Seeking a Midwife

Parent Q&A

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  • Does anyone have experience delivering with any of the nurse midwives at Sutter's Milvia Care Center in Berkeley (Kassandra Donnels, Martina Chwascinska-Szarek, Heide Cruikshank, or Dominika Dymarczyk)? I know I'd prefer to go with a midwife within this practice, but it seems like their all fairly new to the center and I'm having a hard time finding any information or reviews on these specific midwives.

    I haven't delivered with any of them but Heide Cruikshank leads our centering group (group-based pregnancy care with other expectant patients) at Alta Bates and I can say she is absolutely wonderful and deeply adored by our entire group. She is both deeply knowledgeable about medical interventions, non-medical interviews, and broader holistic pre-/ post-natal care. She is funny, empathetic, and warm but feels very grounded in information and experience. She's super approachable with great energy, so much so that I am strongly considering moving my upcoming scheduled C-section so she can be on call for it, if that gives any indication :) Good luck! 

    I am currently a patient at Sutter's Milvia OB/GYN practice and am 36 weeks pregnant. I met with Dominika Dymarczyk once as part of the "Centering Pregnancy" group I took part in (group meetings combined with your individual OB appointments) since the OB was on vacation for one of our sessions. Dominika was great. That said, the way the Sutter group runs delivery is that doctors in the practice rotate through their on call times at the hospital. Because of that setup, you will not be able to specify who you will deliver with. It will just be whoever is on call, though from what they have communicated, they are currently working to ensure that a midwife in addition to an OB is always on call at the hospital, and therefore present for your delivery. I hope this helps! I think you'd be able to clarify their policies with them further if you set up an initial appointment as well. 

    I had kassandra Donnells, and she was great. But when you go to deliver, you get whoever is there that day. My understanding was that the doctors attended the more complicated births going on, and if your delivery was straight forward you might get a midwife instead. It didn’t seem like you could opt for one or the other. 

    I delivered with Martina and she was AMAZing!!! That said, at Alta Bates you deliver with whoever is on call when your baby says it’s time. My perception was that any of the clinicians I met with during my labor would have been good.

    I may be wrong, but I think Martina only works in the hospital.
     

    For outpatient prenatal care I saw Kassie Donnels for a few visits and ended up preferring the OB I was later paired with (Cindy Zhang).

    Hope this helps!

    Hi! I delivered at Alta bates and was under the care of the OB group at Sutter Milvia. After my delivery, Martina (midwife) was on rotation for the group and she was one of the best parts of my (second) birth experience. She was warm, caring, and such a source of strength for me in my recovery. I definitely had the thought that I wish I worked with her sooner. And 9 months later I still remember her name and am writing my first BPN post for her :)
     

    I regularly met with two midwives (Kassandra and Martina) during my prenatal care (Fall 2021 - Spring 2022) and they were absolutely amazing. I was so glad they were my primary care for my pregnancy instead of the OB I was originally seeing; the midwifery care model was just a much better fit for me for various reasons. I was told they were the only two midwives on call to deliver babies at the hospital, but I'm not sure if that's changed since I gave birth. You should know that the provider you deliver with at Sutter is generally based on when the birth takes place; at the time of my care, midwives were available in the morning (in addition to an OB), and only OBs were available at night. You also don't get a chance to request who you deliver with, it's based on a rotating schedule of midwives/OBs. If you would like to deliver with a specific provider, you can ask what the hospital schedule is! For what it's worth, I gave birth at night so didn't get a chance to work with a midwife. At my 6 week checkup they mentioned they are expanding the program, which will hopefully offer more coverage! I'm looking forward to working with them again in the future.

    Kassandra Donnels delivered my baby at Alta Bates in February 2021. I was a transfer from a birth center and was wary of a hospital delivery but I found her energy to be compassionate and very in line with the care I was used to receiving from my own midwives. Alison Roberts was on duty when we arrived but seemed very brusque and intervention inclined so I was glad when Kassandra started her shift shortly thereafter. 
     

    She was very new then and this was a year and a half ago, but my only complaint was the stitches she did (for a minimal 1 degree tear that should have not been a big deal) did not heal very well requiring subsequent attention. Apparently she only stitched internally? I wish I had known more to have better advocated for myself in the moment. 
     

    Please feel free to reach out directly with anything else! Wishing you a smooth and joyous delivery. 

    Hi! Dominika delivered my son two weeks ago at Alta Bates, and she was absolutely exceptional! She was so encouraging, genuine and warm. She and the incredible nurses made the whole experience beautiful (tearing up thinking about it!). I also met Martina and Heide who were on shift before and after my birth, and they also seemed incredibly caring. This was my first experience with midwives, as they were not a part of Milvia when my first was born at AB. I was so impressed with the team. I have no doubts you will be in good hands! 

    I gave birth with Mika and she was FABULOUS. She was kind, patient, respectful and detail oriented. I had no tears thanks to her massaging. She stayed well beyond her shift to see me through a long labor. I would schedule an induction next time just to have her deliver my next baby! 

    I delivered with an OB in the same group but saw Kassie Donnels once during pregnancy and in the hospital immediately postpartum. I am very knowledgeable about pregnancy and birth and had very specific birth preferences and I thought she was supportive and informed. I would have happily delivered with her if she had been on call when I gave birth. Hope that’s helpful! 

    While they're not my primary provider, I've seen both Kassandra Donnels and Heide Cruikshank for appointments when my primary OB has been unavailable, and both seemed great --  very friendly and knowledgeable and non judgemental about choices for pregnancy & birth.

    I absolutely adore Martina!! She was not at my delivery, but she did part of my pre and postnatal care. She is so warm, knowledgeable, and personable. 

    Everyone seems to have such positive reviews of the Sutter Health practice, but I am 24 weeks along and I have had a relatively mixed and/or negative experience with the group overall so far. Two of my appointments went well and the one time I met with Martina (my actual assigned provider) was wonderful, but two of my other appointments with other providers and email exchanges left me feeling less than cared for. They seem disorganized, inconsistent in communication, and sometimes rather dismissive of me. I've been worried that this is a reflection of how I might be treated during the delivery, but am sticking it out since others' reviews seem to be glowing. I have my glucose test and next appointment with Martina in a few weeks and hopefully, it goes better than past appointments. 

    I meant to reply to this post but lost track of it. I was reminded to do so today when I read a new response about a negative experience that seemed opposite to the other earlier glowing reviews. I was a patient of this practice this year and I experienced some horrific and traumatic episodes with some of the OBs at this practice. The problem is that about 1/3 of the OBs are great, 1/3 are mediocre, and 1/3 are just plain terrible and rude and impatient, etc. You don't get to pick who will actually be on call when you go to the hospital so even though I liked my primary OB, she wasn't on call when I had some terrible encounters with her peers. For that reason, I would NEVER recommend this practice to anyone. I did have positive encounters with the midwives, they were absolutely wonderful. But again, the OBs are in charge. Overall, I agree with the recent response that the practice felt disorganized and I felt like a product on a conveyor belt, being rushed off for the next patient. I would never go back to them.

    I switched my care to Martina Chwascinska-Szarek from one of the OBs on staff during the second half of my pregnancy. As a first time mom, I was frustrated by the lack of continuity of care I experienced with the Sutter OBs. I saw my "primary" OB for one appointment and then was shuffled between doctors after my primary OB consistently was unable to attend my appointments. I was MUCH happier after switching to the midwives for my care. I appreciated the whole-person and respectful approach that Martina brought to our interactions. She always made time to answer whatever questions I had and always went into detail on the evidence behind certain recommendations. As others have mentioned, there is no guarantee that one of the midwives will deliver your baby (they are only at the hospital during daytime hours M-F) but I was lucky that Martina happened to be on call the day I went in. She was able to support me during the first part of a very long labor but Dr. Van Remoortere ended up delivering my baby. If you are trying to avoid unnecessary interventions during your birth, I would recommend hiring a doula also -- one of the OBs on call during my labor was pushing me to consider pitocin even though I was progressing (slowly); I feel that I had a better birth outcome by allowing the baby to naturally get into position vs. trying to speed things along with drugs. TL;DR: The nurse midwife practice felt like the happy medium for my low-risk pregnancy -- I got the benefit of midwife care prenatal & postpartum but also had the continuity with the OB practice while in the hospital. Highly recommend if you are looking to stay within the Sutter system but want a more holistic approach to your OBGYN care! 

    I second that Heide is incredible! I met Martina once and liked her too. They recently hired several more midwifes so now have them staffing labor and delivery day and night almost all the time (though not quite at 100%). So if you have a low risk delivery there’s a good chance a nurse-midwife will be involved (albeit maybe not “your” midwife). Definitely a positive in my book 

  • We we wondering if anybody can share their recent experience with a midwife that was in-network with Aetna? We are having a difficult time selecting one and would appreciate suggestions

    You may have already done on the math on this, but we found that a birth center birth with the midwives at Pacifica Maternity Center was a similar cost to a hospital birth at Alta Bates. Our PPO (Cigna) required us to pay 40% of out of network or 20% in network. A hospital birth was going to be about $14,000 and Pacifica midwives are $7,000. So it came out about the same even though Pacifica is not in anyone's network. 

    I loved my care there through every stage. I had a few scares that turned out to be nothing each time but they helped me through each one. They work well with doctors at Alta Bates for ultrasounds and other procedures if needed. I found a real sense of community, care and listening there. 

    The previous poster is right that the math can work in your favor going out of network due to the lower cost of the birth center - we made the same choice with my first and went to Pacifica, where the cost to us would have been roughly the same. BUT then I had to transfer to Alta Bates while I was in labor (this is common and was not a big deal medically) and ended up paying both, 40% of the out-of-network cost at Pacifica and 20% of the in-network cost at Alta Bates. I loved Pacifica - the community was wonderful and some of my closest parent friends are those I met through the birth center five years ago, and the care was great. But financially it was tough because of the transfer. So I'd be sure to understand your in-network and out-of-network benefits as you make your choice.

  • Hi there,

    I’m switching OBs to the East Bay since we’ve moved. I’m 23 weeks pregnant and looking for a new OB or midwife who delivers at Alta Bates in Berkeley. Does anybody have any recommendations?

    Thanks!

    I just delivered a VBAC at Alta Bates with Dr. Kier Van Remoortere at the Berkeley campus of the Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation. I was very happy with her throughout the pregnancy, and then I was lucky in that she was on-call during my delivery as well and I had a great experience with her then too. I had a few complications during pregnancy, and I found that the Sutter system was well-integrated with respects to referrals, sharing information, etc. Since it's a big practice, there's no guarantee that you'll have your doctor of choice for the actual delivery, but I was pretty happy with each of the 4 OBs I saw during my pregnancy (out of 14).

    I cannot recommend my midwives Ellie Griffinger and Gwen Haynes enough (private practice partners at Golden Oak Midwives). They spend ample time on appointments to address any and all concerns, and really take the time to build a trusting relationship with clients. They also have a beautiful space where they hold visits, and offer a number of extra resources through people in their community (workshops on lactation, acupuncture in pregnancy, choosing a doula, pelvic floor health, support groups for breastfeeding, etc). They also have practitioners working in their space who offer massage and pelvic floor physical therapy. I have not had my baby yet so I do not know what it will be like to work with them at Alta Bates, but they have a lot of reviews on their website and on Yelp that you can read.

    We are LOVING Dr. Pavithra Venkat at Sutter (delivers at Alta Bates). We did the "Sutter doctor bingo" approach w/our first child 3 years ago and while everything turned out fine, we did end up feeling a little disjointed w/continuity of care during the pregnancy and like we didn't really care which doctor delivered the baby (we ended up w/a longer L&D stay and so were interacting w/several doctors we'd not met and didn't care AT ALL). Dr. Venkat never makes you feel rushed, is very responsive to questions and seems really committed to trying to help clients have the experience they want. A friend who had a really traumatic first birth experience also delivered w/her (scheduled C-section) for Baby #2 and gives her nothing but the highest praise.

    I recommend Dr. Van Remoortere at sutter health in Berkeley. she was my OB while i was pregnant. She has a great bedside manner and is super knowledgeable.

    I believe at alta bates you are not able to choose the ob who will delivery your baby. it will be whoever is working in labor and delivery that day. Dr Thomas delivered my emergency c section and she did an excellent job.

    Ellie and Gwen with Golden Oak Midwives. Amazing pre and post natal care that was very personalized. I feel like I got the VIP treatment at Alta Bates and was treated like the goddess a birthing woman is! Really incredible ladies who care deeply about their work.

    I highly recommend Dr. Lilia Lizano, she has offices in Berkeley and Hercules. I gave birth to my baby in November/2018 and had an amazing experience with her.

    I delivered with Golden Oak Midwives this year and the two ladies are fantastic! Got a completely unmedicated birth that went very smoothly. If I ever want a second kid I would go with them again.

    Kier Van Reemoortere is great!!! i give her all the credit for my not having a c-section. 

    I worked with the golden oak midwifes with a delivery at Alta Bates. They were wonderful.

    You must go to Golden Oaks midwifes over the Sutter Group. I had birth experiences with both of them and I can't stress how much better my experience was with Ellie and Gwen. I saw the Sutter group for (#1) and Golden Oaks for (#3). Golden Oaks is amazing and the provide excellent pre and post natal care. One of them will be there for your birth. In addition, they helped me deal with trauma from birth #1 with the Sutter Group. One of my strongest memories of birth #3 is knowing that Ellie has my back and really knew what I was capable of.

    If nothing else, the Golden Oaks group was more efficient, you don't spend 45 minutes waiting for late appointments. 

    All of the midwives at Pacifica Family Maternity Center, right down the street from Alta Bates, are phenomenal. They have a great relationship with Alta Bates and many of their patients choose concurrent care and deliver in hospital. I'm hoping to deliver at their birth center, but would highly recommend their services to anyone, regardless of where you're hoping to have your little one

    Hi, I used to be with the large OB group from east bay Sutter Health medical foundation, but lost my privilages with them when Alta Bates Medical group severed ties with them as my medical group.  It SUCKED! i was so attached after delivering twice with their group and bummed when i got pregnant a third time and couldn't see my OB I had seen for over 7 years.  However, I found Dr Lilia Lizano for my third (which i delivered at Alta Bates a year ago).  Though it is a small practice (she has an office across from Alta Bates and also in Hercules i think) she was fantastic.  Amazing in fact.  It was amazing having her so present for my entire labor and delivery which included bed rest, and an induction.... and a healthy baby!!! i was blown away and really got the level of care i never knew before with the sutter east bay group that others were rec.  If you want to ask questions please feel free to ask...but i highly recommend her!

  • Midwife for delivery at Alta Bates

    (7 replies)

    Looking for recommendations for midwives who deliver at Alta Bates. Bonus if you have any experience getting your insurance (extra bonus if it's an HMO) to pay for it! 

    You want to head over to Golden Oak Midwives (https://www.gomidwives.com/). Ellie and Gwen are amazing. 

    They are in some HMO networks. They weren't in my network but my HMO still ended up paying for a good portion of it with my husband working with the insurance. They have a billing company that can help you with insurance.  

    Highly recommend Lindy Johnson and the other midwives in her office. I recently gave birth to a large baby who arrived sunny side up. Lindy was calm, supportive, direct, and knowledgeable. I fully credit her expertise (and hints for labor/birth preparation) and careful labor coaching for allowing a healthy unmedicated birth. Her follow up care is great too. Her focus on the health of the mother throughout pregnancy and recovery is so refreshing. Call her as early as possible if you're interested in working with her.

    Gwen Haynes! Now Golden Oak Midwives. My insurance (which was a PPO) didn't cover it in full unfortunately but they covered the hospital part. I received superb prenatal care and my birthing experience was exceptional. I also had an amazing doula which I feel contributed to it being as amazing as it was but for sure Gwen was a huge part of that as well.

    Hey there! I highly recommend Hannah Weiss of Woom Midwifery. Hannah was my midwife, and I sing her praises every chance I get. She was an absolute rock throughout my pregnancy, labor, and postpartum—knowledgeable, grounding, sensitive, wise, loving, and very no-BS. She offers a “hybrid midwifery” service that combines midwifery with hospital birth. More info here: https://www.woommidwifery.com/integrated-midwifery Good luck!

    Hi,

    I delivered my daughter last September at Alta Bates with Golden Oaks midwives and had an incredible experience. I will absolutely seek their care for my next child. My HMO did not cover it but I’ve heard other insurance companies might. 

    I delivered my baby boy last October with Aimée Tom at Alta Bates and recommend her with the absolute highest regards. Switching my prenatal care to Aimée was the best decision I made. Her office is next to the hospital making it super convenient. You can read my review and others on her Yelp page and quickly see that everyone she has worked with has had an amazing, loving, 5-star experience. I could really go on and on about my beautiful birth experience with Aimée, so please contact me directly (this offer is open to anyone reading this) and I can tell you more via phone or over tea. You can also contact her to set up an initial meet and greet appointment to get your questions answered -- I think you'll see immediately why you want her as your midwife. Best wishes, Lisa 

    I delivered at Alta Bates in January 2018 with Aimée Tom as my midwife, and I highly highly recommend her. She is smart, compassionate, and really took the time to listen to me and my concerns and talk things through with me. I never felt rushed. I had a normal pregnancy, but ended up delivering way past my due date. Those last days were stressful with so many friends and family bugging me about when the baby was going to come, but Aimée was my rock and really helped me feel at ease. I also loved her postpartum care and support. She checked in on me often to see how I was doing, and made me (almost) want to get pregnant again soon just so I could have her as a caregiver!

  • I'm 22 weeks pregnant and a recent transplant from Boston.  We had originally planned to live in San Francisco and I had set up my OB care for UCSF in Mission Bay, but my husband and I are now in contract to buy a home in Upper Rockridge.  I'd prefer to deliver in Oakland/Berkeley to avoid risk of traffic jams on the way to the hospital.  I'd love a recommendation on a good OB or midwife.  I'm planning to do a medicated birth and want someone knowledgeable, warm, easy to get in touch with, and who runs on time at appointments!  It's been a straightforward pregnancy so far.  Any recommendations would be appreciated!  :-) 

    You want to see Gwen and Ellie at Golden Oak Midwifes (https://www.gomidwives.com/). They are amazing. They deliver at Alta Bates. So open, caring and knowledgable. I never had to wait more than 5 minutes for an appointment. You'll have appointments with both of them as they share all their patients. 

    Lindy Johnson! She is amazing, the most knowledgeable, patient, superwoman of a midwife. Shes delivered probably thousands of   babies, has seen it all and doesn't get fazed by anything. I had a slightly complicated birth but she was completely calm and in control of the situation, I wasn't even aware anything was amiss till baby was safely out.

    You'd be delivering at Alta Bates and her office is across the street. She's a bit old school in that she doesn't email/text but she's very responsive by phone. I had an amazing birth experience and I can not recommend her highly enough. I've heard the other midwives in her practice are good too.

    My OBGYN is Dr Pavithra Venkat who I can't speak highly enough of - she's warm and personable but also methodical and spends a good amount of time answering your questions. She shares call with a bunch of other highly competent drs, and my baby ended up getting delivered by Dr. Poddatoori who is also amazing. I think the only person I didn't end up gelling with is funnily enough the male dr on staff, everyone else is fantastic. You'd deliver at Alta Bates Berkeley if you go with them. 

    My OB is Carrie Duffy, and I'm very happy with her. (I still drive to Oakland for appointments, even though I moved to SF, and will be delivering at Alta Bates.) She's usually on time - not always - but the flip side is that if you need to be squeezed in or are late, they're accommodating. There's also an online messaging system to get questions answered, test results, etc. 

  • Midwife or Birthing Center Recommendations

    (8 replies)

    i am 21 weeks pregnant with my first child.  i have kaiser coverage but am increasingly unhappy with the kind of care i am getting.  for instance, appointments with my doctor never last more than 15 minutes and there is little chance i will have met the doctors or nurses working during my delivery.  i am hungry for classes or training in how to prepare for childbirth but kaiser offers only one hour long class on the subject.  i would like to have a natural childbirth but the assembly line nature of previous appointments makes me skeptical that can take place at a kaiser hospital.  i am looking for a more holistic experience.  i wonder, though, if i am too far along (or too late) to find a midwife who can work with me.  can anyone recommend a midwife or birthing center they loved and felt like they did a good job preparing the mother for labor?  or, can anyone recommend a doula that gives classes or training leading up to delivery?  right now i feel like i'm coming to this subject late in the game and there is a lot of information out there on the internet.  i'm hoping for a little advice or guidance to narrow my search for the perfect person to help this new mama.

    It is absolutely not too late to switch your care! I recommend Pacifica Family Maternity Center, a birthing center in Berkeley: http://www.pacificamaternity.com/ You can also look at this extensive list of Bay Area midwives: http://www.bayareamidwives.com/ Best of luck to you!

    Not to sound critical, but just to let you know I found the Kaiser birthing experience to be quite responsive to what I was asking for.  Also I took an all day child birth class there and I know they offered one that met multiple times.  We also attended classes for the different stages of pregnancy.  I felt adequately educated for a first time delivery.  (Honestly I think there is only so much you can prepare.)   I had a doula who I loved, Cindy Curry at Stork and Sprout.  If everything is going well then your regular dr appointments shouldn't need to be any longer.  At this point in your pregnancy they are looking for red flags and if there aren't any then you are good to go.  I hear ya on the thing about not knowing what doctors will be there for the delivery.  That was a bit of a bummer.  There was a hospital tour and "meet the birthing team" walkthrough and Q&A that they offer, which I did and that was helpful.  So when the day came I knew where to go and the processes and also had met some of the staff or at least seen them.  If you do end up staying the Kaiser route, definitely look further into the class options because they are enormously helpful and there are a lot of them.  Also highly recommend the breastfeeding class!  Take that one before you deliver.  

    I second the recommendation for Pacifica. I just gave birth there in September and was very pleased with the care. 

    You're not too late at all! I suggest contacting Treesa McLean of Birth With Treesa, and one of the midwives who runs Bay Area Midwifery Community Birthing Center in Oakland. In this setting, you will know that she will be the midwife at your birth, and won't have to question which of the many possible unknown providers it will be. www.birthwithtreesa.com
    There are also birth center/home birth focused classes that take place at Bay Area Midwifery that may be of interest to you as well.

    While not answering the question about midwife/birthing center, I can speak to the experience at Kaiser. Hopefully this will help ease your concerns, or be helpful to someone else who is navigating Kaiser.

    First, yes. The visits are quick. Quick at the beginning, especially if all is well. If you have questions, ask them! I've also found that Kaiser docs are generally great at responding to emails. Also, when there was anything remotely abnormal, visits got longer and I was amazed with how quickly I was able to get additional tests (all was actually totally fine). No, you likely won't meet the doctors and nurses who will be there for delivery. 

    Here's a (2016) link to prenatal and postpartum classes. The two/three day childbirth session covers laboring and delivery positions and pain management options, including med-free. I see now that they also offer a "Coping with Labor the Natural Way" class. (FWIW, I had a non-medicated, simple birth at Kaiser Oakland, as did a friend of mine.)

    https://thrive.kaiserpermanente.org/care-near-you/northern-california/sa...

    Re: midwives... Kaiser Oakland and Walnut Creek both have midwives on staff in L&D. The midwife who was with me was top notch and fully in charge (over the resident MD). I felt like I was in very capable hands. And while I hadn't met her prior to birth, she did come to visit the next day, which was really great.

    I trust that you'll find the right option for you!

    I just gave birth to my daughter a couple months ago and received care from Bay Area Midwifery. They do both birth center and home births. My midwife was Pearl. I received such an amazing level of support. It is so different from my Kaiser experiences! Besides long and holistic prenatal appointments, she actually did at least 7 postpartum visits in the first 10 days after the birth. There would have been 10, but the breast feeding and weight gain of the baby was going so well, she didn't need to. She even helped me immensely with breast feeding. I didn't even leave home for an appointment until my 6 week post-partum appointment! 

    I attended pregnancy support groups (free with care) where there was sharing and education as well as birth prep groups with Tabitha (an extra fee). I had the natural home birth that I wanted. Not only that, my husband learned pain management techniques that were critical to me during labor and I had a quick, relatively easy birth. I continue to attend free post partum groups there twice a month. I highly recommend it. What a difference it makes to be seen as a whole person not just a patient and to have everything geared towards preparing you for a natural birth experience! 

    Pacifica Birth Center is amazing. I gave birth there 3 months ago. I also had Kaiser- so its $5000 out of pocket. Worth every penny- we had an amazing birth there.  You are definitely not too late to switch. 

