ObGyn for High-risk Pregnancy

Parent Q&A

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  • High Risk OB Recommendations?

    (14 replies)

    I’m 39 and 14 weeks pregnant with my second child. I have hemophilia and a few other conditions that place me in the “high risk” category. I loved my previous OB, but he has since moved out of state so I’m back at square one for this pregnancy. I live in Oakland but have been advised that very few OBs have admitting privileges to Alta Bates and that the hospital hasn’t been updated in quite a while. I’m currently being seen by an OB at John Muir along with the team of hematologists in perinatologists, but I haven’t been pleased with the care I’ve received. I considered switching to UCSF, but found out that those in the high risk category are assigned a provider based on the provider’s specializations and on the day of delivery might be seen by one of 50 different providers. This feels very impersonal and concerning as I have several risk factors that need to be weighed very delicately and having absolutely no prior relationship with the person delivering me seems very impersonal and scary. Traveling all the way down to Stanford seems impractical and potentially unsafe. Does anyone have any high risk suggestions in the East Bay that I haven’t considered? I have Anthem PPO for my insurance. Any tips are very welcome!

    I'm considered high risk and being seen at a newish clinic in Berkeley (right next to Alta Bates) called Millie. My midwife is Talia Borgo. I don't know what types of high risk pregnancies they feel comfortable supporting but they deliver at Alta Bates (though they're still getting all their midwives admission privileges, not everyone has them). I had Anthem PPO last year and I went to see them for a previous pregnancy. 

    I went to UCSF for my high risk pregnancy. It's true, you don't have a dedicated OB. You are seen by a team of doctors and it basically changes every single time. While I suppose it is a bit impersonal, I didn't feel like I wasn't getting quality care. I find that they are very good at conveying information between providers and they are also very good about listening to patient concerns. If I have another high risk pregnancy, I will return to UCSF.

    Sutter East Bay does have high risk OBs (they're in the Maternal & Fetal Medicine department). I believe I had one or two appointments with Janet M. Goldman (who has admitting privileges to Alta Bates), who seemed well-informed and nice, but I had to transfer to UCSF or Stanford to have access to a Level IV NICU after delivery. 

    If you do end up deciding between UCSF and Stanford, I think you should give UCSF some real consideration, just due to distance. Stanford does have offices here in the east bay, but in the last few weeks of your pregnancy, you have to do all your appointments from Stanford hospital, so that would be a lot of commuting. Also, once you give birth, it might be a little easier to be closer to home during your hospital stay, because of your other child. I had a friend who saw an OB with Stanford and she ultimately gave birth at Alta Bates with a different OB because she was not able to get to Stanford in time to deliver.

    I'm AMA but otherwise not high risk, but can share that I have been very happy with the Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation practice on Milvia St. My OB is Dr. Madhavan, who is wonderful, but I've also seen some of the others over the course of my pregnancies and have liked them all. They all have admitting privileges at Alta Bates, which I also only have positive experiences of. It may not look as new as, say, the UCSF Mission Bay hospital, but I've had good experiences and no complaints. 

    My pregnancy was uncomplicated, so can’t speak to the specifics of high-risk care (tho I was technically high risk bc delivering at age 38) but I had a great experience with the OB team at Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation and have known several others who had good experiences with them, including one friend who is pregnant now while managing an autoimmune disorder. They are also a group practice but more like a dozen OBs than 50. My primary OB was Rebecca Taub who trained at UCSF, but I had positive experiences with everyone I saw in the practice. My friend with the more complex pregnancy sees Dr. Pahlavan who I’ve heard great things about. The group does all their deliveries at Alta Bates, they are midwife-led but you can request an OB attend your delivery.  

    One other thing: my experience delivering at AB was very positive, did not feel like the hospital needed updating (tho it’s true it’s not as shiny as UCSF), the staff nurses on L&D and NICU where the baby spent one night were all wonderful! 

    I highly recommend UCSF. I originally was getting prenatal care through Kaiser Oakland but got referred to UCSF because of a serious complication, and it was like night and day. You don’t always see the same provider but they are all excellent and extremely thorough. My Kaiser appointments with OB were all like 10 min so I didn’t get to know her anyway, versus UCSF appointments were scheduled for 40 minutes and the doctor never left until I had all my questions answered. They have so many experts on specific health issues, and one of them will oversee your care if needed- they found out I had HELLP syndrome (which Kaiser missed) and they have a doctor who’s the world expert on the condition. I only met her once but every Dr I saw after consulted with her and she oversaw my care. Same with the nurses and hospital staff. Since they are a teaching hospital things can take longer, but I think they are more thorough for that reason. 

