UCSF Women's Health Center

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  • 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.

    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. 

    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! 

Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions & Recommendations See Also

2008 Recommendations

Nov 2008

If you want access to the Breast Care Center at UCSF, you need to pick a GYN at Mt. Zion. I use Mindy Goldman, a GYN in the high risk breast cancer clinic in the Women's Health Center and I've never, ever had a doctor take better care of me. She calls with results, asks if I have any questions, and takes her time with you. I can't say enough about her.

2007 Recommendations

Nov 2007

Re: Looking for an OBGYN in San Fran.
I highly recommend Dr. Robert Domush in SF. He helped me with some gynecological problems during a very difficult time in my life and I can't say enough good things about him. I commuted to SF to see him for several years after I moved to the East Bay because I didn't trust anyone else with my health (I finally found a great OB/GYN in Berkeley -- Dr. Amy Huibonhoa). Dr. Domush is a genuinely good person with a very compassionate and professional manner. I've referred friends to him in the past and everyone loves him. He does not deliver babies (no OB) but focuses on other gynecological issues. Here is his info:
Robert Domush, MD UCSF Women's Health-Mount Zion Campus 2356 Sutter Street San Francisco, CA 94115 (415) 885-7788
Best, Cathy

UCSF Women's Medical Group takes Brown & Toland (I think). Their doctor's are great, and you have the UCSF network for ''big'' issues. Linda

May 2007

Re: Blue Shield OB GYN & a General Practitioner in SF
My OBGYN doctor was great and is a part of Brown and Toland. She delivered my baby in 2005 and it wasn't an easy birth (3 hours of pushing that resulted in a semi-emergency C-section). But she was fantastic. She is one woman out of a 3 woman practice. They are very down to earth, they are direct, and are not the holding hand kind of doctors but more direct and to the point, which I preferred. Her name is Dr. Dorothy Dube and her number is (415) 923-3128. Also, I would highly recommend having your baby at CPMC - it was the best! Best staff and nurses ever!

Gynecologist in the Brown & Toland medical group

Sept 2004

I am looking for an ob/gyn or just plain gyn affiliated with the Brown & Toland medical group at UCSF. I have looked in the archive and found only doc. recommendations for people with specific problems/concerns (fertility, complications during pregnancy, etc.). I just need a smart doc., preferably a woman (?), to do my well-woman exams and to follow up on a few post- partum questions. It might be nice not to be thrust into a huge baby machine, if possible. Thanks. Just a doc

Any of the ob/gyn staff at UCSF Parnassus are great. I had my child with Judith Bishop (midwife) who practices there but all the midwives/NP's and doc's are wonderful. Liz

My ob/gyn is Dr. Amy (Meg) Autry at UCSF Obstetrics & Gynecology. Tel (415) 885-7788. She is located at the UCSF Women's Health Center on Sutter Street. I've only seen her once (I just transferred to Brown & Toland myself), but I really liked her. She was cheerful and practical and actually took the time to call me to give me the results of my test even though it was negative. (Doctors never call me to give me good news, only the bad.) FWIW. Anon

The doctors in the UCSF Women's Medical Group are terrific. Check out their website at http://www.ucsf.edu/whrc/index.html I see Elena Gates (the chief of ob/gyn there); friends also recommend Dr Kamali. All but one of the dr's in the practice is a woman, and there are also several nurse practitioners and midwives on staff. Happy UCSF patient

I had a fantastic experience giving birth at UCSF! I would highly recommend it to anybody. The night I went into labor UCSF had delivered more babies the day before than they had in anybody's recent memory, but I had no idea. They just brought in the extra people that they needed, I didn't feel rushed or neglected, and I still had my own delivery and recovery room. The only reason I knew about the baby boom was because they had only one person doing the paperwork for the birth certificates and she was running a bit behind.

I didn't have a single OB/GYN, but a whole bunch of UCSF faculty. This was fine for me, but I believe you actually can choose a single doc. All of the doctors and nurse/midwives were really, really nice. The only complaint I have is that sometimes they got backed up and I had to wait a really long time for appointments. A couple of women that stood out for me were Stephanie Mann (a doctor) and Sharon Wiener (a nurse midwife). Spike's mom


Oct 2002

I am five months pregnant and desperately looking for a recommendation for an OB-GYN who is open minded, flexible, supportive of natural birth, and delivers most of his/her client's babies personally. I have had very little luck so far and feel quite frustrated. I live in San Francisco, so I need to find someone who practices in the city. I have chosen to give birth in a hospital in order to have medical care close at hand in case of an emergency, but would ideally like to have a natural birth with as few interventions as possible. I am most grateful for any recommendations! MK