    Definitely not too late to switch, I switched from a midwife practice in a hospital (though no Kaiser) when I was farther along than you.  I felt so strongly that the environment was too medicalized and I would feel uncomfortable giving birth there, and knew I wanted to give birth at home.  I found an incredible midwife, Leopi Sanderson Edmunds, who I can recommend very highly.  Her visits were holistic, and took us through what my partner and I would be experiencing at every stage of the pregnancy, as well as during birth.  She had good recommendations for a healthy, natural pregnancy in terms of diet, supplements, etc.  She and her partner helped me give natural birth to a very large baby without tearing.  She was also able to make the call, soon after the birth, that my baby needed to be seen at the hospital (he's a beautiful, healthy 3yo now don't worry :-).  It was so important that she was professional in recommending the hospital when necessary.  So you have my recommendation for Leopi, but I suggest meeting several midwives and seeing who you connect with, we are lucky there are so many great options in the Bay.  Also the book "Ida May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth" really helped prepare me for what I would experience in birth (caveat - it has a strong 70's hippie vibe which can be too much, but the benefit is that it has lots of birth stories and science).

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Midwife review

Sept 2014

We would love to hear your experience if you worked with home birth midwife Joan Green.


I had both my kids at home now ages 3 and 5. Homebirth (if it is for you) is fantastic in all ways. You'll hear rave reviews for Cindy Haag LCM. She runs a wonderful homebirth-style birthing center called Pacifica Maternity on Telegraph now. THey take insurance of many kinds. But for a real homebirth I'd recommend the apprentice who is now a wonderful midwife in her own right- Julia McMillan LCM. She trained with Cindy and is knowledgeable, caring and a nice balance between woo-woo and practical. Claudia


I don't know of the Midwife you were talking about (Joan) but I highly recommend Nova Midwifery on College Avenue if you are shopping. They are amazing and deliver both of my children. happy mama


Have you used Ellie Griffinger as your midwife?

Jan 2014

I am looking for a midwife to deliver at Alta Bates. I really like Ellie Griffinger, but am just slightly concerned about her lack of experience. Just wondering if anyone has worked with her and what they thought. Thanks! anon


We actually just had Ellie deliver our little munchkin in October and it was an amazing experience. From the first conversation over the phone till the postpartum checkup, she was a fantastic provider. She is thorough, thoughtful and knowledgeable. We had a potential need for a planned cesarean and she made sure we had all the information out there on our options and was a great source of support and advocacy throughout the process. She really knows and understands all the current best evidence practices. I found her adept at melding both traditional midwifery and modern medicine into a seamless experience. All in all we couldn't have asked for a better provider! And we also loved alta bates! Daphne


My husband and I are first-time parents. In preparing for the delivery, we wanted to find a provider that would guide us through this important and challenging transition in our lives. We wanted someone that would help us prepare emotionally, physically and mentally. We searched and searched and finally met with Ellie and knew she was exactly the provider we were looking for.

I recently gave birth in November 2013 at Alta Bates Hospital - labor lasted almost 40 hours, involved multiple complications, including a near-emergency c-section when the baby's heart rate plummeted to a dangerously low level. We were ultimately able to have a successful and wonderful vaginal delivery. Through it ALL, Ellie was right by our side, offering a perfect blend of compassionate care with a pragmatic medical insight and was a tenacious advocate for us as new parents and the experience of bringing a life to this earth. She was clearly respected by her peers in the Labor & Delivery department at the hospital (as a well-educated professional and a mother of 2) and worked tirelessly to partner with the different people that she worked with, valuing their opinions, insight and expertise and blending it all in to a stellar birth experience for us with the absolute highest level of care. Because of her, we had prepared a strong support system of people to be there during the delivery that proved to be absolutely essential during the complications that arose. Without her guidance and preparation, the difficulty we experienced would have been significantly more challenging to handle. It is clear to us that being a midwife is her life's work and the passion she exhibits is clear even through hour 40 of a difficult labor and delivery.

I would highly recommend anyone looking for an incredibly enriching pregnancy, birth and post-partum experience to reach out to Ellie immediately - and believe me, I am a PA and come from an extended family of MD's, and had very little experience before my birth regarding the incredible field of midwifery - it's rigorous training, compassionate mission and all-encompassing care and I am 100% converted to the profession. She earned our trust and partnered with us both in this incredible experience which we will cherish forever. Feel free to reach out to me if you want more details on our experience with Ellie. Kimberly


I delivered with Lindy Johnson in November 2014. She is AMAZING, and Ellie is working closely with Lindy, so I ended up having several of my regular checkups with Ellie, who I really enjoyed meeting with. Ellie is warm, attentive, and relaxed. Both she and Lindy are wonderful, and if you plan to deliver at Alta Bates, I'd highly recommend going with one of them. I felt so comfortable going to the hospital knowing who was going to meet me there and coach me through the birth. I think that confidence and peace of mind helped me have a joyful and safe birth experience. I really couldn't imagine better care that what I received from Lindy & Ellie. Merrian


Midwives at Alta Bates and East Bay Perinatal

Nov 2013

Open season is coming up and we are trying to have a baby. None of the midwives who practice at Alta Bates are preferred providers under our network, but Alta Bates is. Does anybody know what the ballpark rate for Lindy Johnson or Jeri Zukowski is (for if we decide to go out of network and pay for part of the care)? Do you know if we would be able to have all of the hospital costs covered as preferred even if the midwife attending the birth is not a preferred provider? Or, does anybody know if Hsu Li Cheng or Deborah Coleman bills through the doctors at East Bay Perinatal? All of the doctors there are preferred providers. I'd also love to hear any recent feedback that people have on any of these midwives. I'd really like to have a hospital birth with a midwife and to know who will be there at the birth. I previously gave birth in another city with a group of hospital-based midwives. Thanks! anonymous


As of a year ago Hsiu-Li billed through East Bay Perinatal and accepted my insurance (HealthNet HMO, Hills Physician medical group). I moved to the bay area when I was 7 months pregnant and after reading the BPN posts chose Hsiu-Li in the hopes of having a midwife attend my child's birth at Alta Bates. I ended up with a c-section because my baby flipped to breech at 38 weeks but I did have a chance to interact with her a few times at my appointments. She seemed really great and has a fantastic reputation. The instructor of the childbirth class I attended has worked with her many times as a doula and had nothing but positive things to say about her. She explained on our first visit that there are several other midwives in the practice and one of them will attend the birth if she cannot. She does not attend births in the middle of the night. I met one of the other midwives when she was away at a conference (don't remember her name) and she seemed nice enough. My only issue with my experience was the receptionist who I had trouble communicating with. For example, they practice at both the Elm St and Chinatown locations but I didn't know that so when I scheduled my first visit I went to the wrong location. I was lectured when I finally showed up (~10 min late). Because of my baby's breech position and also some high blood pressure at the end of my pregnancy, I also saw some of the OBs at the practice before and after my baby's birth. Some were nice but others were pretty unpleasant.

Just one more note for you if you're trying to get pregnant now. Alta Bates was super busy when I had my baby last October. They even say in the tour that fall is their busiest time for births. Since it's not your first baby, you will be more prepared than I was but both my husband and I were pretty surprised at their disorganization and lack of attention, services, etc at the time. Good luck with everything!! anon


Lindy Johnson at Alta Bates is a fantastic midwife. Jeri Zucowski was the midwife for me first child and refused to get to the hospital when she needed to be there. She arrived 5 minutes before my daughter was born.


I am due in a couple months and am seeing Lindy Johnson. It's my understanding that she bills through East Bay Perinatal. She understands the insurance questions and would probably be able to answer all your questions if you ask. I don't know what her rates are as she is fully covered by our insurance (Aetna HMO, Hill Physicians Group).

I actually switched providers halfway through my pregnancy and have had a pleasant experience with her thus far. My first was an uncomplicated, unmedicated birth with an OB and doula at CPMC (although the OB actually didn't make it into the room in time for the actual birth!), and my second pregnancy has been uneventful as well. I don't have a lot of questions or issues so I don't really need a lot from my prenatal provider. She or her backup attend all the births start to finish so I am skipping a doula this time around. Maya


My wife and I are first-time parents. In preparing for the delivery, we wanted to find a provider that would guide us through this important and challenging transition in our lives (and that either our insurance would cover or that wouldn't cost us an arm and a leg). We wanted someone that would help us prepare emotionally, physically and mentally. We searched and searched and finally met with Ellie Griffinger and knew she was exactly the provider we were looking for. As far as in the insurance is concerned, we paid a flat amount and then she provides a super-bill that we submit to our insurance (Blue Shield of CA) for reimbursement and then our insurance is billed by Alta Bates directly for the hospital costs. A lot of insurances don't contract with midwives directly, but still cover them as preferred providers. Even IF our insurance doesn't reimburse anything, it has been worth every penny. I'll explain why below....

My wife recently gave birth - labor lasted almost 40 hours, involved multiple complications, including a near-emergency c-section when the baby's heart rate plummeted to a dangerously low level. Through it ALL, Ellie was right by our side, offering a perfect blend of compassionate care with a pragmatic medical insight and was a tenacious advocate for us as new parents and the experience of bringing a life to this earth. You can find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/elliecnm?ref=br_tf

During the entire labor it was clear that she is respected by her peers in the Labor & Delivery department at the hospital (as a well-educated professional and a mother of 2) and worked tirelessly to partner with the different people that she worked with, valuing their opinions, insight and expertise and blending it all in to a stellar birth experience for us with the absolute highest level of care. Because of her, we had prepared a strong support system of people to be there during the delivery that proved to be absolutely essential during the complications that arose. Without her guidance and preparation, the difficulty we experienced would have been significatly more challenging to handle. It is clear to us that being a midwife is her life's work and the passion she exhibits is clear even through hour 40 of a difficult labor and delivery.

I would highly recommend anyone looking for an incredibly enriching pregancy, birth and post-partum experience to reach out to Ellie immediately - and believe me, I come from a family of MD''s and had no idea about the incredible field of midwifery - it's rigorous training, compassionate mission and all- encompassing care and I am 100% converted to the profession. She earned our trust and partnered with us both in this incredible experience which we will cherish forever. Jake


Jeri Zukoski-Best Midwife. Highly recommended! I highly recommend my midwife, Jeri Zukoski (www.jerizukoski.com) as a midwife. She is kind, caring, and supportive and provides you with industry leading information for you to have the best birth you can possibly have. I had given birth to both of my children with her and I would not have had it any other way. After every appointment I felt empowered, strong, supported and excited about birth instead of scared and alone. When you are at the hospital and deliver with Jeri you feel that you get first class treatment and service. I had a long (38 hour) labor with my first and if I know that if it had been with any other care provider I know it would have resulted in a c-section and lots of drugs. However I had the natural delivery that I had hoped for and was so happy with how everything worked out. Both my partner and I are extremely happy with Jeri and if we decide to have another baby she is the first person I will turn to. Lauren


Birthing at Alta Bates - Midwife recs

Sept 2013

Hi! I am delivering my first child in December and just moved to Oakland. I have been getting prenatal care from the amazing group of OBs and midwifes at St. Luke's in San Francsico, and I am not 100% convinced that I will switch over to Alta Bates. St. Lukes is super pro natural birth with a very low rate of any invasive procedures plus there is a dedicated midwife during delivery, those factors are making me not want to leave. ...but crossing a bridge just doesn't seem like fun while in labor. I would love recommendations for an Alta Bates affiliated OB in the Oakland area as well as any personal experience with delivering at that facility. At AB, do you have to have a dedicated midwife, or are there midwives on staff? If dedicated midwife, do you have any recommendations? Does anyone have experience with the tubs in their delivery rooms? Thank you for any and all information you can provide. Cheers


Shui Li (Sho Li) Cheng is an incredibly experienced nurse midwife who has privileges at Alta Bates. She was my midwife for the birth of my first child, and I was very pleased with the whole experience. Office visits are not that much different than you might have with an OB - she's calm, efficient, to the point, no nonsense. The delivery room is where she really shines! After a different on-call midwife at AB left me confused about how to push the baby out (because of her age, Shui Li doesn't work in the middle of the night), Shui Li arrived at 4 am in an air of calm confidence and the baby was born in 15 minutes, three pushes later. Shui Li fan


I highly recommend my midwife, Jeri Zukoski (www.jerizukoski.com). She, along with the L nurses at Alta Bates were amazingly supportive of my wishes for an intervention-free birth. I gave birth to my first child without pain meds or tearing thanks to Jeri and the nurses. Her back-up midwife, Lindy Johnson seems equally as competent. They have both been practicing for many years. I was also told that the intake staff often give preference to midwife clients for jacuzzi tub rooms (3 of 24), though many of the rooms have regular bathtubs. Tisha


Midwife team/practice (not solo) at a hospital?

Aug 2013

This is my first time delivering in the Bay Area. I know for sure I want to work with a midwife. I have browsed ALL the amazing BPN recommendations and it seems most are for home births. I want to deliver at a hospital for many reasons. I am a low risk pregnancy. I have seen the BPN recommendations for Hsui-Li Cheng, and I checked her out because of it. I really like her. The problem is she doesn't deliver from 9pm-4am, and I'm not sure I'm willing to take that risk. I would strongly prefer to know who my midwife is in advance and have a relationship with her/them. Therefore it seems I need to work with more than one midwife, say a team or practice of practitioners. Can anyone share a great hospital-practicing midwife team with me other than Hsui-Li or single practitioners? Thanks for helpful advice! In Need Of A Midwife


I realize this might require a medical insurance switch for you, but thought I'd answer anyway... I delivered all 3 of my kids at Kaiser Walnut Creek, mostly because of the wonderful midwives on staff there. The midwife teams were all amazing, and though I had not met them prior to delivery, I felt completely confident with each one that I met and labored with. At shift change, another would come on and take over. I knew that they were reporting back to the attending OB/GYN, but honestly, because my labors all progressed and all went smoothly, I never even met the Dr. until after my babies were born! In addition, they very much supported my wishes to have drug free deliveries. Because of the Kaiser system , where more than likely you do NOT have your OB deliver your baby, I decided to hire a doula who I knew before to have a source of consistency present during labor (other than my husband). My doula worked beautifully with the midwives on staff and vice versa. I felt completely supported by the Kaiser midwife teams, my doula and husband and was able to have 3 deliveries that I hoped for- natural, hospital births. I wish you the best! mama bear of 3


Judy Luce, midwife

Jan 2013

I would like to know what people's experience with midwife Judy Luce has been. Thank you anonymous


we used judy for a homebirth 5.5 yrs ago and she was wonderful. Judy is kind, caring, supportive and took her time in prenatal appointments. She was supportive and strong during the birth and afterwards, she and her partner cleaned up so fast that you wouldn't ever have known a birth occurred. This was our one and only homebirth experience and it was so empowering! Feel free to email me with more questions. incognitooakland


I had Judy as a midwife and my experience was mixed.

I chose her because I wanted someone with her skills, experience and worldview regarding birth. In this regard she is unique in the Bay Area. I'd say she is one of the least ''medicalized'' midwives around and this was important to me. She trusts birth and pregnancy beyond the lip service many others pay this idea and she also has the experience and skills to know when something is up and medical intervention is needed.

Where I found Judy difficult is that she doesn't listen well and is not great at holding space for other people, also important skills for a midwife to have. I often felt emotionally disconnected from her and not heard by her, which was difficult. She is a vivacious and bubbly person with lots of stories and I appreciate this about her. At the same time she is not skilled at making space for the most important person in the process -- the pregnant woman! another mom


Pregnant grad student looking for midwife advice

Nov 2012

Hello! I am writing my dissertation and just found out I'm pregnant! I am interested in using a midwife and have consultations lined up with Lindy Johnson, Deborah Coleman, and Hsui-Li Cheng. I really liked Hsui-Li over the phone, but my main concern was that it sounds like she does not come to the hospital between 9pm and 4am, and you are largely with her group of backup midwives. I'm curious if anyone has worked with her under this model (I gather it's a recent shift in her practice about 1.5 years ago), and whether you found it difficult (and why). Did you like the other midwives in the group? Are they as experiences as she? Does it leave you more at the liberty of the more medicalized Alta Bates staff not to have someone with you from the time you arrive at the hospital? Any advice you might be able to give about Lindy Johnson and Deborah Coleman would be great, or anyone else I'm missing (particularly if they're blue cross preferred provider). I liked Lindy as well, but the main drawback is that it will cost us an additional $2,200 out of pocket to use her. She also seems to have both very good and a couple very bad reviews online. The other two are covered by my insurance and we would just be responsible for the $3k out of pocket max for delivering at Alta Bates. Thank you so much for any advice you can offer. This is a whole new world for me. It's my first pregnancy and I'm not necessarily against standard hospital medicine. I just know I don't want a lot of interventions/drugs if possible, which is why the interest in midwifery. diss + baby here i come!


Hi there, I also had my daughter in grad school. She's almost 2 now and I'm finally in my last semester. Whoo hoo! We delivered with the midwives at Sacred Birth Place. They take all type of insurances and are completly with you 100% of the time before, during, and after labor. They are amazing! They also do deliveries at their birth center, in hospitals, or even at home. I cannot recommend the group enough. You will have a main midwife and several others for support or in the odd event that the main midwife cannot be there. There are also very supportive group meetings every two weeks. The women I met in those groups are now some of my closest friends.

They have open house information nights if you want to know more. I love how they help you build your confidence to do what your body is meant to do. They are amazingly supportive and knowledgable. Feel free to contact me if you want to hear more about them. I believe women are strong and should be allowed to birth in the way that is most comfortable and natural. A lot of the interventions recommended by conventional labor and delivery are unecessary. Jinny


Congratulations on your pregnancy! Becoming a mother is the most amazing experience. I'm mom to 2 small children and Lindy Johnson was my midwife during both pregnancies. She was fantastic. Lindy was always quick to call me back when I left her voicemails and I never felt rushed during my check-ups. She is always reassuring and warm. She was amazing during my delivery as well. Lindy will guarantee to be at your birth unless she has a prior engagement already on the calendar (which is very rare). This was important to me because I wanted the person delivering my baby to help support a natural delivery and I wanted to have a comfortable relationship with the midwife (especially since I wasn't using a doula). Lindy helped create a safe and comforting environment in an overflowing triage room at Alta Bates so I could have the natural child birth I hoped for. I highly recommend her! East Bay Mama


I would like to pass along a glowing recommendation for LIndy Johnson, midwife to the anonymous, pregnant grad student.

Lindy was my midwife with my 13-year old. She helped me through a miscarriage after that. She was not available for my second born, so I used another team. The only reason you see any negative reviews about Lindy is that she has done SO MANY BIRTHS. She is in the book Babycatcher, Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent. She was in the team of 3 midwives to start birthing at Alta Bates. I just met a retired doctor who is dear friends with and couldn't speak highly enough of her.

You have to listen to your gut on what you need in a midwife, but I would almost get pregnant again to have Lindy by my side. Best to you! barbara


First off - congrats!

I can't say enough good things about Hsiu Li. She's been my Midwife for two births (the first, she was on vacation unfortunately, but I knew that was a possibility). The second birth, she was present and was helped me navigate vbac with no pain meds.

Due to her ''off hours'' I highly recommend a doula. Actually, I'd recommend a doula no matter what. I didnt have one with my first birth, and realized that I needed a support person at the hospital to help with whatever comes up during labor. Labor is often long! and the doula will be with you for hours preceding any work by the midwife. At alta bates, the midwife or dr. on staff would check me from time to time, and the nurses checked in on my vitals and all that other stuff, but my doula helped me find new positions to progress the labor, and literally held my hand an talked me through it.

When Hsiu Li arrived at 4 am, i still had a ways to go. She was with me for te last few hours and somehow adjusted my babies position and coached me through the breathing and pushing to get him out perfectly. She is a calm strong support in that crazy time. Miracle worker of the baby delivering world. Enjoy the journey, and I wouldn't worry about the off hours. Alta bates respected my preference for a med free birth, and my doula helped me have a familiar face and strong support as well.( I highly recommend the full circle doula group as well) all the best. Hsiu Li fan


Lindy was my midwife for my son (born in April), and I highly recommend her! She is super smart, extremely knowledgeable, and very calm and comforting. We switched to her from an OB we liked because we wanted more time during appointments (we frequently spent 45 minutes with Lindy -- with the OB, it was usually only about 5) and wanted a better chance of having our primary care person at our birth. Lindy is available 99 percent of the time, and she was indeed the one to catch my baby. My husband and I both felt like we, and our baby, were in SUCH good hands. She has been doing this forever, and I think does a great job of straddling what sometimes seems like the OB-midwife divide. You give birth in a hospital and have all the support of the wonderful Alta Bates staff (we had fantastic nurses!), and all the backup you might need in an emergency. But you have really personal, gentle prenatal care, and, the great thing for us was that when Lindy told us we needed to do something (a certain test, or, in the end, labor induction) we totally trusted her and knew it was the right thing for us and the baby. That was worth everything to us. -happy mama


Hi and congratulations on your pregnancy!

I worked with Hsiu-Li for my pregnancy (I delivered 6 weeks ago) and was really happy with her care. However it is true that she won't be at the hospital from 9pm to 4am AND if your pregnancy becomes medicalized, like mine (this would include things like pregnancy induced high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, a breech baby), then you are *very* promptly turned over to the OB practice she is affiliated with.

When this happened to me (in my 39th week, while in triage for a truly terrible headache where I learned I had a low platelet count and some high BP readings), I was really surprised. Perhaps (probably) Hsiu-Li alerted me in my 1st trimester when I interviewed her that I would be turned over to the OBs if things became medicalized, but while in triage and feeling rather freaked out as to what was happening, I couldn't recall that she'd ever told me. She also had the briefest of conversations with me while in triage (she was at A.B. at the time) which ended with ''Dr. X will take good care of you. Good luck!''. I was stunned and very saddened.

Turned out that my baby wasn't born till 2 weeks later (at 42 weeks) and in the end I did indeed work with a ''hospitalist'' (a new term in the medical world--it refers to an OB who works only in the hospital, performing cesarean after cesarean, and never seeing patients in the office) instead of Hsiu-Li to deliver my baby. That was because my son was not only breech, but I was 2 days from 42 weeks, and I also had 2 weeks of high BP readings (never to the point of being preeclampsia).

I tell you all of this not to worry or scare you, but so that you will know what *may* happen should you deliver at night and/or have medical issues surrounding your pregnancy.

BTW, I was in and out of A.B. triage the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy and met many, many nurses. So very many of them ROCK! Even if you aren't able to work with Hsiu-Li, you will surely get an amazing nurse (or multiple nurses depending on your length of labor). Best of luck and happy pregnancy to you! Caryn


Congratulations and good luck with your dissertation!

A previous poster looks like she wrote my response for me! I had Lindy as my midwife this summer and could not have been happier. I also loved my OB/GYN so it was really hard to leave her, but in the end knowing that Lindy would be at my birth 90-something percent of the time was a huge factor for me. My OB could only give me about 20% chance. Also, I have 2 friends who had Hsiu-Li who night-labored and were disappointed to not have her there so I am quite glad I did not choose her. Knowing who would be at my birth was a big deal for me.

Lindy takes all the time you need in appointments and made me feel very comfortable with the entire process and I didn't have an anxieties going into my birth. Part of this was having a great team lined up- I also had a doula, Erin Crowe, who she had worked with many times so I knew they got along well.