    I have a blood clotting disorder (history of DVTs & PEs), was very high risk in both my deliveries, and delivered both times at UCSF. I would absolutely recommend them for your situation, if you can become comfortable with the unknown regarding who will ultimately be there for delivery. In the lead up to delivery, my UCSF hematologist, Dr. Andrew Leavitt - who is absolutely phenonemal (the best doctor I have ever interacted with - I'd probably try to continue to see him even if I moved out of state!) - worked closely with the main UCSF perinatologist I was seeing to determine a plan of action for the delivery (which included a planned induction to mangage care appropriately). I was part of the discussion all along the way, and felt like all of the UCSF staff I interacted with cared deeply that I was comfortable with the plan (and various contingencies), and were open to discussing the data and research behind their recommendations. When it came time for delivery the team at UCSF assigned nurses who were highly experienced in caring for high risk cases, and had specific experience in handling patients with blood clotting issues and the accompying medical needs (e.g. at one point I was connected up to three different IV poles). While the doctors did change over the course of my labor during shift changes, it was clear that everyone coming into my room was well-briefed on the specifics of my case and needs. And when my second delivery accererated faster than planned, the most experienced doctors (at least three of them!) were in my room in minutes to help manage the situation. All in all, I felt like I got world-class medical care at UCSF, and that they were very capable of handling my relatively challenging medical situation.

    Glad to message further on it, if you'd like!

    Hi, I had a high risk pregnancy that was uneventful until labor. Then a lot of things went wrong: emergency C-section, NICU. (Baby got out within three days and is completely healthy now.) OBs at Sutter's Milvia practice were great throughout  pregnancy, during the nightmarish delivery, and afterwards in follow-up. Yes, Alta Bates' rooms are older but they are also big and you get one to yourself, with a separate bed for your partner or loved one. All this to say, if you can get in with the Sutter OBs, Alta Bates might be worth considering 

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! I also live in Oakland, was considered high-risk in pregnancy (autoimmune disease), and delivered my first child at UCSF last spring—I was really, really impressed with the care I received.  At first, I was put off by the idea of being matched with any provider. I deciding to participate in the Centering Pregnancy program, which I highly recommend: I was placed in a small cohort of women with similar due dates, and we met as a group led by an OBGYN, midwife, and midwifery student. In these two hour sessions, we'd spend one hour on prenatal education, and one hour peeling off for individual check-ins with the providers while the rest of the group chatted. I really appreciated getting to know our two providers so well, and I found the insights and support of the group invaluable (we're still in touch!). I happened to get really lucky: my OB admitted me when I was in labor, and my midwife ultimately delivered my baby. That said, even if those two amazing women hadn't been part of the birth, I would still rave about their care and attention (both visited me in the weeks that followed when my baby needed time in the NICU).

    As soon as I was established in the Centering program, my two providers immediately referred me to a high-risk OB who followed me throughout pregnancy and postpartum. While that doctor wasn't present at my birth (and we primarily met by Zoom), she was an invaluable advocate—when I needed to see specialists, she set up appointments for me in record time, she communicated frequently with my OB and midwife, she gave me a cell phone number to reach her anytime, and her notes and recommendations on my chart impacted my care when I delivered. Postpartum, when I was dealing with really rough breastfeeding challenges, she worked with the hospital's lactation consultants to refer me to a breastfeeding medicine doctor. It was clear to me that her reputation carried weight; she made things happen for me instantly and commanded a lot of respect in the UCSF community—I was super grateful to have her on my team.

    Hope this helps! Feel free to contact me if you'd like specific names of providers.

    I had a high risk pregnancy at UCSF and had a great experience. The delivery nurses and doctors were amazing. I felt that my safety but also my dignity were their top priority and my wishes were respected to the extent possible. I think you will be in good hands even if it is a doctor who hasn’t seen you before.

    I know you said east bay but the best doc in the Bay Area for this is Dr. Laurie Green bar none. If you can get on her panel you’re in excellent hands. She’s in SF. 

    Another response in support of UCSF. It's true that you won't necessarily see the same providers each visit, but the care and facilities are exceptional. I established care at four different Bay Area clinics throughout my pregnancy (due to moving and then later due to significant, high-risk complications... this includes the UBCP MFMs in Berkeley, which I do not recommend), and not once did I feel safe and supported until I was at UCSF. I'm planning to get pregnant again and will automatically be considered high risk, and I'm excited to be starting with them from the jump. 

    Don’t have a specific recommendation to make, sadly—I was in a similar boat a few months ago and ended up in John Muir. I’m here to say do your best to stay with Alta Bates. They are amazing and deliver many many many more babies annually than UCSF, including high risk. While my doctor was good (Monardo), my overall experience with her office, the other OBs in the group (vital), and the John Muir hospital were really, really not good. I ended up in the emergency room at Alta Bates a week postpartum (because one of OBs at John Muir was outright negligent in the discharge process—truly, that’s how women die in this county at Third World rates), was admitted to the maternity unit even though I didn’t deliver there (they let me bring the baby along so I won’t lose breastfeeding—they are beyond great, really),  and it was night and day compared to John Muir. In hindsight I should have maybe suffered through the Sutter Milvia factory farm just so I could deliver at AB.

