Seeking a Midwife

Parent Q&A

Home birth midwife recommendation Jul 25, 2021 (10 responses below)
Recommendations for midwife through Aetna PPO Apr 26, 2020 (2 responses below)
OB or midwife recommendations for Alta Bates delivery Mar 10, 2019 (12 responses below)
Home Birth Midwife of Color? Mar 8, 2019 (4 responses below)
Midwife for delivery at Alta Bates May 8, 2018 (7 responses below)
Looking for OB/Midwife recommendation in Oakland/Berkeley Jul 23, 2017 (4 responses below)
Looking for Kind and Compassionate Ob/Gyn MD, NP, or Midwife Nov 24, 2016 (3 responses below)
Midwife or Birthing Center Recommendations Oct 22, 2016 (8 responses below)
  • Home birth midwife recommendation

    (10 replies)

    Hi parents, 

    I am searching for a home birth midwife for my second home birth. I live in Oakland but will be moving to Alameda soon. Can someone recommend a few awesome midwifes? 



    I highly recommend my midwife Kirstin Soares who helped me through my first delivery at home in Alameda. Her phone number is (510) 473-7567. She also practices craniosacral therapy.


    Id love to recommend Alana Diamos! She was my midwife for my first birth at the SF birth center. And was my doula for my second birth at the birth center in Berkeley. Had I know she went back to doing home births when I first found out I was pregnant with my second I would have considered doing a home birth with her instead of the birth center (though the Berkeley birth center was great!). 

    Alana is incredibly kind, calm, understanding, and informative. For both births, her presence and sense of calm made the labor experience feel relaxed and peaceful. She especially shines as an educator, she has a wealth of knowledge and experience. 

    Her website is 

    Esther Healey was my homebirth midwife two years ago and she was amazing! 

  • 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?


    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.

  • Home Birth Midwife of Color?

    (4 replies)

    My partner and I are expecting in August and we are currently looking into home birth midwives. We are interested in working with a midwife of color who does home births. Would love to have any recommendations or contacts that might be a good fit. Thanks in advance. 

    Gingi Allen! My wonderful doula who is also a midwife:

    Hi - I'm not sure whether Marea identifies as a person of color but I know she is very intentionally focused on an inclusive midwifery practice.  She was the midwife assistant years ago for one of my homebirths and she is truly amazing.  I highly recommend her!  

    Haven't used her as a midwife, but we took a childbirth class with Gingi Allen in Berkeley. She is a homebirth midwife of color, and can likely help you or steer you in the right direction of someone who is available.

    Here's her website:

  • 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 ( 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.

  • 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 ( 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. 

  • Dear community.  

    My partner and I are expecting our first baby and have struggled and struggled with our insurance company to find the most economic midwife option for us.  We've finally come to terms with the fact that our true heart's desire is a home birth, as well as the fact that our insurance more than likely won't cover any of it.  Can anyone recommend any highly experienced, trustworthy, wonderful midwives who are or accept low-fee?  Or, are there programs for low-income people (not on Medical) to get access to home birth midwifery?  

    Thanks very much for any support.  

    I think you may find what you are looking for if you contact Bay Area Midwifery. My home birth midwife sees clients there.

    Curious what you would consider affordable and where you are in the bay? I have seen midwives with sliding scale fees, but don't know much about how wonderful they may or may not be, and even with a sliding scale their fee was still at least a few thousand dollars. Also, many midwives wont travel outside a certain distance so it would be helpful to know where you are located.

    I have seen folks crowd fund to get their home birth option to come true. 

    I had originally wanted a home birth for my first, but ended up risking out after working with my midwife into my 30th week. I delivered at Alta Bates with a fantastic midwife, RN, husband, and doula, and was told that it was the most home birth feeling delivery they had experienced at the hospital. However it happens for you, be confident in your body and your decisions and remember that no plan is guaranteed. Good luck to you and yours!

  • Hello,

    I recently switched from Kaiser to Anthem Blue Cross and am looking for an Ob/gyn located somewhere between Pinole and Berkeley. I am a very sensitive person (which can be both a strength and a challenge) who doesn't like going to the doctor/traditional medical facilities and I have some anxiety related to that. Does anyone know of any particularly kind, compassionate, supportive and understanding ob/gyns in a more relaxing setting nearby to work with during pregnancy and childbirth? Open to an MD, NP or midwife. Thank you in advance!

    I recommend the midwives at Pacifica Family Maternity Center ( Such a beautiful and calming place and I don't think you can get better prenatal, birth, and postpartum care than what they provide.

    I'd recommend Michelle Borok She is an incredible midwife we used in the birth of our kid. She also works with a biller that might get you a reimbursement from Anthem. Best of luck! 

    Dr Tracy White takes Blue Cross Anthem. She's fantastic!

  • 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: You can also look at this extensive list of Bay Area midwives: 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. 

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

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 ( 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

Looking for homebirth midwife in Berkeley

Sept 2013

I am planning a homebirth and am looking for a midwife. Can anyone recommend a fabulous homebirth midwife in the Berkeley area?

I can't recommend my midwife highly enough. Pearl Yu is knowledgeable, compassionate and calm. She is worth every penny of her fee and so much more. I have blood pressure that is susceptible to stress but during our visits it was low low low and never went up. I felt better after each visit. I can still remember the few and poignant words she spoke during my labor. (She would talk more if you wanted or needed it but she respected my request for a quiet presence.) They were exactly what I needed. Ultimately she supported me and my needs which are fairly unique. I got the birth of my dreams. During postpartum she was fantastic. I cannot say enough good about her. Contact her @ pearlfin [at] Janelle

My husband and I wholeheartedly recommend Nova Midwifery (! There are two midwives in the practice, Mason and Mollie (who was on maternity leave but is now back). Our midwife was Mason. Our prenatal sessions were tailored to our needs and questions, and Mason responded promptly to questions via email and phone through the prenatal and postnatal period. We're so thankful our homebirth for our firstborn was everything we hoped for - Nova Midwifery helped make that happen. We also recommend our doula Jessica Premsangha Prakasha ( - she is a perinatal yoga instructor and skilled masseuse - being in that community she is a fount of perinatal resources. Home Sweet Homebirth

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 ( 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 Lindy

Home Birth Midwives - Dublin or Alta Bates

Oct 2012

I'm going to be moving to the tri-valley area next month and I will be almost 30 weeks pregnant with our second daughter. I am looking at our options for birth and would love to hear what is available or any recommendations. I grew up in Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill area my whole life so I am very familiar with the area. We are moving back from Colorado, which has wonderful birthing center and very midwife friendly. I'm greatly considering a home birth with a midwife. Would love recommendations on anyone who can come to our home in Dublin, what the charges are and what should I expect. Another option would be to deliver at Alta Bates with Lindy Johnson, CNM. She knows my family and delivered 4 babies within our family so far. I'd love to hear experiences with Alta Bates in general and also if anyone has delivered with Lindy. I'm looking for a very holistic birth, all natural and drug free. I did not have the best of experience with my 3 yr old and am looking for a better birth experience. Any insight or recommendations on either of birthing options. Thanks so much! Jessica

I had a wonderful experience with Deborah & Juli at Awakenings Birth Services. They were supportive, caring, grounded, and knowledgeable. They provided amazing prenatal and postpartum care and helped me feel confident in caring for my little one after she was born. I was also seen by Esther Healy at Mandala Midwifery for a well-woman check up several years after my daughter was born and I know she also does home births. If you have specific questions about them please feel free to ask. Good luck! Simona

Midwife for homebirth in Fremont

August 2012

Hi! I just found out i am pregnant with my second child! With my first baby, i gave birth naturally, in a hospital setting. I utilized the bradley method as well as ideals from ''Ina May Gaskins Guide to Childbirth'' and ''The Thinking Womans Guide to a Better Birth'' by Henci Goer. This time i would like to do the same, however, at home with a midwife. Can anyone recommend a midwife that attends home births in Fremont, that is familiar and supportive of both natural husband-coached childbirth with the Bradley method, as well as the methods and ideals from those two books? Thank you in advance for your thoughts on this! -Jennifer

I highly recommend Treesa Mclean ( Prior to becoming a midwife she was a doula for 20 years and we worked with her as a doula for the births of both of our daughters. She is amazing - extremely knowledgeable about all things pregnancy, birth, and post-partum related, calm, and an excellent communicator. We had two very different pregnancy and birth experiences and Treesa gave us invaluable help with every aspect - decision making, handling emotional stress, the labor and delivery, my recovery, breastfeeding, etc. Based on your posting, I think she would be a great fit.

I highly recommend the team from Awakenings birth services ( I had the pleasure of working with these women throughout both of my pregnancies and home births of my two boys. They have an incredible wealth of knowledge AND experience and it really shows in their service. Both my husband and I felt that they brought a very holistic approach (physical and emotional health), providing knowledge and confidence while respecting our individuality. They visited me in my home which was awesome and the care was so focused and specialized. They prepared me and our whole family (husband and son #1 (when pregnant with #2)) so well, that they will always hold a special place in our hearts and life. Three of my friends also worked with them and quite randomly, in the last few years we've met at least 3 other families that have also worked with them and also had great experiences. I can't say enough about these ladies. I know there are other choices out there but you should definitely give these women a call. Lan

Looking 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 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

Need midwife recommendations

March 2012

Hello - My husband and I recently found out we are pregnant for the first time and are planning on a home birth. We have interviewed a few great midwives but would love some reccomendations and feedback from members of the community. Specifically we have been looking at Nova Midwifery, Tres Lunas Midwifery with Cindy Haag, Leopi Sanderson, Kristen Cates and East Bay Home Births. However if you have had a great experience with a midwife not mentioned above, we would love to know about that as well. Thank you for sharing. JR

I just had my third child and Cindy Haag was our midwife for this one. We had a different midwife for the first two for logistical reasons. Cindy and her whole team are excellent. She is a very skilled midwife, who is exceedingly professional, and also very warm and personable. Throughout my prenatal visits, the delivery, and the postpartum visits my husband and I couldn't have been happier. When we were deciding on a midwife for this pregnancy I met a mom who said that she loved working with Cindy so much it almost made her want to have another child. I have friends who have delivered with Leopi so I don't think you can go wrong there either.

We are blessed to have many gifted midwives in our area. As you meet with them you can ask all of the technical questions, but ultimately it is a matter of fit. Your midwife will be an integral part of one of the most powerful events in your life and having someone with whom you are truly comfortable makes all the difference. 3 time homebirth mama

I cannot say enough good things about Cindy Haag. I had a homebirth with her in 2010 and I will definitely be going to her for any subsequent pregnancies. Cindy has been a midwife for over 20 years and it shows in the quality of care. She KNOWS her stuff and has a calm, loving confidence about her. She is great at giving you the information you need to make an informed choice and also encouraging you to do your own research. She is respectful, caring, and always there for you. She is careful without being alarming.

Perhaps most importantly she knows how to sit back and let your body do its job. When I birthed my son I was impressed with the balance she struck between letting me feel the reassurance of her presence while at the same time maintaining a hands-off approach and allowing me the space to birth the way I needed to. She is not afraid to step in with a pointer if you start to feel out of control, like I did a few times, but she will not get in your way.

After my son was born he had (what turned out to be) a minor issue and Cindy was great. She stayed with us for many hours and tried to resolve it. He wound up going to NICU as a precaution and Cindy went, too. She stayed the whole time he was there, and spent many hours with us in the days afterward at the doctor's office getting tests run, monitoring him at home, etc. If you have more specific questions I would be happy to answer them. Feel free to email me. amyenelsen[at] Best of luck to you, whoever you wind up going with! Amy

I had both my kids with Beah Haber and Michelle Edgar, two of the three midwives in East Bay Homebirth Midwifery. They were amazing and wonderful, I can't say enough good about them. (Their third midwife I have also heard excellent things about, Nicole Sellers.) Their prenatal care was thorough, nurturing, and competent. Both labors went smoothly and are wonderful, cherished memories for my partner and I. We had to transfer to the hospital for my second birth when I started to push because of some heart rate issues. It was an excellent call on the midwives part, because he had a hard time with the transition to breathing (what they suspected would happen based on what they were hearing with the heart tones.) So, they are amazing and skilled women. I wouldn't have my babies with anyone else. Happy with EB Homebirth Midwifery

I had a wonderful home birth experience with my first and an emergency C delivery of twins the second time being pregnant. Both times the most important person (besides my husband) to help me through the pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum period was Angelika Nugent from SF Midwifery. I contribute my healthy twin pregnancy to 38.5 weeks mainly to her expertise, wisdom, intuition, and respect.

