Highland Hospital Labor & Delivery

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Parent Q&A

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  • Has anyone given birth (vaginal or c-section) since 2018 at Highland Hospital's updated family birthing center?

    I had my first two kids at Alta Bates in Berkeley (two c-sections) and was really happy with my surgical experience and the kids' NICU care. That said, Highland is a lot closer to home (i.e. just down the hill) and the upgrades they've made seem really nice.

    Can anyone share any experiences since 2018 in the newer facilities?

    I work at highland in L&D and think it’s a great place to have your baby! You should just check with your insurance first because some of my friends have wanted to deliver there and been unable to due to insurance limitations. Depending on your history and preferences we do vaginal deliveries for people who had two prior c-sections even!

  • My partner and I have just recently moved to the Bay Area (more specifically, El Cerrito) and are expecting another child. We delivered our first son back in France where the labor and delivery was very much led by a wonderful mid-wife and her team. I'm feeling very fortunate as my health insurance will allow me to deliver pretty much at any hospital/clinic so I'm doing my research to see what options I have. We want to be as practical as possible, so although I've heard great things about UCSF and John Muir (Walnut Creek) L&D units, I don't want to risk sitting in traffic once contractions start. It looks like Alta Bates is our closest and most practical option, but I've heard mixed reviews of Alta Bates, mostly on the negative side. Also, my understanding is that it can be over-crowded and private rooms for postpartum patients don't exist. It sounds silly, but this latter point is really important to me. 

    Someone jokingly suggested that I consider Highland Hospital as they've just built a new L&D unit, which I'm now considering! I understand this new unit has all private rooms and is based on a midwifery model of care (something I'm totally keen on). Although I'm familiar with Highland's reputation as Alameda county's ER/trauma center, I know nothing about their labor and delivery unit. With this new unit, I'm really curious to hear from anyone who's had experience delivering a baby at Highland. Could you share your thoughts and experience (with the nurses, midwifes, doctors, labor surprises, etc) and would you recommend it?

    Outside of the hospitals I've already mentioned, are there other ones in the El Cerrito/Richmond/Berkeley area I should look in to? Perhaps Kaiser Oakland...??

    Thanks in advance!

    We had a great experience with Kaiser Oakland. We had our own room in both L&D and maternity/recovery, and facilities were excellent (and other things like food were better than expected for a hospital). Kaiser Oakland is set up so that there's always one midwife on duty who supervises the residents (so it's essentially a teaching hospital), with one OB on hand. We found that the nurses, midwives, and OB residents were all generally excellent. Kaiser Oakland's C-section rate is also lower than the national average - I think Kaiser's is around 15%, whereas the national average might be closer to 25% (or at least this is what I recall back when I was still pregnant and learning about these things). 

    If you want a different experience than this, my understanding is that L&D at Kaiser Walnut Creek is all midwives (you'd want to confirm that to make sure, however). Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser Walnut Creek also both offer nitrous oxide for laboring moms, which is a fairly new addition. 

    If you enroll in Kaiser, you can go to any location, but you'll of course be subject to whether or not L&D is full when you arrive. A friend of mine delivered a couple of weeks after me, and when she arrived to Kaiser Oakland, L&D was full, so they had to go to Walnut Creek. Hope this helps!

    I also live in El Cerrito, and delivered both my babies at Kaiser Oakland, the most recent baby in 2016. I can't say anything about Highland (I've never been there) but the new Kaiser Oakland L&D is wonderful. They have large private rooms, pull out beds for partners to stay over (in our case for 3 days), and a highly qualified L&D team. I had complicated pregnancies (due to my age) and would recommend them for anyone who has Kaiser insurance. When I moved to the postpartum unit, it was also a private room (although much smaller) and my husband and baby were with me the whole time. The doctors/nurses did all tests/exams/procedures right in our room. 