Per Sandberg and UCSF, or one of the other staff in the UCSF ob/gyn office. I could give you my whole birth story, but the short-ish version involves a high-risk pregnancy, a premature birth, and a doctor and hospital switch midway to find someone who would honor my desire to have as natural a birth as possible given the circumstances. A lot of other things lined up to make my son's birth special (like the two operating rooms were taken that night by women who were, sadly, giving birth to children even more premature than mine, which meant my best friend and her partner, a midwife, could be in the room with us), but the doctors, nurses, and residents were absolutely in with the ''natural birth program,'' so to speak. the only issues were with two older nurses who had different ideas (''i'm in control here!'' one told me when i took my oppressive heart rate monitor off so i could labor). Anyway, given all the factors, the experience could have been so traumatic but i really felt i was with people who honored the birth experience and weren't afraid of it. I am writing of the hospital more than the doctor, because the hospital staff actually does affect your birth significantly. We were left to labor by ourselves for a lot of the time. Also, the nurses are very influential; don't go to a hospital where you think they might only be giving lip service to natural birthing. Then pick a doctor affiliated with the hospital you like. Good luck! Jodi

I had my baby at UCSF and had very good support from my midwife (Judith Bishop) and the rest of the staff. My labor lasted quite a long time so i was actually lucky to have Judith at the time of delivery, but i was very comfortable with the knowledge and support from the rest of the staff in the ob/gyn group. The nursing care there was absolutely wonderful. I labored a long time at home and then went to UC to deliver. That worked best for me. I would check with UCSF and see whether you are interested in what they have to offer. They also offer a library/information center called 'Great Expectations' that has more information on doulas that work with UCSF deliveries. Best wishes for a wonderful birth, Liz

Oct 2002


Sept 2002

Does anyone know of a good GYN in San Francisco. I live in the East Bay but work in San Francisco and I am trying to find a GYN in the city so that I can attend appointments more easily. I have PPO insurance. I have seen a few recommendations for Kaiser SF gyns, but very few others. I would prefer a female doc, but gender is less important to be than knowledge, bedside manners, etc. I am not currently pregnant so I only need to GYN services rather than the OB for now, but I would like to find someone who I can continue to use when I do become pregnant. (So in that sense I would ideally want a doc who is progressive, pro- midwife, low c-section rate, supportive of natural births, etc.) Doc-less in SF

other rec: Pacific Gynecology and Bay Springs

I'd like to recommend Dr. Alison Jacoby at UCSF. I saw her when I lived in SF and she was great. I don't know what she's like with respect to pregnancy and childbirth, but I do think she is progressive, and she was certainly knowledgeable and had a nice, comfortable manner. Alison

We've had very good experiences with UCSF's Women's Health Center. Patty Robertson delivered our first baby, and was simply wonderful; Nancy Millikan and Elena Gates also seem very good. The downside is that it's a large group practice, and it can be hard to get appointments with your preferred MD or NP, or even to get through on the phone.

Aug 2002

My RN/GYN is Carolyn Muir. She's in SF, on UCSF's Mount Zion campus (Divis and Sutter). I started seeing her when she was with the Bay Springs Women's Group, before they became a part of UCSF. She had been my one and only doc until I got pregnant, and needed an OB. She's usually available for appointments, and is very good about giving call-backs when I need advice on any issue. I've seen her for a variety of problems, not just getting my annual pap. She's great - I HIGHLY recommend her! Her office number is: 415-353-2223. rachel

April 2002

Re: Lesbian-friendly MDs :

If you are in need of an Ob/Gyn at UCSF, I highly recommend Patricia Robertson. She is knowledgeable in her field, flexible in her approach, respectful of her patients' autonomy and intelligence, and very attuned to the issues lesbian women face in getting sensitive, appropriate, health care. (I believe she has done research on the subject.) She's wonderful for straight women too. She was very understanding of my reasons for wanting a homebirth with a midwife, and willing to provide me prenatal care despite my intention ultimately to deliver at home. When you're in her waiting room, it's fun to see how many of her patients and their families walk out of her office smiling. S. Reilly

Faculty Practice


Tekoa King at UCSF Faculty Practice was absolutely fabulous. She made me feel that no question was inappropriate and that she would take all the time I needed. She handled my first pregnancy fears really well. I can't give her enough compliments. Even though she didn't attend the birth, Pat Robertson did and was quite different in style but we were comfortable with her as well.