Having her as my midwife with my first-born was one of the best medical decisions in my life! She will spend a lot of time with you during your pregnancy, answer all your questions and worries, get to know you really well, before your birth and will make the right decisions during and after the birth of your baby. I have trusted her from the beginning, she is down to earth, and knows her field, has delivered so many babies, and got her training at one of the most prestigious hospitals in Berlin. All of my friends who had her for their first child, chose her for any other pregnancy afterwards, no matter if delivered at home or not. Her website is: Oh- and I'm not a buddhist, and neither is any of my friends- but her calm and spiritual manner definitely helps you a lot in those emotional times! mom with two great births- even if as different as can be

Hello - and congratulations! I highly recommend Nova Midwifery. They are a wonderful wonderful midwifery team. They helped with both my babies. My first is now 30 months old and my second is almost 6 months old! Mason, Mollie, and Megan (and now Laurel too!) are wonderful, caring women who consistently and continue to provide my husband and I with love and support in all aspects of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenthood. They really listen and care. They offer you advice (if you want it and ask for it, of course)and a great deal of information & perspective with their combined wealth of knowledge and experience. They also offer much needed laughter at times too nova mama

Congrats for choosing a homebirth! They truly are an amazing experience. I had a homebirth with Nova Midwifery in Sept of 2010 and I absolute LOVE them. Megan and Mollie were both with me through the labor and were amazing the entire time. They are both extremely calming people and made things so easy and smooth. I moved across the country at 37 weeks and so had only met Megan, Mollie, and Mason 4 or so times before I went into labor but because of their great personalities and welcoming hearts that was enough time to know them well enough to feel perfectly at ease with them throughout my labor and once my son was here. I will be going back to them the next time for sure! Not only did I love their personalities and calming nature, but I also appreciated their no- nonsense and not so out-there approach to birth. While I wanted a homebirth, I also believe Western medicine is appropriate in many situations and didn't want a midwife who was too touchy feely or just way too out-there for my taste. I think a lot of finding the right midwife is finding who fits with your personality and they were just perfect for me. They also continue to play a part in our lives with book clubs, yearly meet-ups, and other events. Oh and as a final, positive note, their billing company somehow got our Aetna insurance to pay for about 85% of their fee, even though Aetna has a written policy against homebirth reimbursement. Extra bonus! If you want any more information about them please feel free to contact me anytime. Marne

I highly recommend Awakenings Birth Services. My husband and I had the homebirth of our dreams with Juli Tilsner and Deborah Simone in Sept. 2010 and are pregnant with #2. When I confirmed the second pregnancy part of my excitement was about the fact that we get to plan another homebirth with Awakenings! With baby #1 I started prenatal care at Kaiser but at 20 weeks (after a series of events which coincided with educating myself about birth as a natural physiological process) we made the leap to plan a homebirth. We interviewed other midwives but Juli and Deborah were the ones who had the right combination of experience, parameters of care provided, energy, and open-mindedness that we were looking for. They make house calls for every prenatal visit, explain all of our choices for prenatal, birth, and postpartum options without judgement, making it clear the decisions we make are to be our own, they were merely providing information for us to make the decisions. They handled all the labs, etc, everything they did for us at Kaiser but without the hassle and germs of going to the hospital. They fully prepared us for the birth, including having a team meeting with us and our doula in advance so we were all on the same page about what everyone's role was on the day of (mine was just to be cared for while baby made his entrance). The birth was everything I hoped for, calm and totally unmedicated. Not to mention I didn't have even one tiny tear, thanks to the counter pressure the midwives applied while I was pushing. When baby was born however, he had a bit of trouble breathing, so the midwives gave him some oxygen. He continued to have a rasp in his breath so Juli slept on our couch all night, set her alarm to wake up once per hour, and checked on him continuously until it cleared up. She did tell us that if we wanted to go to the emergency room she would come with and support us, but since she and Deborah had seen this before clear up on its own, we decided to wait a few hours and see. I'm so glad we did, I couldn't imagine going to the hospital at 4am after hours of labor for something that cleared up on its own. Also, baby had trouble breastfeeding at first and Juli came back over the next day after he was born to go over more ways to hold him, which we kept trying until we found something that worked. Lastly, I think one of the best things about Awakenings care are the postpartum visits. I couldn't imagine having to take a tiny baby to the hospital in his first few weeks of life. Juli and Deborah cared for both of us postpartum extremely well, including baby's genetic screening tests. After explaining to my Kaiser pediatrician the care baby was receiving, Doc agreed we didn't need to come into the hospital for baby's first visit until 2 months. I know this was a lengthy review, but we clearly LOVE Awakenings and I've been meaning to write a recommendation for them for a long time! Rebecca

Hi! I recently had a homebirth with the midwives from East Bay Midwifery- Beah Haber, Nicole Sellers and Michelle Edgar. I HIGHLY recommend all three of them! They also delivered my niece and nephew. They are compassionate, informed and very good communicators. They are open to receiving feedback. The birth of our daughter was a beautiful experience because we were at home with some much love and support around us. Their postpartum care is also incredible- they're always available to answer questions and support new moms with all of the things that come up with our bodies after the baby is born. They also have a great system where each of their clients gets vouchers for massages in their office which was such a great addition to my pre-natal care. My husband and I would show up at all of our appointments with long lists of questions and we never felt rushed- they took so much time to answer all of our questions and explain everything really thoroughly. I'm very happy with our whole experience and eternally grateful that they delivered our amazing daughter! Jenny

Jeri Zukoski, CNM of Midwifery Services is terrific to work with - she helped deliver both of my children and each was over 9lb! Jeri provides excellent care A to Z. She was warm and caring during prenatal care - sharing encouraging stories and practical advice on nutrition, exercise and other topics. She was there for me during both deliveries and made the critical difference turning the baby to alleviate my back labor pain. After the delivery she made home visits to check on me and the baby which was much less stressful than travelling to a doctor with a 1 week old child. And finally she really emphasized what I could do to get back in shape after the birth, which I think will make a long term difference in my health. I heartily recommend working with Jeri as a midwife and you can find her at Mom of Two

I can not say enough wonderful things about East Bay Home Birth Midwifery - I just love them. It was a great match for us! I loved getting to know each of them. They are amazing women, mothers and midwives; experienced, patient, loving, honest and gentle. I especially loved our memorable home visits with Michelle, Nicole and Ellah; our then 2.5 year old really enjoyed participating and helping measure my belly.:)We had an amazing birth with Beah, Ellah and Nicole. They were with me through it all and I was so pleased that we had a birth tub and had planned a home birth. And the majority of the cost was covered by our insurance. There were also regular gatherings for expectant and new parents - it was a great opportunity to hear birth stories, get to know the midwives and made me feel part of the local birth community. I would be happy to give you more details and answer any questions.(415)559-9852 TJ

I recommend you give Noah Singman at Aniche Midwifery a call. Noah is an absolutely wonderful midwife that I cannot recommend highly enough. She helped me though my last pregnancy and the homebirth (hbac) of my daughter in August 2011. Noah provided unsurpassed, holistic prenatal care, birth assistance / support, and followed it up with 6 weeks of unbelievably supportive postpartum care. She also provided the best baby checkups that our family has ever received. If you're looking for someone that is highly skilled, has a wonderful philosophy of care, will treat you and your unborn child with respect, and will be available 24/7 for questions & support, give Noah a call. Her contact info: 510 684-4867 & website: My birth story, if you're interested: Paala

I can highly recommend Noah Singman of Aniche Midwifery! We worked with Noah for the home births of both of our babies - my son in October 2009, and daughter in October of last year. Noah is knowledgeable, gentle, patient and extremely thorough, and through the process of both pregnancies and births our family has grown to love and respect her dearly. With Noah, I never felt rushed, knew I could share any thought, concern, or fear around my pregnancies, and it would be taken seriously and really considered, discussed, or researched if necessary. Beyond the birth itself, the postpartum care I got from Noah was truly amazing. Those first weeks are so vulnerable and raw, and I felt so cared for and nurtured by Noah. Behind her calm and down-to-earth demeanor is a true professional; her focus on safety and planning was especially important to this somewhat anxiety-prone mommy! Certainly take the time to interview different midwives to find the one you connect with best...this is an important decision, and such a special and intimate time to share with someone. I also had wonderful experiences with Ellen Levitt (she and Noah were partners at Wombservice Midwifery during my first pregnancy), and Cindy Haag (who assisted at my first birth)--they are both amazing people as well! Good luck in your search, and congratulations! Brandie, a happy home birth mommy

Congratulations on your pregnancy! You have lots of good choices for midwives in the Bay Area. I absolutely loved Michelle, Beah, Nicole, and Elah at East Bay Homebirth Midwifery. I joke that I want a second child just so I can hang out with my midwives. From the beginning, their care was different from anything I've experienced before. My check-ups were as focused on my mental health as my physical health. The midwives were always extremely knowledgeable and answered my questions completely while allowing my husband and I to make our own decisions. We never felt pressured toward any course of action. They had a good relationship with our Doula, Stacia Biltekoff and Elah was actually in our mindful birthing class with us! They helped with all the logistics of a home birth - supplies and birthing tub, etc. By the time I was ready to give birth, I was completely confident in their abilities, felt like we had excellent communication, and that, like good friends, they would be able to support me through the journey of birth - no matter what it looked like. Additionally, the midwives host monthly gatherings with all their families, where I met the moms who formed our baby/toddler playgroup and made very good friends. Through the smooth parts and rough parts, the midwives were there for us, demonstrating a level of commitment, compassion, and deep skill that is awe inspiring. Leah

This January, our second son was brought into the world by the loving hands of Jeri Zukoski. I cannot imagine how i would have done it without her. A lot of our family called me crazy to use a midwife vs a doctor, but every doctor i met felt sterile, had about 10 mins for me and couldn't care one bit about my birth plan. When our first son was born in 2008, i met with over 10 doctors in the bay area. Jeri was so clear and calm about how her practice worked. She didn't just give you a ''check up'' she spend time with my husband and I on every appointment. We discussed diet, the husband/partner's role in birth, emotional stress of being pregnant and so much more. Our 1st son had complications and Jeri caught them quickly recommending a perinatoligist and monitored him twice per week. He was born 3 weeks early and she kept us calm and still allowed me to have a natural/ no-drug vaginal birth. For our second son, we knew we wanted to see Jeri again. We had the same calming, nurturing experience. She is so well respected at Alta Bates and works well with the nursing staff there. I cannot recommend her enough. With love, Maureen

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 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 ( 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 ( 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 510 684-4867 Best wishes for your upcoming birth! Paala

I can't recommend our midwife highly enough: Noah Singman of Aniche Midwifery ( 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, 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

Homebirth Midwife Recommendations in East Bay

Aug 2011

Hi, I'm hoping for some newer (than what is currently posted on the BPN recommendations) recommendations for homebirth midwives in the East Bay. I know it's a very personal decision, but I'm hoping to narrow it down even just a bit! Ursula

My midwife was Kristen Graser ( in 2009. She works with Amanda Caslor, who at the time was her back-up mid-wife, but I think they offer their services together now. I highly recommend Kristen! She had just relocated back to the Bay Area from working at a very busy birthing clinic in New Mexico when I worked with her. I always felt listened to, understood, and respected under her care. She definitely cares about what she does and who she works with. By choice, I did most of my birthing prior to Kristen's arrival. For the short time at the end of my labor that Kristen was there I felt very well cared for and totally trusting of her. I got to work with Amanda post-partem and she is also very caring and attentive. Both are very knowledgeable and helped me figure out how to get enough iron to reverse prenatal anemia as well as breastfeeding issues and moral support postpartem. I recommended Kristen to a friend who gave birth to her child at the end of 2009; that friend loved working with Kristen and has asked Kristen back as her midwife for the upcoming birth of her 2nd child. If and when I have a second child, I will definitely be returning to Kristen. Happy homebirther

Here's a resounding recommendation for my fabulous midwife Ellen Levitt of Womb Service Midwifery! Ellen attended the births of my oldest (11 years) and youngest (8 months). She's got that wonderful earthy midwife vibe combined with absolute no-nonsense hardcore experience. I didn't have any concerns about birthing my babies at home, but my partner has a pretty low risk tolerance. Ellen calmly and respectfully answered all his questions and put him at ease; he was reassured that we were in capable hands. Ellen puts in lots of time on prenatal visits, getting to know the whole family and keeping in touch with where you are not just physically but emotionally as well. I'd be happy to tell you more. All the best with your homebirth. dl

I had a great experience earlier this year with East Bay Homebirth Midwifery ( The midwives are Beah Haber, Nicole Sellers and Michelle Edgar (plus a couple of apprentices) -- All were wonderful though I especially clicked with Beah, who also has an incredibloe amount of experience (something like 4000 births). I liked signing up with a practice rather than a solo midwife to ensure they would be available when I needed them. For what it's worth, I am pretty mainstream (never thought of myself as the homebirth type, til I had a bad time at the hospital for my first birth). Their knowledge and calm presence made me feel very comfortable with homebirth, and I trusted them to recognize if medical intervention/hospital transfer was prudent, which it was after my baby was born. I wholeheartedly recommend them! Homebirth fan

I highly recommend Treesa Mclean! ( Treesa was my doula for my first birth, and my midwife for by second birth. I just found out I am expecting my 3rd (surprise!) and she was my first call.

She is a true nurturer, which is just what I needed during my birth experiences. She provided calm and guidance for both me and my husband throughout my pregnancies and during the births. I felt she really listened to me and helped me figure out what I wanted in my birth. She understood my choices and supported them, never pushing her own agenda.

In addition to the essential emotional support she gave, she provided top- notch medical care. I was very pleased with all that she did, including the multiple home-visits after the birth (3 post-partum visits as my midwife). Even months after my birth, she was available through email for miscellaneous questions. Feel free to get my contact information from the moderator if you'd like to talk more or have other specific questions. Sarah

Hello, I'm recommending Beah Haber Pedersen, CNM. She is currently at East Bay Homebirth Midwifery. I had a homebirth with her 10 years ago and it was wonderful experience. She is so professional and warm, I would do it again with her in a heart bit, but it was my last child she delivered... Anon

Hi there, We have had a very positive experience with Deborah and Juli at Awakenings Birth Services. They are professional, competent, wise, insightful, and respectful. We find the work that we did with them during the pregnancy to be extremely empowering and enlightening to us as expectant parents. They offer complete, affordable prenatal and postpartum care. They know how to handle things, and they are great in terms of helping you understand the importance and implications of things that might not seem important at first glance, such as how sitting in a certain position during the pregnancy and avoiding other positions can help baby settle into the ideal position for labor and delivery. They handled some unexpected stuff that came up for us during the pregnancy very, very well. They have excellent connections to other practitioners in the community that can help make the pregnancy and birth and postpartum truly optimal, and they helped us form a wonderful and sensible network of professionals around us and the baby. Sara

Hi, I wanted to weigh in on your choices for a homebirth midwife. We made our decision to work with Beah Haber's East Bay Homebirth after reading all of the wonderful reviews for Beah Haber herself. She used to work on her own, but then opened a joint practice with two other women who do not have as much experience as her as she works towards retirement. We enjoyed their pre-natal care, but ultimately were NOT happy with their treatment during the birth. When Beah did show up (for the last hour) she was GREAT, but I would not work with the practice again unless it was just with Beah. I just wanted to put it out there for other home birth enthusiasts who read the many many wonderful reviews for Beah that she is working on retiring and if you work with her ''group practice'' you really will NOT be working a lot with her (unless you are very lucky) so keep that in mind when you make your decision. Good luck with your homebirth and be sure to share your experience with the rest of us if you have a great (or not so great) experience!

