Pacifica Family Maternity Center


Parent Q&A

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  • Hello. I am so happy to have found Pacifica Maternity in Berkeley through recommendations on this site! We attended the orientation and I am finally feeling a bit more relaxed and capable of actually giving birth. I am, however, struggling to find out what my PPO with Blue Shield of CA will cover. Pacifica is not In Network but B.S. makes it very difficult to figure out what they will cover for them. It doesn't seem to be as simple as covering it as Out of Network, though. It may even have to do with "gap coverage" as they don't have any Midwives In Network. Does anyone know about this?

    More to the point, has anyone birthed with Pacifica Maternity while covered by a Blue Shield of CA PPO? What was the coverage? What did you wind up paying? Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time! 


    I have an out-of-state PPO BCBS plan through my employer. I got prenatal and postpartum care through Pacifica (would have birthed there, but had complications and needed to be induced at Alta Bates). Pacifica ended up offering us a $500 refund because they couldn't support us at AltaBates because of COVID restrictions. 

    In the end, only about $2,000 (maybe slightly less, I don't remember the exact amount) of the $6,500 was reimbursed through our insurance. It took a long time to get the reimbursements (maybe 4 months?) and it was a somewhat frustrating process in that Pacifica used a billing service, which wasn't very responsive. I loved the care I received through Pacifica, especially as a first-time mom. I probably won't do that for the next kid, but highly recommend Pacifica for first-time parents!

    Honestly, I would say that you should be prepared to pay full price because the insurance piece is so unpredictable. I had PPO coverage that said very clearly that it would cover 60% out of network, but in the end I only got some of it, I think a little less than half. I got bounced around between a bunch of different people, all of whom said I *should* get the rest of the money, but after about a year and many phone calls (and of course having a newborn!) I gave up. I think if I had actually birthed at Pacifica it would have been ok, but I had to transfer - which is very common, and was totally fine otherwise - and the insurance company just couldn't figure it out. And so on top of that I also had to pay for the hospital birth (20% for in network, but that's still a lot!). I loved the care I got at Pacifica, and the community, and I know people who choose it with no insurance coverage. I hope you have better luck with your insurance than I did but it's worth being prepared for your insurance not coming through.

    Have you contacted your provider directly?  That will be your safe bet in getting all your questions answered particularly around coverage.  Or your HR resource depending on if the coverage is through your employer or your partners.

    You can also work with an admissions director from Pacific- they should be able to explain exactly what BS will and won't cover including addressing whatever your out of network deductible might be.  

    I wasn't going to respond origionly, as we had Cigna when I birthed at Pacifica, but since others had bad experiences with their various PPOs and Pacific, I thought I'd chip in my more positive one. So we paid Pacifica upfront and then waited for our reimbursement from the Cigna PPO. We had figured we'd pay our 60% out-of-network and get 40% back of what we had paid. But Pacifica bills at a much higher rate to insurance companies than what they bill families. My insurance then said they would only pay a portion of that bill. But even with that lower payment, we got back much more than we were expecting. I think we probably got about 60-75% back of what we paid Pacifica upfront. It was really unpredictable though and the biller, like others mentioned, was not super responsive to my question about whether the first check was the final check or if we would get more (I think we got the reimbursement in 3 installments in the end over several months after the birth).

    As others suggested, I'd try and talk to someone at your PPO, but it all seems very murky even after the reimbursement checks start coming.

  • My husband and I are giving birth at Pacifica in September and trying to decide if we need/want a doula. If we were going with a traditional hospital birth, we'd have a doula for sure, but seems like it's not necessary at Pacifica. Would love to hear from people who have given birth there and either did or didn't have a doula and how that impacted their experience. Thanks so much for any insights & advice :)! 

    I gave birth at Alta Bates with no doula and no special classes and everything went fine and it was a great experience. I would think a birthing center the experience would be even better as slightly less sterile, and probably no extras would be needed.

