was pregnant with my son and was told not too worry, if that Dr. was on call when I went into labor they would make arrangements for someone else to handle it. I'm sure that dr. is very capable, and I know people who like him very much, so I'm not suggesting that he is an inferior dr - just not right for me. The long and the short is that it is a very good practice and I'm sure that you will be able to find a fit that's right for you.

I switched to this practice when my private practice OB-GYN left the area. A trusted friend recommended I see Dr. Wharton, and he is now my official OB-GYN. I especially appreciate his respect, warmth, knowledge, and communication skills. During my second pregnancy in 1998, I was high-risk for a while and got to see and know all of the members of the group fairly well. Of course, each has his/her own unique bed-side manner, but I always felt I was in the best of hands. I remember Dr. Sakamoto's attention to detail, Dr. Girard's conversation, and Dr. Honegger's confidence. Dr. Honegger ended up delivering my son. He came into the world fast, and Dr. Honegger was wonderfully calm, efficient, reassuring, and performed the necessary episiotomy very well. Also, the nurses and the front-office staff are easy to work with and always helpful. Best of luck.

I had my two chidren with them (the last one 3 month ago)and I am very appreciative of them. It is a small practice of 4 doctors all nice : a woman, Dr Honneger, very good, who I saw practicing during the delivery of a friend of mine, my regular doctor, the oldest of the practice (early fifties)Dr John Girard soft and gentle but maybe too cool, Dr Sakamoto, very professionaland pleasant, and ready to spend time explaining , and finally, Dr Wharton, the youngest (early forties) who was twice the one in call when I had my babies, who is apparently quite bright and well-known, but a little bit too commercial for my taste (smiles like you are his best friend). In any case, I believe they are all competent and there is really none of them that I would not recommend.Then it is a question of personal matter ( Dr Wharton did not push me to have an epidural, I know that Dr Girard is pro-epidural, and Dr Honneger was present very early during the non-medicated labor of my friend and was very supportive the whole time). You can be sure that you will have one of them for your delivery because they don't share the in-calls with any other practice. They will also have you meet with each of them so that you will have a chance to know everybody. The administrative staff is nice too, but I don't particularly care for the nurses at their Berkeley office. Good luck. I am ready to answer any other question that you would want to ask.

I am now pregnant with my second son, who is due May 2, and I have had such mixed experiences with B-O Women's Health that I am looking for new doctors. Dr. Honegger is great, but she's apparently working only half-time and I've only seen her once and talked to her one other time, though we had weird amnio results and had lots of testing. I also liked Dr. Wharton, though I've only met him once and talked to him on the phone a few times. I did not care for Dr. Sakamoto, whom I saw most recently; he was rude and patronizing to me. Since the main doctor getting raves in the reviews was Dr. Honegger, I am not happy about having less than a 25% chance of having her deliver my baby. The practice is also incredibly busy. I've been rescheduled a couple of times and apparently they lost a lot of the Orinda staff recently, so when I asked Dr. Sakamoto about test results that should have been in my file weeks ago, they weren't in there yet. The testing that was to have been done on my husband was done wrong because they filled out the form incompletely, and I still haven't heard officially about the sex of my son (we all saw the penis clearly at the u/s), though I have called specifically to ask. On the good side, the two staff at the desk in Berkeley are very nice even though they are obviously totally stressed, and this is a big difference from the Matlock/Kanwit practice that delivered my first son.

My Ob-Gyn is Dr. Wharton at Berkeley-Orinda Womens Health whom I highly recommend. I was referred to him by my primary care physician Dr. John Jones of Alta Bates Medical Associates whom I have the utmost confidence in. I had originally hoped to have a female obstetrician but when I first met Dr. Wharton he made me feel so comfortable and was so gentle that I felt extremely lucky to have him as my Dr. He always allowed time at the end of each exam for me to ask questions and was never condescending. I was lucky enough to have him deliver my daughter and everything went great. I had told him I didn't want an episiotomy (who does!) and he really seemed to make that a priority. He always put my mind at ease whenever I had a concern. The other drs in the practice were all very friendly with the exception of Dr. Honneger (I only met her once however), ironic since she is the only female and I had originally preferred a female dr. She was rather rough when she examined me-really pressed hard on my abdomon to determine the position the baby was in, none of the other drs. did this. But I would have been comfortable with any one of them delivering my baby. They were all very confident and apparently they all share the same views so if you get someone other than your main dr. delivering your baby you wont have to worry about things not going the way you want them to.

Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health is part of the Alta-Bates Medical Group. John Girard delivered our daughter. She was seven weeks premature, so it was a tense situation. They're nice people, easy to talk to, listen well. They make sure that their OB patients see each of the doctors in the group, so that when D-Day comes and you get whoever is on call, you are not treated by a stranger.

From: G

i second the recommendation for john girard. he is my doc, and successfully saw me through 5 pregnacies. he takes time, makes sure questions are answered, is generally supportive of what your wishes are, and is willing to listen to his patients. the other docs in the practice are good as well, and you meet them all in the course of the pregnancy--no surprises at delivery time.

I can recomend highly Marilyn Honnegger at Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health. However, She is in a group with three men and you may or may not get her for a delivery. For what it's worth, I found that the men in this group (in particular Kurt Wharton) to be very kind and helpful (in fact, perhaps a little more sympathetic than the female OB I had used for pregnancy of my first child). They take FHP/Take Care and deliver at Alta Bates.


re: ob/gyn. I would highly recommend the practice (also at 2999 Regent) of Dr.'s Sakamoto, Wharton, Girard and Honnegger (female). I don't know off hand if they are taking new patients but I have been with them through routine care and almost two full pregnancies and could not be happier. The number is 845-4200 in Berkeley. They also have an office in Orinda.


I have a recommendation for a female OB/GYN. Her name is Marilyn Honneger of the Berkeley-Orinda Women's Health group. Her office has 3 other docs who are all great. They are in the Huntmont building at 2999 Regent St. on the 7th floor suite 701. 510-845-4200. As their name implies, they also have an office in Orinda, and they work out of Alta Bates Hospital. I've had my two daughters with this group, and I feel very comfortable with their practice.


I used Marilyn Honegger for my first child's delivery and liked HER very much; however, I have one caveat for anybody who goes with a practice like this where you may not get your primary Ob/Gyn for the delivery. You should make sure you like ALL the doctors you may get. The doctors in Honegger's practice were all great; however, they had this arrangement with another practice of three doctors where you might get one of them for the delivery (about 10% chance, they told me). (This was two years ago; they may have changed this practice by now.)

Well, it ended up that one of those other three doctors was awful. And guess who I got stuck with for my delivery! I could go on and on about how terrible this doctor was and how everything about my delivery went against my hopes and beliefs and about how I ended up with a totally unnecessary 4th-degree tear.

If I ever have another child it will be with a doctor or better yet, a midwife, who promises to be there for the delivery.

I had an extremely difficult pregnancy requiring 17 weeks of bedrest and several stays at the hospital starting at 20 weeks, and I had Dr. Marilyn Honegger as my OB so I can say without a doubt that she is exceptional. I also dealt with Drs. Wharton, Girard and Sakamoto frequently and found all of them to be wonderful with great bedside manners. I highly recommend this practice to anyone seeking terrific OB care. They have offices in both Berkeley and Orinda.

From: Jeanne

I am very interested in information about how you got PacificCare to pay for a midwife. I had my first child in 5/95 with Marilyn Honegger in the Alta Bates Medical Group. I had 2 doulas, Janaki Costello and her assistant, Anna, at the delivery and it really helped. I had pre-eclampsia that did not clear up. Honegger discharged me too early, 24 hours after the birth, and I had to go back into the hospital a couple of days later. I almost had a stroke. I think that my OB could have kept me in the hospital longer if she had fought with the insurance company. I am planning for my second child and would like to use a midwife. Did you use an OB with a midwife? I would appreciate any information.

Dr. Sakamoto delivered my son 3 years and performed a D 1 year ago after a miscarriage. I really like him and his bedside manner. I would use him for any of my OB/GYN needs. (I also like Dr. Wharton in his practice, but have only seen him for prenatal exams.)