Just wanted to chime in (a little late) w/ another recommendation for Ellen Levitt and Wombservice midwifery. We had our second baby at home with her last year (first homebirth for us) and she was a great fit for our family. In addition to her years of experience attending births, Ellen is a lovely, empathetic, open-minded human being with a great sense of humor. I was actually leaning towards another midwife whom I'd already met by the time I interviewed Ellen but my gut told me to go with her. I especially enjoyed having all my prenatal visits in my home. The birth was fast and uncomplicated and Ellen was totally present and responsive throughout. I should also add that my partner and I had some unexpected results at several points during the pregnancy from prenatal tests we'd opted for; there were several times when we had to make decisions as to pursuing further testing/procedures or not. These were some stressful moments for us and Ellen was completely supportive and nonjudgmental, heard our concerns and clearly would have supported whatever choices we made. Homebirth Mom

I HIGHLY recommend Amrit Khalsa... She is also a lactation consultant. She delivered my son and navigated me through a difficult home birth. She has been a mid-wife in the bay are for around 35 years and is now a ''Grandma-Midwife'' (her words). She is delivering babies from the babies she has delivered. She has been a neonatal nurse as well. She does not take risks and is very conservative with your and your babies health. She is amazing! CONTACT HER NOW! Keri

Looking for a homebirth midwife

July 2011

I am looking for a homebirth midwife and am currently considering, Judy Luce, Tenaya Jackman , Cindy Haag or Maura Daly.If you have had experience with any of these midwives would love to hear what you think. I have appointments with them but have yet to meet them all in person. Thanks! Mb

We've just had our second with Judy Luce and love her. She has decades of experience, encyclopedic knowledge of birthing, and really understood the intangible/spiritual/personal side of being a midwife. When we were interviewing, we found her to be the least interventionist (there is a range, even with homebirth midwives), and I suspect her statistics would back that up. We paid her out of pocket the second time around because we wanted to have her as a midwife so much. She's also got a great assistant, Lael Stimming. They're a perfect balance. Feel free to email! j.

Hello, Congratulations on your pregnancy! Homebirth is a wonderful option, we also chose to have a homebirth with our daughter who is now 21 months old. Cindy Haag was our midwife. She was AMAZING I had phenomenal prenatal care and Cindy was totally in her element during the birth. Our daughter was born at home after 21 hours of labor. The birth was a life changing experience Unfortunately, we had to transport our daughter to the NICU the following morning due to her respiratory rate not acclimating properly (tychipnea). Cindy flawlessly navigated the transport, was very familiar and at ease in the hospital environment and was also so supportive during our 3 day stay in the NICU (she visited us twice during that time). She was at our home waiting for us when we were finally released from the hospital. I can't tell you how much it meant to feel so supported through not only the birth (and pregnancy), but also through the difficult emotional experience of taking your newborn to the NICU. She had the perfect mix of experience and compassion and will always hold a special place in our hearts. Good luck in your search and follow your gut Feel free to contact me off list if you have any further questions. Best, Carol

I can't recommend Leopi Sanderson highly enough. When we found out we were pregnant, I decided I wanted prenatal care from a midwife, but wanted to deliver in the hospital in order to have every option of modern technology available during birth, ''just in case.'' In my heart I really wanted a home birth - I am a big believer in the natural process of birth and the power of women to deliver healthy babies with minimal intervention. But since it was my first birth, I wasn't sure if I would want/need pain meds and I wanted emergency care at arm's reach in case anything happened.

After meeting with a few hospital-based midwives, we werenbFinding a midwife: sliding scale or financial support optionst finding quite the right fit. Then we met with Leopi, who came very highly recommended. Given my vision, Leopi suggested we work concurrently with her during the pregnancy and labor and a close obstetrician colleague of hers during delivery in the hospital. She said she could come to our home to be with us during early labor, and then she would join us at the hospital in the role of a doula. The doctor also supported this plan and we felt excited to have this unique birth team that met all of our wishes. With each prenatal visit, we grew to love Leopi more and more, and we were so glad to know she would be by our side during the most important time in our lives. She is so knowledgeable, she answered all of our questions, offered sound advice and alleviated our concerns throughout the pregnancy. When we got a diagnosis of partial placenta previa, Leopi gave us her thoughtful recommendations to try get the placenta to move naturally, but she also talked with us candidly about the possibilities of needing a c-section (luckily the placenta moved before labor started). As we got closer to the birth, she walked us step-by-step through what we could expect in the hospital during delivery, explained what her role would be in the hospital and gave us suggestions for how to make the experience as positive (read: non-invasive) as possible. I really appreciated how she was able to share our vision and give us tools for non-invasive strategies, but was also realistic about the interventions we could expect if necessary. Leopi also spent time talking with my husband about his role as a partner and soon-to-be father, which helped him feel like an integral part of the pregnancy and birth, rather than just a bystander. She also talked with us about the changes and challenges we could expect in our relationship, both during pregnancy and after the baby was born.

During early labor at home, Leopi was by our side, there for anything we needed but also gave us space to be together and labor alone as a couple. Without words, she always seemed to know when to come check on us and offer her wisdom, and when to give us space. When my labor progressed more quickly than we could have imagined, we decided that staying home to deliver the baby was the safest thing (I was progressing so quickly, she said I might have had the baby in the car if we tried to get to the hospital - not safe!). Leopi had been monitoring me closely the whole time and knew that I and our baby were both in good condition to deliver at home. Even though my intention had been to go to the hospital, I felt fully safe and protected with Leopi attending our birth. Our healthy baby daughter was born healthy and strong, with no need for any pain meds or hospital interventions. For both my husband and myself, Leopi's steadfast support and calming presence gave us the serenity and confidence to have the kind of peaceful yet powerful birth we had only dreamed of having. I can't imagine our experience without Leopi there with us on our journey. She has helped us become strong as a couple and even stronger as a family. I can't recommend her highly enough. Ingrid

Congratulations! I attended a friend's birth with Cindy Haag. My friend was very happy with her care and Cindy was calm, competent, and caring throughout the delivery. My own personal experience is with midwife, Leopi Sanderson-Edmunds. I gave birth with her August 2009. She has 25+ years of experience. Not only is her clinical judgement excellent but she is warm, loving, and acutely perceptive. Her care is bar none. lfr

Tenaya Jackman was our midwife for the birth of our son in July 2009. It was such a big and difficult decision to make but in the end we could not have been happier with our choice. We had a beautiful homebirth. Tenaya is caring, super grounded, experienced and reliable. Despite some minor complications I always felt in good hands with Tenaya. I'd be happy to talk to you if you'd like more info. Kelly

Cindy Haag is fantastic. We had a homebirth with her last Summer and we couldn't have asked for a more attentive, caring or knowledgeable midwife. She was excellent through all of our prenatals, through the birth experience and then post birth, as well. We interviewed extensively, too, and she rose to the top, bar none. If we have another baby we wouldn't consider anyone else. HomebirthMama

We used Cindy Haag as our midwife for our last pregnancy and she is really wonderful. Very nurturing and well-versed in midwifery. She tends to take a mid line approach to home birth and I felt very confident with her taking care of me and my baby. boho mama

Tenaya Jackman was my midwife for my daughter, born in July 2010. I saw her through the Sage Femme Midwifery, a San Francisco birth center where she was working part time in addition to her own homebirth practice. I liked her a lot and felt that she did a great job supporting us through the pregnancy and birth. She was always easy to get ahold of, no matter what the hour, and was very gentle and competent with any exams or tests that we decided we wanted to do. Also, my family is Muslim and I was very appreciative of Tenaya's sensitivity and acceptance of my family. I had a bad birth experience with my first child, which is why I switched to a midwife for my daughter, and I couldn't have been happier with Tenaya's care. I would definitely recommend her. Congrats on your pregnancy and good luck!

Hi there, I know they're not on your list, but have you considered Juli and Deborah at Awakenings Birth Services? Because they are a 2-midwife practice and both attend the birth, they make a really strong team. We've been really happy with them and their thoughtful, respectful, comprehensive care. Sara

I chose Judy Luce for my homebirth and had a fantastic experience. She's a wealth of info and is very talkative. For me it was a good fit because she made me feel very taken care of. It was sometimes hard to get a word in. But her assistant Lael is great too and complements Judy's style. I can give you details if you're interested. anon

I'm not sure if the enquiring person will get this, but yes, Leopi is a great midwife not only for baby delivery (she was stellar when my baby got stuck at the shoulders and pulled him out safely after some serious maneuvering) but she helped me and my partner heal from an emotionally traumatic first baby delivery. She is trained in trauma and somatics work in ways that now seem to me to be a crucial part of the process instead of a perk. And she has a wicked sense of humor. wowl

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: There is a ''find a midwife'' page on the American College of Nurse Midwives website

Santa Rosa has a lovely birth center run by Roseanne Gephart, CNM: 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] 415 721-7693

Heart Wisdom Midwifery Joan Green, LM, CPM 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 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: 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. 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! 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

2008 - 2010 Recommendations

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

Sept 2010

: Seeking homebirth midwife

long story, but my homebirth midwife ended our contract with me now at 28 weeks pregnant. i was under huge amounts of stress with a move and remodel; partner with bad back and dealing with parents... just nightmare situation overall for past 2 months... and amidst all of that things came to a break with us. things have settled down now and are much, much better, but now i am without a midwife. she was very, very new, just graduated and was offering me a very low rate due to that. (i was to be her 2nd client as a primary midwife.) does anyone have recommendations for a homebirth midwife who will work with someone for $1500/less? i am receiving excellent prenatal care at Marin Maternity HHS, have 3 volunteer doulas who are helping me along, as well as a friend giving me weekly acupuncture and another friend giving me weekly massage. so prenatally i am feeling really covered and held... but i desperately need to now find a midwife for the actual birth. thanks

Hi- I highly recommend my midwife Michelle Edgar. She offers a sliding scale and I don't know where her prices begin, but you can certainly discuss this with her. She assisted in delivering my first son at the Birth Home in Pleasanton in March 2005 and she delivered my second son at my home in October 2006. Both times the care that I received from her was absolutely amazing. She is warm and caring and comforting and knowledgeable. I cannot say enough about her or recommend her highly enough! You can reach her through East Bay Homebirth Midwifery or at 510.655.BABY (2229) or via e-mail at midwives [at] Best wishes in your homebirth, Happy @ Home

Not sure about financial details, but Awakenings Birth Services, 2 midwives Juli Tilsner and Deborah Simone, are amazing. Happy Awakenings Mama

May 2010

: Queer-knowledgable homebirth midwives

My partner and I are in the insemination/possibly early stages of pregnancy and looking for a queer-friendly midwife to see us through the whole process. We want to deliver at home and have as few doctor's appointments as possible along the way. An East Bay-based midwife is preferable since we live in Alameda. Recommendations? Sammy

I know Cindy Haag is queer-friendly, as well as an amazing midwife. Good luck!

Ellen Levitt is an amazing midwife and queer- knowledgable. I had a wondeful homebirth with her almost ten years ago. She lives in Alameda. Her number is (510) 459-8708. I can't recommend her highly enough. anon

Hi Sammy, Congratulations. I am queer and have a 2 year old. My partner and I were living in MI when I was pregnant (and gave birth at home) but flew to the bay area to attend a weekend workshop for queer/trans parents to be at MAYA Midwifery in Walnut Creek. Google them - they are AMAZING

Please check out east bay homebirth midwifery. Beah Haber assisted with my homebirth and her collegue Michelle Edgar helped with my at-home insemination. They were wonderful and extremely queer friendly. Excellent care all around! I couldnt have felt more comfortable. happy homebirth

There are many queer-friendly midwives in the East Bay. One place you might start is with Beah Haber ( One of the midwifes on her team--Michelle Edgar--also provides conception services to families, queer and otherwise. I have not used services of either but am bookmarking for the future! I know Beah is extremely experienced, and I have multiple friends who have worked with both Beah and Michelle, and they have great things to say. good luck!

East Bay Homebirth Midwifery (Michelle Edgar, LM,CPM, Beah Haber, CNM and Nicole Sellers, LM) as well as Wombservice Midwifery (Ellen Levitt, LM)are truly amazing. They are all sensitive, down to earth, and extremely skilled midwives and definitely queer knowledgeable. You can't go wrong with either practice. Good luck! Anna

You have lots of great options: Michelle Edgar, Deborah Simone, Ellen Levitt, Cindy Haag, and a newer midwife, Rebecca Plum to name just a few. - Queer-friendly SF midwife

Look no further than Cindy Haag - one of the most respected and experienced midwives in the area - she's your gal. She caught both of our babes and her expertise is unparalleled. She definitely meets your requirement. homebirth mama x 2

Hi, and congratulations! I would highly recommend Julie Tilsner with Awakenings Midwifery. She is in the East Bay. Maria Iorillo would be an awesome option too, although she's based in SF, and I'm not sure if she goes outside of the city.

We had a wonderful home birth experience with Nancy Myrick of Rites of Passage. They are based in San Francisco but they support East Bay families, in our case Oakland. Our prenatal visits were a combination of group visits and private appointments that took place in our own home. The group visits involved three other couples in Berkeley/Oakland. Each family took a turn hosting one meeting and while the exams took place in a separate room, everyone else could share experiences and questions. Although we are not queer, another couple in our group were lesbians having their second child. Best wishes! The Rites of Passage website is jun

Try Awakenings Birth Services:

or Judy Luce: JB

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 ( 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). Margaret

Editor note: an additional response to this question is posted on the Insurance for Homebirth or Midwife page.

Jan 2010

: Recommendations for homebirth midwife

I've heard great things about Beah Haber and will contact her. Do you have other recommendations? Please let me know what it was that you loved about your midwife. Thanks!

Awakenings Birth Services. Amazing midwives. Beah H. may not do home prenatal visits, something that was important to me. Happy Awakenings Mommy

I highly recommend Jessamyn Meyerhoff, LM, CPM, as a knowledgeable, capable, and loving homebirth midwife.

More than anything, I appreciated Jessamyn's flexibility--she came to our home for all of the prenatal visits, she really paid attention to and worked with my wishes, and when her careful monitoring revealed complications during the birth (the umbilical cord was pinched, causing a decreased heart rate), she immediately arranged for us to transfer to the hospital, where she took on a doula role for the remainder.