A month or 2 before my due date, I came across some terrible reviews of Lindy which I hadn't seen prior to my decision to go with her. Initially I was quite worried, but then I had to reflect on how I felt about her and not how a few anonymous people on the internet felt. (ironic, considering this post) I am glad that I listened to my gut and was fortunate to have a great birthing experience with Lindy and Erin. I was also lucky that I didn't need her backup OB's, but I knew there was always one at the hospital if I needed, and that was reassuring.So much of pregnancy and birth is emotional rather than scientific so I woudl go with what your gut tells you. $2200 is a lot extra to pay for someone, but if you meet Lindy and like her, it might be worth it. We were fortunate that our insurance covered her like anyone else. If you really prefer Hsiu-Li, make sure you have a doula who you trust and then even if Hsiu-Li can't make it, you know that your doula will be with you.Best of luck! Happy with LindyLooking for Midwife for Alta Bates

May 2012

Hi! My partner and I are moving to Oakland (from Brooklyn, NY) next week and are registered to give birth at Alta Bates. We had tentatively lined up Deb Coleman to attend, but it turns out both she and Hsiu-Li Cheng will be on vacation in August when I'm due. The other two midwives recommended by the hospital (Jeri Zukowski and Lindy Johnson) are both out of network for us (I have Anthem, Blue Cross) and are unfortunately out of our price range. Does anyone have any suggestions for a midwife who can work at Alta Bates and who can bill through a clinic or OB so my insurance will step up? It's very important to me to try for a natural birth, and to be attended by a woman. Any thoughts much appreciated! Thanks


I highly recommend Lindy Johnson or Sho li chin both are fabulous midwives who practice at alta bates.As a doula I have had the good fortune to practice with each of them. You will have the birth of your dreams if you choose one of these incredable women. best of luck,Erin


Homebirth Midwife, CNM only

May 2012

Hello, My husband and I are expecting our first child at the end of this year. We are interested in using a Certified Nurse Midwife for a home-birth. I've read previous postings about Beah Harber and have meet with her. Has anyone had any experiences with Eva Goodfriend-Reano and Kristen Cates? Or a different CNM? Thanks! Jessica


I'm currently working with Kristen Cates (Sequoia Midwifery), and absolutely love her. I've assisted at homebirths for many years in a different city, so thought I was going to have a hard time finding a midwife here that I totally loved but not the case! She's very mellow and calming (which is good because I can be really nervous about my own health), but extremely knowledgeable and no-nonsense. I've had a few weird health things happen since I've been pregnant and Kristen's been very responsive to my calls and emails, researching answers for me when she wasn't sure. She provides what I feel is a very balanced mixture of western med, herbs, body work, etc, and seems open to following her client's desires regarding how this balance plays out. While I'm not due for a few more weeks so can't speak to how birth will go, I will say I'm going into the experience looking forward to working with her and fully trusting her. Happy Sequoia Midwifery client


Hello! I know you said you were looking for CNM midwife only but I just had to recommend the team I went with for my daughters' birth in 2007. Juli Tilsner & Deborah Simon with Awakenings Birth Services. I am also a doula and have worked with them at a few births. (I only worked with Beah once and don't personally know the others you mentioned). Juli & Deborah provided amazing care! At all stages of my pregnancy, labor/birth, and postpartum they were attentive, caring, skilled, and incredibly supportive.

I should also say that I do know that home birth is the same with either a licensed midwife or a CNM. They bring the same equipment and medications. Skill levels vary from midwife to midwife and has little bearing on the licensure or certification. You will find midwives that are willing to do some things at home that another midwife wouldn't consider, like twins or breech, regardless of their title. It really boils down to their experiences and comfort level.

I think one of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing a midwife is to trust your intuition. You will know when you've met the right team. The same goes for a doula. So when you get to that stage of planning I would be delighted if you checked out my site mangomamadoula.com Good luck! Simona


Deborah Coleman or Hsiu-Li Cheng?

March 2012

Hello, I'm pregnant and debating between going with Deborah Coleman, or Hsiu-Li for my prenatal care and delivery (which will be at Alta Bates). There are plenty of reviews for Hsiu-Li, but none for Deborah. I would appreciate others sharing their thoughts about their experience (good or bad) with either midwife. Thanks so much! S


Hsiu-Li was my midwife (birth at Alta Bates) and I absolutely adore her. She was wonderful during the pregnancy check-ups and due to her expertise during the birth, I was able to avoid a c-section. She performed some crazy baby-moving moves on me during labor when my daughter was stuck (and the nurses were saying I would need a c-section) but Hsui-Li saved the day. Also, during labor, it was solely her confidence in me that allowed me to have a natural childbirth. She is really wonderful. I will say that if you are wanting someone to be there with you your entire labor, you may want to hire a doula. Hsiu-Li checked me at the beginning of labor and then was there for the birth, but was not there for most of the labor - which was totally fine with me given that it was my second child and I felt like I knew what I was doing. Fan of Hsiu-Li


I saw Deborah Coleman for two of my babies and was happy with her. She has a medical background (she was an RN before training as a CNM), so although she is a midwife, she felt more medically oriented than other midwives I have seen. That having been said, she was always very laid back and very much let me make my own decisions and set the tone for my care. One example is that my second baby with her was getting progressively past her due date and she would have been inclined to induce but I wanted to wait, even though she was going out of town. I ended up delivering on my own right before she left for vacation, but she was OK with my waiting so long as I understood the risks and advantages of both options. Naomi


Thought I'd toss another log on the ''Hsiu Li is wonderful'' fire. She was my midwife for the birth of my second. As far as baby-birthing goes, she brought confidence, strength, and support to the table and helped me through a pain-med free vbac. Prenatal appointments were straightforward. Not a lot of chatting and handholding, but if you bring your partner in, she is helpful with showing them how to do acupressure to help relax during labor. She will also guide you on nutrition. Should any complications arise, a team of doctors support her office, and they will tandem-manage your case as-needed.

I hired the full circle doula group (yes, I keep posting here about how great they are as well) for labor support. They turned out to be a good emotional, educational guide pre-baby. They were with me during the whole labor. Hsiu Li checked in regularly, and was present when I was close to delivery.

Why do I think she was amazing? My son was not in the right position when I had the urge to push and she gave me clear instructions on how to rearrange myself, while she gently coaxed him into place. She told me how to focus my breathing so that I would not be pushing (as much) during contractions and he could slowly adjust. It seems impossible, yet it worked, and he was born quickly with no complications. I'm sure there are many good midwives out there, but Hsiu Li is amazing. hsiu li fan


There were a few reviews for Debby Coleman a few weeks ago. Here are the reasons that I don't recommend Debby: 1.She was fine with all of my plans until 2 weeks before birth, at which time she told me how she was going to do it. When I was upset about the last-minute changes, she told me to find someone else, which was impossible at such a late date. 2.She schedules too many mothers with the same due date despite telling me the opposite; there were 3 of us in labor at the same time, so I rarely saw her. 3. She left me while in active labor to go do her taxes in Richmond. 4.I kept trying to get on my knees to push, but she shoved me back down, telling me that it was easier for her to have me on my back. Not a fan of Debby Coleman


I saw Debbie Coleman for my prenatal care before a Fall 2011 birth. I found her to be straightforward and responsive to my concerns for prenatal care (eg, ordering a glucose test when I told her my mom had gestational diabetes; ordering nonstress tests as we got close to the due date). She was reassuring and matter of fact, which I really appreciated, and didn't push a certain type of birth plan. However, she didn't make it to the birth even though she was in town (she was leaving on a trip the next day). I was pretty disappointed that she wasn't there as that was part of the reason I wanted a midwife - they are supposed to show up at the birth more often than docs. So, I like her a lot but there's a big caveat. Hope that helps you make a decision and good luck. A mama


My daughter was born 6 1/2 months ago and Lyndy Johnson was our midwife. A friend of mine had recommended her to me and from the first appointment I knew she was the person I wanted to delivery our baby. Each appointment was at least 30 minutes long and she took the time to answer all of our questions thoughtfully. My husband who is more of the skeptic was so impressed by Lyndy's knowledge and no matter what questions or concerns arose for me or the baby, Lyndy was able to tell us what was happening in a way that put us immediately at ease. One of the things I appreciate the most about Lyndy is her calm demeanor. I find many people in the medical profession are quick to jump to ''something's wrong'' and scare people. Lyndy was always calm, something I think she has from all of her experience with women and delivering babies.It was important for my husband and I to have a natural birth and we did a LOT of preparation and training for this. When I was in labor, my husband communicated with Lyndy and he was able to stay focused as my coach because Lyndy was so clear about what was happening and what the next step was. When we got to the hospital (Alta Bates) our daughter was delivered in less than an hour. Again, Lyndy's voice was so calm and supportive. The birth of our daughter was an amazing experience that both my husband and I couldn't have been happier about. Lyndy was one of the big contributing factors to making our daughter's birth safe, healthy and completely natural. I highly recommended Lyndy to anyone looking for a warm, competent midwife to deliver your baby. Kathleen


A Midwife with Privileges at Alta Bates

March 2012

Hello, I'm hoping folks can give me some recommendations for midwives who have privileges at Alta Bates OTHER than Hsiu-Li, Jeri, or Lindy. I would love to hear any experiences that folks have had with other midwives, both good and not-so-good. Any thoughts on Deborah Coleman would be helpful! Thanks so much! S


I know you are not lookin for Hsiu Li recommendations, but she just delivered my baby at alta bates and was amazing. Not a lot of hand-holding on the prenatal appts, but when in labor, her experience and support were perfect. I had a pain med free vbac and she knew exactly how to guide me to get babe in the right position to avoid a long stretch of Pushing and excessive stress on baby. Perhaps every midwife does this? But seemed miraculous at the time. Hsiu Li rocks! Hsiuli fan


I chose Debbie Coleman for my Oct 2011 birth (my first). I switched to her after starting with Lindy (who everyone raves about but I found to not be a good fit for me; I felt she was dismissive of some of my concerns). I thought Debbie was quite good for prenatal care -- runs pretty much on time for appointments, listened and was helpful with things like ordering non-stress testing near the end of the pregnancy, etc. I found her to be down to earth, reassuring, and straightforward, which I really liked. Her office staff is ok -- not awesome but definitely not the worst I've dealt with at doctors' offices. The big downside was that Debbie was not there for the actual birth -- she was in town, but was leaving the next day. My husband was/is livid -- thought she should have been there and just slept in the car on her way to vacation, and why use a midwife if she's going to act like a doctor and not show up? I'm more ambivalent about it because I don't want to remember the birth in a negative way, Debbie never promised me she'd be there, I appreciated all of her work leading up to the birth, and the birth did go pretty much how I'd hoped. There is a midwife on call at Alta Bates and that's who delivered our baby (Elizabeth Simms, who I did not like), but really 95% of the work was me, my husband, our doula, and the nurses. Hope that helps and good luck


Hi there, I'm 38 weeks along with my first child and have been seeing Debbie Coleman as my midwife since we moved to the area in November. Although I picked her at random, I'm happy with how things have been going so far. I wouldn't describe her as warm and fuzzy, but she's very matter-of-fact, easy to understand, and non-alarmist. Additionally, I think it helps our relationship that, although she's supposedly agnostic on the whole thing, after reviewing my options and taking classes at Alta Bates, I've decided to have a 'see how it goes' approach to labor, which is her preferred method. Blythe


The problem is that other midwives *don't* have privileges at Alta Bates. Lindy doesn't do this anymore, and Jeri seems to be the only one who can actually deliver there. Basically, if you want to deliver at Alta Bates, you're best off either using the midwife group there, or getting a really good doula and a doctor that you like, and not bothering with a midwife. All the good midwives do home births only these days (with hospital being an emergency option, and one that requires a doctor to do the actual delivery). If you want a hospital and a midwife, you might check around for different hospitals that have either great midwife groups, or give delivery privileges to midwives. Good luck. been there


A previous poster said that the midwife Lindy Johnson does not do births at Alta Bates anymore, but that is not true! She does! She is currently my midwife, and I think she's great. She is very focused and serious, but also warm, nurturing, and comforting. I haven't had my baby yet, but I would recommend her at this point based on how much I have liked my prenatal appointments with her. --Pleased Patient


My understanding is that Lindy Johnson is still delivering at Alta Bates. Lindy delivered both my daughters there, and I can't speak highly enough about her! In office she is simply lovely -- warm and reassuring, but extremely competent and efficient (i.e. you'll get good attention, but you'll get seen on time!). And in the hospital, she was everything we could have asked for: first of all, PRESENT! (despite my fast labors, she managed to get there before we did, which was a great relief to us in very active labor, not having to deal with strangers in triage -- she took us straight to our room), completely calm and reassuring, super-competent, and totally on the same page with us regarding our wishes for a natural birth. I could go on and on about the many ways Lindy is wonderful (we switched medical groups so our insurance would cover her, and we haven't been disappointed!). A super-satisfied repeat client


OB/doula needed for very nervous 2nd time mom

Dec 2011

We are just starting to try to get pregnant with baby no 2. Due to a previous pregnancy that we ended due to birth defect and also due to the fact our only child (so far) has had some minor to moderate developmental issues (PDD and SID diagnosed at age 2.5) I am probably about 1000 times more neurotic and freaked out about things than, say, a first time mom with a 'normal' pregnancy underway. I already posted for more abstract emotional advice in the upcoming Advice Wanted. So here, can you please recommend a female OB somewhere near Richmond/Berkeley/Emeryville who excels at being kind and compassionate but also honest and direct with high needs, freaked out, nervous Nellies like me?? Some one who acknowledges what we've been through and understands birth defects, 'imperfect' kids etc...Also open to doula recs though more for moral support as I want to have baby in hospital w/ doctor attending and it most likely will be a Csection (first baby was a C baby) thanks!!!! Nervous Nellie


I am so sorry for your loss and suffering. I was also highly anxious during my pregnancy, for different but also very real reasons. I had a very medically complicated pregnancy after repeated pregnancy loss. I worked with Lindy Johnson, CNM, a hospital based nurse midwife (as I originally wanted a ''natural birth'') and East Bay Perinatal, saw both Dr. Marinoff and Dr. Weiss. I found Lindy to be calm, compassionate, and skilled. She did not hesitate to transfer me to to an OB for a c-section when that was needed but then provided my follow-up care. Both Dr. M and Dr. W were great. I also saw Dr. Maria Chiaia, PhD for emotional support during that time and she was also great, even visited me in the hospital after the baby was born. If you went with Lindy and EB Perinatal, you might not need a doula. Our doula was quite nice but had little to no experience in what transpired in my pregnancy so I would not get a doula again. It was a waste of money for us, especially with a midwife. You can also be directly cared for by one of the perinatologists. This is what we will probably do next time as my GP is pretty insistent on it due to my medical hx. The nice thing about being followed by the peri as they are the experts in high risk everything related to pregnancy so you get the care and info straight from them. Wishing you peace on your journey to expanding your family- Been there and it sucked


Looking for an East bay midwife

Oct 2011

My wife and I are looking for a midwife in the east bay. We are new to the area and want some fresh reviews, since some of these seem old. Please let us know who you think is awesome. Dad-2-Be


I really liked my midwife, Kristen Graser. She works with Amanda Koslor, who I worked with post-partum and liked as well. They were both worked well with me and took great care of me during prenatal visits, labor, and post-partum. You can read up on them/contact them through http://fruitsoflabor.org/. happy homebirth mama


My midwife was Cindy Haag and all the great reviews you see in the archives about her are still true. You want someone who is warm and compassionate, and who also has real medical knowledge, and Cindy has both. Grateful for my homebirth


I highly recommend Kristen Graser and Fruits of Labor (www.fruitsoflabor.org). We had our baby girl at home in June. Kristen is very knowledgeable, straightforward, has a playful yet grounded presence. And her level of postpartum care was way beyond expectation. She also teaches the east bay homebirth prep classes. If we were expecting another child, I wouldn't hesitate to work with Kristen again. Kate


I would highly recommend Nova Midwifery in the East Bay. They provided their great care and support back in 2009, with our first homebirth and first baby. We also had another baby just 6 weeks ago, under their care once again. Mason, Mollie, and Megan (and now Laurel too!) are wonderful, caring women who consistently provide my husband and I with love and support in all aspects of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenthood. They listen, they give you advice (if you want it and ask for it, of course), they offer a great deal of information & perspective with their combined wealth of knowledge and experience. They also offer much needed laughter at times

My first homebirth experience - I honestly could not have imagined it going as wonderfully as it did. I believe that because of the great care that Nova Midwifery provided, I was able to go thru my 20+ hours of labor without any fears. Any time I felt and expressed that I couldnt do it - they were right there to soothe me, to encourage me, to hold me and to guide me into a better mindset (with a lot of help from my husband too!). My second homebirth was a very different scene altogether with only 3+ hours of labor! I first started feeling more intense contractions at about 8:30 am. And when Mason called my husband and asked to listen to me while I was going thru one. I remember hearing her say - OK! I'm on my way! We had our little girl at 11:50 am. It was pretty awesome to have my husband hand me our baby girl.

I cannot express enough how much I love them and will miss them. But thankfully, they have annual reunions! And they are always a phone call away. My husband would probably express his love for them differently but I know he feels the same way. Please feel free to contact us, if you have any questions! Cherlyn


I love Nova Midwifery! In 2010 my sister used their services to have her baby at home. I got to experience their work first hand. They are kind and will do what you need them to do. Three months ago they were my midwives. They were with me for my very long labor (101 hours), they came when I asked and were there for me when I was having a really difficult time coping. I did eventually transfer to a hospital, but they were there with me, and were even allowed to catch him! I've continued to contact them for random questions and they are only too happy to answer them. I highly recommend them and am happy to answer any further questions about them you may have. Pati


We highly recommend Treesa McLean (www.birthwithtreesa.com) as a doula and midwife. She's fantastic - smart, funny, sensitive, not at all dogmatic, and incredibly responsive. My husband appreciated her ability to crack a dark joke at the right moment. I appreciated her ability to speak frankly and plan for trouble without being alarmist. The great thing about using her as a doula was that she was, as a licensed midwife, also able to check my progress throughout the night. When the time came to head to the hospital, we chose to send her into triage with me instead of my husband going in, and she got me into a room quickly and efficiently. Throughout the process, she obviously knew and worked with the staff of Alta Bates Berkeley incredibly well.

We also used her for nursing consultations afterward, and she adapted well to my needs - again, she's great about not being dogmatic. We can't recommend her highly enough. First-Time Mom


I am a new mom and had a wonderful home birth experience. Given the importance of birth, I'm compelled to offer my take on what factors converged to give our little family such a wonderful start. First of all, I found Moon who is an amazingly gifted body worker. I was in quite a state of desperation and despair in the early days of my pregnancy with nausea and vomiting. Not knowing who to call, I followed the recommendation of my husband and searched for bodyworkers on google. Moon's site came up and when I called, she actually answered the phone! What's more, she squeezed me into her full schedule that very afternoon and by the evening I was experiencing considerable relief from my symptoms. I've been a devoted client ever since, she's helped me at every stage of the pregnancy and postpartum. Were it not form my limited budget, I'd see her more frequently. As my pregnancy progressed, I came to realize that I was going to need a bit more support. Moon was kind enough to talk with me about my needs and recommended Dr. Kenda Burke to me. This was my second blessing. Dr. Kenda is an amazing chiropractor. When she went on maternity leave, I continued to see Dr. Armene Lamson at their office (Awaken Chiropractic). I had a quick labor and the aches and pains that I encountered along the way were always alleviated after my visits to Awaken and Moon. When it was time to get serious about planning our birth, I asked Dr. Kenda for some recommendations. She gave me three names based on my response to her question which was something along the lines of ''what sort of birth experience would you like to have?'' My husband and I ended up meeting with two of the three practitioners as the third already had a full schedule around our EDD. We met with Noah Singman and Sheila Vanderveer. Both ladies were wonderful and both advised us to follow our hearts and pick the person who we felt a special connection to. We did. Noah was our midwife and Sheila agreed to attend our birth in accordance with Noah's policy of having two midwives present for the big event. As we got to know Noah, I came to realize that the most important factor in choosing a midwife is indeed that heart connection. The majority of births are safe and it seems to me that accounting for the mother's comfort is really the top priority since she and the baby are the main actors in the event. If mom is happy so is everybody else.

I also took an amazing dance class with Gingi Allen which felt wonderful and helped me prepare for birth. At every point, Noah was caring and care-full. Just the sort of support that an expectant mom needs. Moon, Kenda, Armene, Noah, Sheila, and Gingi made up an amazing support team for me. I'm grateful for each of them. In summary, I say, do your best to know what you need and then seek to get those needs met. If something doesn't feel just right, change it. Follow your heart and you'll probably end up just where you need to be. Faye


We had a beautiful homebirth experience with our midwife, Noah Singman, in August 2011 for the birth of our second child. During our initial midwife selection process and her interview, her experience allowed us to feel confident in her skills and we felt that her positive attitude towards natural birth was reassuring and her soothing presence and calm personality would be a perfect fit for us. And she was. Prenatal care was holistic and I cannot express how wonderful it feels to be so well-supported emotionally. She even did a private Birthing From Within session for us. During my birth I couldn't have asked for better attendant. And her postpartum care was excellent as well. I felt myself and my new baby received the very best care and I cannot recommend her highly enough! Noah Singman, LM, CPM www.anichemidwifery.com 510 684-4867 Best wishes for your upcoming birth! Paala


I can't recommend our midwife highly enough: Noah Singman of Aniche Midwifery (http://anichemidwifery.com/). Noah's care for our family throughout my pregnancy, labor and postpartum has been incredible. I've felt 100% comfortable with her and confident in her experience and guidance.

Our daughter was born about a week ago, and although we weren't able to have the home birth we had planned because our baby was breech, Noah's help navigating hospital options for a natural breech birth, presence at the birth itself and guidance through the whole process before and after has been invaluable. She has a sweet spirit and a wealth of knowledge of all things pregnancy and birth-related, and she uses these to gently guide expecting and new parents through the processes of pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum adjustment.

For the next addition to our family, we'll again be trying for a home birth, and Noah will be the first person we call. rahime


Homebirth Midwife - Ellen Levitt?

Sept 2011

I'm considering hiring Ellen Levitt, from Wombservice Midwifery, for my birth and I was curious if anyone who has worked with her can make a recommendation. I saw some positive reviews on Yelp.com, but I'd love some more. Thanks! Jen


Ellen was our midwife for both my sons and she is a wonderful caregiver - clearly knowledgeable and experienced (my family had a doctor friend quiz her to make sure), thoughtful about the entire process of pregnancy and birth and its impact on me and my partner, ready with suggestions for anything I wondered about, a born nurturer and a very good listener who connected with us on an emotional level as well as providing physical care. One baby was born at home, the other in the hospital, and Ellen's involvement in both births was key to making them equally good memories for me - with great outcomes, 10 and 13 years down the road! If you have any questions, feel free to email me. Edith


May 2011

Re: OB/GYN recommendations for Lesbian couple
My midwives at Fruits of Labor Midwifery (Kristen Graser and Amanda Coslor) were really amazing in working with me and my baby's father. We have our own non-traditional relationship model. They were very sensitive and adaptable. Their kindness, compassion, and knowledge are worth calling on and exploring the possibility. You could use them for prenatal care, and their postpartum care is really amazing. They came to my home and helped me figure out what we needed. I had to make changes to my homebirth plan, as I was in a long intense labor and decided to go to the hospital for delivery, and they were very communicative and supportive. I can't give enough thanks for the postpartum care. I could not imagine how much I would need personal attention and care once the baby came. I called whenever and they were fast to respond. You'll definitely need more testing due to the sensitive nature of your pregnancy, but I think it would be amazing if you had midwives as well! I went to an regular practice until a few weeks before my due date and then primarily the Fruits of Labor midwives. Feel free to ask me anything if it could help. star


Finding a midwife: sliding scale or financial support options

May 2011

Hello, My partner and I are looking for a sliding scale home birth midwife, or a hospital or birth center that has midwives. We live in Berkeley now, but plan to move in the next 6 months to Marin or Sonoma Co. Therefore I am looking for birth options in the North Bay.

When the time comes, we would love to have a home birth, but cost might prohibit that, so we are looking into financial birth resources, and other possibilities of a midwife attended birth at a hospital or birth center covered through health insurance.

If you know of any sliding scale home birth midwives, home birth financial support options or hospital or birth centers with midwives that are great, we would love to know about them! Thank you! Jessica


Here is the website for the California Association of Midwives - includes both CNM and CPM/LM: http://www.californiamidwives.org/?page_id=13 There is a ''find a midwife'' page on the American College of Nurse Midwives website www.midwife.org

Santa Rosa has a lovely birth center run by Roseanne Gephart, CNM: http://www.womenshealthandbirthcenter.com/ You could try contacting a midwife at the Santa Rosa BC and ask her for referrals to other midwives in the area - many of them send their transfers to Sutter Santa Rosa, which has a couple of private practice CNMs who deliver there, and also has a fabulous midwife-friendly family practice service that also provides maternity care. You will probably get other references from BPN readers. Good luck! Northern Cali has many great out of hospital birth midwives. Anonymous


Hi Jessica,

Check out the Bay Area Midwives page, which lists many midwives in the Bay Area. They specify which areas they go to. Diane Holzer and Joan Green live in Marin: Diane Holzer, LM, PA-C midwife [at] laughingcrows.net 415 721-7693

Heart Wisdom Midwifery Joan Green, LM, CPM www.marinmidwife.com 415 488-1406

You will need to talk with midwives individually to see how much they slide with their fees (if indeed they do slide). Some midwives will slide for families who are eligible for Medi-Cal only; others will do trades. Midwives charge significantly less than their hospital based counterparts; insurance just covers more so it seems like you're saving money. There are no rich midwives. I personally know a midwife on food stamps and Medi-Cal.