    I would try to go to Alta Bates or UCSF. 
     

    I have had two high risk pregnancies. (One GD and one diabetes). The second time, I was happy with the care I received from the Sutter East Bay OBGYN group (with privileges at Alta Bates). I see a regular OBGYN, and also a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist, and I feel the MFM is much better than my previous MFMs. And my previous experience at Alta Bates delivering was pretty good.

    That said, unless you have a scheduled c-section, I think you’re going to get whomever is on-call as your doctor for delivery with any practice. There aren’t really any drs that run a small practice who go on call for each patient anymore, I don’t think. At Alta Bates, the on-call OBs seem to have an MFM they can consult with remotely.

  • High risk OB-GYN (non-kaiser)

    (8 replies)

    Hello,

    I'm looking for a skilled OBGYN with an excellent bedside manner, for a high risk pregnancy.

    I have type 2 diabetes, and had a previous emergency csection (which healed with a lot of pain and still troubles me years later). I would like someone who is very skilled and experienced with high risk pregnancies, who will do a good job on a repeat csection (I am unlikely to be a vbac candidate, sadly), and who will act as a partner with me to get me through a difficult pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby.

    I was excited about Dr. Kurt Wharton and Dr. Bill Issenberg based on many great reviews here, but sadly it seems neither is still seeing new OB patients in the east bay.

    Thank you.

    I'd suggest going to UCSF Mission Bay. They are the best of the best.

    If you’re willing to cross the bridge, Dr Donna Wiggins at Golden Gate OB is stellar. I had a high-risk pregnancy and would go back to her again if needed. 

    I loved my OB and everyone I saw in the group practice where she works during my recent pregnancy. Caveat that my pregnancy was uncomplicated but I believe she has experience with a lot more complex patients and pregnancies. My doc is named Rebecca Taub and she is with the Sutter East Bay Foundation Medical Group. There are a number of great OBs in this practice. They deliver exclusively at Alta Bates where I also had a very positive L&D experience, which unlike my pregnancy was not totally uncomplicated. 

    I had a great experience with Sutter Health (Oakland)'s MFM team (I had a twin IUGR pregnancy and had developed preeclampsia with my first pregnancy)- specifically Michelle Adams and Autumn Broady. Both took great care of me and my twins, and balanced risks to my babies (and me!) vs reality of living life with an almost two-year old. They are great doctors and great people who bring a wholistic approach to your care. Highly recommend!

    I really liked Dr. Marinoff in Berkeley, but I'm not sure if he's taking new patients.

    I went to Sutter and had a pretty good experience with a high risk pregnancy there. Sutter was able to schedule my 36 week appointment with the doctor who was scheduled the day of my induction so I could meet her ahead of time and go over my birth plan with the person who would actually be delivering the baby. I worked with Dr. Marinoff at UCSF as my MFM doc and he was great, both relaxed and cautious with my pregnancy if that can be a mix :) . Sutter likes you to stay within the Sutter network so they'll probably push you to use their MFMs, but tolerated me working with UCSF just fine. Good luck! 

    I recently received care for a very high risk pregnancy - started at ucsf and ultimately transferred to Sutter East Bay for all my care including a 1 month hospital stay in antepartum so I got to know their MFM and OB team VERY well. Yes UCSF is great medically but the long  commute and the system is a huge hassle - could almost never reach perinatology by phone, sometimes I’d be there 3-4 hours for appointments because I’d see a med student, then a fellow, then finally the specialist…and it was never the same specialist. I’m a loyal UCSF alum but I just couldn’t take it.

    Everything was way more convenient with Sutter East Bay and most the MFMs are fantastic. Mickye Adams is amazing and revered for good reason and was my primary MFM. I also love Dr Romero and Dr Yvonne Cheng. I was co-managed by a regular Sutter OB Dr Venkat but I believe she is not taking new patients. But I got to meet almost all of the OBs and like Zheng, Madhavan, Taub, Nseyo, and Kadri in particular.

    Hope that helps! 

    I did not have a C-section but I did see a high risk doctor at UCSF Mission Bay that I liked. I was very happy with how the birth of my daughter went and will be returning to them for my current pregnancy.

  • OB in UCSF or Sutter for High Risk Pregnancy?

    (17 replies)

    FTM here :) and deciding between UCSF and sutter (Alta bates) for a high risk pregnancy (also did ivf treatment at UCSF).