I encourage anyone considering a home birth to meet with several midwives before making their decision. We met with Beah and liked her a lot, but felt that Jessamyn was a better fit for us. Good luck! Lara

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] 510 684-4867 Trina

Nov 2009

I'm thinking of having a homebirth and was planning on interviewing with Ellen Levitt and Noah Singman. Does anyone have any experience with them? Thanks so much. anon

We had Ellen and Noah as our midwives a couple months ago. We loved them and miss them now that our son is 2 1/2 months. They really listen and care for you, your partner, and you family as a whole. Noah and Ellen compliment each other well. They have different styles and expertise, which we found very helpful. We ended up transfering to alta bates, but they handled the transfer well and stayed at the hospital the whole time with us. It was great to have their presence and knowledge at the hospital.

I had a home water birth last August with Ellen Levitt and Noah Singman and recommend them highly. The prenatal care was thorough, sensitive, and warm. They were very knowledgeable and supportive of a healthy and family-centered birth. jk

After researching a number of midwives, we chose to work with Ellen Levitt and Noah Singman, because we had the best connection with them, thought they had a lot of good experience, appreciated that they work alongside each other (instead of in turns), and really valued that all of our appointments happened at our home. We ended up needing to transfer to a hospital because it became too risky to continue to try to birth at home. But, even now, I'm glad we chose to work with Ellen and Noah, because I don't think we could have gotten better prenatal care. Our appointments were a minimum of one-hour (often longer), so we had plenty of time to ask questions and just talk. We continued to benefit from their advice at the hospital, and have gotten support late in the night and on weekends when something important came up. They're both very personally committed to their clients and we really benefitted from that. I highly recommend setting up an interview with them. Tracy P.

I used Ellen Levitt of Wombservice in April of this year for the birth of my son and was incredibly happy with her. It was really an amazing experience and it was because of her and her care. She is so insightful, sweet, smart, funny, accepting, loving, listening, patient and honest. When I first decided I wanted to try to have a homebirth I was very nervous because my first son's birth (in the hospital) was complicated and I was afraid that I would have a similar experience. I was also afraid of the pain and/or of something going wrong. Whenever my fears would come up, we would talk in depth about what my specific fears were and she always managed to help calm me and assure me that I was doing the right thing, without pushing any agenda on me. She was so good at listening. I want to have another baby (which would not be a good idea for me at this point) just so that I could hire her as my midwife again! If you want to talk more about her, I'd be happy to. Allie

Ellen Levitt and Noah Sigman with Wombservice Midwifery Care are our amazing midwives! They have been incredibly supportive, knowledgeable, and full of great recommendations and resources. We have been working with them throughout our pregnancy and feel in such good hands. We look forward to every visit with them and their great assistant, Jaime, who also does placenta encapsulation. We are looking forward to our birth at home with them. They cover all our medical needs - blood tests, urine test, blood pressure, fetal heartbeat, diabetes screening, etc, all in the comfort of our home. They are very experienced, capable and we so much enjoy working with them and give them the highest recommendation. You are welcome to email me off list with any questions. Happy Birthing! amy

I whole-heartedly recommend Ellen Levitt. She was my midwife over 2 years ago and was WONDERFUL! I am a bit of a nervous person, and Ellen helped calm me during the entire pregnancy and birth process. I ended up having to be induced and have a hospital birth (I was really late, and we tried everything to get my stubborn little son out), and Ellen was there through the whole process (all 28+ hours at the hospital, too). Before this, we went over what to expect for a home delivery, and then she went over what would happen at the hospital during the inducing process, and this helped me make educated decisions about the hospital labor process. Having her there really alleviated much of my stress. During my postpartum care, Ellen gently helped me find my ''mothering gene'' buried beneath my fears by really listening to my concerns and making suggestions when I wasn't sure what to do. Ellen is a true healer, and I feel blessed to have had her presence and guidance during such a significant part of my life. As a sidenote: I haven't met very many people who are working in careers that are so in sync with who they are at their core (i.e. really following a deep calling) - witnessing this through Ellen was an incredible inexperience in itself. Amanda

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]

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

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 . 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; 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 ( Jenna Forder ( as doulas. Good luck and congratulations! Molly

I had a wonderful homebirth with Mason Cornelius, LM CPM. her website is 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 ( and Racha Gossett ( 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!

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

April 2009 : Home birth & midwife recommendations

I am looking for updated recommendations for a midwife & stories about your experiences with midwives & doulas (positive and negative). I am strongly leaning toward home birth but am also going to interview Hsiu-Li Cheng, a CNM at AB (Lindy Johnson will be on vacation so she's not an option). I appreciate your help and thanks in advance for sharing your stories. laura

Judy Luce was our midwife for the birth of our daughter, who is almost 6 months old. We loved, loved, loved her. She is an encyclopedia of birth knowledge and we were confident in her experience of 30 years. I looked forward to my appointments all during my pregnancy, they were long, relaxed, and informative. My mother and husband report that she was professional and on top of everything during the labor (I don't remember much!), and the level of care she provided after the birth was amazing. But most of all, she really understood the amazing, spiritual, life-changing event that childbirth is and helped us manage the transition into parenthood. My only advice would be to work out whether you're going to pay with insurance or out of pocket. Some insurance will cover a CNM only (Judy is not). We did get our homebirth covered, but even if we hadn't we'd still have gone to Judy. Good luck! jisun

I highly recommend the midwifery practice (three midwives) of Awakenings Birth Services. 415-835-0663. I will have a home birth with them soon and have really loved the care, attention and professionalism they bring as a practice and individually. The midwives are Sharon, Juli and Deborah. Good luck to you! Happy Home Birther

Please please have your baby in a hospital, regardless of who delivers him or her. I have a niece who is developmentally disabled due to lack of oxygen to the brain at birth. This could likely have been prevented if she had been born in a hospital and not at home. I worship Mother Earth. I cloth diapered. But I would not forego the medical technology available to us to saves lives and prevent permanent brain damage under any circumstances. You have a lifetime to be a natural mother. And you will have a thousand opportunities to express it. (Like cloth diapering). But suck it up for two days and have your baby in a hospital. It is simply not worth it. Good luck to you no matter what you choose.

I just had a wonderful experience with my home birth midwife, Judy Luce. She has been a midwife for over 30 years and has delivered thousands of babies. She was great at calming any fears I had about birth and she was excellent at informing me about how to take good care of myself during pregnancy. Given her depth of experience, I felt very comfortable going through the process of pregnancy and birth with her. She has a nice balance of warmth and straightforwardness that I like. Best wishes to you in your birth process. Sara

Hi, I highly recommend Awakenings Birth Services. I had a wonderful homebirth experience with them 2 years ago. I had severe hyperemesis, and they were incredibly supportive throughout my pregancy, gave fantastic counseling on nutrition, met with my husband and I regularly (he loved them too) and gave excellent postpartum care. Additionally, they let us pay on a payment plan, which helped with the out of pocket cost. My daughter was born at home, and I felt completely safe and supported by these midwives. jenifer

Please see my recommendation for Leopi Sanderson-Edmunds on the January 2009 BPN archives. I had the most amazing homebirth with Leopi! I saw Hsiu-Li Cheng until I met Leopi (b/c she was covered by my insurance). She is terrific -- couldn't be more different from a home-birth experience, but she is competent, professional, and clearly incredibly skillful. She also taught me acupressure techniques. The women in her office are quite lovely. She did press me too much to have stress tests just because I'm over 35, though. I had to resist the pressure! My first appointments were with Jeri Zukoski whom I do NOT recommend. I was so unbelievably glad to leave her practice. -in love with Leopi and homebirths

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

Feb 2009 : Midwife for a home birth

Hello Mamas: I have to choose a midwife. I reviewed past posts on recommendations, and I feel so overwhelmed. Right now, I meet with Lindy Johnson, CNM. I used her services for baby #2, only to find out that she is a hospital midwife. I'm looking for someone like Lindy. Down to earth, that has a nurtured spirit. Lindy recommended Amrit Khalsa, R.N. Lindy also recommended Beah Haber, C.N.M., has anyone in the network had experience with any of these midwifes? I would like to hear your experiences and get a rough idea of how they charged you for their services. I'm also open to other recommendations or if you're a midwife hear about your services. My due date is July 2009, if all goes well over the next 5 1/2 months.

I have a HMO, and I'm under Hills Physicians Group. My HMO doesn't cover a home birth. Lindy said I can see her as long as I wish before transferring over to another midwife. My #2 birth was fast and was billed by Alta Bates for a 30 minute birth, drug free and one day postpartum stay at 11k. Having a HMO, I'm responsible of 33% of the cost. Approximately, $3,360. I have a feeling and discussed with Lindy that baby #3 might arrive in the same amount of time. I work part time and have 1 income coming into my household. I highly desire a homebirth.

Can anyone recommend a midwife that works with mothers that are low income and have a desire to have a home birth? I'm also looking for a midwife who is experienced if the ''worst' case scenario were to happen and can stay came and focused in the trying times, as well as administer IV's if needed. I prefer to be emailed offline as I can keep a track of your responses and create a excel sheet of all your midwife recommendations when it comes time for me to call all your wonderful midwifes. Thank you. Really wanting a home birth in 2009. hbd

I am madly in love with Beah Habor. She has had 7 babies of her own. She's delivered over 3,000 babies. I trusted (& would trust her again!) with my life! Beah is lovely! She is ''Mama'' to the utmost, incredibly compassionate, & just simply gorgeous in spirit (on top of completely knowing what she's doing!!). I truly cannot recommend her more. super inspired/happy mama, & full of praise for Beah

We just had a wonderful homebirth experience with our second child with Beah Haber. Our first child was born in a large university hospital. With Beah I had really outstanding prenatal care. Our meetings made me feel nurtured, listened to, empowered me to trust my body and my choices, and most importantly helped me celebrate the joy and magic of pregnancy, something that gets lost a lot of time in traditional ob care?s focus on ruling out pathologies. Beah has many years experience delivering babies in all different settings, and it shows in the care she provides. I felt very safe with her. She is conservative when necessary and yet knows how to step back and be hands off allowing me to listen to my own body and helping my husband feel safe enough to be able to support me through the labor. She is a nurse midwife so her fees are often partially covered by insurance. We had a beautiful, easy delivery of an 8 lb baby girl in our home earlier this month, something I know would have been much more difficult for me in a hospital setting. We feel so grateful to have found Beah & recommend her highly. Sarah

Jan 2009 : Midwife Leopi Sanderson-Edmunds

Hello, I'm considering a homebirth with Leopi Sanderson-Edmunds. The reviews in BPN are from 2006 or earlier. Anyone have recent experience with her? Anything out of the ordinary come up? If so, how did she handle it? Leopi works with Amrit Khalsa from what I understand but Amrit will be out of town during my birth. So I'm interested too if you've worked with Leopi & someone else. Thanks for your input! homebirth bound

My experience is from 2006 but I wanted chime in with thanks and praises for Leopi. I had a great experience working with her as did my husband and 4 year old son. Appointments were thorough, relaxed, and heartening. She was excellent in exploring and supporting what was coming up emotionally for me and my family; sensitive to relationship dynamics and really helpful in supporting communications with my husband. I felt that I was in skilled hands and deeply nurtured throughout my pregnancy, during the birth and afterwards. I feel so lucky to have had her as my midwife. Feel free to contact me off-list if you like. Enjoy and all the best to you regardless of who you choose as midwife. brenna

We had the most beautiful homebirth with Leopi in September 08! She is just incredible. Creative, passionate, unbelievably knowledgeable and competent -- I just can't say enough about her. She came to our house for 1-2 hours for each prenatal visit and I learned more than I ever knew I needed to know! About childbirth, parenting, our marriage, loving my body, bonding with my baby ... We are so grateful for her. We had a bit of an emergency after birth when I wouldn't stop bleeding, and she and Amrit handled the situation with SUCH professionalism that I knew I was safe the entire time. What a phenomenal experience! I highly, highly recommend Leopi. so-o-o in love with my homebirth!

Leopi was the midwife for my homebirth last summer (Amrit was the second midwife). She is a wonderful, warm, caring, empowering, reassuring, competent midwife. My husband and I both had a wonderful experience with her. She spent a lot of time with us during the prenatal and postnatal visits. We dealt with some issues at the end of the pregnancy and she was fabulous. Everything during the birth was pretty straightforward. I would wholeheartedly recommend her! Loved Leopi

We had our first baby at home with Leopi and had a beautiful experience, she couldn't be more highly recommended. She is a gifted midwife. We are planning to have our second with her this summer! juliana

Dec 2008 : Ellen Levitt, Homewife Midwife

We are in Berkeley and looking for a homebirth midwife. We would love to hear from anyone who has experience working with Ellen Levitt. Thanks! ama

It is good news for the world of parents and babies that Ellen Levitt is working as a homebirth midwife again. She is WONDERFUL. Ellen delivered two of my three kids, and I couldn't have asked for a better midwife. She is incredibly experienced and utterly competent in any way you could ask. Plus she is gentle, empathetic, kind, supportive. When you pick a homebirth midwife, you pick someone you are going to spend a LOT of time with during pregnancy and post-partum. With Ellen, all that time will be a joy. You are really lucky -- she's fabulous. (If you want to hear more gushing, feel free to email me. I could also connect you to many other satisfied clients.) Judith B.

I hired Ellen as my doula as I was planning a natural childbith in the hospital. While I ended up needing to have a c-section due to my baby's breech position, Ellen was with me every step of the way in her intelligent, experienced and caring way. Her home visit follow-up care was amazing as she helped me enormously with breastfeeding, checked baby's overall health and weight gain, checked up on my recovery and offered so many practical suggestions for greater ease and well-being for the whole family. She definitely helped ease the transition from hospital to home, as I could trust her advice and know she was drawing from her years of experience as a midwife and mother of a 5-year-old. I am very grateful Ellen was a big part of our childbirth care team! Rebecca M.

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, Griselda Hernandez
The plus is that they often work together!!!