The average cost of a wedding is $24,000, and like birth, a wedding is only one day of your life but is a very important and emotional day. We often get to hear grandmas-to-be and sometimes even great-grandmas-to-be talk about their birth experiences, and it is very clear that birth creates a lasting impression on women that is greater than their wedding day. Women remember their births with deep feelings for their entire lives, and most clearly remember how their care providers treated them. Having been present with women when they tell us with awe how their birth changed them, I can say confidently that it is worth even the full amount out of pocket. If you have PPO insurance, you're in luck. Most PPO insurance covers homebirth midwives at out-of-network rates. Sometimes you can get an ''in- network exception'' which means that they pay the midwife as an in-network provider -- which can increase reimbursement up to 30% more than the out of network rate. Discuss this with midwives when you meet with them and they can clarify. Best wishes to you! Good luck with your pregnancy and your birth! Warmly, Laurel


Sacred Birth Place in Oakland is an excellent Birth Center. The midwife, Selena Green, does homebirths, hospital births, and also births in her birth center. They have a sliding scale and will work with insurance if it's covered. Not in the North Bay, but an amazing birth center. Good Luck!


I had a wonderful birth, and my midwife, Jeri Zukowski, wasn't there to witness it because she didn't make it on time even though she was working only a few blocks away from the hospital. We called Jeri(I was busy being in intense labor so the baby's father called)an hour before the baby was born. She told the father that I wasn't in labor and to still come in for my appointment that day. We timed the contractions, only 3 minutes apart so we rushed to the hospital. On the way there we called the doula who lives in the next town over and told her we were on our way. The lovely doula (Lisa Baracker whom I highly recommend-she was fabulous)was waiting for us with hospital staff and a wheelchair. The midwife on-call ended up delivering my baby (not Lindy Johnson who was also rude to me when we met. I asked her what we could do instead of an epidural if the baby was still in breech position, she looked me up and down I have dreadlocks down to my butt told me I could go to the farm in Tennessee. I was shocked and in tears, 8 months pregnant.)The baby ended up turning on her own and I didn't have to get an epidural. Jeri did make it in time to deliver my placenta and charge me for that part of the birth. I write this to those pregnant ladies that are doing their research. I'm glad for all of those that had a good experience with Jeri and Lindy, but in my opinion the bad out weighs the good here. During one of our appointments she told me I needed to get a doula because she wasn't getting paid for emotional support! I DO NOT recommend Jeri Zukowski. Gina Catena was the midwife that ended up delivering for us and did a wonderful job. Good luck! Natural Grace


Hi I did not see the original post about midwives, but there is a great website Bayareamidwives.com that lists many of the midwives in the area. The midwives on the list primarily attend homebirths. There are two birth centers in the immediate bay area, Sacred Birth in Oakland, where I do deliveries, as does Selena Green, LM, and Sage Femme in San Francisco. If you are interested in either Homebirth or birthing at Sacred Birth give me a call. I can explain your options and help you get set up with a tour of the birth center. Treesa Mclean


April 2011

Re: OB GYN Rec in Oakland/Berkeley Area - Alta Bates
My husband and I just had our first baby this past December. We had an OB GYN but heard many wonderful things about a mid-wife, Lindy Johnson, so we went with her. It was the BEST decision!! Lindy has her own private office that you visit but is one of very few mid-wives that works out of Alta Bates for your delivery. She was absolutely amazing! She is able to give you one on one attention for each visit and is there for you every step of your delivery (rather than which ever doctor is on call that shows up at the very end of your labor.) We can not recommend her more highly!! She is based in Berkeley, right on Dwight Way and her phone number is: 510-644-0104 T L


Midwives - Hsui-Li Cheng, Jeri Zukoski

March 2011

I am interviewing midwives who deliver at Alta Bates and am considering either Hsiu-Li Cheng or Jeri Zukoski. I'm interested in recent reviews of Hsiu-Li Cheng in particular, for both pre-natal care and labor support. She operates within a medical practice; did that impact the choices you made in terms of pain management, fetal monitoring, freedom to labor out of bed if desired, being able to hold your baby immediately, etc? BTW, I do plan to have doula support, as well. Thank you! on the fence


I am currently pregnant and Hsiu-Li Cheng is my midwife. I have not given birth yet so I cannot tell you about my actual birth experience. But I like Hsiu-Li very much and trust that she fully supports me in my desire to have no medical intervention unless necessary. I would be happy to tell you more details about how it seems that her practice interacts with the doctors at East Bay perinatal, if you want to email me privately. n


Hsiu-Li Cheng was my midwife for the birth of my 2nd child in 2007. I absolutely adore her. I was extremely committed to a natural child birth but wanted the security of a hospital in case of an emergency. I ended up laboring in the hospital from 4-10 cm and was not hampered by fetal monitoring at all. I spent a majority of my labor walking the halls. No one gave me any problems with that. In fact, the nurses even commented ''now that's what we like to see! Keep moving!'' During the last phase of dilation, when I, frankly, wanted to die, Hsiu-Li was amazing with acupressure and she was so calm and incredibly encouraging. Due to her nurse's training, she was also able to do some last minute maneuvering of the baby and prevented me from needing a C-section. The nurses told me afterward that they were very impressed and that most doctors would have just hauled me off to surgery. As it all turned out, I got the drug-free birth that I had wanted and I have never felt so empowered before. All thanks to Hsiu-Li. I will absolutely go back to her again if I have another child. Huge Fan of Hsiu-Li


I had a wonderful experience with Hsui-Li! She was very attentive and helpful for my pre-natal care and I felt very well cared for during my labor and delivery. She was open to whatever I wanted for labor and delivery. I ended up getting an epidural, but not because she recommended it or didn't. She was encouraging in letting me labor out of bed (before the epidural)and she definitely made sure I got to hold my baby immediately. She also told me from the start that she would be happy to work with a doula if I wanted. I highly recommend her!


Hsiu-Li was our midwife in 2009, and we LOVE her. I can't imagine giving birth with someone else. Her prenatal care was excellent, and much more personalized than the experience we had with an OBGYN early in my pregnancy. The only indication I ever had that she was part of a practice was that my prenatal services were billed under one of the doctors' names.

In terms of pain management, monitoring, etc., Hsiu-Li and the L nurses at Alta Bates were all very respectful of our birth plan. She does not stay with you in the room while you labor, so in that respect it can be helpful to have an additional support person with you.

If you have questions or concerns, you might want to set up a time for an interview with her to get a better idea of her style. My husband and I met with her before starting to see her for prenatal care and that was really helpful (I had also read all of the BPN archives and wasn't quite sure what to expect). Feel free to ask the moderator for my email if you'd like to talk more. anon


I worked with Hsiu-Li during the birth of my first child, and am excited to work with her again on the second! Hsiu- Li is, quite simply, the most knowledgable medical professional I have ever met. That said, she is not too ''touchy-feely'' - she answers questions you ask, but will not reflect in awe with you at the miracle of life growing in your belly. She incorporates Chinese medicine and massage into her practice, and was always able to tell me exactly what was going on with my baby, which gave me a great deal of confidence. I was self-assured and even- keeled the whole pregnancy and labor (in part becasue of her guidance) - but I'm not sure how she'd be with someone who needs constant reassurance and hand-holding. Although she told me she would have worked with a doula, I got the impression that she thought it was unnecessary (which for me it was). Hsiu-Li comes in only at the end - really to catch the baby - if you have a 20-hour labor she won't be there the whole time. I love Hsiu-Li and would recommend her to anyone. (Incidentally, of three of my friends who have used her, all of us had very quick and easy labors. Unscientific, yes, but perhaps instructive.) Trust Hsiu-Li with my life


Jeri Zukoski delivered my first child and Hsui-Li Cheng delivered my second. My kids are now 12 and 9, so things may have changed in the interim, but at the time I felt like Jeri gave great prenatal care and was very supportive about the emotional aspects of pregnancy. But when it came time for me to deliver, she didn't even get to the hospital until I was starting to push, and there were several other interactions that left me feeling like I got adequate care, but not the level of support I was hoping for. Prenatal care from Hsui-Li did feel like standard medical office care (very sweet and attentive, though... I had my toddler with me for many visits, and they always took the time to measure her tummy and check her ''baby's'' hearbeat). But when it came time for my delivery, Hsui-Li rocked... she was 100% supportive, very calm, and a great presence in the room. As soon as my daughter was born, she went straight onto my chest and was nursing within a minute. Hsui-Li will definitely respect your wishes and be your advocate. anon


We were using Hsui-Li because we wanted a mid-wife to help have a natural birth, but then switched to an ob-gyn mid-pregnancy. While I really liked Hsui-Li, her office made a mistake with my blood tests so I had to redo some prenatal testing, which was frustrating and time consuming. Then after we got our first screen results, she just told us we ''passed'' but did not tell us our ratio of risk even though I asked (which was literally right at the cut off of failing 1/220 versus 1/200 which is failing). When we had to see the ob that she works with to deal with an issue a month later, the ob-gyn told us that while we passed, our ratio was ''not that great'' (we had an elevated risk of downs and for my age our ratio should have been 1/1000) and that she would have recommend we do our second trimester screening sooner than 18 weeks (too late for that - thanks!) Perhaps the ob-gyn should not have scared us like that and of course we were extra worried with a first pregnancy, but it would have been nice to have that information at week 14 so we could have done our second round of testing earlier. Anyway, it was pretty stressful and we ended up switching from Hsui-Li because we did not feel she understood the results or communicated them well. Also, her office assistant does not speak the greatest english (although she is really nice). One other thing - Hsui-Li made it clear that while she tries to deliver all her patients babies, she won;'t deliver if the baby is born between 12-6am, in which case one of the back up ob-gyns at east bay perinatal would. Since we didn't know any of them and couldn't control when we actually delivered, I didn't like taking that risk. I really wanted the same person I knew to deliver my baby. We were able to switch to a great ob-gyn who assured us he delivered all his babies regardless of the time and we ended up having a natural birth at Alta Bates (even with gestational diabetes).

I will add that Hsui-Li is a great option if you want a midwife that is covered by your insurance since she bills through east bay perinatal. We had Blue Cross and it was fully covered. Jeri and Lindy are both out of pocket - I think it would have cost 4K or something like that. I think Hsui-Li is great, just not for everyone. Best of luck to you! former_patient


This was 6 years ago now, but I did not have a great experience with Jeri Zukowski. She was very very late to the delivery, depsite knowing this was my third child and the first two had come quickly, she took her time getting there. In fact, even though I was in extroardinary pain the nurses had to hold off my delivery til she got there, telling me to try not to push with each profound contraction. Jeri offered very little support once she got there, although I was in extreme pain and needed connection and confidence with the mid-wife. My daughter was born almost immediately, and probably would have come earlier if Jeri had just gotten there. She disappeared shortly after my daughter was born with hardly more than routine words. I was very disappointed. anon


Hsui-Li was my midwife for my first baby. I kept telling her that I ''did not feel pregnant,'' and she kept telling me I was just ''lucky.'' Then, she told me she heard a heart beat (which she did not), and later, when I had some bleeding, she told me that it was coming from my cervix, not my uterus. Actually, I was having a miscarriage, but she sent me home, telling me that I had a viral infection in my cervix. In the end, I miscarried at 13 weeks, though the ultrasound (which I was not offered until I was in the middle of the miscarriage) showed that the baby had actually died around 6 weeks (so she did not hear a heart beat, because the baby was dead by then). The whole experience made me feel like I had not been well taken care of, and when I got pregnant again, I went to an O.B.

That being said, my neighbor used Hsui-Li, and had a great experience; she loved her. So, perhaps I was just unlucky, I don't know. But there you two experiences to consider. mom of two


I worked with Lindy Johnson for my first birth and Sho-Li for my second. Sho-Li was incredible during my labor which is more important in my opinion than the pregnancy well-visits. She does have an abrupt demeaner and works within the medical model. I can understand not being very comfortable with this style if this is your first pregnancy. Having worked with Lindy (who partners with Geri), I experienced two different mid-wife styles. Lindy presents as warm and nurturing but I was extremely disappointed with her during my long 26 hour labor. It was my first birth and she just did not help me get through the amazing pain and nervousness of labor. In fact her demeanor and attitude when I needed her most was so opposite of what I hoped for. This made me feel more pain as mind and pain are so connected.

Sho-Li was so different! When I needed her most, during a very fast and very painful labor, her every technique was amazing. She was especially helpful and capable when my baby ended up being sunny-side up. This position could have led to a c-section with another practitioner but Sho-Li was able to turn the baby (not without a lot of pain of course) and my baby slid right out. She doesn't like to see women in pain and will do everything in her power to help the labor progress as quickly as possible. While I didn't have time to have an epidural, Sho-Li made sure that my pain was short-lived and was able to coach my breathing and press on certain points on my back to help reduce my discomfort.

In short, I would highly recommend Sho-Li for her skill and experience with a multitude of laboring techniques. anon


Seeking natural birth covered by insurance

Feb 2011

We are expecting our #2 baby, due date is mid May. Our first labor was abroad im a natural birth facility within a hospital and it went naturally. We are looking for a doctor or a doctors group that encourages natural birth giving, and will be covered by insurance. Will be glad to get any kind of recommendation. Thanks!


I would highly recommend Sage Femme in San Francisco. Sage Femme is a birth center run by a very experienced, knowledgable, and unique certified nurse midwife named Judi Tinkelenberg. She has lots of connections at San Francisco General Hospital and UCSF, and in the event of a hospital transfer both facilities are familiar with the birth center and supportive of patients' desire for a natural birth. After a bad hospital birth experience with my first child, I had my second at the birth center in July and was very happy with the care that I received throughout my prenatal appointments and the birth itself. The midwives here are really all about supporting and empowering their clients to get the knowledge they need to make informed decisions for themselves and take birth into their own hands. In addition to supporting and informing women about normal birth, the center offers lots of support with postpartum issues, breastfeeding, and beyond. They accept all major insurance, although I have heard that they've had trouble getting insurance companies to pay up in the past. They also take Medi-Cal. If you have any questions feel free to email me. Here's a link to their website: http://sagefemme.net/index.html Kristin


I would defiantly look into using a midwife, I can suggest Claudette Coughnour I don't know if she works in your area if not she can refer you her number is (707)529-0754. Andrea


OB, MIdwife, Doula

Jan 2011

I am expecting my third child. The OB who helped me deliver my first two is no longer covered by my insurance. This time, I am open to a midwife as well, but have no idea where to start finding one. So I would love recommendations for an OB (female preferred,small practice as I don't want the on call doc to deliver). Midwife and doula recommendations also wanted. Thanks! wow


I had my baby at Alta Bates at the beginning of November with Hsiu-Li Cheng as my midwife (covered by Aetna) and Treesa McLean as my doula. As a first-time mom, I could not have asked for a better experience of pregnancy, labor, delivery and newborn care; they are both masters of their art. We felt so lucky to be guided by each of them. (We also very much appreciated all of the nurses at Alta Bates; Tamara Rich was our wonderful L nurse). grateful for great care


If you're looking for a doula/midwife, I recommend Treesa McLean. We used her doula services for both our children's natural births (and they would not have been medication-free without her!), most recently in November 2010. She is supportive and great, especially in the throes of labor. She is also a professional midwife. www.birthwithtreesa.com Amalia


Congrats on baby #3! I'd recommend Amy Huibonhoa, OBGYN. I saw her in 2006 for the first 6 months of my pregnancy. She is patient and professional. I switched to a midwife, not because I was unhappy with Dr, Huibonhoa, but because she is in a practice by herself. I thought a small practice would mean she would deliver my baby, but I later learned that she is part of an on call group of 8(!!) other doctors.

 

You might, however, consider Huibonoa, she's good but you have to accept that if you don't go into labor 9-5 on a weekday (except her day off), you'll probably have a doctor you've never met in the delivery room. I think next time around if I decide to go with an OBGYN, I'll look for a practice of 3-4 doctors who take turns being on call. Then you still won't know which will be in the room with you, but you could have a prenatal visit with each of them so you'll have met them at least once. Good luck!


Need a midwife? Jeri Zukoski, CNM of Midwifery Services is the best there is! Jeri helped me throughout my pregnancy giving me great advice and care. She made the delivery of my son as smooth as it could be. Thanks to her I had zero complications and I was out and about the next day! So if you are in need of a midwife, Please give Jeri a call! www.jerizukoski.com Sharon


There were several questions about midwives. For the Kaiser mama, Kaiser Walnut Creek has midwives on staff. I know several moms who have had lovely births with those midwives. For those who are considering non-Kaiser midwives, I have, I guess, a bit of a caution. I do think that there are great midwives in the area, great midwives who do both home births and hospital births. Based upon my experience I would recommend that use caution if you are considering Jeri Zukowski, though. Jeri does births at Alta Bates, and she has an additional fee for home births. Working with her, we had planned a home birth. She was scattered but sweet and seemed to really connect with us and our hopes. Things changed during the last month of pregnancy, though. She spent most of the appointment time discussing worst case scenarios. This was a first pregnancy, and I was terrified by these conversations. She seemed increasingly nervous, and in the end she absolutely refused to do the home birth and gave us the option of going to the hospital or going it alone, even though both the baby and I seemed to be healthy. It was a bit of a surprise. We had an uneventful, quick hospital birth and headed home in less than 24 hours. The doula we had been required to pay through Jeri never showed up. It did not feel like a good interaction. A little while back I was sitting in a circle of women and it turned out that several of us had worked with Jeri and had very similar experiences--home birth retracted at the last minute without a compelling reason. Jeri may be a fine hospital midwife--she really seemed to be OK in that capacity--but if you end up wanting a home birth (assuming that option is safe and healthy for you and the baby), you may want to consider a midwife who genuinely likes to do home births. And please research any midwife you consider--a good conversation in early pregnancy is not enough to go on. Anon


Oct 2010

: Hills Physicians ObGyn/Midwife in Dtn Oaklnd/Brkly

Switched medical groups AND my old doctor stopped practicing, so need a new wonderful ob/gyn for a new pregnancy! Looking for someone near Downtown Oakland or Berkeley is fine near Alta Bates. Or a midwife, but not sure how that works with an HMO medical group. But if that is possible and you can recommend one, it would be much appreciated! Here we go again!


I highly recommend Lindy Johnson, C.N.M. She was my midwife during my pregnancy this year. I was able to use her with my Health Net HMO once I switched to Hill Physicians as my medical group. Lindy's office is in downtown Berkeley, walking distance from the BART station. She has hospital privileges to deliver at Alta Bates. There is also a parking lot at her office, so parking is not a hassle when you go see her. You can reach Lindy at (510) 644-0104. Happy pregnancy and birth! Krista


Sept 2010

: Midwife with hospital privileges

I'm newly pregnant with my second child and am looking for a midwife who has delivery privileges at Alta Bates. I had a homebirth for my first delivery which was wonderful in many ways but ended up with complications that i'd like to try to avoid the second time around. i'd like to try to recreate the natural birthing experience within the potential safety of the hospital. are jeri zukowski and lindy johnson the only two hospital midwives at alta bates? when i called the hospital they couldn't give me any information about this! thanks for any recommendations. newly pregnant


Hsiu-Li (pronounced Sho-li) Cheng is a wonderful midwife with hospital privileges at Alta Bates. She is highly skilled and very respected. She delivered our daughter last year, and we were so happy with her care. You can reach her office at (510)652-8881. Fan of Hsiu-Li


We used Jeri Zukowski with back-up by Lindy Johnson for the birth of both of our sons, now ages 6 and 3.5 years. Our first birth experience was natural, had a few complications, but was absolutely sublime. The second, as can be the case, also natural, happened much faster, even before Jeri could get to the hospital. In the first, Jeri was masterful throughout and in both it was very comforting to be at Alta Bates, should there have been any serious complications. The nursing staff at Alta Bates was terrific and the general environment, while certainly not the same as being at home, was comfortable and not terribly hospital-like. We are grateful to Jeri for her excellent care and are pleased to be able to encourage others to work with her. She's smart, extremely proficient, very experienced, genuinely caring and has given birth herself. Good combination. Grateful Parents


I had a great experience with Hsiu-Li (Sho-Li) Cheng, CNM. She delivered my second baby at Alta Bates (we had jeri zukoski the first time). Her Oakland office seems just like a regular ob and at first my check ups were pretty brief and to the point (which was fine with me as it was my second and I didn't need a lot of hand holding)... but as the due date got closer she definitely got more involved and warm. I was getting alarmingly HUGE but she did not make me worry about it, never mentioned the possibility of a c-section, was very calm and confident. When I went into labor she was right there at Alta Bates immediately and WOW.... so supportive, calming and PRESENT. She did this acupressure thing to my hands that really eased the contractions, and did these breathing exercises .. she was great with my husband and I was able to deliver an 11 pound baby (seriously) naturally, with no tearing. She was just fantastic... and she was totally covered by our insurance. Hsiu-Li Cheng, R.N., C.N.M. (510) 652-8881 anon


May 2010

: experience with Tenaya Jackman?

We are interviewing midwives, and are very interested in Tenaya Jackman. Does anyone have birthing experience with her, positive or negative? Thanks. Leah


We used Tenaya for our birth last October. I really enjoyed working with her and felt comfortable with her throughout our pregnancy/birth. Our baby had a couple of ''issues'' (that turned out to be non issues) near the end and Tenaya was very helpful in navigating that. She was just the right amount of ''there'' without being in my face (my wishes) through labor. I highly recommend her. Lindsey


I hired Tenaya Jackman as my doula for the birth of my first child last year. When I went into labor and called Tenaya and asked her to come to the hospital she said to call her in an hour. In an hour she said to call again. She continued to put me off for hours. I labored without a doula at the hospital. I had to be my own advocate and deal with decisions and the medical system on my own. This was the very reason I had hired a doula-- to have support through that process. Plus I was negotiating with Tenaya on the phone while in labor trying to convince her to come to the hospital. It was so stressful. I could not understand why she would not come and kept putting me off. Finally after 5 hours of avoidance and far into my labor Tenaya told my husband when he called her again (I was too far in labor at that point to speak on the phone) that she would not be coming as she had been at another hospital at another birth. She sent a replacement doula who came 2 hours after that and who left before the birth. Tenaya then showed up for an hour right before my daughter was born. If she had just told us from the start that she had a conflict then we could have arranged for another doula to be there.


We had Tenaya as the midwife for my delivery last spring, and we are delighted to have chosen her. She provided us with lots of information, but no pressure, and really included my husband in our prenatal visits and the birth. She was the perfect mix of medical and emotional support for us. We interviewed several other midwives, but felt most comfortable with her. Due to some breastfeeding complications, we ended up needing extra care post-partum, and were really grateful for her extended attention and the great lactation consultants she works with. We'll choose her again if we have a second kid. Feel free to contact me if you want to talk more. Good luck! molly


March 2010

: Midwife who bills insurance via Ob-Gyn

Hey there, I'm the pregnant half of a gay couple expecting our first, and am having a difficult time finding a midwife and doula rec. (OB-GYN recs would be great too.)

Ideally, I'd like a midwife that bills via an OB-GYN or hospital so that I'm not paying $4000 out of pocket. I have an Aetna PPO, but it doesn't cover independent midwives or doulas (our rockin' healthcare system at work again - sigh). The only Aetna midwife apparently covered by Alta Bates is someone named Jeri Zukowski, who on a search of this board would seem to be... er, experienced with very mixed reviews.

I'd prefer a birthing center within a hospital (even if I have to travel to Orinda or something), though I am researching home births as well. Recs (and advice) welcome! expectant mom


I just wanted to share my recent experience with Jerri and to suggest that you meet with her to see if she might be a good fit. I also was interested in a midwife that was covered through my insurance. I only had a few choices as well. I saw another midwife before I saw Jeri that was just not a good fit for the kind of holistic care and time I wanted as a patiet. Working with Jeri was great for me. All my appointmens were long. She answered my questions and made me feel comfortable. My main complaint was she wad a little slow getting a prescription I needed called in to the pharmacy.

At the hospital she was patient with my slow progress and only suggested interventions after trying other methods. She helped me have a vaginal delivery despite the baby being sunny side up. She encouraged me to push and prevented any tearing through her coaching and using oil. After the birth and hospital stay she visited us at our home and checked on us both. She responded to a number of calls I had about my own recovery. I will use her again if I have another baby.

I know she will do free consultations so it might be worth a trip to her office. She does not do home births, but I imagine she would be willing to do your prenatal care. New mom


I thought Jeri practices w/ Lindy Johnson. There's also Hsio-Li. I think they're all in the same practice (East Bay Perinatal), going to Alta Bates. There's a birthing center in Oakland as well. Also try UCSF. I'm pretty sure they have midwives in their practice. anon


I started my prenatal care with Amy Huibonoa , OBGYN. She was terrific! She was caring, never rushed me during our prenatal visits and never stopped asking ''do you have any other questions'' until I said I didn't. Unfortunately I had just assumed that she would most likely be my doctor during delivery but she has her own practice and is part of an on-call list of 9 doctors. I loved Dr. Huibonoa but also was very committed to a natural childbirth and became increasingly concerned that I might be pressured into an unnecessary C section by a doctor I had never met and whose opinion on this subject I did not know. Check out Huibonoa. If I was pregnant now I'd go back to her!