    Context:

    1. I did my ivf treatment at UCSF--i know people said it's less personal, very busy, and people don't have lots of time for you..and it took a long time to get appointments/questions answered. But I loved it (note it was during pandemic). Because I like having nurses/doctors--even if  i never saw the same person--- who are steeped in the literature and research, and can explain to me without talking down to me (I am comfortable reading journal articles myself as I'm a researcher by trade and I design research experiments professionally)

    2. I hate the drive, always get carsick, so tried to go with an OB in Sutter. Well, I think my OB is fine clinically - but I was frustrated with our last 2 interactions, and here's why. i) first, my thyroid levels are supposedly suboptimal for pregnancy, but not terribly so ii) I'm at risk for pre-eclampsia.

    My current OB in Sutter just went you know you have to take aspirin? okay just take it then. Then for thyroid issues, I said I haven't done research into this area so don't know anything about this. What is the problem with my thyroid levels and why does it matter for me and the fetus? She went straight into the worst case scenarios (mental retardation etc) while being really impatient. 

    I was a bit alarmed, so went home to read the journal articles and I realized my level were suboptimal but certainly not really that extreme so was kinda annoyed after spending a few hours and days reading up all the different journal articles. 

    Went to UCSF today, and i loved the clinician I saw today! She asked - what dosage I was taking for pre-eclampsia, and explained what dosage she wanted to adjust me to, and why based on the research (whereas the other OB never checked what dosage I was on..and when I dug into the journal articles it corresponds to what she says). She also explained SO clearly to me about my thyroid levels, what levels she would prefer me to be at, and at what levels they would actually worry about the impact to the fetus, rather than just on me.

    The few things that makes me hesitant -

    1) I've rarely avoided a doctor just for bedside manner, most of the time if I switched, its due to carelessness or I actually don't trust their clinical judgement. This time it's a bit more of a grey area.

    2) the drive is awful, and the thought of going back weekly in third trimester because I'm high risk isn't fun :/

    Are there OBs you've have locally who you trust who are keeping up with the latest research and can communicate clearly? 

    I strongly recommend doctor Amy Murtha from UCSF high-risk pregnancy department. She's the head of the department and truly a gem!

    I hope there are others that can recommend a good OB for you locally! I had my twin babies in Seattle, so unfortunately I don’t have a contact down here. However, I had a very high risk pregnancy, (hyperemesis gravidarum, triplets for the first 13 weeks, pneumonia, blood clot, labor contractions starting at 21 weeks) and the good relationships I had with my OBs helped me get through every minute. You’re already being a super-mama. You not only deserve someone with competence and good bedside manner, it’s so important for you and your baby. The drive is a legit obstacle, but only you can decide if it’s a deal breaker. If you haven’t already, ask all your UCSF OB contacts who they would see in the East Bay if they had to find someone here. You may have an ideal pregnancy (I really hope the rest of it goes smoothly and beautifully for you!) but if you have any issues, you want someone who will find the best care for you and your baby, and you need to trust that you can work with them. I fought for every minute of my 35 week, 2 1/2 day pregnancy! None of it was normal! Ugh! BUT, I had 2 amazingly healthy babies at the end, and now I have 2 amazing 13 year olds, healthy and happy most days. I still wish my pregnancy had been easier, but I would do every hard thing over again for my kids. You are being asked a lot already, but you are already showing that you are an amazing mom; care for yourself and your baby. Push to find the best path for you and your baby, even if it’s not the most convenient path. Wishing you all the health through this process!

      

    Hello!  I commend you on your drive to be up to date on the the current research. I wanted to let you know that I also had a negative experience at Sutter (not Alta Bates) years ago regarding my pregnancy.  I also had issues with my thryoid levels, but felt that instead of actually operating with sound medical research and data, they just made generalized statements, which were meant to provoke fear.  I never had an individualized approach.  The Sutter OB's, at the time, were always fearful of lawsuits and would get defensive if I even asked questions.  Also, none of my concerns were addressed, therefore, it resulted in my going out of the Sutter healthcare to get a 2nd opinion.  I am thankful that I did get a second opinion because I was tired of Sutter's fearful approach that made me go through unnecessary and painful procedures and inductions.  My background was in healthcare and I actually have worked at both Sutter  and UCSF.  For me, I regretted my medical care at Sutter, but this was years ago.  After hearing your experience, I am disappointed that the Sutter's mind-set has not changed.  I know the drive to UCSF is bad, but I would consider if the OB there is knowledgeable and can address your needs. I also believe an OB that does NOT have a fear mindset will be better because these fears will guide their final decision making process.  You said you "loved your clinician" at UCSF.  That speaks volumes on how comfortable you feel.  I would trust your feelings. I hope your pregnancy is uneventful  and happy.

    Dr. Thomas at Sutter is great

    I had my first baby at UCSF and my second at Alta Bates. I loved the OB care at UCSF, but during delivery, the hospital was very clinical and impersonal. I felt like no one was listening. Most of my bad experience could be due to the hospital being new (this was 2015) and nurses and docs were getting used to new equipment, but I didn't think twice about delivering my second at Alta Bates, closer to home. 