And, Kristen Graser, fruitsoflabor2003 [at]

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 for homebirth or birth center

This is my second pregnancy and I am positive that I do not want to be in a hospital for this birth. I had an awful experience with my first born and since then have done some research and have decided the hospital is not for me. My ideal situation would be a home birth, but I'm not sure if we'll be able to afford it, if the midwife does not take our insurance. I'm also open to a birthing center. We have a PPO, so we're not completely stuck with in network providers. Even if you do not know this kind of information but have a good recommendation for a midwife that is warm, good communicator, loves people and what she does, then I would still like to know. Many thanks for any leads you can give me!

We are having a homebirth in the Fall so I can't share delivery experience with you yet. However, I would highly recommend our midwife, Leopi Sanderson-Edmunds. She is such a warm, generous, and exceptionally experienced woman; we feel just so grateful to be working with her. She comes to our house in Berkeley and her prenatal visits have been about 2 hours long, and she gives us tons of information and advice. She considers her prenatals to be educative gatherings and welcomes my husband in as many sessions as he can come. We feel we have learned so much from her -- I know I've learned more from her in the three times I've met with her than in all the months I'd already spent with another midwife who I was seeing for a birth at Alta Bates. She's also a very creative woman who sees childbirth as a rich spiritual and artistic blessing. I highly recommend her! 510 717-5060, leopi [at] Also I met another midwife while I was interviewing people who I also really, rea! lly admired. Shiela Vandermeer, About insurance: we have Aetna PPO and they do not provide any reimbursement for homebirths. However, many, many insurance providers do -- just give yours a call. From what I've learned, you'd pay your midwife upfront, and she would help fill out the forms you'd submit to your insurance for partial (often 60%) reimbursement. By the way: you might be interested in homebirth childbirth education classes with Laura Todaro, lctodaro [at] - happy homebirth mama-to-be

I wanted to post how happy I have been with my Midwife, Debbie Coleman. She delivered my daughter three years ago, and will deliver my son later this year. She is a great midwife, delivers at Alta Bates, has back-up with another mid-wife as well as East Bay Perinatal Group for all the higher medical testing & needs. It is very rare for me to wait past my appointment time, and I love how easy it is to talk with her about anything and everything with my pregnancies. She also tries really hard to deliver all of her babies. I highly recommend Debbie Coleman as a Certified Nurse Midwife. Jill

I would like to recommend Awakenings Midwives - they are truly amazing women!! I had a home birth with them and received perfect care before, during and for a long time afterwards. I felt so safe and well cared for. Julie and Sharon attended my daughters birth, they were incredibly present and gave me so much. If you would like to talk further, I can be reached on 510 865 2622. Una

I had a wonderful (homebirth in water) experience last year with two midwives - Abigail Reagan & Sue Baelen, both with the Bay Area Homebirth Collective. It was my 2nd birth and I felt very well-cared for, respected, and empowered to create a wonderful birth experience for myself & my baby. I also love the BAHC community - you might want to attend a ''Birth Stories Potluck'' - held once a month. You'll hear people's stories and can ask any questions you have. You can find the schedule, as well as links to the BAHC midwives at Annemarie

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 for homebirth in Oakland

I am interested in finding a midwife to perform a homebirth at the end of February. I live in Oakland. I am looking for someone who is very experienced. Recommendations are appreciated! Thank you! gretchen

To the women looking for a homebirth midwife, I can't say enough good things about the midwives of Awakenings Birth Services - Juli Tilsner, Deborah Simone and Sharon Craig. I had a wonderful homebirth in April. Their experience and care is outstanding. Please feel free to email me if you would like. Kelly

I used Judy Luce for the birth of my son at home in Oakland last year. I was also looking for someone who had a lot of experience. I wanted someone who would let my body do what it knows how to do (i.e., carry a baby and give birth) but who had enough experience to know when something was going awry. Judy was the perfect match for me! Her website is good luck!

I've had two births with Awakenings Birth Services and just loved them. The midwives work as a team and provide a lovely balance of styles and personalities. Pre natal appointments and the births all were handled with great warmth and skill but it was during our post partum weeks that they all but worked miracles especially with our second baby who had major nursing/adjustment issues. My family came through a very rough first month healthy and intact in large part because they cared for us so well. sabineh

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. 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: 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 ( 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

July 2008 : Midwife Shiela Vanderveer

Hi, Does anyone have any experiences you can share with Shiela Vanderveer at Comadres Midwifery? I'm looking for a homebirth midwife. Thank you! - mama-to-be

Shiela is an absolutely fabulous midwife and I would highly recommend her as her peer & fellow midwife. She is both skilled and very loving with her clients. momma2zahn

Shiela will be our midwife for our homebirth and, though we haven't had the baby yet, we feel we can highly recommend her. She has years of midwifery experience in Taos, New Mexico, and has recently moved to the Bay Area where she has already developed a solid reputation amongst the midwifery community (I base this on the number of midwives I called who recommended her since they were booked). She just exudes competence and experience, and has a relaxing, beautiful spirit with a delightful sense of humor. We have complete confidence in her, we love working with her, and we can't wait to share our birth experience with her! Shiela's webpage hasn't been updated since she moved to the area, but all the contact information is there: 505-613-2530 - mama-to-be

April 2008 : Advice about Sue Baelen - Sacred Birth

I am seriously considering homebirth for my baby to be (due in the fall). I live in the East Bay and would greatly appreciate advice about Sue Baelen of Sacred Birth, Tania Jackson, or Jessimon Mierhoff (I might be mis-spelling names, but they all practice in the East Bay). Thank you for any information you can share. I have checked online and have not found much. Thanks again in advance! wanna be momma

In response to a question about Sue Baelen - Sue was our midwife for both of my pregnancies and subsequent home births. Sue is warm, reliable, responsive, smart, and extremely competent. She provided excellent care to me during both pregnancies and at both births. I would highly recommend Sue to anyone looking for a home birth midwife. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have more questions. eva

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.

March 2008: Midwife who will support a home birth

I'm looking for recommendations for an Midwife (certified or...?) who will support a home birth in the East Bay. I have looked at the previous postings as well as but wanted a more personal sense of who might be the best. I'm also unclear about what kinds of questions to ask during an interview so if there's suggestions on topics to cover, that would be helpful too. Thank you. First Time Momma

I'm sure you will get many personal responses for local midwives. As for questions to ask, there are lists of thoughtful questions in the back of the book, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. It includes questions for homebirth midwives, hospital-based midwives, obstetrician or family practice doctors and doulas. Kim

I just started working with Judy Luce. Here's her website: I also liked the women I interviewed at Awakenings Birth Services: Good luck, JB

Our son and daughter were both delivered by Mason Cornelius with Nova Midwifery ( Mason is a fantastic midwife. She comes to your home for all the prenatal care, which is especially nice when you're at the end of your pregnancy and you need to be seen every week. She also comes several times after your baby is born for after care. She serves the East Bay. Both our children were born at home in Benicia, so I know that she'll go that far North. We opted for a water birth (in a birthing pool) and she completely supported that and we had fantastic deliveries. I highly, highly recommend her! joj

I highly recommend the midwives of Awakenings Birth Services. They were extremely helpful and supportive throughout my pregnancy. My birth experience was complicated and against all of my wishes we ended up at the hospital. The midwives continued to be supportive and knowledgable and helped make what could have been a terrible experience much, much better. I felt that they were partners in my birth process -- warm, experienced, calm, and helpful. While I wish a home birth had been possible for me, ultimately I feel good about the choices I made and the support I had and really that is in no small part due to the midwives of Awakenings. They also provided great post-partum care.

As for questions to ask, I would ask how much time they spend at visits, what their practice culture is like, what are top reasons they transfer to the hospital, what she/they consider their specialty, what is their back up plan if they are not available, etc. If you have something specific that concerns you (such as single parenthood, health issues, etc.) I would raise that issue and see their response. Ultimately, this is a very personal decision so I would trust your intuition. If you are not comfortable with someone, don't go with them. happy mama

hi, i had fantastic midwives, but they were in napa county. however, on their website, they have a comprehensive list of questions that anyone seeking a midwife should ask. here is a link: good luck! another home birth enthusiast

I'm responding to your post looking for a home birth midwife in the East Bay. First of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!

I've had friends who have had wonderful experiences with Cindy Haag and Beah Haber. What's crucial, however, is that you feel comfortable with whomever you chose. A midwife who may be a perfect fit for one person might not be a good fit for another. It's an intimate relationship so feeling really good about them after your interview is important. Speaking with a few recent clients is also helpful.

There are lots of good and competent midwives out there however and I wish you well. best of luck

I know this is late but I wanted to add both a specific recommendation for a midwife, and some guidelines I wish I'd had. I've had two homebirths, with two different practices, and the first one didn't go well. The second was fabulous.

So first, my second practice was Metta Homebirth Midwifery. Amrit Khalsa, has been catching babies for years, and her partner Lior Mayor has that facility for quoting all the recent studies in obstectrical research. They are both kind and compassionate, and both have had kids, so they were incredibly helpful on all sorts of fronts. They helped me deal with my fears and feelings about the first birth, helped me have a fantastic birth and supported us when our baby had medical issues unrelated to his birth (and not foreseable or preventable).

Second, there are tons of places you can get lists of interview questions. I asked tons of questions the first time, and less the second. I did add, ''How do you feel about having family present'' and ''How do you feel about my recording the birth'' to the list. Also make sure you know what your options are if the relationship doesn't work out.

Otherwise here are some questions for you to ask yourself as you are making a decision. In some ways this is more like dating than picking a service provider-it's a very emotional relationship and the quality of your birth can depend on that relationship.

Do you like the way this person answers your questions? How do they take follow ups? Do you feel like you are treated respectfully? Do you feel like you could raise issues/have differences of opinion with the person and it would be okay?

If you hire a team, make sure you understand how they work, do they split up the care evenly? Who will be present at your birth? How do they handle post-natal care?

Also if you do hire a team, make sure you feel comfortable with anyone of the individuals being your midwife as a solo. Done it twice

I can't recommend Amrit Khalsa and Lior Mayer enough. My partner just gave birth on April 9th at home and it was incredible. We had a scary moment during the birth (a few minutes of funny baby heartbeat during pushing). Because of the relationship we'd built with them and the knowledge that Amrit has attended over 1500 births and that Lior recently trained at UCSF as a CNM, I was able to to feel completely safe and confident in their abilities. I think if we'd been in a hospital, the doctors would have jumped in and done a bunch of invasive things but Amrit knew enough about us and our baby and physiology to wait minute and not have my partner push through a few contractions. He recovered immediately (he probably would have had an emergency C-section in the hospital b/c they really want to cover their butts even though he was fine in the big picture). He is quite happy and healthy and the birth was really the most powerful thing I've ever seen- in large part due to our midwives.

They are also phenominal after birth- Amrit provided incredible lactation support and alternatives that our pediatrician hadn't even thought of. Even if you end up transferring to a hospital, having Amrit and Lior as guides through the process is priceless. Jaime

Feb 2008

I used Judy Luce for my home birth in September and can highly recommend her. The prenatal visits were long and relaxed, as much about getting to know one another as anything. Judy was very straightforward and practical, and always had good suggestions when problems arose (though they were few). I always appreciated her trust in a mother's instinct and in the body's ability to take care of itself, and that was a quality that really came through in the birth. She was calm and reassuring through more than five hours of pushing, and in the end did an amazing job of helping out a baby that was not in the best of positions. With a less confident and experienced midwife I might not have been able to stay at home for the whole birth. Afterward, she came over much more often than she was obligated to, and really helped both me and my husband tap into our parenting instincts. Feel free to email me if you want to talk more about my experience with her. Julian

I highly recommend the midwives of the Bay Area Homebirth Collective. You can find them at I had a wonderful experience having a homebirth in water this last August with Abigail Reagan, Sue Baelen & Sue's apprentice Rebecca Plum. They are based in San Francisco but attend births in the East Bay. (I live in El Cerrito.) And there are other midwives in the BAHC that are based in the East Bay. The BAHC is also a great community to be a part of - you can attend a ''Birth Stories Potluck'' as a prospective parent to get a sense of people's experiences. I'm also happy to talk with you more. Good luck with your search, and have a lovely birth! Annemarie

Just a week ago I had a wonderful waterbirth at home assisted by Mason Cornelius, LM CPM and her apprentice Liesl. I was very happy with my prenatal care, labor, birth and postpartum support. I highly recommend her. I would be glad to answer any specific questions you might have. rasa

I didn't see the original posts but I'd like to chime in.... I also had a wonderful experience with Awakenings.... Deborah and Dana were present for the birth of my first child, and Deborah and Sharon for my second, and both were amazing experiences. I felt completely in good, knowledgeable, intuitive, experienced hands. My prenatal care with Deborah and Juli this past time was also great, and when Sharon joined the practice toward the end of my pregnancy I didn't think I would have much contact with her. However, by a fluke she ended up at my birth and had a really grounded presence, unobtrusive but very helpful and competent, and calm energy. As my experience has been mostly with Deborah, I can say with complete assurance and confidence that I think she is fabulous at labor and delivery, as well as the rest of it.... but I definitely think i would feel comfortable and in good hands with Juli or Sharon as well. I'm happy to talk more about my experience if you want to contact me directly. shoshana

Jan 2008

If you are thinking about having a homebirth, I would highly recommend Beah Haber. She attended the birth of our daughter in November and provided exceptional prenatal and postpartum care in addition to labor and delivery. You can view her website at or contact her at (925) 449-7666 or beah[at] She has 30 years of midwifery experience, including a number of years as a labor and delivery nurse. Michele

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

2005 - 2007 Recommendations

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 (, 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 - 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?