    Hi, congrats!  I gave birth at Pacifica less than a year ago, and I think a doula would have been totally superfluous.  The midwives themselves are patient advocates and birthing coaches, as well as bad ass baby catchers.  

  • I'm due with baby #2, and trying to decide between these 2 places. Alta Bates would be covered by my insurance. Pacifica would not (so it'll cost about $5,500). We can afford it if we really want to, but it'd be nice not to have to pay all that money. I had a great, fast, drug-and-complication-free hospital birth with my first kid, so it's not like I need a birth center to have the fantasy birth I always wanted to make up for some traumatic hospital experience. But, there's no doubt Pacifica is lovely and the care is more individualized and well-rounded. Plus, I'm in Berkeley! And maybe I'll turn into a water-birthing mama or have some self-power epiphany.... Are there any other mamas out there who struggled with this choice? I'd love to hear what you chose and your wisdom you have looking back. 

    I struggled with this decision. As a FTM, I initially didn't see the need for going to a birthing center. I was born via c-section myself, and Alta Bates seemed like a great hospital. My husband actually pushed me into a visit at Pacifica just to see how it was. In my visit, he asked if the "horror stories" he'd read about hospital births were true. The Pacifica staff were actually very humble, and said that the experiences are just different. But one of the other moms said she had her first baby at a hospital, and if it wasn't for her doula, she would have been pressured into c-section (she ended up having a drug-free birth after a lot of stress and negotiation with hospital staff). I ended up going with Pacifica, and was also able to petition my insurance to consider them as in-network so I just have to pay my deductible. Since then, I'm SO GLAD I picked Pacifica. The treatment I get there is top-notch and I feel comfortable and relaxed every time I go in for an appointment or pre-natal group. It's been a completely different experience from the few times I've had to go to a hospital for ultrasound or consult. I really love that I can email whenever I have a question (their online portal is great), that I get to personalize my birth experience, and that I don't have to worry about getting pressured into unnecessary medical interventions. Plus I'm looking forward to the at-home postpartum visit and support network.

    That said, you mentioned that you had a great 1st birth at a hospital, and I've heard that subsequent births are easier. From that perspective, I think it's really up to you and whether you'd be comfortable spending the extra money to have a peaceful pregnancy and labor. I would still recommend a doula if you go with Alta Bates, as I've heard that they can be a bit pushy with the drugs especially if you're not progressing as quickly as they like.

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I gave birth at Pacifica (love them!) with a Doula and I'm really glad I did. The biggest thing is that she came to our house while I was laboring *before* we went to the birth center and helped me (and the midwives on the phone) decide when we needed to go. And she was a wonderful grounding supportive presence at the birth. She didn't need to be an advocate the way I read about doulas in a hospital, but she did actually have some moments of helping guide the midwives help me even better. And she was just a nice person to talk to leading up to the birth as well, she was helpful for preparing in a different way than the midwives. So yes! :) 

Hi there and congratulations! 
I worked with Pacifica for my first birth (2 years ago) and am preparing to deliver there again with my second this summer. 

I did not use a doula and found the support of the midwives (as well as my husband) to be very present, hands on, and exactly what I needed during active labor. 

I would ask yourself what kind of additional support you are hoping a doula could provide for you to determine if it might be useful —

for example, would you like someone to be with you at home during early labor? Is your partner not super into hands- on support and having a doula to offer a little more care in his stead useful? Do you want extra postpartum support once you are home?

Please feel free to message me if you would like to jam further.

Wishing you a beautiful birth that may be exactly what you need! 

I had my first child at Pacifica and we are very happy we had our doula there. The doula helps comfort and get through much of active labor before you arrive, and then the doula can help not just you but your husband as well during labor and post-partum. A very long story short but our doula helped after I had some complications after delivery, and she was able to hold my little one when my husband slept, she stroked my hair when they did all the after stuff, and she came around to support after we went home. If you can afford it, do it. Feel free to message me directly if you would like more information.   