Congratulations! I worked with Lindy Johnson for both of my pregnancies. She's a nurse midwife who does deliveries at Alta Bates. I had excellent experiences with her. She accepted two different insurers with me, so maybe it's worth checking into.

Betsy Appell is an extraordinary doula and prenatal yoga instructor. She never made any assumptions about gender, which was unusual. (I got a lot of questions about ''my husband'' from the most unlikely people.) Even better, she never assumed that I had a partner to begin with, which I think is important too. Dyke With Children


Hi! I've had 2 kids with Sage Femme Midwifery (http://www.sagefemme.net) and cannot recommend them highly enough. I switched to Sage Femme (from Jeri Zukowski, actually) late in my first pregnancy- the midwives at Sage Femme quickly figured out that I was severely anemic and on the verge of gestational diabetes, and helped me with diet and exercise changes that fixed both problems. I have an HMO plan, so insurance paid for my labs (and one birth, as I was transferred to a hospital) but I had to pay out of pocket for the prenatal and other birth center services. Sage Femme has a sliding scale and an early payment discount - we paid about $3000, 75% of the full cost. Best $ I've ever spent. They have patients with all kinds of insurance - I don't know how it works with a PPO plan, but Nurdane the money lady will be able to answer that - I think she is there one day a week. They have lots of gay couples as clients; the fact that some of their handouts and stuff use ''dad'' instead of ''partner'' reflects their need for a copy editor, not bias :) And no, the east bay/west bay thing was not a problem (we took BART to appts and got FasTrak for the birth). MargaretEditor note: an additional response to this question is posted on the Insurance for Homebirth or Midwife page.


Dec 2009

: Looking for a midwife for postpartum care only

I am looking for a midwife for postpartum care only. I am from Germany and it is very common to have a midwife just for postpartum care. My daughter was born in Germany and it felt very comforting and reassuring to have a midwife come to my house the day after I came home from the hospital. She came several times the first eight weeks checking on me and the baby. She would check e.g. the umbilical cord, how the breastfeeding was going, fundus and afterpain and more. I am still insured in Germany and my insurance will pay for a postpartum midwife (probably not for a postpartum doula). My baby is due in April and I live in San Leandro. Any recommendations? Thank you! Kristin


As far as I know, not many midwives typically do just postpartum care, but it is certainly worth asking and there are lots of great midwives who are decribed in many other archived posts. One of them, Ellen Levitt, is both a wonderful experienced licensed midwife and a wondeful birth and postpartum doula. She would do the things you described (check umbilical cord, breastfeeding, fundus)and much more. She has very big heart and is a very genuine, warm individual. As another doula, I know her as a friend and colleague and I trust and recommend her highly. Here is her contact information Ellen Levitt, Womb Service Midwifery wombservicemidwifery [at] gmail.com 510 684-4867 Trina


Experience with Ellen Levitt or Noah Singman?

Nov 2009

I am currently looking for a midwife to deliver my child. Has anyone had experience with the services of Ellen Levitt or Noah Singman? Their business name is Wombservice and they service the bay area. I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks Lisa


Ellen Levitt was my midwife nine years ago and I loved her. She offers amazing prenatal care. She is very knowledgable and compassionate. I believe her care help set the stage for me to have a wonderful homebirth. happy with homebirth


Oct 2009

Has anyone recently worked with the midwife Leopi Sanderson-Edmunds? My husband and I are looking for a midwife and would like to know more about her. Thanks. Amy


We welcomed our little girl in August with Leopi by our side. It was a transformative experience on every level for our entire family. Leopi is warm, funny, and nurturing. She was very good about engaging all of us (me, husband, 5yr old son, and my mom who was present at the birth) and addressing our individual questions/concerns. She is very experienced, about 25years, so her clinical judgement is quite refined.

In addition she practices ortho-bionomy and integrates it with her midwifery practice. Ortho-bionomy is a gentle type of body work that helps with pain/stress in the body which was a huge plus for my aching back! If I have another baby I definitely would be calling Leopi again! I highly reccomend interviewing her to see if it's a right fit for you. Her contact info is 510.717.5060 & leopi [at] leopinicola.com.
libby


Leopi has helped deliver both my daughters within the past 3 years, with our second born Dec. 08. As far as midwives go, I think she brings all the best qualities to a birthing space: peace, love, respect for a woman and baby's process and needs, respect for the partner's place in the entire process (prenatal/labor/postnatal), incredible skill and wisdom, over 20 years experience, holistic knowledge (herbs, homeopathy, orthobionomy, visualization), and a very real and deep ability to connect with the body and baby in womb. I have had two incredibly beautiful births with Leopi and felt so protected, nurtured, guided and honored by her. And to note, Orthobionomy is a gentle form of body work that helps the body release old patterns/tension and creates space to instill new ones. I have received many orthobinomy treatments from Leopi since my last birth and saw a tremendous difference in my postpartum healing. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to hear more. anastasia


We had a phenomenal experience with Leopi. She was our midwife for the birth of our daughter in December 2008. For all of our prenatal appointments she was so thorough, caring, supportive and knowledgeable. She has a truly gifted combination of personal warmth, professional experience, and focused energy. Our birth at home was just what we hoped it would be, albeit extremely fast! Leopi was an unwavering source of calm and support, acting quickly when necessary and guiding me when the challenge seemed insurmountable. We also adored her backup midwife, Amrit - she was the perfect addition to our little birth team. Leopi also has a lot to offer as a healer. She offers knowledge as a homeopath, and she has started to offer Ortho-Bionomy (related to Osteopathy) for new mothers and cranio-sacral work for babies. She's also a certified lactation consultant. I don't know how she has managed to do all that she has while remaining so grounded, attentive, and humble. Having a home birth is an amazing experience. I couldn't imagine our birth being anything other than what it was. I would be happy to talk about this more. I can be reached at 510.206.6213. Robin


Leopi Sanderson-Edmunds was the midwife for my two girls (4 yeas and 2 years). She is very experienced, hands-on and at the same time very gentle and sensitive. I would describe her as a truly holistic midwife. You and your husband will love working with her. She is also certified in Ortho-Bionomy (a form of sensitive, deep and nuturing bodywork which is rooted in Osteopathy) and she includes treatments for mothers and babies into her practice. sabine


We recently had a homebirth with Leopi and had a wonderful experience. We interviewed several midwives when planning our homebirth, and chose Leopi for her years of experience in midwifery as well as homeopathy, lactation consulting, and ortho bionomy. I appreciated so many things about Leopi through the months we worked with her. She provided expert, thorough, and loving care to me and my family. She really listened to me in our discussions about the upcoming birth and helped me to make good decisions. She believes in a woman's natural ability to give birth and she trusts the birth process. During my labor and birth, she remained calm, loving and attentive. I really cannot recommend her hightly enough.


We recently had our first child with Leopi Sanderson-Edmunds. We found her to be the perfect guide for the preparing and birthing of our daughter. She brings over 20 years of experience and is also a licensed Lactation Consultant and practices in the bodywork field of Ortho-Bionomy. We often felt that the Pre-Natal visits were like private childbirth preparation classes. These visits took place at our home and sometimes lasted up to three hours. Leopi is warm, compassionate, knowledgeable, highly experienced and a truly gifted midwife. She brings a well-balanced perspective of birth being a sacred experience, and at the same time, covering all the practical, medical nitty-gritty aspects. Her post-partum care has been generous and extensive in its support to us as a new family. Not only was her knowledge as a lactation consultant valuable, but she also included an Ortho-Bionomy session for both new momma and poppa. Whenever we felt overwhelmed, help was only a phone call away, as we often felt that Leopi acted beyond the scope of a normal midwife's duties. catrina


I want to comment on midwife (and many things!) Leopi Sanderson. I've been meaning for far too long to get around to this. I've used BPN for so many of my own questions but I know the resources we have are often still so limited. So here is my experience for your consideration. Even in a field of wonderful, caring women, Leopi is a radiant star. She has made her midwifery practice so all encompassing, its really amazed me how well she's taken care of us on so many levels. Our daughter will soon turn 1. Leopi is still a part of our lives. A wise woman once said ''choose the midwife you can open up with because that's literally what you have to do''. When you meet her, if you feel that sigh of relief, than she's the one for you! For us, it was her gentle approach, her vast experience and the strength and wisdom that come from it, how the birth process is so much a part of her life and her art, her reverence and awe of women and labor. Her guidance on our journey intersected so many things in our relationship as a couple, the birth itself, and our relationship as we embarked into parenthood - our communication, sex, trust, fluidity and beauty, our hidden inner strength. We quickly came to trust her completely and love her dearly! She so helped us transform our insecurities that we didn't call her over until I was already transitioning (sorry Leopi!). We had a spectacular morning birth - she got me in the tub outside - just like I dreamt and drew out, as the birth I anticipated. She took tender care of me in the days and weeks that followed. Her post-birth care was a huge surprise to me - she did so much work to help me heal, methods I was not accustomed to - moxa sticks, and later orthobionomy (which I expected to be like rolfing but was truly the opposite and enormously effective as well!). We had a bit of a tragedy when our daughter was only a few weeks old. It was 2 days of the hardest experience of my life and Leopi was the one we leaned on, the expert we relied on, and always nonjudgmental and openhearted no matter what we faced. She's got a ton of caring insights, community resources, and practical advice, but mostly you'll melt in her loving hands in those moments you don't realize you need a mama yourself and she's just the one to nurture you. Leopi is truly an expert in midwifery and breastfeeding, and such a beautiful and generous person over and over again. We'll have to stay in the area through our childbearing years, just so she can help us when we are ready to do it all over again! I hope you, too, can find the midwife that leaves you stunned at how blessed you've become! Its a gift to find yourself in Leopi's care, as you become her student/daughter/friend. And I'd be happy to speak with you personally, if you'd like. She's got plenty of references, but ask her for my contact info, if you'd like to speak with me personally. Good luck to you! dre


Aug 2009 : Birthing Centers vs. Midwife in Hospital

I had my first baby through Homestyle at St Luke's and loved the experience of a midwife who was with me the entire time, but we were in a hospital, just in case. Now we live in the East Bay (and Homestyle is no more) and are wondering what our options are. What's the difference between a Birthing Center and a hospital? If I go through a birthing center, am I on my own for things like CVS and genetic screenings? If I birth at a hospital, are the midwives on call 24/7 or 80% (like St Luke's is now)? Will the midwife be with me the whole time? How midwife friendly is Alta Bates? thanks in advance just doing research


We gave birth at Alta Bates with a midwife, Hsiu-Li (pronounced Sho-Li) Cheng. 510-652-8881. She does her appointments through her Oakland offices, but then meets you at the hospital for the birth. As far as I know, she is on call all the time. We called her at 4 am and she was very responsive! She is a FANTASTIC midwife (I'm sure you can read other reviews of her on BPN) and she single-handedly saved us a c-section with her quick thinking and expertise. As an aside, our first birth was through a birth center in SF...we had problems and ending up transferring to a hospital - where it turned out that our midwives did not have rights to do anything. After that experience, we switched to Hsiu-Li since she is licensed to work at Alta Bates. Midwife Fan


Aug 2009 : Midwife Recommendation at Alta Bates

Hello. I am just about to move back to Oakland/Berkeley after a one year detour in Santa Cruz. I will be 5 months pregnant when we move back on Aug 15, and need to find new prenatal/birth care. I have Health Net insurance which I believe should cover a midwife at Alta Bates. Can anyone recommend a midwife who is covered at Alta Bates? I already tried Lindy Johnson who is booked in December (my due date is Dec 8). I prefer a natural childbirth with someone who is direct and dependable - sense of humor and calming demeanor, greatly appreciated! Thanks. S.


Hsiu-Li Cheng, CNM at Alta Bates is a wonderful, highly respected and experienced midwife. Office visits don't last too long but she has a sense of humor, is relaxed, answers questions, and has complete faith that my body knows what to do. I appreciate that most. She also gives great tips for acupressure and relaxation.

I'm due in a few weeks and switched over to her a couple of months ago. I also have Health Net PPO and it is covered. I haven't had her for the birth experience yet, but I am continually reassured by health professionals, lactation consultants and yogis in the area when I tell them that Hsiu-Li is my midwife that I am in very good hands. I can't wait to birth!

I know from experience how difficult choosing a midwife is and wish you good luck. Side note - I was not that excited about Hsiu-Li when I interviewed her, but once I became her patient I have been completely happy. mama to be


Aug 2009 : Chinese (Mandarin) speaking Midwife

Hi I'm wondering if anyone knows of a Mandarin speaking midwife whom my wife might call to ask some questions. We are living in China and will be having our baby in Taiwan. It would be nice for my wife to be able to ask a few questions with someone she could communicate clearly with. Thanks, Michael


Hsui-Li Cheng is a terrific midwife in Oakland. Growing up in Taiwan, she would tag along with her grandmother, also a midwife, assisting her. The number I have for her is 510-832-2388. Hope she can help! Elisa


I would highly recommend Hsiu-Li Cheng at Alta Bates. She is an AMAZING midwife. She studied in Taiwan and at Stanford Medical school and speaks Mandarin fluently. She is affiliated with Alta Bates, you can get a profile of her at their website. Her phone number is (510) 652-8881. Brenda


June 2009

Re: Midwife, Doula, Hospital for Single Mom
Congratulations on your pregnancy! as a single mom by choice, i would recommend Cindy Haag for a home birth midwife if you choose that route. she is wonderfully supportive, non-judgmental, answers any and all questions without hesitation. you really can't go wrong with her. Tres Lunas Midwifery 510-704-8366

have you heard of or contacted Maia Midwifery in Orinda? they are a great resource for pregnancy and birth preparation and offer support groups specifically for single pregnant mothers. it's a queer service that is non judgmental and very welcoming of all sexual orientations. i think this would be a very helpful service to know.

as for prep for birth as a single mom, i would suggest lining up now the help you will need when you go into labor so you can relax in those last months of pregnancy. whether you have a doula with or without friends present, have your plan in order so you know who you are going to call and who will be your birth partner. AND if you can, line up friends, co-workers, etc to help you after birth, especially with food, laundry, etc. it helps tremendously to feel supported and not alone. good luck! aki


Sept 2009 : Homebirth midwife and lacation consultant

I am looking for up-to-date recommendations for homebirth midwives. I was born at home and want very much to follow in my mother's footsteps! It would be ideal if the midwife were also a lactation consultant. Thank you! Happy About Homebirth


My midwife, Amrit Kahlsa, is fantastic, with years of experience. I had a great home birth with my second child with Amrit. She's also a certified lactation consultant. Give her a call. 510-235-4878 Andi


Congrats on your pregnancy and wanting to do a homebirth. I recently gave birth to my third child in July. My midwife was Judy Luce, Berkeley (you didn't say where you lived) ; 510-428- 1419 http://www.judylucehomebirth.com/index.html . I had interviewed 3 midwives, and I decided to go with Judy because of her experience/s with homebirth. She was able to give me MANY detailed stories of her experiences. I asked her questions about emergency situations and that if I needed to go to the hospital how long would she wait before the transfer and how we would get there, and would she go with me. I was very confident in her abilities. She also was the only midwife that took my situation of having short and simple births seriously. She respected how I wanted to birth my child. When the time came she did everything I asked for. She let me birth the way I wanted. As this was my third child, she supported me to let my body do what it needed to have the baby. She was also very much present if I need her. Judy was also great at having natural ways to address any concerns ex: allergies whilst pregnant, headaches, without the need to take modern medication. Judy was very informative about the tests needed to take throughout pregnancy and helped me make the right choices and decisions when it was time to decide. If I were to have another homebirth, I would call Judy, with no reservations. She was also very helpful with reminding me how to nurse. My husband and Judy had a great relationship, which was also very important to me. My husband was also very pleased with Judy, especially because Judy gave him the opportunity to be very hands on in my labor. My husband assisted Judy and he was able to catch our son into his own hands. Judy also respected that I didn't want my other children to witness the birth and that I wanted only my husband and her to be present. I wouldn't recommend anyone else. The midwives that will be recommended to you will be the better and well known ones. I'm glad I found Judy, as it was like 'finding a diamond amongst some old stones''. Here are questions to ask a midwife; http://www.sandiegobirth.com/homebirth_midwife_questions.html Good Luck with your search. If you would like to hear more about my experience you can email me offline. I will be happy to tell you in more detail my experience. Happy home birthing! hb


We had our birth with Tenaya Jackman. She's part of the Bay Area Homebirth Collective and practices mostly in the East Bay. We chose her because she was very supportive of my husband participating fully, she was interested in educating us but always let us make choices about interventions, and she was a perfect personality mix of laid-back but very organized. Our prenatal care was fantastic. We started working with her at week 7 and enjoyed all of our hour+ long visits. She helped us navigate concurrent care with Kaiser (use Walnut Creek!) and do preparation for parenting, as well as the birth. When we needed a lactation consultant (for my son's sucking reflex), she had several in her network to fix the problem quickly. If I birth another child, I will definitely choose her again. I'd also recommend Sonja Jolles (http://birth-support.com/)and Jenna Forder (www.empoweringmama.com) as doulas. Good luck and congratulations! Molly


I had a wonderful homebirth with Mason Cornelius, LM CPM. her website is www.novamidwifery.com. She also provided great postpartum / lactation support. If you'd like more details, I'll be happy to talk to you about my experience. rasa


I really recommend my current midwives- Maura Daly (http://www.nestmidwifery.com/) and Racha Gossett (http://www.traditionalrootsmidwifery.com/)out of Berkeley. I haven't given birth yet, so I can't vouch for that experience, but so far their care throughout my pregnancy has been so great (which I now only have 2 weeks left to go). They spend a lot of time with me for every visit, and they come to my home! There has always been plenty of time to answer all my questions and concerns and I never feel rushed. They give me lots of information about the different tests for pregnancy as they come up and always, always let me make my own choices about it and respect my decision either way. I feel very comfortable with both of them and really trust them. In comparison, I've been seeing another midwife, Jeri Zukoski, occasionally for testing and such, and while she is very nice, she is extremely rushed all the time. I don't mind that she's always running late, but I do mind that once I get into her office I can sense that she wants to move on to the next 2 people who are already waiting outside for her. I always feel like I have to hurry up and that she really doesn't have time answer any questions. I think she probably just takes on too many clients. Additionally, even though she is a midwife also, I don't feel comfortable with the way that she has presented my options to me (whether or not to do certain tests/treatments). Comments like ''well, your baby could get brain damage'' as a response to my reluctance to proceed with a certain procedure after I thoroughly researched it myself did not make me feel good and was really unnecessary and disrespectful to my freedom of choice. A 38 week and counting preggie


I highly recommend our midwife and lactation consultant, Amrit Khalsa, who provided incredible, thorough prenatal and postnatal care, and support for my amazing home birth experience. Amrit has 40 years of experience with homebirth, a warm and down to earth manner, extensive knowledge of local medical providers and institutions, and brings her insight, passion for birth and babies, and holistic understanding of the processes of pregnancy, birth and postpartum to her work with families. We looked forward to our relaxed prenatal visits at home, each of which included extensive information, emotional support, engagement with our 3 year old and with both of us as expectant parents, and immediate responsiveness to the issues that we raised. My partner had more concerns about having a homebirth, and Amrit addressed each one with expertise and knowledge. She instilled the utmost confidence in her, and I felt complete trust in her going into the birth. Her presence at the birth was focused, peaceful, supportive of all who were present, and she brought the calm reassurance I needed to give birth for the first time. I can\xc3\x82\xe2\x80\x99t imagine giving birth without the close relationships she had developed with all in our family. She dealt with necessary interventions after the birth at our home with the utmost care, and went above and beyond what I would ever expect to ensure that I was healing. Amrit attends to the whole family, and because of this, our children have had such a strong start to their relationship. She provided extensive lactation support when I had some challenges in the early weeks of breastfeeding, and provided loving care for six weeks for our family. I believe she is working as a lactation consultant with Bayside Medical Practice, and she is continuing to have her homebirth and lactation consultancy practice as well. Working with Amrit made for a completely transformative and powerful birthing experience that I am so grateful for. She can be reached at 235-4878. grateful for amrit and homebirth!


Feb 2009 : Marin Midwife

I recently moved from the East Bay to San Rafael and have been perusing the boards for a month or two looking for midwife recommendations. Some midwives are listed as serving Marin, but upon contact will say they prefer not to come. I understand the traffic concerns and stresses with coming over the bridge. That said, I still don't have a very good sense of what my options are over here for a home-birth. I'd love to hear any recommendations or experiences with midwives who serve this area. Thank you!! Zoe



For a home birth: Circle of Life Midwifery Center 17 Valley Rd Fairfax, CA 94930 (415) 721-7693 For a hospital birth: Women's Health Services (County of Marin) 3260 Kerner Blvd San Rafael, CA 94901 (415) 473-4030
Marin midwife


Dec 2008 : Spanish-speaking midwife

I am pregnant with my first child. My partner speaks only Spanish. Therefore, we are looking for a bilingual mid-wife who regularly practices natural, non-medicated birth. Any suggestions? - New Mommy


I can think of 2 for sure right now and a third (although not sure if she's currently taking clients) midwive who speak fluent Spanish:
Cindy Haag, www.bayareahomebirth.org Griselda Hernandez
The plus is that they often work together!!!

And, Kristen Graser, fruitsoflabor2003 [at] yahoo.com

The caveat is that they are homebirth midwives (so of course practice and advocate for natural, non-medicated births). And these three are some of the best in the bay area. I know - they were all at my two births and the upcoming one. (she just had a baby this year so not sure if she's taking clients)

Good luck! 3rd timer with midwives


Nov 2008 : Midwife with Brown and Toland?

my ob's office used to have two midwives, one of whom attended my daughter's birth. she has left, leaving only one part-time midwife. the practice doesn't intend to hire another midwife. i am pregnant again and really want to deliver with a midwife! does anyone know of another ob practice affiliated with brown & toland that has midwives? I would be open either to CPMC or UCSF. I delivered at CPMC and had a great experience there - everyone was very respectful of my desire to have a natural childbirth. Need a midwife!


If you'd be open to a MALE midwife, John Fassett is fabulous. He works with OB GYN of San Francisco, right across the street from CPMC (up by Pasta Pomodoro). I became pregnant 9 years ago when we lived in the city, and ended up choosing to have all 3 of my kids with him despite the fact that we moved to Berkeley 8 years ago. I still see him for all my GYN care. Kind, thoughtful, gentle, takes lots of time...listens. Open to natural childbirth (all 3 of mine were), and delivers at CPMC. He's truly wonderful. 415-668-1010. Heidi


Oct 2008 : Midwife for second baby

We recently switched to bluecross blue shield from kaiser and as life-long HMO members have no idea how to go about taking advantage of the option of having a midwife this time around. We are open to giving birth at home (we are a very low risk pregnancy and live close to many hospitals) or at a birth center/hospital - as long as it is nicer and more respectful than the Oakland Kaiser! Any recommendations of specific individuals or birth centers in the area would be VERY VERY much appreciated. We live in north oakland. Feel free to email me directly. sarah


I just had a successful second pregnancy with Jeri Zukoski, CNM. She takes most insurance, all but Kaiser I believe.

Her prenatal appointments are fun, easy going, and not rushed, and usually on time, only if previous client was late have I been delayed. My toddler-aged son was always welcome at appointments if I needed to bring him (she also took care of me for my first pregnancy).

I was going for a VBAC delivery this time, and she was fully supportive of my wishes throughout the pregnancy, labor, and the ultimate route of delivery, a 2nd c-section. She helped me and my husband feel confident in our decisions, didn't pressure us in any way, just supported us, making sure we knew the pros and cons of our decisions along the way. We felt she always kept my health and the health of my child at the forefront. Knowing how dedicated I was to a natural birth, I loved that she did not cast judgment or disappointment in me for a failed VBAC. Instead she helped us celebrate all of our hard work and the arrival of our second beautiful son just 7 weeks ago.My husband and I both whole-heartedly recommend her. Good luck to you. Susie


August 2008 : Midwife Beah Haber

Beah Haber, recent/current clients? I've heard wonderful things- what's your experience? anon.