    At Alta Bates, I saw several doctors (maternity leaves and there is more turnover there), but I actually figured its best to visit several docs since you don't know who will be on call when you deliver. I really liked Dr Kadri and have kept her as my OB. She was more experienced than some of the others (draws from personal experience, not just the literature and stats) and she is a straight shooter.  The care at the hospital was less "state of the art" and the rooms a little louder, but people just felt more accessible. Plus being across a bridge when my due date was looming was so stressful!

    But FYI, if you need weekly/biweekly monitoring for your pregnancy (I did bc of gestational diabetes) and you DO stay with UCSF, they share medical records and you can do the monitoring at Alta Bates instead of driving over to UCSF.

    Dr Kier van Remoortere at Sutter is amazing. Both in manner / communication style (very thorough and patient) and in commitment to evidence-based care. 

     I had my baby at UCSF.  I felt really safe having a high risk pregnancy to give birth at a world-class hospital with a world-class NICU across the corridor.  You never know what's going to happen during birth, I had an emergency situation and in two minutes I was in an operating room with fifteen incredible and highly trained doctors there for me. The OBs at UCSF were super. Because I also felt I needed more personalized attention I met with a local midwife Grace Bender throughout my pregnancy who does integrative care with UCSF. https://www.10moonsmidwifery.com/integrative-midwifery  She is incredible.  

    The drives to UCSF are a hassle but my husband and I saw them as an opportunity to talk about the future and the pregnancy. 

    disclaimer (I am an Ob at UCSF but also a parent in Berkeley, so I can only speak for UCSF)

    I delivered three babies at UCSF while living in east bay, including a higher risk one where i had to go in weekly for testing. I  timed it to avoid traffic, but i am used to the drive

    UCSF has a berkeley clinic for prenatal care. The ultrasounds and delivery would be at mission bay however.

    Highly highly recommend high risk practice at UCSF.  I did IVF there and considered both Alta bates and UCSF for high risk and met with both.  The UCSF team was way way more versed in my challenges and my husband and I never looked back once despite a lot of trips across the bridge.  Delivery was great too.  Happy to chat directly if you have questions.

    My experience with Sutter Milvia OBs throughout normal gyn care, a miscarriage and half a pregnancy was that they were extremely pressed for time and seemed to just need to get to their next appt ASAP. I had a couple concerns totally dismissed. When I got Covid while 19 weeks pregnant I couldn't even get them to give me a call, I just got really rote generic information via email after I insisted a doctor contact me. My primary OB Dr. Madhavan who I had seen for gyn and the miscarriage came into my 16 week pregnancy appt and said "Oh have you been here before?" That's when I knew we had to switch providers.

    I saw the midwife Carol Tracy once and she was extremely nice and caring, but it doesn't sound like that's the level of care you're looking for with your situation. 

    I hear you! It’s too bad that bedside manner and deep knowledge don’t always go hand in hand... sometimes it’s just being willing to try a couple of providers until you find the right fit— all kinds in both systems! I love Jill Foley at Sutter btw. Happy to chat more if it helps!

    Cheruba Prabakar is the OB/GYN I began seeing last year and she’s quite wonderful. Even the receptionist said that’s who she sees. I recommended her to my bestie and she was quite impressed with her and grateful to me for encouraging her to see Dr. Prabakar. Her clinic is on Pill Hill in Oakland. Best wishes for a healthy outcome. 
    https://stanfordhealthcare.org/doctors/p/cheruba-prabakar.html?utm_source=local&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=gmb

    I LOVE my UCSF doctors - and I have unfortunately seen several in varied specialties including Ob/Gyn Dr. Tami Rowen for a recent hysterectomy.  If you live in the East Bay you can now get care from UCSF doctors in certain specialties including OB/Gyn at the John Muir-UCSF Health Center on San Pablo in Berkeley.  It is there that I saw Dr. Rowen.  She was thorough, responsive, professional and compassionate. For twenty years I received care from Sutter doctors.  I loved my OB, but she left the group in 2014.  I was underwhelmed with my other Sutter interactions.  Over the years I found the visits becoming harder to schedule and more rushed and mechanical. Key issues were missed or minimized and ultimately the best move I made was to self-refer to UCSF specialists.  Good luck with your care.  PS:  The one shortcoming with getting my care from UCSF is that UCSF does not have a network of GPs in the East Bay and I wanted the care between my GP and specialists to be seamlessly integrated.  The opening of the joint John-Muir UCSF Center took care of that problem.  In fact, it was my new GP at John Muir (Dr. Elsa Tsutaoka - highly recommend) who referred me specifically to Dr. Rowen as the best doctor to address my issues.

    If you need an MFM Dr. Michael Katz is world class. My kids wouldn't be here without him.

    thanks everyone! :) I'm appreciative you took the time to respond!