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 (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: 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) . 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

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

August 2006

Hello all, I'm a first time mom and just pregnant, looking for a homebirth midwife for the east bay. I know they can be a little hard to track down, so I wondered if anyone had a great experience lately and what made it so great. I'm a doula and know the basics about birth and also have strong opinions about doing it naturally and at home. I'm looking for someone pretty grounded, not flaky. Thanks guys first time mom

We are using Cindy Haag, CPM, LM for our first baby due in January. She is utterly fantastic--experienced, logical, and compassionate--basically everything we hoped for. We feel so lucky to have gotten the chance to work with her. She can be reached at 510-704-8366. I'm also a doula (and an aspiring midwife). I've been thinking about forming a pregnant first-time moms group/circle. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you're interested! Best wishes for a happy, healthy pregnancy and birth. Meg

There are several excellent midwives practicing in the East Bay, and I think many of them are listed in the BPN archives. We had our first with Cindy Haag (510-704-8366)and are going to have our second with her in Dec. Cindy is extremely professional and knowledgeable as well as wonderfully caring. Our daughter was a big girl (10 lb 10 oz) and had mild shoulder dystocia (stuck for about 50 sec), and labor was a little tricky. Cindy handled everything so well and it was an exhausting but very good experience for all of us. Feel free to contact me at kara at vuicich dot com, or you should feel free to call Cindy. She has regular gatherings at her home for her clients and others interested in homebirth, and these are great opportunities to talk with other families about their experiences. Kara

I had a fantastic first-birth homebirth experience with Beah Haber and Michelle Edgar. They were very grounded and I trusted them completely to support me appropriately and to transfer if necessary (it was not!), which allowed me to relax and really trust that I was safe. They were a great combination of emotionally tuned-in and medically sound. I can't recommend them highly enough. You can reach them at (925) 449-7666. Beah is based in Pleasanton and Michelle lives in Oakland; they see patients in both places and they both made it in plenty of time to my birth (in Oakland). Feel free to contact me with any further questions. Nina

Lis Worcester was my midwife for both of my births- and I love her- She is so calming, reassuring and supportive, as well as knowledgable and capable. She lives in SF, but works in the east bay all the time 415-255-7028

I highly recommend Lucero Dorado as a homebirth midwife. Wise, gentle and experienced. You can reach her at (510) 644-1617 Katia

I had a wonderful homebirth last December with midwife Cindy Haag of Tres Lunas Midwifery, 510-704-8366. It was my first pregnancy. Cindy is a wonderful person with excellent skills. She respects your decisions and needs for birth, providing great advice based on years of experience and training. My homebirth experience was exactly what I wanted it to be and Cindy was there to guide me, my husband, baby and attendants through the process. I cannot say enough good things about her. Good luck and congratulations! Happy Homebirth Mom

I highly recommend Cindy Haag, of Tres Lunas Midwifery. She was our homebirth midwife and we think she's terrific. Very down-to-earth, experienced, dedicated, and just an all-around great person. Her number is 704-8366. Congratulations on your pregnancy! Rachel Z

I am a nurse-midwife and Beah Haber attended both of my homebirths. I highly recommend her (and her amazing colleague Michelle, also a midwife), both professionally and personally. Beah has been a CNM attending home and birth center births for years. She is highly experienced. I felt safe with her judgement. She knows what she's doing. She makes you feel special, and LISTENS to you, which is a huge part of both prenatal and intrapartum care. She's an earth mama, but also grounded in reality, not flaky. If you're a local doula, you will have already heard about Beah. She books up super fast, so if you're even thinking about interviewing her, call her immediately (her practice is called Motherwell Midwifery, and she has offices in both Pleasanton and Oakland), because she is also quite good at keeping balance in her life and limiting the number of births she takes on per month. I would go back to her in a second! happy homebirther

Hi I work with Rosanna Davis LM, CPM, a homebirth midwife that does birth is the south of Alameda Co. I am not sure where you are but you can check out her website I am her assitant and a Doula, Treesa

I am a doula and have been present at two lovely homebirths with Cindy Haag as the midwife. Cindy is extremely knowledgeable, and radiates calm, quiet, laid-back support. She is definitely not someone I would categorize as ''flaky.'' There are lots of recommendations for her on the BPN website under ''Midwife for Homebirth'' in reviews--health & medical-- midwives. doula

I didn't see the original request, but I wanted to let everyone know about my great homebirth midwife for my first baby, now 8 weeks old. Judy Luce, Womancare Midwifery, 510-428-1419, is a recent transplant from Vermont (and Boston before that) with over 30 years of midwifery experience. She has a warm, caring demeanor, and is incredibly knowledgeable. Our prenatal appointments (always at least an hour) were thorough, informative, and FUN! Judy is a great story-teller. I chose homebirth partially because I feel that the hospitalization of birth is robbing women of confidence in their abilities to give birth, and making the whole process of birth an ordeal to be suffered through, rather than an empowering experience of great spiritual potential. I felt that Judy shared my confidence that my body was capable of giving birth naturally, and was a tremendous ally in preparing me for the physical and emotional challenges of a long labor. Even when my faith in myself faltered, Judy was right there to tell me I could do it, and she often made me laugh in the process. She was a wonderful coach for the birth itself, too, helping me push the baby out in under an hour with very little tearing. Judy was also a great help postpartum, checking up on us frequently, and offering great advice. With 30+ years of experience, Judy's medical knowledge is very solid, and I always knew I was in good hands
Delighted with my home birth!

Lindy Johnson delivers at Alta Bates and is fantastic! There are several recommendations for her on BPN already, but they're a few years old. My baby is now 9 months old. As a first time mom, there were times during pregnancy when I felt like I might be asking stupid questions (overly worried about little aches and pains, etc.), but Lindy always reassured me and answered thoroughly. Though I delivered in the hospital, the birth did not feel like a medical experience because of Lindy's presence. She is sensitive, down to earth, and definitely knows her stuff. I felt well taken care of throughout, and couldn't have been happier with my choice of midwife
a happy newish mama

Lindy Johnson is fantastic. Lindy was our midwife for birth of both our kids, now ages 8 and 10 -- both born at Alta Bates. She's warm, caring, relaxed, a really special person and perfectly suited as a midwife. Prenatal visits were a pleasure, and she was just great for both the LONG labor for our first and the really quick birth of our second. And she was really knowledgeable and helpful regarding coverage by our health insurance. robin

I had a wonderful experience with my midwife who delivered my 7 month old son. Her name is Lindy Johnson, CNM at 2323 Ward St., Berkeley, Ca 510-644-0104. Lindy was there for me from the beginning of my pregnancy, all throughout my hospital stay, until post-partum check-up. She is an incredible woman and very experienced Cherie

I can't recommend Beah Haber and Michelle Edgar highly enough for a home birth. I started out working with an Alta Bates- based midwife and my experience was significantly more personalized and focused with the home-oriented team...Beah and Michelle gave me wonderful, warm support all the way through my pregnancy and then guided me through what I would consider a perfect home birth. If you want to ask me more about my specific experiences with them, feel free to send an e-mail. My son's birth was one of the most empowering, beautiful experiences of my life. Be sure to contact them soon if you want to work with them, because they book up early. Motherwell Midwifery:(925) 449-7666 Nina

There have already been so many glowing postings about Cindy Haag, some of which have been archived, so I don't need to add another one except to say that she is amazing and all the great things that have already been posted about her are still true. You can reach her at 704-8366, but she doesn't take many clients, so call soon Lucky to Have Found Cindy

I would highly recommend Cindy Haag, Tres Lunas Midwifery, 510-704-8366. She is in Berkeley, and does about half her prenatal appointments out of her home (the rest are at your house). We will be having our second child with her in Dec., and her prenatal and postpartum care was wonderful. We had a slightly tricky birth (our daughter was 10lb 10oz with mild shoulder dystocia - she was stuck for less than a minute) but she handled everything expertly and all of us were (and are) in great shape. I don't think she can deliver at Alta Bates, however. If you planned a home birth and needed to transport, she would go with you and more or less act as a doula and advocate once you get to the hospital. You might also want to stop by Waddle and Swaddle on Shattuck in Berkeley. They have a great resource room and a lot of midwives put up cards on their bulletin board. - a happy homebirth mom

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 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

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],

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...

Feb 2006

Hi - I'm looking for recommendations about Leopi Sanderson-Edmunds for a homebirth. The one in archives is very positive, but I'd love to have a little more feedback since she's apparently quite new to the area. thanks, Katherine

Leopi was our backup midwife -- she was at the homebirth of our son last August and provided some postpartum care when our primary midwife was out of town. I am so grateful for the opportunity to sing her praises -- I can't sing them loud enough!! I had only met her once before the actual birth but felt completely comfortable with her and appreciated her warmth and attentiveness. The day of our birth she provided such incredible wisdom and comfort throughout a very long labor. She came very well equipped with some critical tools that helped us during labor. She has a profound ability to match her technical knowledge with in the moment observation. I found her suggestions and guidance throughout the labor so on point. Her nurturing during postpartum was equally priceless. Processing with Leopi afterwards highlighted the uniqueness of our labor experience while connecting it with the universality of birth. She may be relatively new to the area but her wealth of experience is so apparent in the quality of her care. We felt honored to have her at our birth. I would be more than happy to share more details about our experiences with Leopi if you would find it helpful. Please feel free to contact me. maria

If you are looking for a midwife I highly recommend Leopi Sanderson- Edmunds. She was wonderful for my pre-natal, and amazing at the birth. She also provides extensive post natal visits. She is highly experienced, grounded, intuitive and warm. I couldn't have asked for a better midwife! Leopi's telephone number is 510 717-5060. RJita

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: I don't know if she's still taking private patients.

May 2005

I just discovered today that my insurance which is Blue Cross will reimburse a ''preferred'' licensed midwife for home birth services and delivery. Can anyone recommend such a midwife? If not, did you have a home birth and were you able to get reimbursement of any kind? I would be very greatful for any information. Thank you. Liesl

As far as I know, and I would love to find out otherwise, there are no licensed midwives who would be considered ''preferred providers''--meaning a network provider--by Blue Cross. However, my homebirth was about 60% covered by Blue Cross when my midwife, Cindy Haag, submitted the necessary documentation for both the prenatal visits and the birth. I got at least an hour, and sometimes more, of Cindy's time at every appointment compared to less than 15 minutes with a CNM or OB/GYN. Plus the convenience of having her come to my house instead of dealing with driving, parking, and waiting and waiting at a doctor's, in my opinion, made up for any increased costs. Homebirth--worth every penny

First, I have to say that I don\x92t know if my midwife would be a preferred provider for Blue Cross, but I wanted to recommend her anyway. It\x92s definitely worth contacting her to find out. We didn\x92t have any insurance, so reimbursement wasn\x92t an issue for us. I thought to contact you because if cost is an issue, and you can\x92t find someone you like to accept Blue Cross, then Lis (my midwife) would most definitely work with you on the financial part. She\x92s committed to providing care for those who can\x92t afford the going rates for homebirth.

Anyway, her name is Lis Worcester and her number is 415/255-7028. She\x92s in San Francisco, but has no problem working with folks in the East Bay (we live in Oakland). We had such wonderful experience with her! Our first daughter was born at the birth center in SF and that\x92s where we met Lis. She was working there at the time and was our primary prenatal care provider. We developed a close relationship with her and then when I was pregnant again 3 years later she was licensed to do homebirths. We worked out a financial plan so that we could have the homebirth we wanted. She worked with us from the beginning of the pregnancy and we had such a great homebirth \x96 exactly how I wanted it. I had two pretty different births and Lis was exactly the right match for me both times. The first time around I felt like I needed a lot of help and reassurance \x96 and I got it. The second time I felt so much more capable and didn\x92t need much help \x96 and Lis really let me do things my way.

I could go on and on. I would be happy to talk with you more, if you\x92re interested. I just wanted you to know about the options. I hope this has been helpful. I realize that I didn\x92t really answer your initial question. I hope you have a wonderful homebirth! I highly recommend it - however it happens. Brooke

March 2005

I'm looking for a Homebirth midwife recommendations. I saw great recommendations for Cindy Haag and Beah Haber on the website and am looking for info. on Sarah Pontell and Abigael Reagan. Others, too! Thanks. Looking early

i just gave birth in december. my midwives were great. awakenings birth services. a team of midwives - dana fox, deborah simone & juli tilsner. 415.835.0663. they live in the east bay, but work in both s.f. & east bay. i've also heard good things about sarah. happy birthing! happy mom

Just a short note to say that you saw so many great recommendations for Cindy Haag because she is a fabulous midwife. She provides both empathy and medical knowledge--an amazing combination. Grateful

There is an amazing, experienced, homebirth midwife who has recently moved to the East Bay named Leopi Sanderson-Edmunds that I would like to recommend. Leopi is both knowledgeble and intuitive. She provides midwifery care that creates a sense that you are being cared for on every level. She only takes 1-2 clients per month so she can provide her clients with all of the attention they want or need. Leopi's telephone number is 510 717- 5060 or feel free to contact me if you would like to hear more about my experience with Leopi. Good Luck! sonja i wanted to recommend Kristen Graser. here is a link to her web site: her care was wonderful. if you want any details feel free to e- mail me. Tami

Nancy Myrick, of Rites of Passage in San Francisco, was our midwife for the home birth of our daughter last March. Nancy (and Deena Malareddy, who was working with her at the time, not sure if she still is) was wonderful during the pre-natal appointments, the birth and post-natal visits. I think this link will get you to the Rites of Passage website: If you have questions or need more contact information, please let me know. robin

I highly recommend Amrit Khalsa ((510) 235-4878), who attended the homebirth of our second child. Our prenatal sessions were, at the shortest, 1 hour each and lasted as long as they needed to in order to answer all my questions. I had experienced pre-term labor with my first child, and Amrit was knowledgable and practical about developing a plan to minimize the chance of it happening again (it didn't),and was endlessly patient with my fears and worries about pre-term labor. I found Amrit to be extremely competent (she's a direct entry midwife, but used to be an RN in a neo-natal intensive care unit), fully supportive of our desire for a homebirth, and balanced in her attitude towards conventional obstetrics. (She isn't an alarmist in the least, but if a situation arises that would be best handled by a doctor in a hospital, she's going to get you to the hospital.) About homebirth in general -- I loved the peaceful, transcendent quality of laboring and giving birth at home (peaceful, somehow, despite all the HARD WORK of labor), and the gentle arrival of the baby into our regular old bed,our older child coming in and out as she pleased. But there was definitely a moment (an hour or so into the pushing of what turned out to be a very large baby) when it became very clear that there was no easy escape. If pushing seemed impossible, my back-up fantasy of a quick c-section at the hospital seemed even more impossible -- it would be no trivial matter to have to get to the hospital in advanced labor. Best of wishes for a happy and healthy birth for you and your baby. Alysson