Beah Haber and Michelle Edgar delivered my daughter in 2006, and they were absolutely fantastic. Since you ask specifically about Beah i'll speak about her, but Michelle was also great. My care was thorough and respectful, from pre- to post-natal. They made available all the services that I'd had from a mainstream ob-gyn for my first pregnancy, but without the pushiness! Beah knows *everything*, it seems, and made some amazing predictions correctly, from my daughter's birthweight to her time of delivery. While she's committed to helping you achieve a safe home birth, she's no cowboy, and she was quite clear with me when conditions arose that might not have let me labor at home (in the end we had a great home birth). I absolutely trust her, and think that you and your baby will be completely safe in her hands.


Beah Haber is a truly amazing midwife. She has a very practical, safe approach combined with many years experience. On top of that, she has the most wonderful spirit. You can not go wrong here. She really is one of the best mid-wives we have in the eastbay. maureen


July 2008 : Midwife in southern Alameda County

I'm looking for a good homebirth midwife in southern Alameda County. Ideally, I'd like to find someone who's clear and direct, but also warm and available. Any ideas?


I highly recommend the homebirth midwives at Awakenings Birth Services. http://www.awakeningsbirthservices.com/Site/AwakeningsBirthServices.html They are knowledgeable, supportive, and respectful of alternative lifestyles and all religions. My labor was hard and ended in a hospital transfer and a c-section. I felt so blessed to have these women with me on the journey. happy mama


Try Beah Haber. She's very professional, experienced, direct - and warm to top it all off. She delivered by daughter last November in my home and I was really happy with her. She's one of the most experienced midwives in the area. She has 7 kids and attended almost 3,000 births. I totally trusted her judgment, but she was also very open to doing things my way too. I have friends who have also used Cindy Haag and Amrit Khalsa (sic) and got phenomenal reports from them. Both those women are also highly experienced. Lisa


My husband and I had a wonderful homebirth this last March using Rosanna Davis and her assistant Treesa McClean. Her website is: http://www.rosannadavis.com/. They are terrific people with science backgrounds so you get a warm and fuzzy side, as well as a practical, medical outlook. We love them and will use them for every future birth! Shannon


I highly recommend Jeri Zukoski, a certified Nurse Midwife with privileges at Alta Bates. Her office is on Dwight/Shattuck in Berkeley. She delivered my 8 lb healthy baby boy at Alta Bates and helped me have the natural birth that I wanted. As a bonus, I had no tearing, partly due to the warm compresses, massage and mineral oil that she used. Her prenatal care was through, respectful and nurturing. Her number is 510-530-3374. Oakland Mama


I have several midwives I can recommend for you--Cindy Haag was my midwife and Tenaya Jackman (http://www.tenayajackman.com/) was her backup, they are both gentle and kind, and very experienced and soothing before, during and after labor. There are tons of excellent reviews for Cindy on the BPN site so I won't go on and on. Even though I didn't birth with them, I can also recommend Lis Worcester and her apprentice Raven Moon--I am friends with the latter and she provided fantastic nutrition and pregnancy advice to me (not as my midwife, but she is extremely knowledgable and kind, and now that she is apprenticing with such a great midwife, we will have another wonderful midwife among us soon!). --Piedmont/Oakland Homebirth Mom


July 2008 : Midwife with hospital privileges

I just found out I'm preggo with #2. I've searched the archives and am hoping for any new-ish info on midwives with hospital privileges, specifically Lindy Johnson, Hsui-Li Chen, and Nancy Barnett-Moore (who I can't find any contact info for, so maybe she's not practicing now?). In addition I'd be happy to hear info on anyone else you love or really feel I should avoid. Thanks so much!!!! hunting for a midwife


We love our midvives -Awaknings Birth services-Debra Simone Julie tilsner an Sharon- they are all nice an take so much time are sensitive and very knowledgable they o home visits that we loved- liza


Lindy Johnson was our midwife for baby #1, born at Alta Bates earlier this year. We thought she was great. She is very down-to-earth, responsive, and supportive of both mom and partner. She was patient in explaining everything throughout the pregnancy and birth. I felt that she empowered me to make my own decisions throughout the process. Her approach seems to be quite laid back. However, when things started heating up during labor, she brought an intensity that was exactly what the situation called for. I felt extremely confident in Lindy's abilities and actions every step of the way. She possesses a great mix of warmth and skill. If and when we have baby #2, we'll definitely go to Lindy again. Happy Mama


Hsui-Li Chen is the greatest, highly trained, respectable and will make you laugh. My pediatrician-trained husband had seen his share of complicated births and was impressed on how she flipped my huge son's stuck shoulder within 90 seconds of arriving on the scene during what was becoming a messy birth. My first 2 births were with obs in oregon but i wanted the same person who saw me regularly to deliver the baby. anon


I highly recommend Lindy Johnson! I had a baby with her in Alta Bates and she was great- Happy with Lindy-


Hi there, I worked with midwife Lindy Johnson for the birth of my first child in 2005. My experience was this. She was wonderful and incredibly attentive during all my prenatal care. I absolutely loved her, how she worked, the care I received, her quick responses to phone calls and her way of bringing my husband into it and really honoring his role as impending father. My birth experience with Lindy was not as wonderful. Her demeanor during my actual labor didn't end up feeling as kind or supportive as all our previous interaction. The down side was, after 14 hours of hard labor and still only dilated 2 centimeters, I asked for an epidural. She was not present and it took 2-3 hours for her to order it from the anesthesiologist. Yikes. What she DID give me though...was four hours of presence and support while I pushed my baby out. I am convinced that if I had been with my OB, I would have gone to C section. Lindy fought for me to still attempt a vaginal delivery (I heard her out in the hall advocating for me with the head of OBGYN at Alta Bates who wanted to send me to the OR). I consider that a big gift. Anonymous


I highly recommend Hsiu-Li Cheng. She was the midwife for the birth of both of my children. She is very well respected at Alta Bates, and has LOTS of experience. Hsiu-Li's bedside manner is warm, very direct and sensible. She knows acupressure, which helped me have both of my babies without drugs. The only negative I can offer is that she is so experienced, that she may feel that she knows better than you what should be done throughout pregnancy. Just be clear about your wishes on things like helping labor begin and you'll be fine. If I were to have a third child, I would definitely go back to her.


Lindy Johnson delivered my son in Sept 2006 and I would enthusiastically recommend her. She's warm, professional and very experienced. She's a great choice for the mom who wants a minimally invasive delivery in the hospital. She's a marvel in the delivery room and will honor your wishes while keeping you and baby safe. I had a complicated pregnancy towards the delivery - breech then external version, post dates and then very long labor for very big baby - and she caught my 11lb+ son at Alta Bates in a vaginal delivery with an odd presentation and no complications. The whole ob unit was talking about it. I'd go to her again - with hopes that #2 will be a bit less exciting! Wendy


To those in search of a midwife for a homebirth I have an incredible recommendation. I recently gave birth to my first child at home with the fabulous midwifery team of Amrit Khalsa and Lior Mayer. My experience from beginning to end was life changing, inspiring, supported and full of excellent guidance. From the pre-natal care visits, which were unbelievably thorough, to the actual delivery, which included perfect coaching for a long, challenging labor (I had a 9lb 14 oz baby), to the post-partum care, which helped me feel confident and calm in the midst of a huge life-changing experience, these two were a wonderful pair of women to work with. They are smart, very experienced, open and willing to hear what you want and work within what they know to be best to meet your needs and wishes. I never felt pressured or uncomfortable with any of their suggestions or advice. If anyone is interested in hearing more, please feel free to email me with specific questions. Aleishall


Jeri Zukowski in Berkeley helped us deliver at Alta Bates. She was excellent, with good nutrition and health advice. At the birth she was very knowledgeable and skilled with her hands. Our baby is healthier because of her skills. Bob and Beam


April 2008 :

Re: East Bay Perinatal as backup for Lindy Johnson
Lindy attended my birth in November, and although I did not need emergency care, I wanted to respond that Lindy was very supportive of our desire for a natural birth, which we had. I had to push for quite a long time, and she was strong in her interaction with hospital staff in ensuring them that we were OK, that the baby was responding to labor fine, and that we did not need medical intervention. My husband mentioned that there were multiple visits by the ''people in green'' (i.e., the doctors in scrubs) who seemingly would have whisked me off for a c-section had we been open to that, but Lindy knew our wishes and helped us carry them out. In terms of East Bay Perinatal, if it's the same outfit that conducted my various ultrasounds, I was very happy with them and had a great experience with Dr. Marinoff there. Very Happy with Lindy


I realize this isn't what you asked for in your orignal post, but saw a response from someone unhappy with Lindy Johnson and just wanted to chime in about our own experience. Used Lindy twice. She was present during the entire labor both times. When my partner was stuck at 7 cm during the first birth because baby was tilting her chin up, Lindy did manipulating & position changes that helped get things going. During birth number two, things seemed to be moving along well when my parter shocked us all by throwing out our natural birth plan and asking for an epidural. Lindy/nurses were getting that going when I was able to talk my parter into asking for Lindy's advice and trusting her. Long story short, we did something much less invasive which was critical later when our baby turned out to be posterior and got quite stuck. My parter's intensive pushing (which wouldn't have been able to happen if she had gotten the epidural) and Lindy's manipulation/tricks saved the day.! If Lindy hadn't been there and had my parter not trusted her enough to follow her advice despite her fear/pain, I'm certain we would have ended up with a C-section.


Regarding midwives in Berkeley...I highly recommend using Awakenings Birth Services - Sharon Craig, Deborah Simone, and Juli Tilsner! (They work in the East Bay and SF.) I had my daughter with them in September 2007. She was born Frank Breech (she flipped during labor!) and they handled it beautifully. Sharon in particular had experience with breech deliveries (now they all do) and I felt completely comfortable and calm during the entire experience. Their prenatal and postnatal care was beyond fantastic. Simona


Oct 2007

Beah Haber used to run the Birth Home in Pleasanton; now she's concentrating on her private practice, Motherwell Midwifery. And she's fabulous, as is the other midwife in the practice, Michelle Edgar. They're a great team; they're as lovely as can be, and incredibly skilled. Many of their clients are midwives, which says something! Call them at (925) 449-7666. katy


Oct 2007

Judy Luce was our midwife and we enjoyed working with her. She has over 30 years experience with homebirth. Judy is not only competent, but an interesting and kind person. She is part of the Bay Area Homebirth Collective (http://www.bayareahomebirth.org/), which is a good resource. Judy's number is 510-428-1419. Happy Birthing


Oct 2007

I used Cindy Haag in Berkeley & could not have been happier. Cindy gave me excellent, excellent prenatal care. I saw an OB the whole time too--so that I could get any bloodwork/ultrasounds paid for--which turned out to be good, since my daughter was still breech at 27 weeks and I had to have a version--but my prenatal care with Cindy was much more involved than that with my very good OB--and Cindy didn't miss a thing--and in fact sent me for tests that my OB didn't necessarily realize I needed. She was so respectful of my decision making, and was so knowledgeable and helpful in giving me and my partner information and then supporting whatever decision we made. When we interviewed midwives, we chose Cindy because she seemed the least judgmental and the one who would be the most respectful of our choices (like seeing an OB simultaneously, since my partner was less excited about homebirth than I was) and she was exactly like that throughout the care she gave us. She made sure we were aware of all the information, then respected all of our decisions--though gave us guidance where we need it.

I will tell you that I ended up having to go to Alta Bates for the birth--my labor hadn't started 2 days after my water broke despite all efforts including castor oil and then I saw meconium --but Cindy monitored me very, very closely for those two days, then went to the hospital with me--and I ended up having a wonderful, mostly intervention free birth (the lowest bit of pitocin to finally get the labor started, then no further interventions) there completely thanks to Cindy. She helped me make a number of decisions when we were in the hospital, helped me through my labor and advocated for me/my decisions with the hospital staff. I would use her again in a heartbeat.

BTW, I also second the recommendation for Michelle Edgar (who works with Beah Haber--Michelle is a friend of ours so she and Cindy agreed that she could be our assistant midwife even though Cindy normally works with someone else & Michelle normally works with Beah). Michelle is wonderfully supportive and knowledgeable, and I felt very lucky that she was there for me during the birth. Though I didn't actually use Beah, I do know that Michelle raves about her. another big cindy fan


Oct 2007

I'd tell you lots of great things about Cindy Haag as a Berkeley midwife, but I'm sure other people will write in so I won't have to. You can also check the archives for more glowing recommendations about her--she is very well loved and respected. 510-704-8366. Big Cindy Fan


Oct 2007

I am looking for a really great female OBGYN and/or Midwife in San Francisco. Also I am interested in knowing what people think about which hospital is the best to deliver in there. Thanks


We had our baby through Homestyle Midwifery - http://www.homestylemidwifery.com They were just wonderful. Previously they were a part of St. Luke's, but recent budget cuts by CPMC forced them into private practice. (They do take insurance). All their births are at St Luke's, who has the lowest C-section rate in SF (8%). ''Like a family'' is so cliche' but it's true! At Homestyle you are grouped with other couples who are due in the same month you are and after 7 months, there are weekly group appointments. Many of us from my group still stay in touch and have play dates. What's more - Homestyle hosts a monthly drop-in Parents' Group where families from previous generations drop in and hang out. I loved them. They were the perfect mix of homebirth touchy-feely and just-in-case hospital expertise. j


Oct 2007

Lindy Johnson was my midwife in January 2007. Despite my concerns that my baby was breech, on the basis of a vaginal exam (where she herself admitted she didn't actually feel my babies head), she maintained that my baby was head down and never suggested an ultrasound even as my pregnancy became more and more uncomfortable (because my baby was breech!). After laboring at home, I arrived at Alta Bates at 91/2 cm and my baby was breech. I ended up with an emergency C-section. Rather than explain to us what would happen in the operating room, something we were unprepared for, she was embarrassed that she had missed the breech and kept apologizing. Rather than addressing my feelings of loss and hurt after the C-section, she wondered why I seemed ''more upset than most moms who have a C-section.'' When we finally told her we no longer wanted to see her, her only concern was her money, and absolutely oblivious to the emotional damage she caused despite my attempts to tell her in letters. Her only response to my appeal to her to help me heal is that ''she provided me with professional services.''


Oct 2007

Hi out there, In response to the freak bad experience with Lindy Johnson: I have used Lindy Johnson for my second and third child's birth and I LOVE her. The reason she has so many positive posts on this network is because she is has excellent medical skills, personal skills, and she SHOWS UP when you need her. In the unmedicated, unmedicalized births of my last two children at Alta Bates she assisted me with words, wisdom, and skills that made my births exactly the way I had envisioned them. I can not imagine having a better midwife. I am so sorry for the person who had Lndy make a mistaken call during her pregnancy but her expertise is still in my opinion out of this world and I can not recommend her highly enough. Anyone please feel free to contact me to talk more at lenghth about Lindy. Ann


Oct 2007

I just wanted to let you know that I had an unpleasant experience with Jeri Zukowski just 4 years ago. Since then she has been removed from my school's authorized prenatal care providers. Her office was on Dwight Way at the time. I think she had too many clients and did not provide the prenatal care I expected.

Our initial consultation was wonderful. My female friend and I met with her in her office for an initial consultation, she was well-receptive to my desires, positive, friendly and overall seemed a good match. However later in my pregnancy her attitude changed. It is unclear if it was due to my husband attending visits with me but she was not as friendly and open as she previously was. At the initial visit she informed me of my co-payment (20%) and she wanted me to pay the entire amount upfront. As a graduate student $600 is alot of money to payout at one time so I informed her that I could pay in installments. I also remembered that there are contractual agreements between providers and insurance companies established. Keeping this in mind I knew that her $3000 fee may not be the allowable amount and my portion would be determined based on the allowable amount and I was right. The first payment was cheaper than she quoted me. I paid her my 20% but then during a later visit (maybe 2 or 3 visits later) she inquired if I paid her. I informed her that I did and then she requested that I call my insurance company to inquire about them paying her. That was not my responsibility and I felt like as a graduate student and mother of 1 with another on the way that I have enough responsibility besides tracking down a payment that she can conduct in one phone call. Later I was eligible for another type of insurance and this was no longer an issue. But she did inquire again several months into my pregnancy.

It was anticipated that I would deliver early however closer to my due date it appeared as if this was not to occur. It was 2 weeks past my due date and Jeri informed me that she may need to induce me. Since I wanted to endure a natural childbirth this troubled me. I called Jeri and she decided it would be a good idea to tell me that my baby could die if she did not induce. She told me how even after fetal monitoring my fetus could experience a depletion of amniotic fluid hours after and could die. So my response was what is the point of sending me for fetal monitoring if such a thing could happen. Ironically I spoke with another mom who utilized Jeri Zuckowski's services a few months prior to me informed me that her water bag broke and Jeri told her that she should go into labor soon. A day and a half later no contractions, no signs of labor, Jeri still told her she would be fine. So why would she tell me my baby could die and put me in distress. Anyway at the end of the conversation I asked about natural methods to accelerate labor e.g. castor oil and licorice. She told me that castor oil is better taken on an empty stomach, which was a lie. Since I was distraught I sought the advice of a friend of a friend who was a midwife in Berkeley but relocated to Chicago. My friend's friend informed me that it was fine to take the castor oil, she provided the appropriate dosage and relieved me of my distress, distress my own midwife caused me to suffer. I went into labor later that evening and Jeri did not believe I was in labor although I experienced this once before. The reason I decided to utilize Jeri's services was because she told me about visiting her patients at their home to check if they're in labor if they called. Well not my experience. She told my husband to perform these back massages, running a bath, etc. These were good ideas but I WAS IN LABOR!! She told my husband to check me, which I was totally uncomfortable with.!

After 3 more calls she finally said ''if you want you can go to the hospital.'' Well once I arrived at the hospital I barely had time for the nurse to check my baby's heartrate. AS soon as I got there I was 7cm and by the time I walked down the hall (5 minutes later) my contractions were so close together that they feared I would deliver in the hallway if I attempted to walk to my prepared delivery room. So they decided to place me in the first available room. By the time I arrived in the room I was 9cm and ready to deliver. I went to the bathroom and next thing you know Jeri is running in the room trying to prep for delivery. Nurses were running to get the delivery kit and prep the room. She delivered my son and that was it.

To make it worse. I contacted her about my follow-up visit and she informed me that I could come a week earlier. When I arrived for the visit she wanted me to complete an evaluation form and never did my check-up. I had my bookbag, my son, his carrier and his bag (fully loaded). She did not hold my son, did not help me to the waiting room, in fact she told me to put him in the bouncer and make 2 trips. What? I ran from school to her office for a check-up visit just to complete an evaluation form?

SHE NEVER SAW ME AGAIN!!

Sorry for any misspelled words. Disappointed with Jeri


Sept 2007

I highly recommend Maura Daly, she attended both of my home births. She has extensive clinical and homebirth experiance. She is in the East Bay, but I know she did a birth recently in S.F. Maura Daly www.nestmidwifery.com (551) 804-1215 tell her Racha sent you.


Sept 2007

I am looking for a midwifery practice in Berkeley that is supported by an OB/GYN practice or an OB/Gyn practice that uses midwives for non-problematic deliveries. I would like to see/meet the doctoras and midwifes for pre-natal care and then deliver in a hospital (Alta Bates, probably) with a midwife and little medical intervention unless absolutely necessary--in this case, I would like to be familiar with the doctors in the practice. Any suggestions welcome. Thanks, Lisa


I had my baby with Lindy Johnson at Alta Bates in Nov 2006 and can't say enough wonderful things about her. She has a loving, practical approach to pregnancy and birth and was a great coach (along with my husband) during labor. I opted for a natural delivery and she, along with the fantastic Alta Bates nursing staff, were 100% supportive of my decision. I know Lindy has a back-up OB/GYN if there should be any complications along the way. You would be an great hands with her. Best of luck and congrats. Lindy's phone # is (510) 644-0104 Melissa


Dr. William Isenberg delivered my son. He was at Summit then (4 years ago), but I believe it's now merged with Alta Bates. He's a great doc - really nurturing - and there is a midwife in their practice. One cool thing about their practice is that each doc there (and, I assume, the midwife!) makes a real effort to deliver his/her own patients, unless prevented by some emergency. Good luck! Tanya


I suggest looking into East Bay Perinatal there is a Chinese miwife named Sho Lee (not the actuall spelling, but this is how it is pronounced) who is fabulous. Also a midwife named Monica has a good rep at Alta Bates but I don't know what practice she is a part of. To avoid intervention I highly recommend doing lots of research and soul-searching to find out what you really want in detail so that you know what questions to ask, even of your midwife. Also, surround yourself with others doing what you want to do, whether it be breastfeeding, intervention free birth, lying in, cloth diapers, the family bed, etc.. Support of your ideas is crucial. Best in your pregnancy/birth journey. Your local doula


July 2007

Re: Recommendations for midwives
I just would like to give you a feedback on a mid-wife Jeri Zukowski, baesd on what we went through with her, and she is not the one if you are thinking of using a midwife as your mental support.

My husband and I were recomended Jeri Zukowski by her business partner Lindy Johnson, since Lindy was all booked. Jeri started out very positive and supportive which made both of us feel like we finally found the right person, who seemed to understand our perspective on medical care. However,the nightmare started when my water broke in the morning at 6am, my husband kept paging her numeraous times to a new number(which was a ''wrong'' number JERI left on our answering machine two days prior to my due), he also left many messages at her home and no luck. Then he called Alta Bates, they were also given the same wrong pager number. It was 5 o'clock in that evening when we were finally able to get a hold of her. I also found out that she was not a big on the idea of water birth or birth plans in general,she completely ignored our Birth Plan and didn't explain us why. (The alta bates nurces are more sensitive). We wanted to deliver naturally as possible and we believed that's whate her philosophy was all about as she proclaims on her web. 30 hours after my water had broken and yet we haven't seen her, in the meantime my contractions weren't getting strong enough for her, and instead of coming to see me in my bed and explaining the situation face to face, she calls the nurses station on the phone over and over. She spoke to me very impatiently with lots of sighs, threatened me with having c-section if I don't start pitocine. (which made me hopeless and very discouraged, and it was just very unprofessional way to adress and handle the situation)


July 2007

I highly recommend Beah Haber. She's wonderful: compassionate, supportive, experienced, and very skilled. She is a nurse-midwife who has attended homebirths in the Bay Area for many years. I am also a nurse-midwife and I felt very comfortable letting Beah take the reins with both of my pregnancies and deliveries. She was fantastic! Her practice is called Motherwell Midwifery and she has prenatal offices in both Pleasanton and Oakland. Her # is 925-449-7666. Best to you! A very happy homebirther


January 2007

Re: Midwife Recommendations for Blue Shield HMO

I think Jeri has gotten a bum rap. I too have heard nefarious reports of negative experiences with her in the past, but not once have I heard a first-hand (or 2nd or 3rd hand) report of anything worse than running late with appointments or paperwork (typical for any medical practice). Jeri was my midwife about a year ago now, and we had a great relationship throughout the pregnancy and a beautiful birth. She is very committed and enthusiastic about what she does. Go meet her, and see for yourself, the first consultation is free. I suggest you go in with an open mind, because if you go in with the negative attitude towards her that crept through your original post and are just waiting for her not to meet your expectations--I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Give her a fair try. Will definitely go back to Jeri for #2


To the first-time-mom-to-be considering using Jeri Zukoski. I've now gone through two pregnancies with Jeri and recommend her very highly. In fact, my husband and I have been meaning to post a recommendation for her so thank you for prompting it. Jeri is very knowledgeable, caring and direct. During our first birth, she resolved what could have been a major complication due to the position of the baby and we had a beautiful and very successful birth. We felt so strongly about her that we worked with her during our second pregnancy even though we had one of the very few insurances she cannot take. She takes just about everything though, including Blue Shield so don't worry about it. While she is extremely affirming and really built up my confidence about my ability to have a successful birth, she is also cautious and if and when she feels more medical treatment is necessary, she makes sure you get it. My second birth (12/06/06) was significantly more complicated and Jeri stepped graciously out of the way to let my OB handle the situation. I would be most pleased to discuss my experience with her directly. If you'd like, drop me an email with your phone number and we can talk. Blessings on your pregnancy and birth. Season Season


January 2007

Re: Midwife Recommendations for Blue Shield HMO
We absolutely adored our midwives who assisted us with a homebirth in May. The birth and the post-natal care were exceptional. The practice is called Awakenings Birth Services: http://www.awakeningsbirthservices.com/ Susie


January 2007

Re: Midwife Recommendations for Blue Shield HMO

Hsiu-Li Cheng is a phenomenal midwife and human being. The only negative is that she does not always attend births at night but has the OB generalist at Alta Bates manage the birth when she can't be there. However, ABMC now has 24 hr house midwife coverage, so if she is not there, you could request the excellent staff midwife. They're all great. --former ABMC L RN


Jeri Zukoski delivered my first daughter, and Hsui-Li Cheng delivered my second. Of the two, I preferrred Hsui-Li. I found Jeri to be very supportive of the emotional aspects of pregnancy (which, as a first-time mom, I greatly appreciated), but as my delivery approached, her approach was very conventional, and her support around the delivery was well short of what I had hoped for. My labor proceeded in some unexpected ways (long story), but Jeri did not arrive at the hospital until after I was ready to push (about an hour after she got a call saying I was in transition), and also didn't see me for 2 weeks after the delivery, although she did check in via phone.