UCSF Medical Center Perinatology

Feb 2008

I'm tentatively scheduled to have a CVS at UCSF with Dr. Lynn McLean in early March and need some information about her. I cannot find anything on this doctor (in the BPN archives, on UCSF's website or on the internet) and just want to hear about her from others who have had a CVS with her. I think she's relatively new at UCSF, but I don't really know since I cannot find anything about her. Thanks so much. Older Momma with #2 on the way

I had a CVS at UCSF, with Dr. McLean, 2 days ago. It was a very positive experience and I would highly recommend Dr. McClean. She was kind and reassuring and did not do anything without first telling me what and why she was going to do it. The procedure itself was quick and I felt I was in very good hands the entire time. I hope you have a similarly good experience! Another Older Mama

August 2005

Has anyone had a CVS done recently at UCSF? I'm having mine done in a few weeks and I'm really nervous. I'll be about 12 1/2 weeks when I have the test. I'm going to be 40 when I deliver this baby, so I want to do prenatal testing, but I've heard good and scary things about the procedure. I would love to hear about people's experiences at UCSF! Thanks! Anonymous

We had a CVS done at UCSF maybe two years ago. Overall, it was fine. The worst thing was probably that you have to drink a whole lot of water before the procedure and you can\x92t go to the bathroom. It can get a little uncomfortable holding a full bladder until the test is over. There was a little cramping afterwards, but nothing out of the ordinary. There are two ways to get a sample. For us they went through the abdomen. They use a long needle to get the sample, so hopefully you\x92re not too squeamish about that. Oh, and once the needle is in, they do a little pumping action with the needle, almost like they are trying to stab the sample with the end of the needle. That was a little unexpected.

I've had both amnio (once) & cvs twice (both thru abdomen & cervix). I found the trans-cervical cvs much easier than amnio. The trans-abdomnial cvs was a bit more painful. I had mine done with Dr. Goldberg at CPMC but I know women who have had them at UCSF. I had good experiences at CPMC and would go back. good luck

I had my CVS at UCSF with Dr. Mary Norton in February 2005. I'm 35, and I was 11 and 1/2 weeks pregnant. It was as positive an experience as I could have possibly hoped for, and I highly recommend their office. The office staff was great, the ultrasound tech called my baby ''photogenic,'' and Dr. Norton was reassuring and extremely competent. The actual procedure (mine was transabdominal) was over very quickly with just a few seconds of minimal cramping, and my recovery was easy. It was just not that big of a deal; the worrying beforehand was far worse. Also, the results came faster than I had expected, which was nice, and they were a-okay, which was even nicer!

I had the CVS at UCSF with Mary Norton in April this year. It was an altogether excellent medical experience. The staff were very supportive and put us at ease with their enthusiasm over the ultrasounds and their full explanations of what would happen. The procedure itself was much less painful than I imagined - it was over very quickly and was nowhere near worth the nervous anticipation I had built up. They were very prompt too with the follow-up call to let us know everything was OK. If you want more detail, feel free to contact me direct: helen

I saw Mary Norton at UCSF in 2003. She performed a CVS for us. We had had a bad experience in the past with an amnio. and were SO happy with Dr Norton. She and her staff were totally attentive to the sensitive nature of what they do. They all went out of their way to make us feel comfortable, and I must say that the procedure was not as uncomfortable as the previous one. She was referred to me by my own OBGYN who also saw her for an amnio. I would highly recommend her. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions. Patty

UCSF Medical Group at Mt. Parnassus. They are great, but may be hard to get to, however the muni (N-Judah line) drops you off right there, so it is not impossible.

April 2002

After some research, we learned that the top Dr. in the Bay area for CVS ( and seemingly the top place too) was Dr. Mary Norton UCSF. Supposedly, Dr. Norton learned from the Dr who brought CVS to teh Bay area. At UCSF, they did approximately 30 a week (again this was over a year ago). We also learned that they had a .5 % of problems (this includes miscarriage) compared to a higher than 1% rate at EBPerinatal. Even though, this was our second baby, I had miscarried prior to the birth of my first baby--so we were incredible concerned about not causing a problem by getting a CVS.

Although we didn't get Dr. Mary Norton, we did get Dr. Thomas Musci and he did a fine job. My husband & I were extremely stressed out about the whole process but thought it would be better to know as early as possible and from the place with the most experience . And though it was more uncomfortable than a Pap smear (i got my CVS w/ a needle through my stomach cause of how the placenta was lying), nothing can beat the feeling of knowing 13 weeks in that I was having a perfectly healthy girl. Anyway, hope this helps. good luck!

Oct 2001

I don't have any e-mail for the person requesting info on amniocentesis experience with the doctorsshe(presumably) listed in SF. But I do have a very good recommendation to use UCSF for corionic villi sampling, which is a little more specific and detailed of a test than amniocentesis. UCSF has an excellent record with performing this test, with very few miscarriages resulting from this test. Hope this helps. Azakian