    I might consider trying the other doctors listed below in Sutter or just stick to the OB i saw in UCSF. I felt so safe with her :) I saw my sutter ob today (I forgot to cancel the appointment and then didn't want to be. no-show as that felt like terrible) but yeah it didn't work out.  I think I just need someone who makes me feel safe and can talk nuances based on research with me fluently without fear mongering. 

    My two cents: I also used UCSF for my high risk pregnancy when I lived in Berkeley. It was worth it! I found that timing my appointments for the late morning (like 11:00 or so) meant that the drive to Mission Bay was not bad at all. This really helped mitigate the issue of driving into UCSF every week during the third trimester.

    I recently delivered at Sutter Eden Medical in Castro Valley and could not have had a better and more caring experience. 
    My OB is Dr. Wigginton and she is great! She’s an excellent OB who is also caring and personable. When it matters most she will call you and she will take her time to answer all your questions. She sometimes runs late but it’s because she doesn’t rush her patients. I trusted her 100% because of her expertise. 
    Also her RN and MA are great too! Her RN is very knowledgeable and also extremely kind and gentle. 
    The labor and delivery nurses at the hospital were veterans and so supportive. A few even came to visit me in recovery after my sons birth. 
    I would highly recommend my team at Sutter. 
     

    good luck! 

  • Hi parents- I just learned I am pregnant after two years of trying for number two and am looking for non-Kaiser doctor recs. I have a long complicated obstetric history so am fairly confident I need to see a perinatologist. I will have to have an early c-section because of my history. Can anyone recommend an OB/perinatologist for a high risk pregnancy? My experience with my last high risk pregnancy and emergency c-section was very difficult so hoping others have had good experiences!

    thank you.

    Thumbs up for Sandhu in Lafayette (ample and free parking so same commute time to berkeley) and Traynor in Walnut Creek for Perinatalogist. I deliveried via CSection at John Muir (seriously great staff but horrible food). Good luck 

    I just did a post for another request for an OB, and I can't recommend Dr Kurt Wharton enough.  I had a high risk pregnancy and felt very confident I was in good hands.  He worked closely with Dr Rosa Won at Diablo Valley Perinatal (partnered with Dr Traynor there) and it was a dynamo team. I had a great outcome because of all of them with the healthy birth of our daughter.

  • I have moved to North Berkeley and am 12 weeks pregnant.  I would like to find a reliable OB that I can see relatively soon.  I am considered high-risk because of complications in my previous birth of my first child.  There are some recommendations already up but they are from several years ago so I would like some current information as not all doctors previously mentioned are still available.

    MD Patricia Robertson at UCSF is wonderful.  I had no problem getting in to see her at the time (of course, things change).  Of course UCSF is in SF, not Berkeley, and getting to/from SF can be a pain but if you're willing to travel and still looking, consider her.  

Parent Reviews

I would try to go to Alta Bates or UCSF. 
 

I have had two high risk pregnancies. (One GD and one diabetes). The second time, I was happy with the care I received from the Sutter East Bay OBGYN group (with privileges at Alta Bates). I see a regular OBGYN, and also a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist, and I feel the MFM is much better than my previous MFMs. And my previous experience at Alta Bates delivering was pretty good.

That said, unless you have a scheduled c-section, I think you’re going to get whomever is on-call as your doctor for delivery with any practice. There aren’t really any drs that run a small practice who go on call for each patient anymore, I don’t think. At Alta Bates, the on-call OBs seem to have an MFM they can consult with remotely.

Another response in support of UCSF. It's true that you won't necessarily see the same providers each visit, but the care and facilities are exceptional. I established care at four different Bay Area clinics throughout my pregnancy (due to moving and then later due to significant, high-risk complications... this includes the UBCP MFMs in Berkeley, which I do not recommend), and not once did I feel safe and supported until I was at UCSF. I'm planning to get pregnant again and will automatically be considered high risk, and I'm excited to be starting with them from the jump. 

I know you said east bay but the best doc in the Bay Area for this is Dr. Laurie Green bar none. If you can get on her panel you’re in excellent hands. She’s in SF. 

I had a high risk pregnancy at UCSF and had a great experience. The delivery nurses and doctors were amazing. I felt that my safety but also my dignity were their top priority and my wishes were respected to the extent possible. I think you will be in good hands even if it is a doctor who hasn’t seen you before.

