California Pacific Medical Center
Berkeley Parents Network >
Health & Medical >
California Pacific Medical Center
Aug 2009: SF Midwives and Giving Birth @ CPMC?
I'm about three months along with #2 and this is my first pregnancy
in the Bay Area. I'm currently seeing an OB/GYN at Pacific
Gynecology and Obstetrics Medical Group in San Francisco. Though my
first delivery was intended to be a natural one, it ended up with an
emergency C-section. An experience I'd like to not repeat.
In searching through the archives, I found a lot of recommendations
for East Bay midwives, but almost none for ones based in San
Francisco. I work in the city, so it's much easier for me to see a
provider there. Can anyone provide a recommendation for a midwife?
Preferably one associated with Brown & Toland and supports VBACs?
I also see that the reviews of giving birth at CPMC are quite
outdated (2005). Can anyone give a more updated point-of-view on
giving birth at CPMC? How supportive is the staff of a woman's
wishes for a low/no-intervention, natural birth? Especially a VBAC?
Learned my lesson the first time
It's my understanding that CPMC will not do VBACs. I don't know if that's
an official policy written down somewhere, but I have heard multiple times
that the hospital will not allow VBACs at all. Unfortunately, I think
you're also out of luck looking for midwives there. I heard their midwives
recently left CPMC after a lot of frustration with the medical model over
there. You're better off at UCSF, although I heard that they are dropping
out of Brown and Toland. But if you want a natural birth that's less likely
to end in c-section, that's the place to be, especially if you're trying to
have a vbac. At UCSF, the faculty practice is amazing -- both MDs and
midwives, so if things don't go as planned, you use their MDs. The
midwives there are wonderful. We loved Suzanne Seger and Judith Bishop.
It's a teaching hospital, so there are residents, but unlike many Ob/Gyn
residents these days, their residents see a lot of natural deliveries and
seem more comfortable than most
young docs with the whole concept.
Loved my UCSF midwives
Let me tell you, if you want a natural birth, CPMC is last place you want
to be!! As far as I know, there are no midwives there, even doulas are very
discouraged there. They have a 98% epidural rate, and one of the highest c
section rates in the country! This is not a place for natural birth, though
i will say I know some women have done it. UCSF is much better for natural
birth, Kaiser also, though the insurance thing is a problem. Most doctors
(outside of CPMC) now know that a v-bac is safer than a repeat cesarean.
You may want to look into a birthing center, like Sage Femme, in SF. Again,
not sure of the v-bac laws for them, but this is a midwifery run birth
center, so they're obviously much more open to the idea of a natural birth.
Last thing, I'd highly recommend you do your research on V-bacs, douls
support, etc. Knowing is half the battle, and in the case of how your baby
is born, you are your biggest advocate, because when you know what you
want, you're much less likely to get pushed around. Please educate
yourself, look for what you need, and stay far away from CPMC.
been there, never agtain
For a variety of reasons, I need to plan on delivering my first child at a
hospital in San Francisco. As such, I'm trying to decide between CPMC
and UCSF. I'd like to labor and deliver with minimum intervention and,
hopefully, no drugs -- and therefore would like to be at a hospital where
the nurses are supportive without intervening medically unless
absolutely necessary. I'm leaning towards CPMC simply because UCSF
is a teaching hospital (I think) but any and all advice and experiences
would be much appreciated!!!
i delivered my son at CPMC in 11/03. we had a terrific
experience there, the nurses were all very good and very
helpful. i felt they did a good job of listening to what we
wanted, while making recommendations on what to do next. i
wanted to deliver as naturally as possible, but my labor had to
be induced and then i ended up with an epidural anyway. i did
hear other mothers delivering w/o drugs, though, so i know they
respect that. the labor and delivery rooms were very good, most
include bathrooms so you can shower or get in the tub during
labor. they support your partner rooming in with you and the
baby for your stay.
UCSF is also a fine hospital and i have heard they are very good
at respecting your birth plan. two of my friends delievered
there and there are two UCSF pediatricians in my family.
i don't know if this concerns you at all, but one difference i
have heard of between UCSF and CPMC is that CPMC
will ''resuscitate'' earlier. that is, if you go into labor and
deliver very early, say around 22-23 weeks (? not sure of the
exact number) CPMC will, if requested, put the baby on breathing
machines etc. in an effort to help the baby survive. i think
UCSF doesn't do this earlier than 24 weeks. if this is a
concern for you i suggest you talk with your OB/GYN for more
I have delivered at both. I sought medication during each
birth. I had to be induced at both after many hours of labor.
I found UCSF a little more ready and willing to ride things out
(slow to induce, long long pushing) and a little more tentative
on asking about desire for drugs. But only slightly. I went to
CPMC for the second baby because I wanted a more ''private
practice'' clinic experience (easier to schedule appointments,
better staffed office, less hectic crowded office atmosphere).