We recently gave birth at Pacifica Family Maternity Center and can’t say enough good things about them. The midwives are incredibly attentive and provide prenatal care, delivery, and several postpartum check-ins. They have a Family Fund that offers financial assistance to help families access their care. An easy way to learn more about the center is to attend one of their free Zoom orientations. Happy to chat offline if you have questions about our experience! Best wishes to your family.

Brief info on the Pacifica Family Fund:

You might be looking for a hospital birth, but I'll just suggest Pacifica Family Maternity Center as another option if you're interested in that. They are right by Alta Bates (which is where they most likely will send you if you have problems during delivery they can't handle). I gave birth to my third there in January. Best experience so far, and I had possitive experiences in a hospital and a birth center before. They are attentive, collaberative and science based. They also helped us feel empowered throughout the process.

They do take insurance but our out of network for everyone. If you choose a PPO, that is the best option for them. We had Cigna. They do the billing but you will have to pay up front and then get reimbursed as your insurance pays. We figured out that because the birth center is half the cost of a hospital birth ($7000 rather than $14000) even with our high costs for out of network care, the birth center would cost us about the same as the hospital. They do have funds to help if cost is a barrier.

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.

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. 

Hi Laurel, 

I gave birth at Pacifica about 6 months ago and had Anthem Blue Shield that covered 40% out of network.  Pacifica staff did a great job fighting to get this for the services they provided us and it worked out so that just about 40% was covered. You definitely have to be patient with the process as we didn’t see any refund checks until about 3 to 5 months post birth but they came!  We did not apply for gap insurance so I am not sure how that might have helped. 

 I can’t say enough about how much I appreciated and loved giving birth at Pacifica. So glad you are going with them! 

Hi! I went to Pacifica for birth of my first baby last year and loved the staff, care and facility. I still go there each week for post partum group. I had blue shield ppo so not HMO. But I wanted to share my experience if it helps. The 3rd party company that works with Pacifica to process reimbursement definitely did their job. Blueshield told me they wouldn't cover any expenses but the 3rd party advised they typically can help recover some reimbursement for out of network provider. I had ppo insurance so there was out of network coverage. I expected to not get any reimbursement but did receive some after L&D. Hope this helps!

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


I gave birth at Pacifica Family Maternity Center (In Berkeley) because i wanted a home birth type experience, but wanted a little more infrastructure than I would have at home. This was a very happy medium for me. All midwives and a location that felt like a very clean and setup for labor environment, but still homey.i was very happy with the my care there.


Look into Pacifica family maternity center - near the elmwood neighborhood.  

We had a great experience - and so has the whole cohort of mamas (and partners) I have met over the last year and a half thru prenatal/postpartum visits.  They do an amazing job of bridging the worlds between homebirth and hospital birth.  



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.

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

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

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!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Local Birth Centers? 

Nov 2015

Having just relocated to the area, we are barely settling in, but already find ourselves in need of a new OB practice! I don't know anyone around here to ask for advice, so I'm hoping to be pointed in the right direction. I left an amazing birth center back East, and I'm really looking to duplicate that experience. It was a very relaxed, hands off midwifery practice that had birthing rooms on site. It felt more like a house than a hospital. I had an incredible birth there, and the thought of doing it differently next time gives me pause. I also need the practice to be in the Walnut Creek/Pleasant Hill/Concord area, as I don't want to drive far. My last labor was only a couple hours from the very start to delivery, so I would hate to be sitting in traffic next time! Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much! CM 

Welcome to the area! Pacifica Maternity Center in Berkeley gets my strongest recommendation. From what you described, it sounds like it might be a good match for you.

Since you are new to the area, it's worth noting a common point of confusion: the center is not in Pacifica (a town fairly far away), it's definitely in Berkeley near Alta Bates Hospital. Best of luck! Elise G

Reviews of Pacifica Birth Center?