Hsui-Li's office is much more like a conventional medical office, and the waits for prenatal visits were sometimes long, and the visits themselves were shorter (of course, I had far fewer questions as a second-time mom). But the atmosphere was warm: they always had a smile and a lollipop for my then-toddler, and were happy to hold a stethoscope to her tummy to listen to ''her baby''. As my due date approached, Hsui-Li was very calm and encouraging, and during my labor she was just a wonderful presence, keeping everyone calm during a very fast labor. I would recommend her without hesitation.

Of course, this is all very individual, and my information isn't recent (my daughters are now 8 and 5), and I would encourage you to meet with both and go with your instincts. Best of luck to you. anon


I delivered at Summit hospital in 2004 with Hsui-Li Cheng. While she was surely competant, and I heard nothing but high praise for her when I mentioned her name to others, I did not have a good experience with her. First of all, I wish I had trusted my instincts initially when we first met with her and she was nice, but rather cold. I kept thinking she'd warm up the more we saw her, but this didn't happen. Ultimately I realized that what I wanted was more of a home-birth-type midwife -- the kind who visits with you for hours and deals with every aspect of pregnancy, from physical to emotional. Hsui-Li is definitely NOT that kind of midwife. While the delivery ended up going OK -- I had some minor complications, ended up taking Pitocin and giving birth to a healthy girl soon after -- I didn't feel like she was on the same page with me during labor and delivery. She was very stern and seemed exasperated with my desire to try other things before taking the Pitocin. I suspect she did save me from a c-section, since I think a traditional OB would have pushed hard in that direction given my situation, and for that I'm grateful. But since having a second child at home with a completely different kind of midwife, I now know that the experience is worth the money (my son was born in New York and the midwife cost about $3,000 after a little insurance kicked in). Sierra


Hsui-Li was the midwife for my first child, and I am pregnant again for my second child. I would not go to anyone else for number two. She has been present at so many births, her experience really shows through. She employs acupressure, and has a very calming demeanor. I don't know anything about the midwife you are currently seeing, but I don't think you can go wrong if you decide to switch.


I chose Hsiu-Li as my midwife because I had heard great things about her, and although I thought she was good for the delivery part, I felt like she didn't take me seriously when I had horrible, debilitating pelvic pain during my pregnancy. She dismissed it as normal pregnancy pain. Only well after the fact did I find out that this was a legitimate complication and there were things I could have done to lessen the pain. I was so frustrated and angry with Hsiu-Li--and in so much pain--that it was hard to enjoy the first month of my son's life. I know this isn't exactly a recommendation, but I want you to know that you have to be more demanding and proactive than I was with Hsiu-Li if you have concerns about your pregnancy that she is not addressing. Another mother


October 2006

I am considering swapping from a doctor to a midwife and I was recommended Jeri Zukowski through my insurance. Has anyone had Jeri assist with their birth and if so was it a good experience? I am finding it really hard to get any information about her. Thanks -Jinners


Jeri delivered our daughter and I cannot recommend her enough!! She saved me from a sure C-section and just generally turned a very long and difficult labor into an amazingly positive experience and a birth that we were all VERY happy with. If you want more recommendations and testimonials go to her website (ours is there too in more detail) http://jerizukoski.com/ . You can also feel free to contact me and I'd be happy to talk with you in more length and provide more details about our experience. Happy birthing with Jeri!! Mara


I had my baby with Jeri Zukowski and had quite a negative experience. She started out very warm, but over the months became progressively more disengaged. At the birth she was overly anxious and ready to catastrophize. The birth became scary and looking back I don't believe it needed to be.

When she called a doctor in (she wanted him to determine if I could push the baby out myself), I glimpsed the possibility of another type of birth and wished that he could stay - he was calm, confident in me, and ratcheted down the anxiety several notches. His calm energy was a huge contrast to Jeri's anxious energy. Jeri also used threats rather than encouragement - saying things like: ''if you don't push the baby out in 20 minutes I'm going to use forceps.'' She acted as if I weren't trying hard enough and I spent much of the labor feeling guilty and scared.

Right before my son was born (while I was in labor) she strongly hinted that he he was a girl, and she knew I badly wanted a girl. I was prepared for either one, but then I thought I was having a girl so it was hard to then find out he was a boy.

I came in for a post-partum visit, and had the baby blues. I was crying and talking to her about it all, and she said ''you have a high-needs baby.'' This scared me to death, so I kept saying ''are you sure? How do you know?'' And she spoke at length about how easy her own daughter had been, and how different from my son. (She was completely wrong - he turned out to be extremely mellow - although even if she had been right I don't feel this is a very comforting thing to say to a new mom with the baby blues.) When I left I was even more depressed and anxious. She did not respond to this at all - it was as if she did not notice how bad I felt, or the effect she was having on me. I will never forget this - she just turned her back and didn't say goodbye.

Although it's possible your personal style will mesh with hers better than mine did, I strongly recommend you find someone else Anonymous


Jeri delivered my first child. She is very very good at what she does. She guessed baby's weight prior to birth to within a couple of oz and was so helpful in coaching me through the pushing process that i didn't tear at all. she also came to my house post-birth to check on the baby, and gave great recommendation on dealing with the jaundice which avoided trips to the hospital. the only set-back with Jeri is that she is a bit paper-work/logistically challenged. this was almost 5 years ago, so things may have changed


we chose to go with jeri zukowski after interviewing several midwives. i will tell you what we liked about her and what we didn't care for. we liked her background with home and hospital birth as we were interested in a natural birth in the hospital; we liked her office and location (very cozy and warm with toys to occupy our toddler), she left lots of time during prenatal visits for questions and concerns, and finally she accepts medi-cal. what we didn't like was while we were often early for our prenatal appts, she was frequently running behind and would leave us waiting for 10-20 minutles while she checked her voice mail and shuffled papers (not such a big deal but she never acknowledged being late with an apology or anything and she would sometimes abruptly end our appointmenst if we went over even by a minute or two...but maybe i was just too cranky and hormonal as it rarely annoyed my husband!), i sometimes felt her to be a bit spacey during our conversations and wondered if she had too many clients on her plate because she couldn't remember things i'd told her just minutes before or facts like being vegetarian; i felt like she was a little distracted and just going thru the motions sometimes. lastly, and this disappointed us most, i ended up switching to a perinatologist due to severe complications and jeri just disappeared on us. no call to follow-up for weeks on end, she just totally dropped us which felt sad to me because of how intimate the exchange is between midwife and client...i felt abandoned and it was quite akward to bump into her at alta bates while i was in labor. she avoided my eyes and just sort of shirked away...wierd. so all in all, i'd say we were sort of satisfied but i ended up very happy with thh doctors i birthed with and i got my natural labor and delivery on my own terms even without a midwife's support! anonymous


i was making the same decision about a midwife or OB 9 months ago! i ended up choosing jeri as my midwife and have absolutely no regrets! i had an OB until i was 4 months pregnant and then switched. jeri's appts allowed for conversation and plenty of questions. when we were deciding, she invited us to meet with her and discuss our concerns. she also invited us to a meet the midwives night at the hospital to meet her back-ups, both of which were very helpful. both during and after my delivery i got plenty of follow-up in the hospital, an at-home visit, and time for more questions. she's very competent and was supportive of our desire for a natural childbirth, but knows when to suggest/use interventions. feel free to contact me if you'd like more info. new mama


I had my baby with Jeri a number of years ago, and while the prenatal experience was lovely, the actual birth was not. She showed up for the last couple of hours, like a doctor would. And my labor was almost two days long. At one urgent point, when things were very difficult, we called her and she told us she was sleeping and would speak to us later. While I was in the hospital she left and did another birth. That would not have bothered me in a physician, but I chose a midwife precisely because I wanted a different kind of experience. That said, she accompanied us during the c-section and took photographs, so that was nice
anon


After reading the somewhat mixed reviews given for Jeri, I feel compelled to write about the very recent and very positive experience my husband and I (and our new son) had with Jeri over the past year or so.

My husband and I just had our first baby, a boy, this past July and Jeri was our midwife. We interviewed her at the very beginning of my pregnancy, we were FULL of concerns that the birth and pregnancy not be over-medicalized, which is why we sought a midwife. My husband can be a bit weary and even confrontational when it comes to authority figures trying to ''force'' things we don't want on us, and so we were also looking for someone who could put him at ease. The first meeting with Jeri went so well, with both of us feeling very confident in her expertise, her philosophy and her very happy demeanor. When it came to my husband she was completely disarming in the most genuine way. It was an easy decision to go with her for the pregnancy and delivery.

At the beginning we were teetering on whether or not to have a homebirth or deliver at Alta Bates, Jeri was great because she offered both options, and you didn't need to decide 'til the 6th month. Early on we decided on a hospital birth, based on Jeri's description of what the experience would be like, but at the last minute (after the hospital tour), around the 8th month, we wanted to explore the possibility of a home birth, at that point, it was a little bit late due to the need for Jeri to schedule back-ups, as well as we were not prepared for the extra costs associated with a home birth since our insurance wouldn't cover it. Jeri made us feel very comfortable with the idea of a hospital birth and assured us that we could TRUST what she was saying.

My labor went very well, Jeri was very supportive of our desire for a natural birth, and because the baby was doing fine, encouraged us through 4+ hours. I'm positive that we were ''allowed'' to push longer than the standard 2h ''time limit'' because of Jeri's very good relatioship with the OB/labor and delivery staff at Alta Bates. Throughout the pushing either Jeri or the l nurses were actively trying to turn the posterior baby- lots of work for them as well as for me. Jeri was very encouraging the whole time!

We patiently tried lots of creative positions and strategies that Jeri recommended. In the end I needed lots of interventions including pitocin, and eventually an epidural and c-section, needless to say this IS NOT what we had wanted, however, because we trusted Jeri to guide us through the delivery, because she knew what we wanted and had prepared for, we knew she was not rushing us or offering us un-necessary interventions just to get out the door. She stood by our side all through the cesarean delivery and shared in our joy at the sight of our new son. I have no doubt that mine was a necessary c, and I'm thankful it was an option.

The postpartum care was also great, a nice home-visit for me and the baby- again, only positive experiences to talk about. The only negative might be that some of her clients were late sometimes (out of her control), and she still tried to accomodate them, which in turn made people like me who arrived on time have to wait a little longer. All my prenatal visits were great though, never seemed rushed. All my paperwork was filled out when I needed it.

After reading some of the other posts, it sounds like there may have been a lack of trust which led to a less than satisfying experience with Jeri. If you are clear with what you are expecting when you go and talk with her, and you match up on philososphies, I really don't think you will be disapppointed, Jeri's integrity is just too high to let anyone down

We love Jeri


on september 3rd i gave birth to our first child, a gorgeous girl named lenci. it was at alta bates, which is a regular baby factory. i can't say enough good things about everyone there, all the nurses were wonderful. but what made the whole thing doable was that jeri zukoski was our midwife. she was great throughout all the prenatal care, but what was most awesome was that she helped our daughter emerge with very little trauma to my hindquarters. i did not want an episiotomy, and was worried that i would tear, as so many folks i know have. but with her expert hands and lots of mineral oil, jeri made sure that didn't happen. it was definitely a 12 on my 1 to 10 pain scale, but afterwards there was only minor evidence of what had occurred. i sincerely doubt that the ob/gyn i'd seen at the beginning of the pregnancy would have been able to help me the way jeri did. my mom and mom in law are both nurses and were very impressed with the entire proceedings. jeri has been very caring and supportive post partum as well, and i reccommend her (or her partner, lindy johnson) highly. Karen G


Aug 2006

Re: OB or CNM who provides concurrent care?
Jeri Zukoski, CNM, was willing to give me parallel care through about week 30 of my pregnancy. She prescribed a genetic screening bloodtest and one ultrasound for me. She told me that she would send me a letter indicating that she was not my back-up for labor if I had to transfer to the hospital for liability reasons, but she never ended up sending that letter. I'm not sure she was thrilled about providing those services, but she didn't turn me away. BTW, she used to do home births but my understanding is that she is very reluctant to take them on at this point and that she is quick to transfer to the hospital if she agrees, so I would NOT use her as a primary CNM for a homebirth (I worked with someone else for my actual birth) anon


June 2006

Hi, I am pregnant with my second child and I want to give birth at Alta Bates with a midwife. I delivered my first baby at home with midwife Beah Haber, but I now have a Blue Cross plan that will not cover homebirth due to the network restrictions. All of the advice that I see on the website is quite old and I am wondering if anyone has recently used a midwife at Alta Bates and what insurance coverage issues came up and who you used. I need help as soon as possible! Thanks! Jessica


I had a wonderful birth with a midwife at Alta Bates last July: Lindy Johnson, 644-0104. I also have Blue Cross so I am fairly sure you will be covered. Lindy is wonderful - warm, holistic and extremely competent. I also like her office - cozy, personal, no receptionist demanding a co-payment the minute you walk in the door, etc. rinat


I delivered a healthy baby (my first) seven months ago at Alta Bates with a Certified Nurse-Midwife. I also have Blue Cross as my health insurance. It was very very nice to receive a sheet in the mail two months later that listed all of the outrageous expenses showing it was all paid for already!) Now, since you had a home-birth previously, you will likely find the experience to be very medical (it is a hospital), but a natural birth experience overall is feasible (minus the atmosphere). The key is to have a midwife you really really trust and a good idea of your own needs. They definately do jump on technology when your at a hospital. For my birth, I went in there just about a trained as you can be (Bradley classes, etc.), and asked for no heplock immediately, my own fluids, no drugs and I ended up with a heplock towards the end since I pushed for two hours and they deemed that as dehydrating. Now, it was a lot of work but two hours is average...it seems that the average is a little longer than most hospitals prefer though. They also put an oxygen mask on me (which was annoying and dried me all out). But since I was just a bit busy, I ignored it. (I won't in future cases though.) My baby was also riding really really low for a really long time. So they ended up putting the scull screw monitor on and although I had been ademant that they not unless it was an emergency, their worry and eagerness felt right at the time. So, being a second timer, I would say good luck and no worries. You will be in a safe environment and as long as you know your stuff things will be fine. Good luck! P.S. I don't recommend my midwife (she didn't quite fit my list of needs), but I'm sure others can recommend Alta Bates Momma w/ Midwife


Lindy Johnson attended the birth of our son at Alta Bates, and she was wonderful. She listened to us and educated us on what to expect. She was at the hospital when we arrived and had already secured us a spacious room with a jacuzzi tub. We had a detailed (hypno)birthing plan and were pleasantly surprised by how much of it was unnecessary. Of the three hospital births we've had, Alta Bates was the most progressive. Also, with the birth of our second son in NYC, we had a team of midwives. We met a different one at each visit and then got whoever was on call for our birth. Lindy keeps her caseload small and though she has a partner as back-up, she can almost guarantee she'll be at your birth, which I liked. We have Blue Cross as well. Happy birthing! Elisa


Jeri Zukoski is a wonderful midwife. I am a Doula and have had the pleasure of working alongside Jeri at several births. She has a wonderful demeanor and seems to know her patients very well. In one case I watched as she calmly and expertly turned (rotated) a baby avoiding the necessity of a cesarian birth (the procedure took almost an hour). I highly recommend Jeri. Michele


I was with Blue Cross when I delivered with Jeri Zukoski at Alta Bates last year. She was absolutely fabulous! She checked all my insurance details to make sure there was coverage. In terms of out-of-pocket payments for prenatal visits, etc, it was the same as what I was paying with the OB. BTW, I switched to Jeri 5 days before my due date and there were no problems with coverage! 2107 Dwight Way # 102 Berkeley (510) 530-3374


June 2006

Re: finding a midwife for hospital delivery
We can't recommend Jeri Zukoski in Berkeley highly enough. We have been very very happy with the care she has provided us. She has excellent experience, and an even more outstanding attitude and enthusiasm for her work. She does home births or Alta Bates hospital births
We love Jeri


June 2006

Re: finding a midwife for hospital delivery
Lindy Johnson (who has admitting privileges at Alta Bates) is fantastic. She helped me deliver both my boys (2003, 2005). I think I have posted to the list before, but couldn't find recent recs in the archives. Everyone I know who has birthed with Lindy has fabulous things to say about her. Her office is at Shattuck & Dwight, 644-0104
Anita


March 2006

I am extremely grateful to my midwife, Jeri Zukoski and felt compelled to write a recommendation for her. I gave birth a little over two weeks ago to a healthy baby boy. I had an all natural childbirth and my son Max came out wide eyed and alert, and latched on within 10 minutes of being born. I owe much of my wonderful birth experience to Jeri. My son had two ''malpositions'': he was asynclitic(his head tilted so he rammed against my pelvic bone) and posterior (facing forward vs. towards my back). These two positions created a very, very painful and intense back labor throughout the whole labor. I was stuck at 4 centimeters because of Max not being in the right position. At this point, many caregivers would have gone to a caesarian. Jeri had the knowledge, experience and will to turn the baby. She reached inside me and for thirty minutes turned my baby during contractions. I dilated from 4 centimeters to 7 quickly and went on to have my baby vaginally. The doula was in awe of my midwife and said very few doctors/midwives could have done what she did. In addition, throughout this whole process, Jeri had my complete trust: I respected her and she always provided me with choices during the labor and encouraged me to make informed decisions throughout. The two of us worked together as a team. She radiates calmness and serenity and has a huge reservoir of experience to draw from. I just can't stop singing her praises! On top of all of this, she clearly loves her work and deeply cares about her clients and their newborns. I highly recommend her. She has her own private practice but delivers at Alta Bates and also does home births. Her number is (510) 530-3374. very happy new mom


May 2006

I am considering using Homestyle Midwifery, but have heard mixed reviews about St. Luke's hospital. This is causing me some concern and making me wonder if I shouldn't go with one of the other hospitals. Anyone with recommendations or experience with Homestyle? Thanks, Mary


Hi Mary, I recently gave birth to my second son with Homestyle Midwifery. I'm not sure what kind of mixed reviews you have heard. I have only good things to say about the midwifery practice itself.

As for St. Lukes, the hospital overall has a very low cesarean rate (around 13%), which is a good sign. The building is older, and I have to admit the administrative side is a bit messed up (I sent in pre-registration, but I still needed to register when I was in labor; I got several bills that should have been sent to my insurance, etc.).

However, I feel those inconveniences were worth the experience I had. Homestyle Midwifery is really a unique and amazing practice. They provide wonderful emotional and physical support (long prenatal visits, a 36 week team meeting with all the midwives, your partner and doula, prenatal group meetings, a postpartum home visit, labor tub, birthing stool, and more). They will also not use unnecessary interventions which are routine in so many practices. Homestyle Midwifery: (415) 643-3378, homestylemw[at]yahoo.com, www.homestylemidwifery.com

Best of luck, Julie M.


April 2006

My partner and I just had an amazing experience with our midwives Yeshi Neumann and Cynthia Banks, for the birth of our 3 month old daughter, and for our pre- and post-natal care. We wanted to share our review of their excellent midwivery practice at St. Luke's in SF.

Homestyle Midwifery has created a truly unique home-in- philosophy but hospital-based-in-location approach to pre/post natal care and childbirth. We were thrilled to find such a balanced and perfect fit for our needs as an expectant couple.

From the beginning of our care, Cynthia and Yeshi provided holistic, nurturing, knowledgeable, responsive and loving care that set the stage for our daughter's magical and peaceful birth. They always spent as long with us in person or on the phone as we needed, and provided a vast array and combination of western and \xc2\x93alternative\xc2\x94 approaches to health and well-being from the earliest days through her second month in the world. They transformed a regular old hospital room into the most intimate, peaceful and warm environment to labor in and welcome our baby. When we met with medical complications after her birth, Cynthia was skilled and calm and allowed the magic of the experience to continue throughout the necessary procedures. For that, we are endlessly grateful. Having trust in your provider is one of the most critical components of preparing to give birth, and we never could have imagined just how deep that trust would become and how much it would inform our birth experience. The combination of home, group, and office-based visits was integral to this development. And it doesn\xc2\x92t just stop with the birth \xc2\x96 having such immediate and personalized care in those first weeks after the birth was invaluable. They responded to our endless questions as new parents with specific and reassuring recommendations. Cynthia and Yeshi inspire the utmost confidence with their wisdom, expertise, and philosophical approach to the profound life transitions of pregnancy and birth. They are as passionate about their work as they are skilled at it; as knowledgeable as they are driven by their holistic philosophy; and as committed to a broader vision of community building \xc2\x96 and its relevance for childbirth and raising healthy communities \xc2\x96 as they are to their attentive individual care and relationship-building. In fact, we will continue to go to their monthly open-houses for babies to see them and to spend time with those other families with whom we have made strong connections through Homestyle. We can\xc2\x92t thank Cynthia and Yeshi enough for everything they did for us. This experience will be with us always, and has started our daughter's life off on such a profoundly perfect note. You can contact Yeshi and Cynthia at Homestyle at 415.643.3378. Sonja


Mar 2006

We used Jeri for the birth of our first child about 4 months ago. I am so happy we had her- I am convinced I would have had a C-Section had she not been my midwife. Our daughter was posterior and tilted so she was hitting my pelvis. Very long story short when things got sketchy towards the end she knew what to do to help us have a very successful vaginal birth with no tearing;) I admittedly had my doubts about her during our prenatal visits. She seemed very scattered and didn't always seem to be 100% with me. As a matter of fact during my labor she wasn't actually there for very long at all. From what I hear that is pretty common though. What mattered to me in the end though is that in the delivery room she was very present and saved me from a very painful C-Section delivering my very healthy and happy baby and when all is said and done that was my main concern. Good luck! I would go back to Jeri again...


Dec 2005

I'm moving to the East Bay (Alameda for the time being) in Jan '06, and am currently 22 weeks pregnant. I'm looking for a good midwife or ob--any recommendations are helpful, but I'm wondering in particular if anyone knows anything about the clinic at 2258 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda. It's super close to where I'll be living, and seems to have a number of o.b.s and midwives, but obviously I don't know anything about them. Any thoughts would be most welcome. thanks! Jakki


re: 2258 Central Ave. midwife this is Deborah Coleman's office. i don't know if other midwives work there, too. if you do a search for her on the BPN web site, you'll find info from people who used her as their midwife. i'm not pregnant but she did my recent yearly exam. i got the impression she's definitely a no-nonsense practitioner, but can't comment about her midwifery skills. on a related note, a pediatrician, John Whalen, shares space w/Coleman. i would highly recommend him for kids and young adults. aside from being caring, he returns phone calls personally and remembers things about patient history from (literally!) years back. i wish i could find an internist like him for older adults. anon


Nov 2005

Re: OB/GYN and midwife ''touchy-feely''
I switched to Jeri Zukoski (510) 530-3374, a Certified Nurse Midwife, from an OB/GYN towards the end of my pregnancy. She was great! I wished I switched to her sooner... she was so helpful with nutritional information for pregnant women! She was really caring and not only about my physical health but how I was doing emotionally. She made sure I was well prepared with help around the house after birth, etc.

And one of the biggest differences I noticed right away was that she was on time for appts and never rushed me. At the OB/GYN's office, I felt like I was a ''widget'' that they just couldn't process fast enough and rush out of the examination room!

When I went into labor, Jeri was on the phone with us (me, my husband and our doula) constantly and met us at Alta Bates a couple of hours before my son was born. From what I hear, some OB/GYNs show up for the last few minutes. Jeri has backup OBs at AB if she needs them.

I contacted Jeri and she made sure that I had coverage with her under my medical plan (Blue Cross HMO). I paid normal office co-pays with her. Nothing extra out of pocket!

I'd highly suggest checking out birth doulas too. We had Virginia Duplessis whom I can't recommend enough! Jeri and Virginia is my dream birth team!