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I also live in Oakland, was considered high-risk in pregnancy (autoimmune disease), and delivered my first child at UCSF last spring—I was really, really impressed with the care I received.  At first, I was put off by the idea of being matched with any provider. I deciding to participate in the Centering Pregnancy program, which I highly recommend: I was placed in a small cohort of women with similar due dates, and we met as a group led by an OBGYN, midwife, and midwifery student. In these two hour sessions, we'd spend one hour on prenatal education, and one hour peeling off for individual check-ins with the providers while the rest of the group chatted. I really appreciated getting to know our two providers so well, and I found the insights and support of the group invaluable (we're still in touch!). I happened to get really lucky: my OB admitted me when I was in labor, and my midwife ultimately delivered my baby. That said, even if those two amazing women hadn't been part of the birth, I would still rave about their care and attention (both visited me in the weeks that followed when my baby needed time in the NICU).

As soon as I was established in the Centering program, my two providers immediately referred me to a high-risk OB who followed me throughout pregnancy and postpartum. While that doctor wasn't present at my birth (and we primarily met by Zoom), she was an invaluable advocate—when I needed to see specialists, she set up appointments for me in record time, she communicated frequently with my OB and midwife, she gave me a cell phone number to reach her anytime, and her notes and recommendations on my chart impacted my care when I delivered. Postpartum, when I was dealing with really rough breastfeeding challenges, she worked with the hospital's lactation consultants to refer me to a breastfeeding medicine doctor. It was clear to me that her reputation carried weight; she made things happen for me instantly and commanded a lot of respect in the UCSF community—I was super grateful to have her on my team.

Hope this helps! Feel free to contact me if you'd like specific names of providers.

Hi, I had a high risk pregnancy that was uneventful until labor. Then a lot of things went wrong: emergency C-section, NICU. (Baby got out within three days and is completely healthy now.) OBs at Sutter's Milvia practice were great throughout  pregnancy, during the nightmarish delivery, and afterwards in follow-up. Yes, Alta Bates' rooms are older but they are also big and you get one to yourself, with a separate bed for your partner or loved one. All this to say, if you can get in with the Sutter OBs, Alta Bates might be worth considering 

I have a blood clotting disorder (history of DVTs & PEs), was very high risk in both my deliveries, and delivered both times at UCSF. I would absolutely recommend them for your situation, if you can become comfortable with the unknown regarding who will ultimately be there for delivery. In the lead up to delivery, my UCSF hematologist, Dr. Andrew Leavitt - who is absolutely phenonemal (the best doctor I have ever interacted with - I'd probably try to continue to see him even if I moved out of state!) - worked closely with the main UCSF perinatologist I was seeing to determine a plan of action for the delivery (which included a planned induction to mangage care appropriately). I was part of the discussion all along the way, and felt like all of the UCSF staff I interacted with cared deeply that I was comfortable with the plan (and various contingencies), and were open to discussing the data and research behind their recommendations. When it came time for delivery the team at UCSF assigned nurses who were highly experienced in caring for high risk cases, and had specific experience in handling patients with blood clotting issues and the accompying medical needs (e.g. at one point I was connected up to three different IV poles). While the doctors did change over the course of my labor during shift changes, it was clear that everyone coming into my room was well-briefed on the specifics of my case and needs. And when my second delivery accererated faster than planned, the most experienced doctors (at least three of them!) were in my room in minutes to help manage the situation. All in all, I felt like I got world-class medical care at UCSF, and that they were very capable of handling my relatively challenging medical situation.

Glad to message further on it, if you'd like!

I went to UCSF for my high risk pregnancy. It's true, you don't have a dedicated OB. You are seen by a team of doctors and it basically changes every single time. While I suppose it is a bit impersonal, I didn't feel like I wasn't getting quality care. I find that they are very good at conveying information between providers and they are also very good about listening to patient concerns. If I have another high risk pregnancy, I will return to UCSF.

Sutter East Bay does have high risk OBs (they're in the Maternal & Fetal Medicine department). I believe I had one or two appointments with Janet M. Goldman (who has admitting privileges to Alta Bates), who seemed well-informed and nice, but I had to transfer to UCSF or Stanford to have access to a Level IV NICU after delivery. 

If you do end up deciding between UCSF and Stanford, I think you should give UCSF some real consideration, just due to distance. Stanford does have offices here in the east bay, but in the last few weeks of your pregnancy, you have to do all your appointments from Stanford hospital, so that would be a lot of commuting. Also, once you give birth, it might be a little easier to be closer to home during your hospital stay, because of your other child. I had a friend who saw an OB with Stanford and she ultimately gave birth at Alta Bates with a different OB because she was not able to get to Stanford in time to deliver.