For me the lead up to birth was better for CPMC but the
birthing experience was fairly similar with slight differences
Hi, I had all 3 of my kids (5, 3, & 8 weeks) at CPMC, and I can't
say enough good things about it. I had the first one there
because we lived in SF, but even after moving to Berkeley 5 years
ago, I chose to continue going in for my OB GYN care, mainly
because my midwife delivers at CPMC, but also just because I love
the hospital. It's a fairly small facility, in comparison to
Alta Bates (I don't know the size of UCSF, but it seems bigger
too...). The nurses are attentive, caring, and knowledgeable,
but also just left me alone most of the time; I had
uncomplicated, unmedicated deliveries, and easy recoveries. The
facilities are newly renovated, relatively spacious (though there
are a variety of sizes), and private. Newborn Connections is
great--they offer products and services for moms to be, new moms,
and babies, including breastfeeding consultations, both in the
hospital and by appointment after discharge. Room Service is a
good thing too--they don't automatically bring you nasty hospital
food 3 times a day. You order off a menu, call in the order, and
they bring it to you, free; and better quality than most hospital
food. I'd be happy to answer any other questions you have--email
me if you like.
I delivered at CPMC and everything was going great -- there was
no pressure to have an epidural or anything. But the trouble
began AFTER the delivery. My baby went missing from the nursery
and no one could tell me where he was. They've since tightened
nurses' procedures checking baby's IDs but it exposed a side of
the hospital, the risk management department, that I hope no one
ever has to deal with.
I am a Doula and have worked at both CPMC and UCSF and would
reccomend UCSF with the midwife option for a birthwith as few
interventions as possible. It is a teaching hospital so it has
its limits but my experience there has been more supportive of
natural birth, you may want a Doula as well.
UCSF is definately a teaching hospital for OB so residents would
surely be involved there. CPMC is also a teaching hospital but
I'm not sure if they have OB trainees or not.
I'm a doc myself and I had the choice of the 2 and opted for
CPMC. Why? Because the front desk staff for the UCSF OB/GYN
clinic were absolutely impossible to work with. They were rigid,
unpleasant and unhelpful. They were also hard to reach. I didn't
ever ask for anything out of line that would merrit this
treatment. Once I did ask them to run an appt date past the doc (
would she think it was too late) and they acted like I was a big
pain in the a** and didn't do it (I think). So I opted for a CPMC
doc who's front desk staff were wonderful, warm and very helpful.
Believe me, I was VERY happy about my decision. Her name is
Rebecca Yee M.D. She's tops.
I can't compare the 2 hospitals along the lines you asked, but
these are issues that you might want to think about.
Definitely -- if you want a low/no intervention birth -- UCSF
is prefereable to CPMC. I know many people who gave birth at
CPMC, and no one had an intervention-free birth -- and several
of them were really invested in trying. I understand that is
their MO. On the other hand, UCSF is a teaching hospital which
means they are up on the latest and greatest, but to them it
also means they have more than few fantastic midwives on full-
time staff with the major practice there -- which is all the
faculty of the med school. I was cared for there for my first
child, and loved it and my friend just VBAC'd there with twins
and felt so supported and cared for and respected. Make sure
you get into the care of a midwife at UCSF -- and at almost any
hospital you'll need to be prepared to advocate for yourself if
you need to.
Congratulations on your pregnancy. I would highly recommend
working with one of the midwives at UCSF (Judith Bishop is the
only name I remember). I had planned a homebirth but needed to
transfer late in the labor to the hospital. We chose to drive
all the way to UCSF from Oakland because of their great
reputation with homebirth transfers. I had an incredibly
supportive group of Drs., Nurses, and Midwives who helped me
deliver my son without drugs, scalpels, or judgement. In my
experience with hospitals (I am a paramedic who works for the San
Francisco Fire Department) the so-called ''learning'' hospitals
(UCSF and SF General) are the places I recommend to families and
patients who want the best care they can get in SF. The quality
of the treatment and the quality of the staff is (in my opinion)
much greater than at the other hospitals in SF (mind you I almost
exclusively deal with the Emergency Rooms) Also, I think that
CPMC has the highest rate of C-section of all the SF hospitals.
That said I have a few friends who delivered there and had great
experiences, without having c-sections. Do as much research as
possible, get as much sound advice as you can, interview the
Labor and Delivery staff at both hospitals, then go to UC :)
Best wishes for a wonderful and safe pregnancy and labor
experience no matter where you end up.
I've attended births at all of the SF hospitals. To answer your
specific question: UCSF! If you are seeking low intervention,
woman/ family centered care, definitely UCSF over CPMC. If you
really want it, then go to SFGH, I'm serious. UCSF has some
midwives (the FOGG practice) and SFGH has a whole team of them
(who train the residents who work at both UCSF and SFGH). That
means the OBs and nurses are much more in line with natural
birth (at both UCSF and SFGH). Just because SFGH is a public
hospital, don't knock it. You will get excellent care there and
the L&D area is really nice looking too (with tubs in all
Many docs who use CPMC discourage doulas-- if that gives you
some idea of the place. Of course, it all depends on your OB or
midwife and which nurse you get that day- in ANY location.
As an aside, St Lukes has midwives also and is ramping up to be
a great place to give birth, but the facilities aren't quite
Kim (a nurse-midwife)
See also: Childbirth at UCSF
this page was last updated: Feb 26, 2010
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network