Midwife for a VBAC

Parent Q&A

Midwife for VBAC at Alta Bates Sep 24, 2019 (5 responses below)
Midwife/Doula recommendations for VBAC Sep 1, 2019 (9 responses below)
  • Midwife for VBAC at Alta Bates

    (5 replies)

    I am contemplating a second pregnancy in the near future and am starting to consider providers.  I am hoping for a VBAC but would like a midwife with a relationship with an OB practice in case I end up needing a second c-section (I'd like to know ahead of time who the surgeon would be). I live in Berkeley and am interested in practices in Berkeley or Oakland - I'd like to deliver at Alta Bates again. Thanks for any recommendations!

    RE: Midwife for VBAC at Alta Bates ()

    Golden Oak Midwives takes on VBAC patients and delivers at Alta Bates. They're great and could tell me in advance which practice of doctors would do a second c-section if necessary, though I think the specific doctor would be based on who was on call at the time. https://www.gomidwives.com/

    RE: Midwife for VBAC at Alta Bates ()

    Hi there,

    I had a successful VBAC at Alta Bates with Grace Bender as my doula. She has since become a midwife and is very well connected with the OBs at Alta Bates. We loved having Grace with us for our second birth, and Alta Bates was very supportive of my VBAC plans. Grace's website is https://gracefulbelly.com/

    RE: Midwife for VBAC at Alta Bates ()

    Have you considered Pacifica Family Maternity Center?

    They're fantastic and the birth center is a block from Alta Bates! Their team is quite comprehensive and includes folks with experience supporting folks in birthing at home, in the hospital and at the birth center. 

  • Midwife/Doula recommendations for VBAC

    (9 replies)

    Looking for recommendations for an experienced midwife/doula to help support VBAC. My first pregnancy was healthy and full term but had second stage arrest during labor, the baby did not descend despite 4 hours of pushing which ended up in a C section. The baby  was 7lbs and I am not a petite person, we both did very well. I wondered if her failure to descend could be attributed to pelvic misalignment, she was initially breech but then was manually turned at 36 weeks . Now that I am expecting  my second child, I wanted to be proactive about keeping my pelvis well aligned to encourage optimal baby positioning and try for a VBAC. Would love recommendations on midwives/doulas who can help support that, any positive experiences and other resources which would help me achieve my goal. Thanks

    I had a wonderful experience with Ellie and Gwen at Golden Oak Midwives! I definitely recommend them. They are located in Oakland and I know they help mothers with VBACs. https://www.gomidwives.com/

    I highly recommend you look into Spinning Babies (website) - which works on baby positioning and has a list of practitioners with Spinning Babies training. I used Ilka Fanni as my doula for my VBAC- she was great and I'd highly recommend her as she is highly experienced with baby positioning and VBACs. https://www.ilkafanni.com/ She also teaches a Spinning Babies class which is also helpful. I did also decide to use a chiropractor to help with alignment- not sure if it mattered or not. 

    My midwife Michelle Borok was amazing. I had my second baby in May and she was also a VBAC. My first was breech and was a csection. Working with Michelle was a healing and incredible experience. 


  • I'm taking a job with a new employer, and they offer either Kaiser, or a PPO or HMO plan with another insurance company.  I'm trying to decide between them, and the main consideration is whether it would be better to see the perinatal doctors at Kaiser Oakland, or the doctors at East Bay Perinatal Medical Associates (now called UCSF Benioff Children's Physicians) and deliver at Alta Bates.  Honestly, I'd prefer a provider who would be willing to consider a VBAC, and even see if I could deliver at a birth center with a midwife (the non-Kaiser insurance plan may cover that), but not sure given my preeclampsia from my previous pregnancy and my age (36) that any birth center with midwives would accept me.  The Farm in Tennessee would be ideal, but I unfortunately don't have the money to go there.  Would there be a similar place here in the Bay?  And any recommendation on Alta Bates vs. Kaiser?

    I had Kaiser. Then at 32 weeks, I switched to Blue Cross and began going to Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation. Despite clearly top-notch doctors, I found my overall care worse than at Kaiser. Scheduling was challenging as the doctors' schedules were full; appointments were expected to be very short; and they were often running behind, leading to long waiting room waits -- all of which sounds minor, but starts to add up when you have weekly appointments. It also felt like it was my responsibility to make sure I was getting the care I needed. (I even had a few moments of worrying I might simply not fit into any doctor's schedule, and then what would I do?) In fairness, perhaps this would've happened when I needed weekly appointments at Kaiser, and/or perhaps it would not have happened if I hadn't switched late -- maybe they would've scheduled me in advance for all those weekly appointments in weeks 37-41.