I'm considered high risk and being seen at a newish clinic in Berkeley (right next to Alta Bates) called Millie. My midwife is Talia Borgo. I don't know what types of high risk pregnancies they feel comfortable supporting but they deliver at Alta Bates (though they're still getting all their midwives admission privileges, not everyone has them). I had Anthem PPO last year and I went to see them for a previous pregnancy. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions  

High risk OB delivers at Alta Bates - C section

Feb 2011

I am looking for a female OB who specializes in high risk pregnancies and delivers at Alta Bates. I had my daughter in SF at CPMC in 2008, but now need to find someone who can deliver closer to home. I had numerous complications, low fluid, preterm labor, a small baby and was monitored by the amazing doctors at SF perinatal for the months leading up to my preterm delivery. I need someone who can do a great repeat C section if needed or help me with a VBAC and be able to refer me to the right specialists for my likely complications I will have in my next pregnancy. I would love to hear your experience as a high risk patient with your recommended OB! I looked in the archives and couldn't find much. Thanks! anon


I would head to Bill Isenberg at Ob Gyn Partners for Health. I had a very complicated second pregnancy, with isenberg as my main person and then two other docs for other issues. Wait, make that three when you throw in my endocrinologist. Care was exceptional. He was pushing for a vbac until my gestational diabetes could only be controlled by insulin, at which point the c-section was scheduled. That too was a great experience. Really cannot say enough good things about him, and his partners. Great care, great referrals, good book-keeping insurance and easy parking to boot. Good luck


I would highly recommend Kurt Wharton , M.D. He is a fantastic Ob/Gyn and he delivered my baby 6 months ago. He came highly recommended so I went with him despite all my years of seeing only female docs. He has an excellent bedside manner, warm, calming and is wonderful with C-sections if need be. He's been practicing for years and although I did not have high risk if I did you bet I'd go with him. Fully trust his capabilities and knowledge base- he knows what he's doing. His number is 925-962-0002. His office is in Lafayette but he delivers at Alta Bates. Trust me, he is worth the drive if that's of any concern. Rita


I wanted to second the recommendation for Dr. Kurt Wharton . He is an amazing OB. I have recommended many friends to him, all of whom have had great experiences that run the gamut from a VBAC to a high-risk c-section delivery. He is so knowledgable and warm, and so hardworking. My recovery from the c-section he performed for my first child was very easy; in fact it seemed easier than some of my friends' recoveries from their vaginal deliveries. The nurses checking up on me in the hospital said ''Oh you have Dr. Wharton, don't you?'' They recognized how skilled a surgeon he is. My scar healed so well you can barely see it at all. Kathleen


I cannot recommend Dr. Lilia Lizano highly enough! She is a very skilled surgeon. I have been a patient of hers for about seventeen years. I too delivered my first two daughters at CPMC in 1990 and 1992. My pregnancies were horrendous, I had pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and with my third daughter's pregnancy I had a cyst on my ovary the size of a cantaloupe. Dr. Lizano operated when I was sixteen weeks pregnant and was able to skillfully remove the cyst and ovary without me losing the baby (a high chance). She sat by my side herself and monitored the baby's heartbeat after the surgery to make sure the baby was OK. At delivery my daughter was born with the cord around her neck twice (truly a miracle baby). She has also performed a hysterectomy on me. I completely trust her judgement. She is in Hercules. Girls are now 20, 18 and 15yrs old


OB or perinatalogist not affiliated with East Bay Perinatal?

Jan 2008

Does anyone have a recommendation for an excellent high-risk OB-GYN or perinatalogist in the Oakland/Berkeley area who is not affiliated with East Bay Perinatal? For our first child we had planned a homebirth, but due to low amniotic fluid and postdates I was admitted to Alta Bates to induce labor. I was attended by the on-call doctors at Alta Bates (the ones overseeing my labor were affiliated with East Bay Perinatal). Unfortunately, during labor I experienced complications (an abrupted placenta), and because signs of fetal distress were not acted upon quickly enough, severe oxygen deprivation resulted in the death of our baby six hours after she was born by emergency c-section. For any future pregnancies, we are looking for a high-risk OB or perinatalogist in the East Bay who is well regarded and who is in no way affiliated with East Bay Perinatal. Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks.


Your story is simply heart breaking. I am so sorry. I know you said perinatologist, but I think you should go meet and discuss your situation with Dr Bill Isenberg at OB/gyn partners for Health in Oakland. He got me through what could easily have been your situation (due in part to an on-call doctor who is no longer practicing) by doing an emergency c-section. I reccomend him because he is very, very compassionate in addition to being an excellent doc. I had several losses previous to my previous pregnancy and every single time I worried, he fit me in for a sonogram. Every time. And trust me, that happened alot. All my perinatology has been done through Dr Goldberg in SF (minor complications of current pregnancy requiring ultrasound monitoring), not east bay perinatal. Dr Isenberg has a great relationship with Goldberg & the whole pratice at SF Perinata. And all the doctors at OB/gyn partners are great. He also is also open to VBAC, under the right circumstances. Good luck


June 2004

Does anyone have any recommendations for a high-risk OB-GYN in the Berkeley Oakland area? I am having complications from my pregnancy and I am not sure that my regular OB has enough experience with these types of complications (blood not flowing properly, vein disorder). Thanks! Stephanie

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