May 2015

Wondering if anyone has had experience with Pacifica Family Maternity birthing center. We are considering giving birth there and wanted to hear what the pre-natal and post natal care was like. Also curious if anyone with an HMO was successful in getting insurance to cover any of the cost. My HMO (blue shield) said as long as my medical group pre-approved it the cost will be covered the same as hospital expenses. I know my doctor won't give me a referral so I would need to switch OBs and still not sure my medical group will approve (hills physicians). Just wanted to hear what peoples experiences were with the midwives at Pacifica. Thanks! Haley

I just had my second child at Pacifica and am so grateful I chose to do so, in spite of the option of birthing at Kaiser and being covered by insurance. The midwives really get to know you and your family. My daughter went to most of my appts and was totally comfortable there. I never waited to be seen, never felt rushed and in many ways its like extended family. If you're interested in a very supported prenatal, birth and postpartum this is a great choice. Go to an info session and losten to your gut, what is right for you? As far as insurance, I had a Blue Shield PPO with my first birth center birth and it covered 60%. All plans are. So so different though. Pacifica has an insurance biller that you may be able to check with too. Good luck and congratulations! L

I highly recommend Pacifica! It was one of the best decisions we've made. I gave birth there in November. The whole experience - from prenatal care, to the birth, to post-natal care and supportive community have been priceless. I have BSHMO also, and I didn't bother trying to jump through their hoops - I paid out of pocket (and we aren't rich) and it was worth every penny. I did OB care in parallel until 37 weeks so I could get all of the tests covered by HMO, and that was eye opening. The quality and depth of care is beyond comparison. Where the OB group (and maybe it was particular to this group) would rush me in and out for 10 min appts, and rolled their eyes at most ''alternative'' birth preferences, the midwives at Pacifica have 30 min appts where they are completely open to discussing anything. They may have their opinions but they will share pros and cons on any topic - and they've heard/seen it all.

The birth itself was the most peaceful (of course painful) event, I felt completely comfortable to be fully naked and do whatever I needed to get through. They stayed really calm during the exhausting 12 hours I was there in active labor and kept my partner really calm too. Recovering at home instead of at hospital, with the midwives making home visits on days 1 and 3 was a wonderful way to start our bonding with our newborn. The midwives are readily available any time of day or night, they are amazing and tireless.

They also offer prenatal groups where you meet others that are due in your month; this was a wonderful way to meet others who would then have babies in your age range afterward. And they have an on-going weekly post-partum group that you can continue to attend with topics relevant to having a real baby on your hands! Especially if you are a first time parent, it is great to have a place to share tips, etc. And having a community and what felt like a home I was returning to was a lifeline during those tough first few months.

I can't praise them enough. We are truly blessed to have this resource in our community. I would be excited for anyone who chooses Pacifica and is starting their journey with them now. I wish I could do it again (and might!) Grateful mama

Home birth or Pacifica birth center?

Sept 2013

The Pacifica Family Maternity Center just opened up about six months ago (?) on Telegraph and Prince (not far from Ashby) as a birth center. I went to a information night last night. Seemed great, but I was wondering if there are people who have used it for their births since it's opened and could possibly give me their review?

I am trying to decide on choosing Pacifica or having my baby at home both with midwifery care. It will be our third child. I'm just doing research at this point we have not had a positive pregnancy test yet. Our second child was born at home with a midwife without complications. However we were within close proximity to a hospital just in case (5-10 minutes by car). The closest hospital to our current house is 25-45 minutes away (depending on traffic). Pacifica is only a couple blocks from the hospital. However I'm concerned at not being comfortable at Pacifica? Is home better? I'm concerned on distance to hospital if we choose home. Here is their site: The midwives seem great.