    Hi, Nicolu - congrats with your baby! I recently (April 2017) delivered my first baby at Highland. My situation was unique in that I actually had hired a midwife and planned a home birth that turned into a hospital induction (baby overdue 42wks) and consequently, a c-section (not emergency, just very long stalled labor at over 40hrs). The L&D unit/rooms were recently remodeled. That was nice and you were right: all private and the L&D unit was small, so it wasn't very chaotic. I went to Highland on the strength of my midwife's suggestion (over Alta Bates, which had bigger L&D unit) The midwives at Highland were nice so were the nurses, and they were competent. Because I had my midwife, I did not interact too much, but the overall experience was pleasant. I did not choose the OB as she was the on-call OB for my C-section. I could only share objectively, both my daughter and I had no complication. The pediatricians were also decent though I'd admit I was foggy after the unplanned c-section. My biggest dissatisfaction was actually about Highland's billing/accounting. My insurance is United Healthcare and prior to delivery, I had double checked if Highland was in-network (it was). HOWEVER, Highland was under the umbrella of Alameda Health Systems, which depending on the doctor or how it is billed (under Highland or Alameda HS), it may or may not be in-network. I would highly recommend you double check on that with respect to your insurance. Right now, I'm still in discussion between Highland, Alameda Health Systems, and my insurance to work all this out. The accounting/billing department has not been very helpful, cooperative, nor responsive. Hope this was helpful, feel free to contact me if you have more specific questions on the L&D. Best wishes!

    my daughter delivered there... they were awesome.....(the nurses)....a bad doctor showed up trying to force a c section on my daughter but was sent away and reported by the head nurse.

    i would highly recommend....  

    don't let your baby out of your sight after delivery.....

    I delivered twice at Kaiser Oakland (2012 and 2017). You mentioned this hospital at the end of your post. I had a very good experience overall. I had a private room both times. Resident doctors, student doctors, midwives, nurses etc were in and out helping with delivery. I can say for my 2017 delivery that the midwife named Ursula was a phenomenal coach. 


    I just moved to El Cerrito with my husband and 2-month-old baby. We used to live in San Francisco. I do not know the hospital care in the East Bay, but I can tell you that I was very satisfied with the care and delivery service I got at Kaiser SF. They had private rooms for delivery and maternity. I personally will start going to Kaiser Richmond for medical care. I hope the service is as good as in SF.

    Good luck!


    We had our daughter at kaiser Oakland last July and it was a really terrific experience. Every single person who was in my room or helping in any way were really amazing, knowledgeable, positive, encouraging, and warm. I had an all female team delivering my baby and couldn’t have been happier with them. They also have a midwifery program, but we only saw a midwife in the room for a little bit during or after labor. We have friends who hired a doula to attend birth and were happy they did.

    congratulations and best of luck!


    ps if you know of a good nanny in Oakland please let me know. We are looking;)

    I’m wondering about the negative feedback about Alta Bates L&D. In my 25 years in the Bay Area, I have never heard of a bad birthing experience with Alta Bates. And nightmare hospital experiences in this area are not uncommon, including my own birth elsewhere. Obviously, not a scientific study, but noteworthy. If you had access to ANY L&D, one way to appproach it would be to collect data on percentage of planned and unplanned C- sections, rate of significant complications,  the frequency of unmedicated births and freedom to design birth plan. Of course, these stats may or may not be readily available, but I would bet that these indicators would be a good way to assess which hospital would work best for you. Going by reputation or subjective experience may or may not reflect your preferences or provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. 

    Just sayin... Good Luck!

    I had a great experience delivering at Alta Bates, and in my view, a friend's delivery there was also great (i was there for the entire thing). They were very helpful in minimizing interventions and handling the needed ones skillfully. Neither of us had to share our post-partum rooms; we used the second bed for our partners. It's also very convenient to a few places to buy food (like Whole Foods) if your partner doesn't want to eat hospital food. I don't know how Highland compares. Good luck!

    I delivered both of my children at Alta Bates and had great experiences both times.  Like you, having a private postpartum room was very important to me, and I was fortunate to have a private room both times.  Had I had to share a room, I perhaps would not have had such a positive experience at Alta Bates.  All of the nurses that I had (L&D as well as postpartum) were very kind, knowledgeable and gentle.  They did not mention a word about epidurals until I brought it up, and once I did, they worked quickly to get an anesthesiologist to my room.  I was given a lot of support on breastfeeding after delivery.  An extra plus was the proximity to Whole Foods and the restaurants on College as my family could easily bring me great take-out.  All in all a great experience.  If I were you, I would take the tour of Alta Bates and strongly consider it, and not just because it's close and practical.  

