Seeking an ObGyn for High-risk Pregnancy

Parent Q&A

OB in UCSF or Sutter for High Risk Pregnancy? May 14, 2021 (17 responses below)
High risk pregnancy - rec for non Kaiser doc Dec 12, 2016 (2 responses below)
OB Recommendations for high-risk pregnancy? Jun 21, 2016 (1 responses below)
  • 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).


    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.

  • 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.  

Archived Q&A and Reviews


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