Good luck to you! Susan


Nov 2005

Re: OB/GYN and midwife ''touchy-feely''
Lindy Johnson is a midwife who has admitting privileges at Alta Bates. Prenatal appointments are at her office at Shattuck and Dwight. She is a skilled and warm practitioner. She was the best combination for me (who wanted a caring practitioner) and my husband (who wanted a hospital-based birth). Lindy delivered both my sons, and one nurse who took care of me said that Lindy delivered her child 7 years ago. Another nurse said that all the nurses are always clamoring to work with Lindy. Her # is 644-0104. (Her official name is Linda Johnson.) You can look at the old testimonials on the BPN websites. I had my boys in '03 and '05. Good luck! Lindy fan


June 2005

My OB was great before I got pregnant but after 4 months of prenatal care I have decided I want a midwife in the delivery room (hope I'm not too late to change!). I have two women in mind and hope I can get feedback on them. The first is Greta Cohn who I know little about except that she is recommended by someone close. The second is Deborah Coleman. Again I know little about her, but have personal recommendation. There are a few comments in the archives about Deborah but not enough to go on. Any feeback about them would be really helpful. Thank you in advance for your time! Sarah


Deborah Coleman delivered both of my babies and I was very happy with her. I noticed a previous responder mentioned that she doesn't have a very ''holistic'' approach which is true and that is what I wanted. I'm not into touch feely stuff and I didn't want/need a lot of hand holding. I wanted to have good competent care and I wanted to see the same person at each visit and have her deliver my babies. Debbie was very responsive to various concerns of mine, always took me seriously and did whatever was necessary to make sure my babies were healthy. She was very down to earth, no nonsense and let me be in control of my own birth. My first birth was a c- section but with Debbie's help I was able to have a wonderful,successful VBAC with my second. It was a great experience! Steph


Debbie Coleman was highly recommended to me and I used her until I was about 5-6 months preggers- then I switched to Sho Li (also in the same practice). I think it depends on what you are looking for. Debbie is very nice and I felt she was competent and caring. However, I felt the need for someone who was more holistic- thoughful about herbs and self-care as a way to proceed through pregnancy and labor. Debbie seemed to me, to act more as an MD then a midwife.

For example, when I was diagnosed with placenta previa (which often resolves itself further along in the pregnancy), she told me all in one breath (on the telephone)- ''we don't know yet how bad it is (I still had to get a further ultrasound), but if it is bad (full versus partial) and does not resolve itself you will have to get a c-section.'' I burst into tears and later got angry because she gave me the worst case scenario without even having all the facts. And she did it with no emotion or compassion- very clinical. That really bothered me because I needed a lot of hand holding. So... I think it really depends on your own temperment and how you click with her when you interview her- which you absolutely should do,IMHO. anon


June 2005

I am pregnant and looking for a nurse midwife. I've read some wonderful recommendations for Nancy Barnett-Moore and would love to contact her. The only number I can find (510-832-2229) doesn't seem to be in order any more. Does anyone know her current contact information? Thank you for your help! Kristen


I was hoping to see an answer to this one as well, but I see that no one has responded yet. I found Nancy's name on the following website: http://www.suttersolano.org/programs/services_gb.html. I don't know if she's still taking private patients.


May 2003

Your request for a midwife recommendation reminded me of myself. I made a similar posting to this list some 17 months ago and was so very, very grateful to get the helpful responses I received. So, while I am recommending someone who is already much hailed on the UC Parents website, I thought it might still be helpful if I added my praise for Hsiu Li Cheng at East Bay Perinatal. I left Kaiser midway through my pregnancy because I was completely fed up with the lousy prenatal care I was getting - and because it was very important to me that I know the person who was going to deliver my baby beforehand. I interviewed a few midwives and settled on Hsiu Li, both because I liked her and because I could go there with my husband's HMO coverage. I was so happy I made the switch every day of my pregnancy, but never as happy on delivery day. My husband and I had heard several times during the second half of my pregnancy that Hsiu Li is a delivery genius whenever we mentioned her name to people in the birth business. And while it made us happy and confident to hear such words, we also always laughed about it - wondering just what the heck it meant. Well, we found out when Hsiu Li delivered my little boy, who was turned to the side during the whole delivery, who didn't present with the normal part of his head and who needed to pass through a cervix that is very posterior. In other words, the architecture was tricky and Hsiu Li's lifetime of baby delivery was our good fortune. She manipulated the cervix while requiring me to labor in a dificult position. And at the same time she was turning the baby and doing massage to prevent tearing while coaching my helpers on just what acupressure points to push. The net result was a vaginal delivery after just 45 minutes of pushing and one tiny tear that barely required a stitch. A healthy birth all around. I have no doubt that I would have joined the long list of unnecessary C-sections had I stayed with Kaiser or relied on another traditional provider. Instead I have fond memories of my son's natural birth - so much so that I'm actually looking forward to doing it one more time in the future (Yes, I guess it's true what they say about the amnesia.)

You should know, however, that if you are looking for a midwife because you would like someone to assist with labor, Hsiu Li is not your answer. She operates more like a traditional Ob-Gyn in that she comes to the delivery room when the nurses at Summit (she does not work at Alta Bates) tell her the patient is ready to push. She is more than happy to work with a labor coach if you choose to hire one - or with any friends or family who you may have with you for your delivery. But she is definitely not a doula. And my last suggestion would be to meet some midwives for yourself. I interviewed one who was highly recommended - but I just didn't like her at all. You need a good fit for yourself.


I just had my daughter a few months ago and stayed with UC Care throughout. My midwife, Hsiu-Li (Sho-Lee) Cheng, was fabulous. She delivers at Summit where I had a great experience. Hsiu-Li, referred me to Primary Pediatrics. While I had to change my medical group from Alta Bates to Hills, I was able to keep my PCP because he is in both, as many doctors are. Also, an added bonus, Summit has a free home nurse visit program and so I got 4 home visits postpartum from a nurse through that program plus another visit through UC Care which made all the difference in the world since by baby was a slow-weight gainer. Roxanne


April 2002

Hi - I'm looking for experiences with Laura Hooper as a midwife. There's only one posting in the archives and it's a bit dated. Any more recent experiences? Thanks very much!


I haven't used Laura for an actual delivery but I do see her every other visit for my pre-natal care. I think she's great. She's very open to natural childbirth ideas, more so then the ob-gyn I use at the practice. But she knows when to suggest ''non-natural'' alternatives. I think it's a great balance. For example, I delivered my first child very, very quickly and she's talked me into possibly inducing the second at a somewhat planned time, so that we're not frantic about finding care for our daughter or my husband missing the birth. I really enjoy my visits with her. I think she'd be great in the delivery room.


Hi, Laura Hooper is my midwife (I had a baby in December) and I had a wonderful experience with her. She was concerned and interested, and also very willing to work with you to give you the birth experience you want. Also, the other midwife in the practice is wonderful, as are the obgyns they work with. Everyone in the office is friendly, helpful, etc. The practice seems to a lot more time per patient visit than other practices (for example Kaiser doctors) so there's always time to ask questions. What I also like is that you get the down-to-earth care of a midwife with the grounding and medical support of an obgyn practice. a happy mom


Laura was my midwife for my two children. I found her to be wonderfully skilled and gentle. If you'd like to ask me anything more, please email me. Eve


Laura Hooper was our midwife and we were clear with our OB, Goldee Gross, that we were hoping to be delivered by Laura. She was fine during the endless prenatal visits, not really making alternative medicine a focus of her care but open to whatever i was doing and clearly informed. During the delivery, she knew our preferences and respected them to the extent possible (several interventions were required). She never pushed drugs as she knew we were trying to avoid them. She interacted well with what ended up being a roomfull of friends and dad -- talking through situations with them since i wasn't up to discussions. Ultimately, she was really focussed on making sure that i didn't have a c-section. I believe that i would have had one without her. I believe that she would have saved me an episiotomy as well had it not been necessary to suction my son out at the end. Afterwards we joked about the change in what we had perceived as her personality at pre-natal visits, laid back with a hint of hippiness. During the delivery she was on her program of a delivery without a C-section and not so laid back anymore! ajanks


Laura Hooper is the nurse practitioner/midwife in my gynecologist's office. I saw her for many of my prenatal visits during my pregnancy, and basically I can't say enough good things about her. She is wonderful--patient, listens well, kind, funny, calm, reassuring--a treasure. Had my doctor not been able to deliver my baby (she was), I had asked Laura to be my ''backup''. I know she has a busy midwife practice outside of the OB's office, and I can't speak about her as a midwife specifically, but I had such faith in her during my pregnancy. I've seen her for yearly exams as well and she is thorough and very present during visits--I never feel like ''just another patient'' to move in and out of the office. She is great! Good luck. Carolyn


October 2001

I am 16 weeks pregnant and have been seeing nurse-midwife Debbie Coleman since we moved here in August. Although she seems generally knowledgeable and friendly, she has been a bit rushed during the two visits we have had with her. It's not that I think she is missing anything during the check-ups, but the main reason I wanted to see a midwife was that I thought she might take a little more time to see how things are going than a doctor. I'm especially concerned that she will be rushed during the delivery. Would anyone that has worked with Debbie be willing to share their experience of pre-natal and delivery care? Thanks Anna


Any time one works with a care provider within a medical system, given the current state of healthcare, no matter how wonderful that person may be, they work within very limiting time constraints. If you want a provider who will give individualized care and attention, someone you can know and trust, consider a homebirth, or consider having a homebirth midwife provide concurrent prenatal and postpartum care while providing support at the hospital during your labor and birth. Appointments are 45min to 1 hr long and include all of the clinical assessments and evaluations that you get at a hospital clinic. With changes in licensing in California since 1996 there many skilled Licensed Midwives around providing quality care. We had a homebirth (I was 36 having my first baby) and the care we received was worth every single penny and more! We knew we were in very good hands. We had a great birth! Shari


While I don't have any personal experience with Debbie Coleman, I did witness her in action just last week at the birth of my friend's baby. I knew that my friend had been really happy with her prenatal care with Debbie Coleman and she was equally pleased with her during the birth. Debbie was extremely kind, reassuring and totally in command, yet down to earth, during a rather difficult labor. My friend's other two children were also in attendance, and Debbie took the time afterwards to explain to them what a placenta was, what functions the various monitors had, etc. In other words, she was not rushed at all getting there, or sticking around a bit afterwards to make pleasant small talk with the family and friends. I cannot attest to the amount of time she spends during an appt., and being that my friend is a nurse, and that this was her third child, I don't know that she required lots of her time during that pregnancy. However, Debbie appears to be a very sensitive and thoughtful provider, so I wouldn't hesitate asking all that you need of her. Just an note, she did mention that just after my friend's 5am birth, she was running home to sleep for 3 hours before starting a day of appts., so I can imagine that she has one hectic schedule, hence one reason that she may appear to be short on time. Good luck.


Jan 2000

re using a midwife ...well if you're asking. Lindy was my midwife for my almost 4 y.o., 644-0104 is her number. As the many website testimonials say she was amazing. I loved her energy and calm reassuring presence. She was so incredibly available both pre and post natally. Some examples are: when I had some breakthrough bleeding early in the second trimester I paged her and she called me right back I went in to her office and she listened for the heartbeat, within just a few hours of the bleeding I knew everything was alright. When my son was born he could not latch on and Lindy came to my home several times to help me with breastfeeding, again I would page her when the baby woke up and she came over right away to help. During the labor her presence was extremely reassuring. I had a wonderful birth experience. At the same time she is not far out medically. I had all the standard tests, monitors etc and felt like I was medically in good hands. As an aside I recently met a doctor who had two of his children with Lindy. I have never heard of a ob/gyn giving anywhere near the level of personal care she gave me. Leah


Jan 2000

Amrit Khalsa was the midwife I choose. She was more than fabulous the entire pregnancy right through the birth. She only does homebirths so that might be an issue for some that want to do a hospital birth. She, along with her partners Erin Brown and Sarah, spent 1 to 2 hours with me each visit. We discussed everything from my fears about supporting us as a single mom which was driving my bad insomnia around month 7 to the details of the my home support team. I would glad to answer other questions. Amrit's number is 510-235-4878. Jenny


Oct 1999I delivered my baby boy last year (Aug 1998) at Summit Hospital. Hsiu-Li was my midwife, and I highly, highly recommend her. The office staff is great (I recently called to set up my annual gyn appointment and they remembered me -- after a year!) and Hsiu-Li is wonderful, too. I can tell you more about my great birth experience privately, but I just wanted to tell you that I think Hsiu-Li is a great choice. Hsiu-Li was at the hospital with us during our whole 6-hour labor (we had a doula, so Hsiu-Li would leave and come back to check and see how things were going). All the postpartum rooms at Summit are private, whereas they are limited in number at Alta Bates -- first come, first serve, I believe. My birthing room was enormous, with a Jacuzzi (two rooms have Jacuzzi baths), rocking chair, you name it. The staff at Summit was wonderful, too. LaurelJune 1999

I have a 10 month old daughter who Lindy Johnson delivered. I cannot praise Lindy enough. I didn't use a midwife when I had my first daughter 6 years ago and had a very hard delivery. I was determined to have a better experience this time around. I interviewed both Lindy and Jerry, but chose Lindy based on what I heard from others. My labor was fast and intense. My mom, daughter and husband were in the room. Lindy was calm, caring, loving, and professional. I had no drugs (it all went too fast) and I didn't tear. It was a wonderful experience and I honesty feel that I owe much of it to Lindy. I know my husband would say the same. Lindy was also wonderful with him, who, like me, was a bit apprehensive about going through this again after our first lengthy go-around. Jane


June 1999

My midwife in 1996-97 was Robin Hale. Robin works (or at least did at the time) with Lindy Johnson, so I had one of my appointments with Lindy. I found her warm and accessible, and I would have been perfectly happy if she had turned out to be the one to be at the birth of my baby. (BTW: Robin was wonderful, but you didn't ask about her!) Dawn


June 1999

Lindy Johnson is a wonderful woman, and I highly recommend her. She is kind, patient, respectful, loving and highly skilled. My son is now nearly 19 months old, and we still stop by once in a while to see her. She always answered all my questions, and helped us navigate through the whole medical system. She dealt with the insurance company, and helped make all of the needed arrangements with other caregivers. Being in her care was very empowering for me as a woman and mother. My son was breech, so I ended up having a planned cesarean, but even then, she was with me the whole time, taking pictures and advocating on my behalf. We are planning to get pregnant again soon, and I hope to be lucky enough to work with Lindy again. If you need any more information, feel free to email me. Good Luck! Michele


June 1999

Even though it's been almost two years since I had my son I still think nurse-midwife Lindy Johnson walks on water. I really can't say enough good things about her care, professionalism, kindness, and expertise. You would be in the best of hands with her (literally!). Lea


June 1999

Lindy was with me with 2 of my three children. (I had an OB the first time around.) I was seeing another OB whom I was extremely dissatisfied with and decided ultimately that I did not want this DR at my baby's birth, much less in charge of it! So, I attempted to change doctors although I was already 8 months pregnant at the time. I never regretted making a last minute switch but, I do wish I had found her sooner! Lindy is excellent! She always made sure that everything was fine from taking care of me personally, to dealing with the insurance, to tracking down lab reports, to being my advocate during labor and making sure the hospital staff aided rather than interfered with our plan for our child's birth. She kept things going smoothly while always leaving my husband & me In Charge. During my visits, she answered all my questions (even the ones I didn't know enough to be asking). I cannot recommend her highly enough! As a side note, whenever I am chatting with another parent and find out they had a midwife, I ask who? and about half have said Lindy and every one of them has said how much they LOVE her. So, I'm not surprised at how many fabulous recommendations you have gotten already, but had to add mine too.


June 1999

I have to add mine to the chorus of voices praising Lindy Johnson. On top of all that's already been said, I have to add that she was wonderfully supportive of my wanting to bring my then 2 year old daughter to several of my visits. She has dolls and toys for (soon-to-be) sibs to play with and she very lovingly and respectfully included my daughter in all our conversations, explained the baby's heartbeat to her as we listened, etc. She also was very understanding of my feelings about having this second baby come into what seemed to me the perfect family already. I'll never forget when she arrived at the hospital and asked me how the older one was as we were getting settled. I started crying (in one of those emotion-laden labor moments) and said I felt terrible for just dumping her at the neighbors as we rushed out the door to the hospital. She said, and how long have you had this plan? I said, about 8 1/2 months and she said, and do these people love her? I said, oh, yes! and she said, then she knows you love her. And I stopped crying, focused on the baby that was about to arrive, and had an absolutely wonderful birth. And another note: she does annuals and routine gyn exams, paps, etc. too (or at least she was doing them then) not just pregnancy related stuff.Sept 1998

I highly recommend my midwife Laura Hooper, who works in a practice with ob- gyn Ed Blumenstock, a wonderful man. Laura does well-woman check-ups as well as midwifery. Together they delivered my 11-pound, 6-ounce baby in May! They're at 365 Hawthorne Ave in Oakland near Summit Hospital, and the phone number is 893-1700. Hanana


August 1998

We think our midwife, Lindy Johnson, walks on water. She works with Robin Hale, who is also lovely. They were both warm, open and relaxed during visits, with lots of time for questions. Lindy demonstrated perineal massage with us. During labor Lindy was on the phone with us at home and met us as soon as we got to the hospital. She was incredibly encouraging and positive and let me feel like I was as in control as I could be under the circumstances. I can't tell you how reassuring it was to know I would be delivered by someone I had gotten to know over the course of my pregnancy. Their number is 510-644-0104. I believe they both have priviledges at Alta Bates and Summit. We had a fine experience delivering at Alta Bates. Heather


August 1998

I would like to make the highest possible recommendation for Certified Nurse Midwife Lindy Johnson (644-0104). While she does not practice in a team with OBs, her back-up physicians are the excellent high-risk OBs at the Alta Bates Perinatal Clinic. In order to be covered by insurance (our student health insurance is with Blue Cross & it's worked), she has to bill through the docs' office. If medical complications come up, she refers clients to the docs. Even when my pregancy became very high-risk, Lindy stuck with us as we were seen by the docs and in the end was able to handle the delivery (at Alta Bates). every woman should be so lucky to have the intimate relationship, warmth, support & wise experience of a midwife even when medical complications require high-tech assistance! Melanie


August 1998

My husband and I love the care and attention we get from Hsiu--Li Cheng, CNM. Originally, we were with East Bay Family Practice, but we ended up switching. We found that our primary care physician, Audrey Heffel, was very good at general care, but the OB care at that office was lacking. We opted not to take the AFP test, for personal reasons, which caused major consternation. The nurse practitioner, Edie Silber, and Dr. Heffel told us several stories about babies being born with incurable fatal birth defects which would have been detected by the AFP. Every time I had an appointment, I had to wait considerable amounts of time, and I got the feeling they didn't even know who I was. My impression was that the office had too many patients and Dr. Heffel's patient load was overwhelming. When I was about 7 1/2 months pregnant, my husband and I became very dissatisfied with the care and we started looking elsewhere. We ended up with Hsiu-Li and are very happy. The receptionist/office manager knows us by name, and Hsiu-Li herself is very friendly. She is backed up by East Bay Perinatal, located in the Summit Medical Center. Most CNMs are backed up by OBs, I think. Hsiu-Li is very experienced and encourages natural birthing methods. Her episiotomy, pitocin use, and c-section rate is very low, which was very important to us. We have Blue Shield with Hill Physicians Medical Group and our care is covered by our HMO. She has three offices in the East Bay (Oakland Chinatown, Walnut Creek, and at East Bay Perinatal). However, she does her deliveries at Summit, not at Alta Bates. At first we were hesitant to consider Summit, but now that Alta Bates seems to be overloaded with Kasier Oakland patients, we are happy to go to Summit. All the postpartum rooms are private (you have to pay extra for private postpartum rooms at Alta Bates), and some LDRs even have jacuzzis. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy. Laurel


August 1998

On the UC parents website I'm sure you will find many recommendations for Hsiu-Li Cheng, a midwife who practices in Walnut Creek, Oakland Chinatown, and Summit Hospital. She is affiliated with East Bay perinatal medical associates, and your delivery would be at Summit Hospital in Oakland.

I switched to Hsiu-Li from an OB practice when I was 4 months pregnant with my first baby (who was born this past Feb). I simply cannot say enough complimentary things about Hsiu-Li. She is WONDERFUL, absolutely wonderful! Within 2 minutes of meeting Hsiu-Li, my husband and I knew we were with the best possible person to see us through pregnancy and labor and delivery. She always made me feel so relaxed and confident about the pregnancy and impending labor. We so looked forward to all of our visits with Hsiu-Li (which were in Chinatown, so we'd get to go out for great food afterwards). She is extremely experienced, having delivered something like 4000 babies, and uses eastern as well as western thinking in her approach to pregnancy and childbirth. As well, she is a very warm, delightful person. My delivery got a little sticky near the end (my baby had a big head!), but Hsiu-Li remained so calm, with lightning-fast, firm hands, and things ended up beautifully. She has a very low C-section rate (I think 4%), and does everything possible to avoid an episiotomy. She teaches you many relaxation techniques to help you cope with the pain and she uses acupressure (which worked for me), but she would be supportive if you wanted medication. She has back-up OBs through East Bay perinatal, but she attends almost all of her own patients (unless she's sick or away on vacation). She takes all different kinds of insurance, including Blue Cross.

I've heard Hsiu-Li described as one of the last true hospital midwives--you get the personal, attentive care of a midwife, but she also knows the ins and out of the hospital, and is extremely well-respected at Summit. The call went out There's a Hsiu-Li patient here! when I arrived at Summit L By the way, I had a very good experience delivering at Summit. The nurses for the most part were very helpful and compassionate. Labor rooms 16 and 18 have jacuzzi tubs. Postpartum rooms are almost all private and your baby is right there with you, and your husband can stay with you.

I know several other people who have used Hsiu-Li and we all agree that she is a genius. We all had great experiences with her. I just love her; I had nary a worry in her hands. Her number is 832-2388 (by the way, she has a very sweet, helpful receptionist, Phuong). I wish you luck! Karin


August 1998

About a month before my due date, we switched to a wonderful midwife who works at a hospital and has doctor (OB) backup during pregnancy and birth; she has an excellent relationship with her doctor colleagues. We loved her and her handling of my case. She took me on late in the game and felt my abdomen with her hands and was absolutely confident in her assessment that there was NOT excess fluid pressure; her doctor colleagues also examined me (hands on abdomen) and agreed with her. My worries were eliminated. From that point on, I was completely at ease (again).

Our midwife's name is Hsui-Li Cheng, pronounced Sho-Li, and she works partly on her own (private practice) with offices in Oakland and Walnut Creek but also works with East Bay Perinatal (the latter is what we did).

East Bay Perinatal's number is 653-3335; they are in Oakland at 3100 Summit (a few blocks west of 31st and Telegraph).

Hsui-Li's Walnut Creek and Oakland office number is 937-0995 (they are the same).

Hsui-Li was fabulous, really great; she is a wonderful way to go through pregnancy health visits-- she views pregnancy as a wonderful, naturally healthy event in a woman's life, one that rarely needs western medicine intervention. She also was great in letting and helping my husband take a part in the pregnancy and birth. Peggy


August 1998

We loved our midwife, Nancy Barnett-Moore, who delivered our son two years ago at Alta Bates. She has a practice in Oakland near Summit hospital and is backed up by the East-Bay Perinatal group (like Lindy Johnson with whom she is very good friends). Upon first meeting Nancy I was impressed with the way she made me feel comfortable and confident about this new experience (for me -- she has had more than 20 years experience). I had a very long and drawn-out labor and delivery (I was evaluated on a Friday night with contractions 4 minutes apart but only 1cm dilated and 50% effaced--i.e. prodromal labor--and my son was born on Monday morning after 3hrs of pushing). My husband, who is a physician, and I are convinced that I would have had a c-section had I not been under Nancy's care. She is very adept with the latest technology and not hesitant to use it but she is also very in-tune with all the other factors (emotional, psychological, social...) that help to bring a baby into the world. Nancy's number at her clinic, The Family Birthing Center, is 832-2229. Good luck! Jeff


March 1998

For a natural birth in a birth center, (in water if you wish), or your home, try Beah Haber in Pleasanton. (I interviewed Lindy Johnson who has priveleges at Alta Bates, but she is somewhat restricted by their regulations.) With Beah, you'll never even see a monitor (she uses a fetascope or doppler), and everything else can go as naturally as you please.

Beah Haber is excellent.Her back up is Dr Michael Bleeker. Beah is very experienced. I would suggest getting a doula also. Doulas from birth and bonding are not very experienced--most have less than 3 years--check with Yogalayam in Berkeley for names of many who've been around 10 years and longer--or ask each midwife you interview for recommendations. Two good books are Your Birth Your Way, ('forgotten the author), and The Birth Partner, by Penny Simpkin. Maura