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Hi I had the same problem. After researching pretty much every doctor on the list, I figured out that my only real option was Highland Hospital, in Oakland. There is a long waiting list to make an appointment (maybe a month or so), but they also have a same-day clinic where you call in the morning and they schedule an appointment for the same day. Once you arrive, they see you right away -- there is no wait, which is way better than Lifelong, where (from what I've heard) you have to sit there and wait for hours before you can see someone.

There are tons of doctors at Highland Hospital that you can choose as your primary care physician, but it doesn't really matter which one you choose, because Alameda Alliance will let you see anyone there, and you can't really request a particular doctor when you make an appointment.

Best of luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Baby deliveries at Highland Hospital?

Jan 2006

I know, Highland is where you go when you get shot - but our Dr. said that the level of care would be better at Highland vs. Alta Bates (those are our two choices), apparently she has experience at both facilities. We are looking for people who have experience at Highland. We are at the beginning of our research so we don't know much, I have read through about 50 posts on expereiences on Alta Bates, most are hit and miss but sounds like if your baby needs some care other than recessitatioin (don't even know all the things that can go wrong), I guess 1 in 19 is the magic number of your odds of something irregular happening. Sounds like Alta Bates is where they send all the really sick babies. Please Advise with any insight - thank you so much! Scottay

I haven't any personal experience with birth at Highland but, for what it's worth, did recently have a student from my childbirth class give birth there. She had a positive experience. She came in very clear about her intentions (she wanted an unmedicated birth) and did a great deal to prepare herself. She also brought her mom with her and they acted as a team throughout the labor. She reported after the birth that the staff took her seriously and were quite supportive. Things went smoothly and her requests were honored. Good luck wherever you end up. Sabine

I am a volunteer doula at Highland Hospital, and I work at the hospital in another capacity as well. I delivered my daughter at Alta Bates, so I have some ability to compare the two sites. My experience at Alta Bates was great, particularly because I was in the care of a fantastic midwife. At Highland, all deliveries are attended by either the on-duty doctor or midwife. In most cases, the midwife takes care of all non-high risk deliveries. In my experience, Highland's midwives are wonderful - skilled, nurturing, and supportive of a woman's choice to birth with or without medication. I have been told that they have a slightly lower rate of epidural than Alta Bates, as well as a lower rate of C-section. (Don't quote me on that though). The Highland midwives assist women to manage labor pain through breathing techniques, positioning, massage, etc., and are happy to have families or doulas participate in the birth. The nurses are also supportive, although some nurses are a! bit gruff. I can't offer too muc If you want any other info, please feel free to email me directly. ab

I think part of the answer depends on whether or not you have good labor support (partner/friend/doula) and if you desire a natural childbirth. I have attended births (as a birth coach for friends) at both Highland and AB and while in both cases the end result was healthy mom and baby (the most important part!) my overall impression was that AB is a MUCH more positive environment to labor and deliver in. At AB the staff was professional and attentive and gave plenty of support for an intervention and drug-free childbirth. Since my friend had a good support team (partner, myself and another friend), the staff also respected her desire to be left alone with us for large stretches of time. This is not to say they were neglectful - the staff was always checking in and gave us good advice on how to best support my friend throughout her labor. In stark contrast to this was the experience at Highland. As a huge caveat to what I have to say, I realize that there are many wonderful people working at Highland. The L&D ward was definitely busy that night (and many of the women there were there alone -– no partners, no friends) so I imagine the nurses were stretched thin but the lack of care was still disturbing. As was the heavy pressure to have an epidural – when my friend (who desired a natural childbirth and had never asked for anything for her pain) reached 6 cm she was told by her nurse that this was “her last chance to get drugs” and that “it was only going to get worse from here on out”. Of course, this scared the #*$% out of my friend so she relented . . . only to have the anesthesiologist arrive almost 2 hrs later, shortly before she began having the urge to push. So, my take-home: Unless you have a doula or experienced support (which is a great thing to have no matter what) I would definitely NOT recommend birthing at Highland. Vanessa

some positive things about highland for delivery to consider are multilingual, multicultural care with full translation services, 24-hour midwife service, a full-time perinatologist, a teaching/learning environment, and many experienced female (and male) providers. email me if you'd like to know more as you learn more about your options and choices. mish