I had my beautiful baby boy at home in December with a wonderful, very nurturing, sensitive, and experienced midwife. Since my baby was due in December and not many midwives were working, I spoke with A LOT of midwives, and she was definitely my favorite! Her name is Valeri Webber and she lives in Benicia, but she will travel to most East Bay and North Bay locations. I love this woman! She helped create s sacred, peaceful, and special environment for our birth. Her number is 707-745 Cecily

Jan 2005

I'm currently looking for a homebirth midwife in San Francisco and was wondering if anyone has any recommendations. The midwives that have been highly recommended on this site are mostly in the east bay and don't service SF. I have heard of Abigail Reagan, Maria Iorillo and Liz Worchester that work in the area and would love to hear some feedback along with any other names and experiences of homebirth midwives who service SF. Thanks in advance. Tracy

I wanted to give you my reccomendation for a midwife in SF. I was surprised and excited to see you had already mentioned her name, but my midwife was Lis Worcester. She was my primary midwife when my first daughter was born at the birth center in SF over 3 years ago, and then she was my homebirth midwife for my second daughther born last July. I love Lis!! She is very caring and spends so much time with you. She doesn't take on too many clients at once, so you never feel as though she's not available. I had a wonderful experience birthing at home with her and would love to tell you more about it. She is also the midwife for a friend of mine who is due in a few weeks and I'm sure she would happily talk to you as well. Just to throw a couple more names out there - Awakenings Birth Services (Dana Fox, Deborah Simone and Juli Tilsner) are also really wonderful women to work with and they work primarily in SF. Good luck and feel free to call or email me for more details. I love to talk about my birth! 510/763-2105 Brooke

I took a Bradley childbirth prep class with Juli Tilsner who I believe now has a home birth practice and is associated with Sage Femme. I really liked her and would've hired her if I hadn't been too scared to go with a home birth. danielle

2004 and Earlier

July 2004

I am currently interviewing midwives for an upcoming home birth and am wondering if anyone has experience (good or bad) with Awakenings Birth Services (Dana Fox, Deborah Simone and Juli Tilsner) or Nova Midwifery (Mason Cornelius and Beth Graham). I haven't found anything about either practice on the website. Many thanks anon

Hi, I am due early January '05 and am looking for a homebirth midwife. I looked at what's already been posted on the network and didn't find what I was looking for. It's been a challenge finding an available caregiver since most take time off for the hoidays. Would appreciate any recommendations or shared experiences that other couples have had with a dec./jan. baby. And any recommendations of particular midwives used. I am also looking for feedback from clients who have used these following midwives. Julie Hunn, Beah Haber, Cindy Haag, Sarah Pontell, Roxanne, and Danu. Thanks, in search of an available midwife

I had Jennifer Hess and Beah Haber for my homebirth of my 2nd son 2 years ago. They were great. I had another midwife when my first son was born 4 years ago whom I would not recommend (she was not one of the ones on your list.) Please feel free to contact me if you would like any further information. pc

Julie Tilsner was my Bradley class teacher in San francisco and I absolutely adore her. I just can't say enough... Good luck Katja

Beah Haber is truly an outstanding midwife. She is incredibly warm and sensitive, and has a great sense of humour. She and her partner, Jennifer Hess (who I also love, but you didn't ask about her!) attended at the birth of my daughter at home in October and I would definitely recommend them. My prenatal visits were so relaxed and I always looked forward to going to see them. There were some complications at the birth which they handled with the utmost skill and complete calm. The care I received post-partum was also excellent. Good luck in your search! ed

i am a birth doula/massage therapist/ yoga teacher and photographer in SF and had the pleasure of working with Awakenings (Deborah Simone, Dana Fox, and Juli Tilsner) at an amazing homebirth in March (i was the doula, etc). They are very caring, committed, knowledgable, grounded, and spiritual women who provide excellent, holistic care for the women they work with. Many of my massage clients or prenatal yoga students have worked with them, and all of the feedback i have received is positive. I have also attended Juli's childbirth classes and attended births with her when she was working as a doula and deeply respect her knowledge and passion about supporting women in natural childbirth. I would be happy to act as a reference for them if anyone wants a doula's perspective on the midwifery care they provide. the number for Awakenings is: 415-835-0663 or 415-871-8190 (juli tilsner) blessings, Britt 415-821-2699 britt

I highly recommend Cindy Haag as a homebirth midwife. My first child was born in December 2001 and I am now pregnant with my second and am working with Cindy again. She is compassionate, present, intelligent and extremely skilled and experienced. I can't imagine being pregnant or birthing without her support and involvement.

I also recommend interviewing several midwives to see how you feel with each of them. There are many excellent homebirth midwives in this area, but ultimately it's about finding a match for what you are looking for and finding someone you trust and feel comfortable with. I did some initial phone interviews and then a few in-person interviews. After meeting some midwives it was clear that Cindy was the ideal midwife for me and my partner.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any additional questions about working with Cindy Haag. Congratulations on your pregnancy and good luck in your homebirth midwife search! Catherine

I had a wonderful homebirth with Cindy Haag. She has a reputation as one of the best homebirth midwives in the Bay Area. She is highly skilled, experienced and knowledgeable, and also caring, empathic and responsive. I don't think she takes too many clients a month, though, so you will be lucky if you get to be her client. I highly reccommend her. Would Do It Again

Our baby was born at 34 weeks so we did not have a homebirth, but Cindy Haag was with us for the intense part of labor and went with us to the hospital (Alta Bates) and did after checks on me and the baby and she was wonderful. I had only met her the day I went into labor (long story) and I immediately felt comfortable with her. She was terrific to have around during labor, helpful, gentle, good about making sure my husband and I had time alone when we might want it and there when we needed her. I'm a doctor and I thought her medical knowledge and expertise were impressive (and better than the ob-gyns in some situations!). Can't answer as to her availability. lucky to have had Cindy at the birth

Cindy Haag 510-704-8366 delivered our baby girl five weeks ago and I cannot recommend her highly enough. We interviewed two other midwife teams, and while they all probably would have done an excellent job, I have absolutely no regrets or complaints about choosing Cindy. And I'm a pretty tough customer. As an added bonus, right now Cindy is working with an equally fabulous apprentice, Robin Doolittle, who accompanies her to every apointment. If you want more detail, you can ask Cindy for my phone number (although you already know I'll be an enthusiastic reference). David

We had a home birth with Jennifer Hess and Beah Haber for our first baby, due December 2003 (born in November...). They were great all through the prenatal visits, birth and postnatal checkups. Most visits, and the birth, were attended by both of them. I'm planning to use them again if we have another baby. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me. Heather

I had my son with Dana and Deborah from Awakenings and the whole experience was wonderful! The prenatals (all done at my home) were relaxed (and long). I had plenty of time to sort out many fears and concerns. Plus, they did a wonderful job of educating me about birth. By the time I was in labor it seemed like they really knew and understood me and what I would need to labor successfully. D & D's styles are very different which I also found a helpful balance. Dana is more action oriented. When I called to complain about a cold that was lingering, she offered heaps of symapthy and at least a 1/2 dozen ways to take care of myself. Deborah is more quiet and reflective. She was so good at listening and seemed comfortable just sitting with me as I worked my way through a particular question or concern. The place they really shine is in labor and post partum. They were just so calm and gentle and fiercely confident in my abilities as a mom. And they did my dishes right after the birth! Who could ask for more? Finally, I don't know if this is an issue for either poster, but another reason we chose Awakenings was because D & D are really welcoming of whatever religious/spiritual practices and beliefs their clients have. My partner and I are an interfaith couple and we felt so supported in our attempts to honor the sacred dimension of birth and partenting. Either poster is welcome to email me directly with specific questions. sabine

October 2003

Well, I've just spoken to someone at Hill's Physicians Medical Group and she told that they do indeed cover homebirth (all of it!). I can hardly believe it. Anyway, I've got a list of 6 names of midwives in the Hill's Group and I'd like to get some recommendations. I've seen the archives and see that Hsiu Li, Lindy Johnson and Nancy Barnett Moore all come highly recommended. I'd like a little more input on Deborah Coleman and Laura Hooper (and it would be even better if you used them for homebirth!). Also, if anyone has any experience with Hill's Physicians/Blue Shield coverage of homebirth, I'd love to hear about it (I keep thinking I have been misinformed). Thank you so much.

I think it mainly depends on whether you have an HMO or PPO, and not really the medical group you are with. We are also with Hill Physicians, but had an HMO that covered only hospital births with midwives. Lindy Johnson is a highly recommended CNM, but she only does hospital births. The best thing for you to do is call each midwife that Hill Physicians recommended to you, and interview them over the phone. Their experience is important, but getting along with them is even more so, esp. because you will have very close interaction with your midwife (or midwives). If you like what you hear on the phone, then most of them will visit you at home for free, for a more personal meeting. Bear in mind that there are many different kinds of midwives, too. So, you should do as much research as possible to know the differences (Licensed Midwife, Certified Professional Midwife, Certified Nurse Midwife, Lay Midwife, and so on....).

We are going through our other insurance coverage, which is a PPO, so that we can have a homebirth that insurance will pay for. Our most EXCELLENT midwife is Cindy Haag, of the Bay Area Homebirth Collective and Tres Lunas Midwifery. She is very knowledgeable, is a L.M. and a C.P.M., and is very personable. The BAHC also offers childbirth classes geared for homebirths, among other services. Every midwife of the BAHC (a few other names: Jen Bauman, Kristin Graser) is really great - you should call them, as they do homebirths in the East Bay and in SF: (415) 273 5185 OR Good luck!! anon

I used Lindy Johnson recently (at Alta Bates) and was happy with her, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't do homebirths anymore. Jennifer

After having a nightmare of an experience with my first attempt at a home delivery in 1992, I sought the services of Lindy Johnson, CNM in 1995 to assist in the delivery of my son.She informed me that at that time, they no longer could legally assist w/ home births but she could work w/ us through Alta Bates. I found her to be ''ok''. Not as nurturing and up on holistic tx. as i would have preferred..but she was great in the delivery room. I delivered a healthy beautiful i'm not complaining. ~Omolade

Your posting comes just at a time when I'm considering trying a home birth--Debbie Coleman has been my midwife and I was thrilled to see that she does home births--thanks for this information! I am almost 8 months pregnant and have been seeing Debbie throughout my pregnancy. Overall, it's been a really positive experience. I also interviewed Sho-Li but wasn't as comfortable with her. Debbie is often overwhelmed and busy but as soon as she sits down with me she's totally focused and present. She never seems rushed once she gets into the examining room. What I've liked about her most is that I can all her at any time with any question about my pregnancy (something I've done numerous times). Whenever I've called her--on her pager--she calls back in less than 5 minutes. This has been really reassuring. So far, all my interactions with Debbie have been great--she also has a very kind and informed support staff--her nurse is great, the women in the office are wonderful...Now I want to see if I can have her assist in my birth at home! elena

July 2003 We are considering homebirth options for our first child, due in early March. I have read the archives, but would appreciate any updated recommendations as to trusted midwives who do homebirths. Also, if anyone is willing to share their experiences about their homebirths (whether you had to transport or not), we would greatly appreciate your insights. Julie

i would HIGHLY recomend Dana Fox & Deborah Simone of Awakenings Midwifrey. 415-835-0663 (they serve the east bay even though their # is 415 area code) their prenatal visits lasted for about two hours (rather than 10 minute doctor visits) they address not only the phisical aspect of my maternity, but really got into the spiritual and emotional needs I was interested in. they Gave us great written material addressing relationship of me and my husband parenting together, vacinations (so I could make informed decisions), Infromation about circumcision (my husband is jewish, I am not.) They are fantastic lactation specialists as well, and can address any problems you might have in this area. I also found them to be the most affordable, though I chose them because I really connected with them. New statistics show that planned hombirth involving healthy full-term pregnancy is as safe if not safer than hospital birth. however I was one of those 1 in a million cases where after a perfectly smooth labour and delivery, we had to transport my son. He developed a breathing problem shortly after birth (would have developed it wether in the hospital or home) when we got to the hospital the doctors were very respectful and non-judgmental of us. They told us that our midwives saved our sons life, because of the measures they took. I would also recomend buying MOTHERING magazine (buy it at Picadilly Circus on University ave.) mothering has some great articles on homebirth, Vacines, breastfeeding... Jessica

I had a great homebirth with Cindy Haag, who provides an amazing combination of knowlege and empathy. She isn't listed in the archives, although I have seen her mentioned here several times. You can find her at 704-8366. Happy With My Homebirth

I highly recommend the Bay Area Homebirth Collective, 415-285- 9233. Jennifer N.

July 2003

I'm hoping to become pregnant soon (my first time) and want to get a handle on the birth options way ahead of time. I'm very interested in homebirth. My questions are about insurance & who in the East Bay does homebirth. I've been all through archives and have the names of the Midwives that could be covered by my insurance (Blue Shield HMO) if I switched to the Hill Physcians group. Do the CNMs in Berkeley (often cited on this site, Jeri, Nancy, & Lindy) do homebirth? Has anybody switched primary physcians to do this?

Any information/experiences would be helpful. I've searched the web and tried writing several places for information, but it's all a little vague, so I thought I'd try posting.

Thanks so much! wanna be mama

I switched from my primary physician to a midwife during the middle of my first trimester. Interestingly, it was my primary physician who recommended midwives (or at least gave me information for that route). I am seeing Jeri Zukoski. She does homebirths as well as hospital births at Alta Bates, with Hill Physicians. Lindy Johnson also works at Alta BAtes (although I'm not sure if she does homebirths). Insurance will not pay for a homebirth, or at least PacifiCare won't, so Jeri will be delivering our baby at Alta Bates. If you need information, both Lindy and Jeri will respond fairly quickly via phone, even if you are not yet expecting.

On July 10, 2004, Birthways in Oakland will be holding a free information night on ''Homebirth Information and Birthing Options''. It's at 6:30pm. You should call them to see if there is room for you to attend. Their address is: 466 Santa Clara Ave., 3rd Flr and their number is: 510.869.2797.