Home or this birth center? Suggestions/advice appreciated. Jules

I had my daughter (our first child) at Pacifica in early April and absolutely loved everything about our experience in the space and with our midwives Cindy and Sonja. They are an exceptional team, bringing together an excellent combination of experience in a variety of homebirth, birth center and hospital settings. The group prenatal care was really thorough (combined with private appointments) and allowed us to build some great relationships with other families having babies around the same time. In terms of your concerns about comfort-- I honestly think I was more comfortable at Pacifica than I would have been at home. The rooms are amazing-- super spacious, comfortable, warm, well designed with awesome big tubs. I felt like we had everything we needed and knowing Alta Bates was just a few blocks away was reassuring. I would be more than happy to talk more with you about my experience with Pacifica and answer any specific questions you might have. I really can't say enough good things about the midwives and the space. I feel so lucky to have given birth there. mrabasa

I just had my third child born at home with Kirstin Soares of Mamababymidwifery. All my children were born at home, one in the UK, one with Cindy Haag when she was a homebirth midwife (she is now at Pacifica Birth Center) and my last one with Kirstin Soares. When I was pregnant with my third I was very nervous about the birth and considered going to Pacific both for the reassurance of being nearer to hospital and because of my previous experience with Cindy, which was wonderful. I was very torn but in the end I opted for a home birth and couldn't be happier with the choice.

My two older children are 9 and 12 and they wanted me to have a home birth as they knew that was how they had been born. In the end the comfort of not having to go anywhere when labor started and just having all my own things around me and it being my space felt perfect for me. I felt like a birth center was a good in between choice for someone who was doing an out of hospital birth for the first time, or who could get their insurance to cover their birth by being in a birth center with midwives instead of at home.

In the end, since I had had no previous birthing complications and had done it twice before, I knew I really wanted to home birth again. Once I started to search for a midwife and met Kirstin my choice became clear. She phoned me back straight away and was very sweet about the confused message I had left her due to the usual mama thing of doing too many things at once! I felt very confident in her because of her past experience as an ER nurse and all her work overseas where there was often not the choice or option for the mama to go to hospital and so she had to get that baby out! Both of these things helped me with my anxiety about my third birth. I just felt like she had my back and that I could relax and give birth. Kirstin was really great with my older girls(9 and 12), she included them in all the visits and taught them how to listen to the baby's heartbeat with the stethoscope thingy, and how to check the baby's position. One of my favorite visits was when she drew on my bump with the girls help so show them where the baby was, which I have to say was really cool for me too Kirstin spent loads of time with me and I never felt rushed, she answered all my phone calls/texts quickly and was willing to spend lots of time talking through my decisions about care as we went along. At the birth she was a perfect presence, reassuring and professional, yet tucked in amongst us like a member of the family. I think a birth with midwives is going to be a beautiful thing no matter where you have it, but for me, I felt that unless there was a strong reason for it, why wouldn't I homebirth again? That is my 2 cents worth, and a thorough recommendation for Kirstin if you go with a homebirth. Nicole

Jan 2013

RE: Home Midwives and Medi-cal

As I understand it homebirth midwives, if they are CNMs they can theoretically take Medi-Cal but I believe they need to have an OB back-up agreement which is hard to get. As a previous response indicated a birth center may be the way to go. Pacifica Family Maternity center in Berkeley is committed to having 51% of their practice be Medi-Cal clients. They don't actually get reimbursed for these clients yet although that is their plan for the future. They are definitely worth contacting.

June 2012

RE: Midwife or Birthing Center that takes Medi-Cal

I didn't answer before because this new birth center isn't in Alameda (there isn't a birth center in Alameda), but there is about to be a new birth center in Berkeley, on Telegraph, 4 blocks from Alta Bates. It's called Pacifica Family Maternity Center and YES they will take Medical (as well as private insurance), which as far as I know, is unique to them in the area. They are not officially opening until November, so if your due date is after that, you should seriously consider them.

The birth center is co-founded by Cindy Haag who is one of the most loved and respected midwives in the Bay Area, you can look up her many glowing reviews on the Berkeley Parents Network. I don't know her midwifery partner, Sonja Cahoon, but if Cindy trusts her, I'm sure she is also great. I had a fantastic homebirth experience with Cindy, and referred her to many of my friends, all of whom were similarly happy. She has a great deal of medical knowledge and birth experience, and is also incredibly kind and compassionate.

The opening of this birth center is a great thing for the Bay Area. Excited about the new birth center