    At Kaiser, the process of getting infertility treatment, being handed off to a regular OB, and getting access to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist to discuss prenatal testingfelt seamless. I felt like they were caring for me at Kaiser -- finding the expert I needed and getting them to call me -- whereas I was having to fend for myself, find the doctors I needed, and leave multiple voice messages via the PPO model. Appointments also seemed to run on time at Kaiser. The only part that was frustrating with Kaiser was getting scheduled for an ultrasound; for some reason, it was hard to get on that calendar, especially as we wanted to do it on the earlier side. Ultimately, we went to their Walnut Creek facility.

    I have not heard birth stories from Kaiser, so I can't compare the birth experiences. I can say that at Alta Bates, I had great nurses, as did my friend. Alta Bates has a Level III (highest level) NICU, which was good to know, though we didn't end up needing it. The giving-birth part of my experience felt much more integrated than during prenatal care -- a number of specialists dropped in (e.g., a lactation consultant). Overall, I thought the birth experience at Alta Bates was excellent.

    I have been with Kaiser for almost 60 years.  They had some bad times in the long past but now they are great.  ESPECIALLY in neo-natal issues.  I had my baby at 30 weeks and he was in NICU for 5 weeks but everything was absolutely perfect.  Excellent care.  Kaiser is well-known for their maternity and birth care.

    I highly recommend Kaiser. With my first pregnancy I had a PPO plan and a complication-free pregnancy, and delivered at Alta Bates via c-section after a failed induction. The second time around I had Kaiser and gestational diabetes. The OB who provided my prenatal care was supportive of my desire to try for a VBAC and a midwife-assisted delivery, which fortunately worked out beautifully at Kaiser Walnut Creek. I've had pretty positive experiences with Kaiser San Leandro, Oakland, and Union City as well. Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Oct 2008 

RE: Midwife for second baby


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

Oct 2006

Re: OB/GYN for VBAC in East Bay area
I recommend Hsiu-li Cheng (pronounced Sho-lee). She's a nurse practitioner midwife, trained at Stanford and in England, and she has an amazing wealth of experience and knowledge. She is very warm and real, and very committed to VBAC. I was determined to have a VBAC and she was very encouraging. At the end of my pregnancy I consulted with some other folks just as a back-up in case Hsiu-li was tied up in an emergency that was happening, and none of them were at all encouraging about the VBAC. During the labor she was great, and she involved my husband, and she knew lots of ways to get my baby out quicker. And, my child was born posterior, with her head bent to the side - no easy thing - and it was almost painless. (Specifically, she doesn't just wait for the baby to come out, she sticks her hand in and moves the baby around. It's uncomfortable, but it was very helpful and necessary. We would have been waiting around for a long time without her manual interventions.) I know that the painless part is unusual, especially for a posterior delivery, but anyone who has delivered with Hsiu-li becomes a fan. She works out of Summit, so you'd deliver there. anon

June 2006

Re: Female ObGyn for a VBAC and OBYGN supportive of VBAC in SF?
Congratulations on pursuing a VBAC. I recently had a VBAC with a midwifery practice at St. Luke's -- Homestyle Midwifery. They are a separate practice backed up by OBs at the Women's Health Center there. The hospital overall has a very low cesarean rate (around 13%), which is a good sign. 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. This approach was so refreshing after my previous experiences, and I really think their philosophy will give you a wonderful chance of VBAC. Best of luck with your VBAC journey. It really is worth it. Homestyle Midwifery: (415) 643-3378, homestylemw[at]yahoo.com, www.homestylemidwifery.com Julie M

May 2003

Re: ObGyn for a VBAC
I used and felt very happy with Hsiu-Li Cheng for my VBAC at Summit in 2000. She is a Certified Nurse Midwife and not a doctor, but I'd have to say that my medical care was very similar to what I experienced with my previous OB/GYN. What was better was that she listened to my concerns about having another C-section and helped me do everything possible to have a vaginal birth. Feel free to e-mail me if you have more questions. Also check out the numerous posts about Hsiu-Li in the Parent's network archives. Susan

Dec 2002

Nancy Barnett-Moore delivered two of my three children and I recommend her highly. After having a medically questionable c/s with my first child (in Seattle) I was determined to find a midwife to help me attempt a VBAC. I spoke with several midwives and decided to go with Nancy. She's a wonderful caregiver- warm and nurturing, knowledgable and medically astute. I always felt like I was well cared for. In many ways I feel like she combines the sensitivity and knowledge of a midwife with the medical security sometimes given by an OB. With her help I had a wonderfully uneventful vaginal birth in 1999. When I became pregnant again there was no question that we wanted Nancy to be our midwife again.

Nancy is great during prenatal appointments, but she truly shines during labor and birth. I remember walking into the hospital in active labor and being greeted by Nancy and getting the sense that I was seeing her at her professional best. In my case I wanted to avoid the hospital system as much as possible and it felt like she created an insulating bubble around us that was comforting and secure. I have no doubt that if my births had been more complicated she would have been a strong advocate for me while insuring that I received excellent care. I feel fortunate to have had Nancy as my caregiver. Gayle