I think it's great that you are preparing so early! I read up on my options and did interviews with midwives and doulas one year prior to TTC (AND started taking prenatal vitamins!), and now I don't feel like it's all a mystery to me (although a good majority of it still is).

Good luck! anonymous

I don't know about the CNMs, but I had a great homebirth with Cindy Haag in Berkeley, and both my insurance companies (my work switched in the middle) covered the appointments and the birth with Cindy as a ''non-participating provider'' or whatever it's called.

By the way, I found the midwives listings in the archives on this site to be pretty out of date--I've seen lots of references to midwives in the past year in the newsletters, none of whom are in the archives. Happy With My Homebirth

I changed my insurance to Hill Physicians to go with Jeri (but they only covered hospital birth). I labored at home (for 2 days), then we went through transition in the car on the way to the hospital, then pushed for two hours at Alta Bates, then left after 6 hours. We had a fantastic experience, very safe, very comfortable, (because I felt safe and was surrounded by family), and paid for by the insurance.

Jeri advocates for moms to be proactive and to be aware of all their options. We had a natural childbirth with no interventions and I think a lot of it was because we had prepared as well as we could (Ellen Klima's Bradley class was terrific).

Jeri also does home births but it would be out of pocket, we couldn't afford it at the time but we had the best of all worlds. Contact me for more info if you like, I think that as a first-time mom, you need to learn as much as you can and I'd love to discuss options with you. Good luck! Monica

It's a great idea to check out your options before getting pregnant. If you want to be cared for by a midwife, you basically have four options:
1) Nurse-midwife in a hospital setting 2) Nurse midwife in a birth center setting 3) Nurse-midwife at home 4) Direct entry/lay/licensed midwife at home
I had a beautiful homebirth in April with the nurse midwives from Motherwell Midwifery: Beah Haber and Jennifer Hess. They were wonderful and I can highly recommend them. They also run The Birth Home, a free-standing birth center in Pleasanton. Their main office is in Pleasanton, but they have weekly office hours in Oakland. Phone: 925-449-7666.

There are only two other nurse midwives or groups of nurse midwives in the East Bay doing homebirths that I know of: 1) Jeri Zukowski, and 2) another group whose name I can't remember, but one of the CNM's is named Erin.

If you want a licensed (non-nurse) midwife for a homebirth, Amrit Khalsa would be a great choice.

For hospital midwifery, Lindy Johnson or Hsiu-Li (pronounced Show-Lee) Cheng are wonderful.

Insurance coverage for homebirth is a whole other issue. Some midwives take insurance, but usually you have to pay up front and get reimbursed yourself from the insurance comapny. Most midwives have either a sliding scale and/or payment plans to make it possible for those who choose to go outside their insurance to pay. Good luck! Emily

I am having a homebirth with a midwife as well (in just a few weeks!) but I can't be of much help with insurance. I'm using a direct-entry midwife (as opposed to a CNM) so it's been a ridiculous struggle to try to get my insurance to cover it. However, I did want to recommend to you the Bay Area Homebirth Collective - they have lots of referral services, including a childbirth preparation class that is specific to homebirths. I took it and loved it! Here is contact info for them: (415) 273 5185 or (510) 540 6223. Good luck. Amy

I've had a number of homebirths, and hate to be discouraging about insurance issues, but homebirth is a reproductive choice that most insurers don't support, and the law does not protect. The only contribution I've ever gotten from my insurers was an unexpected $500 check from Blue Cross, which was given as coverage for using an ''out-of-network'' provider. MediCal does pay for homebirths, but the sum they pay is well below the going rate. It doesn't sound as if you're MediCal-eligible anyway, but if you are, you could consider offering to top up MediCal's payment with cash. This is illegal, so you or your midwife may balk.

In parallel with being under the care of a midwife, my approach has been to get traditional prenatal care through an obstetrician, and have my insurance pay for the latter (after all, you will not know until your baby is born whether the emergence of some problem or other will result in your needing to be hospitalized, receive expensive diagnostic tests, or treatments, or even give birth in the hospital). I believe that around 30% of first-time mothers who attempt homebirth end up being transferred to a medical facility. You will have to lie to almost any East Bay obstetrician about your intention to deliver at home, or he or she will refuse to take you as a patient. It can get pretty unpleasant if your pregnancy goes past your delivery date when the induction harassment can get intense. UCSF is more tolerant of this approach, and I recommend them.

The lack of insurance coverage for homebirth meant that I paid most or all of the midwifery bill out of my own pocket. Sometimes, it was our entire savings. We are a family that has experienced periods of real financial exigency. Nonetheless, these payments, which seemed huge at the time, were the best money we ever spent. I am always astonished by the difference between my/our feelings about the births of our children, and those of my friends about those of their children who were hospital born. The births were some of the high points of my life, and gave me a new strength and belief in myself. They were a wonderful foundation for my relationship with my babies, and my husband. So many of my friends felt abused and violated (at worst) and disappointed or full of wishes that things had gone differently (at best) with their hospital births. In my view, a homebirth is a ''luxury'' worth paying for out of your own pocket.

To my knowledge, Lindy hasn't done homebirths in many years. It's a pity: she did one of mine, and I can't speak highly enough about her. The reason she gave me for ceasing to attend homebirths was that insurance companies forced her to choose between home and hospital deliveries - they would not allow her to do both.

One of my midwives was Amrit Khalsa. I highly recommend her. She does have patients whose home births are covered by insurance. Perhaps it would be worth consulting with her, especially if you are not yet pregnant and can still change insurers, to find out how to get a homebirth covered. If you do plan to do this, call soon. She's in high demand. Homebirth zealot

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 2003


I recently found out I am pregnant and I really want to do a home birth this time. I've consulted the website and the info is mostly out of date and not exactly what i'm looking for. Can anyone recommend any midwives or referral websites to find one. Also, does anyone know how I can find a midwife in training that might do this for a lower fee so they can get more experience? Any recommendations about how to have a successful home birth would be greatly appreciated.

I recommend Maria Iorillo, 415-285-9233, mydwife at, for a homebirth. She's part of a collective of midwives, and they run a homebirth prep class. Jennifer N.

I highly recommend Amrett Kalsa, 510-235-4878 to do your home birth. She extremely experienced, very smart, easy and fun to work with, and all around wonderful. She delivered my second very large child (10 lbs, 3 oz) in my home. It worked out wonderfully. I'd use her again in a heartbeat. She lives in El Cerrito. JoAnne

I would love to recommend my midwives, Beah Haber and Jennifer Hess, who practice throughout the east bay. 925/449-7666. They have 20+ years of experience between them and also work with a wonderful nurse assistant. I had my third baby with them last fall and cannot say enough about the home birth experience itself and my midwives in particular. They charged $4000 for the entire pre- and postnatal care, as well as the delivery. I hear your concerns about price, but I'm not sure you really want to compromise safety and quality by getting a midwife in training to do your delivery on the cheap. I have also had babies in a hospital and in a free-standing birth center, so I'd be happy to talk more and share my experiences with each setting. Congratulations and good luck! swidule

I don't think you can do any better than Beah Haber. She and her midwife partner do homebirths and are a great team. Give them a call and interview them yourself- they are warm and professional and love helping in the birth process. If you decide that home birth doesn't really work for you you can always go to the Birthhome ( Beah works there as well and they provide birth services in a home environmnet but only minutes away from a hospital- just in case. In terms of looking for an apprentice midwife you can check out the midwife association. They may have information on folks that fit this description.try Happy birth! Juliette

I highly recommend our homebirth midwife, Cindy Haag (510-704- 8366). She is wonderful, very experienced, humble, skilled, reassuring, and has excellent judgement. I'm an ob/gyn nurse practitioner, and my husband is a family doc, and we both felt completely comfortable in Cindy's hands. Please feel free to email me for more info. Debbie

I would refer you to Birthways, a great local resource for the pregnant family. They put out a great newsletter as well as offer lots of birth-related classes and services for both home- and hospital-birthing types. (Doulas, midwives, massage, etc) I think they've recently moved to the GrandLake area? The number is 869 - 2797. There's also Birth and Bonding, a storefront on Solano near San Pablo in Albany, with similar services. Good luck. Bonnie

I didn't deliver at Summit, but I had my prenatal ultrasounds and testing at East Bay Perinatal, but delivered at Alta Bates with Nancy Barnett-Moore, who I highly recommend. I originally considered going with Sho Li but found that I connected better with Nancy and I also wasn't wild about the East Bay Perinatal atmosphere, although it was fine for ultrasounds. Nancy Barnett-Moore was wonderful, and my husband and I are firmly convinced I would have had a c-section if it hadn't been for her. I'm quite petite, and we had a 9 lb 5 oz baby girl who was in the posterior position. We ended up having 62 hours of labor, with Nancy's assistance the whole time, and ended up with a very healthy baby. She also was wonderful throughout the prenatal visits, very willing to talk and address any concerns you might have. Alta Bates was fine, although you do have to spend the extra money for a private room, unlike Summit. Vali

I just had to switch from Alta Bates Medical Group to Hill physicians in order to work with my midwife Nancy Barnett Moore, who I am very happy with. She delivered my first baby as well. I did quite a search to find a new primary care physician and came across Nina Birmbaum at Bayside Medical Group with James Eichel. Because she is new at the practice I had to officially list Dr. Eichel as my PCP with my insurance company, but the office knows she is my PCP. I've only had one visit with her but I was very impressed. She was very nice, listened well, and really took her time. So if you are planning to switch to the Hill group, I highly recommend her. My midwife felt that anyone in the office would work well with her. Good luck! another mom-to-be again

I know that many people love Lindy Johnson, but I ended up choosing Nancy Barnett-Moore, who shares office space with Lindy and who is also covered 100% through Hill Physicians, if that is an option with your insurance. My husband and I both think she is fabulous, and she limits her patients a bit more so that she can come and be there for the entire birth, and meets you when you check into the triage unit. She is very experienced, caring, and willing to take the time to address any and all issues you might have. I would recommend interviewing several midwives until you find the best match. anon

Nancy Barnett Moore is wonderful; strong, intuitive, wise. She works extensively providing birthing care to needy and unserserved women in Oakland, and also does private midwifery for women throughout the Bay Area. Valerie

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


I have an eleven month old baby who was born at home under the guidance of Deborah Counsell. She was the best pregnancy care I have had and seen given, and I have experience with several as I used to be an administrator at the Marin Birth Center (MBC). She is a direct entry midwife, among the first group to be licensed in the state, and her experience is vast - thousands of births. I originally opted for the Birth Home in Pleasanton but I became unhappy with them in my 36th week and decided to have a home birth. Thankfully, I found Deborah and she gracefully stepped in. We had a very long labor, and thanks to Deborah and the decision to home birth, everything was mellow and un-rushed. I probably would have ended up with a c-section because OB's tend to want to hurry things along. Also, my baby's hand was obstructing her descent, so Deborah and me do some exercises to get the little one to move it. She did, and an hour later, she was born. The only word of caution is that Deborah is pretty bad with paperwork, so follow up with her assistants, Rene and Sue are terrific also. Good Luck, and study everything you can get your hands on regarding labor and delivery- the more you know the happier you will be and the more confident making decisions.

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 1999

I gave birth at home three months ago (second child) with the exceptional help of Amrit Khalsa and her two apprentice midwives Sara and Erin. Amrit had been recommended to me by two women who she assisted in the last few years. Amrit and her team were all wonderful, knowledgeable, and supportive. Amrit has been assisting with delivering babies for almost 30 years (8 in hospital settings as a RN, the rest at home). The prenatal visits were all done here at home - and what a difference. We often spent over an hour talking about my pregnancy, the birth, and a host of other issues that were related, but that my last OB never seemed concerned with (nutrition, sleep, relationship with other child and spouse, etc.). When the time came to deliver (and went - I was two weeks late), she was extremely helpful and professional. Feel free to contact me if you want more information. She is in El Cerrito. Amrit - 235-4878

Oct 1999

I 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. Laurel

Oct 1999

The doula we've hired is actually a midwife, in SF, but she has East Bay clients too, and is available as a doula as well. She's wonderful. Her name is Jen Bauman, and she can be reached at 415/431-5006.

I had both my kids at home in Oakland and I have lots of great things to say about Jen Bauman, 415 221 5959 and the Bay Area Homebirth collective in general 415-273-5185. The main thing to keep in mind is that you will be spending alot of time with your midwife so the personal connection is very important. Congratulations.

June 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.

Nov 1998

I can't give you any recommendations for home-birth friendly OBs, but I can describe something about my own experience with a similar situation. I saw an NP at my former OB/Gyn office to get confirmation of pregnancy and for 2 (very early) prenatal visits before I had settled on a midwife. I was committed to a home birth and didn't see any use for a doctor at all. The NP, Carolyn Hand had delivered her daughters at home and was really supportive, and even gave me recommendations of midwives to consider. But absolutely NO ONE ELSE in that office was supportive, and actually a few folks (like the woman in the accounting dept, strangely enough) were downright antagonistic or hostile. After those 2 prenatals, I just let the midwives handle all the prenatal care, which was excellent, and I opted out of all the routine testing. With several friends having delivered with mid- wives at home since then, I am yet to hear of a totally supportive MD backup for home birth.

Unfortunately, I did end up transporting to a hospital because my labor wouldn't kick into gear. I went to SF General (my midwife called in advance to say we were coming) and the midwifes (Jen Bauman's mentors, I believe) accompanied us into L & D. The nurses were mostly fantastic, and the delivering doctor just came in for the last nitty-gritty hour. I didn't get any vibe or commentary about home birth (or failed home birth in this case), from the MD or anyone else. SFGH has the lowest rate of C-section in the SF Bay Area according to my research, and I figured that was the most important issue of transporting from home (the perceived need for extreme intervention). The only problem with this arrangement was getting the billing sorted out which took a lot of phone calls because SFGH doesn't bill Health Net through Alta Bates.... The pediatricians on duty gave Simon his newborn exam, and a month later, we went to out first pediatric appointment with Lester Luz, who actually congratulated me on trying to deliver at home. Claire

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