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Childbirth at Kaiser Oakland

The Parents Network > Reviews > Health & Medical > Kaiser Doctors > Childbirth at Kaiser Oakland

Birth at Kaiser Oakland vs. Alta Bates

Nov 2010

I am currently in my first trimester for my second child, and am contemplating switching to Kaiser in February/March in order to save money on both the birth, as well as prenatal and pediatric care (with my insurance coverage, we would have no copays vs our Blue Shield coverage which requires at least $20 for every visit and a hefty $1,000 outlay for childbirth). I gave birth to my first daughter at Alta Bates in Berkeley in 2008 and had a pretty good experience--quick, natural birth, single room to myself, etc.--but did NOT have good help with lactation consultants. I would like to have the same type of experience over at Kaiser Oakland (with better lactation help), but worry about the quality of the residents and care, and whether I'd be crammed into a double or triple room because that would be hell as I have a big family and a young daughter. I also would only what a woman doctor, so that's a concern too as it seems like you get what you get at Kaiser. SO, long question short, can anyone offer insight into Oakland Kaiser births and if anyone is able to compare between Alta Bates and Kaiser, that would be much appreciated. Thanks! Stay ''safe'' or save money?

I wanted to respond, even though my experience is ancient history by now. 16 years ago I gave birth at Oakland Kaiser, and 12 years ago I gave birth at Alta Bates. I had good experiences both places. I had a room to myself at Kaiser, and a room mate at Alta Bates. Even though I always prefer a woman Dr. for everything, I had good rapport with the young man who delivered me. You don't see the doctors very much during the birth process, mostly you see the nurses. If I had to do it again, I would definitely choose Kaiser. Claire
I can't speak for kaiser but I recently gave birth to my daughter at Alta Bates and had a great experience with their lactation consultants. Perhaps things have changed since the birth of your baby in 2008? If it wasn't for their breastfeeding support group (which is free the 1st time and then $10 after that) and their very affordable individual lactation consultations, I would not be breastfeeding today. Believe me, I have had thee ultimate nightmare with nursing and was their longest standing attendee of their support group but they were helpful every step of the way and am now a happy breastfeeding mom. anon
I just wanted to address the question about residents at Kaiser. The night my son was born at Kaiser Oakland, there was a male resident on staff. There was also a female resident and they asked me if it was okay if the male resident took care of me. I saw him a few times over the course of labor, but the female resident actually delivered my son because he was busy at the time. I wouldn't worry about not having a choice. You can say no or ask for someone else. People don't usually work in healthcare because they want their patients to be upset or uncomfortable. anon
Hi, I saw your posting, and I'm going to do my best to give the most balanced reply I can. I delivered my first baby at Kaiser Oakland, and will be having my second baby at Alta Bates in a few months, so I can't yet speak to the experience at Alta Bates.

About Kaiser: I loved my prenatal care (which I actually got at Kaiser SF, because I was working full time in SF at the time, although lived over here). I like how streamlined things are, really liked the NP I saw throughout for my regular appointments, and I liked the OBs I saw when she couldn't see me, etc.

My labor and delivery: I think so much probably depends on the doctors and L&D nurses you get. In general, I absolutely LOVED the L&D nurses -- and I went through 4 shifts of them during my labor! They were my angels -- truly wonderful. I liked one less well than the others, but in general thought they were great and two were actually midwives also (one called me the next day to see how I was). I do know that the L&D nurses held the doctors off on giving me petocin for many hours longer than the doctors wanted. So, there may have been more tension/conflict around that kind of stuff than I knew in the moment, but the L&&D nurses shielded me from it. Ultimately, I did have a lot of interventions -- oxygen, internal monitoring, etc. because my baby wasn't doing well during the labor. The doctors: I think I saw three different residents and a perinatologist during my labor. (As you may realize, I had a long, tricky labor with more doctor ''presence'' than people typically have.) I really liked one of the residents, one I thought was competent but had a crummy bedside manner, and the third -- who wound up delivering my baby while very closely supervised by the perinatologist -- I think was pretty poor. All the residents were women (even though there's no way to control for this, most young OBs tend to be women so it's highly likely you'd get a woman). The perinatologist was a man.

My post-partum care: Utterly dreadful. (Although, at the last minute the L&D nurse arranged for me to get a single instead of a double because I'd had such a rough labor, so I can't speak to the shared room. I did have a shared bathroom that was filthy.) I had extremely severe post-partum complications that went undiagnosed for two days post-partum even though I was asking for help, asking to see a doctor, etc. At the time, I was doing my best to just function and take care of my baby. Looking back, I'm really shocked and horrified by the care I received. My husband and I finally came to our senses the night before I was to be discharged and spoke to the head nurse who's response was, ''well, actually the nurses have been coming to me really worried about you, but they haven't known what to do so they've been telling you everything's fine so you wouldn't worry.'' After that conversation, we started demanding to be seen by doctors, demanding better care, etc., and my care changed hugely (was finally examined by doctors, a specialist came to see me, I think they actually assigned me better nurses etc., etc., but that was all after was supposed to have originally been discharged). It was actually scary how different my care was before and after we started making a stink, because we fully realized how poor my care had been before. My husband's a doctor, and he hadn't mentioned that until it came up during these conversations. The perinatologist actually apologized to us, saying they would have treated us differently if they'd known he was a doctor. Maybe that's the way the world works, but that was also super-concerning to me. I think it made them take us seriously instead of blowing us off, etc.

Basically, I think if you have a typical labor and delivery, or even a C-section or something where they can ''put you in the right box'' you'll get the right level of care. But I do think (and have heard this from others) if you're needing diagnostic care/have some post-partum complications that are unclear there is a terrible system for getting this type of care. Odds are, everything would be fine for you. That said, I could never go back to that hospital (nor would my husband).

Lactation consultants: I think they tend to be accessible and decent at Kaiser. Bizarrely, I kept asking to see one and no one came to see me until AFTER the day I was scheduled to be discharged, but I really think that's unusual (boy did we have a bad experience:). And after you leave the hospital with Kaiser, you still have really good access to lactation consultants. I think you can make an appointment to see someone individually any weekday (which I took advantage of), and if I remember there may be someone available by phone every day? Not quite sure. I will definitely miss that about Kaiser.

So, to sum up, I think if you had another fairly routine birth things would be fine and (from my experience) the L&D nurses would be very supportive of your wishes. Having had a birth/post-partum recovery with lots of complications, I couldn't go back because I don't trust the quality of care under those circumstances. I hope this helps somewhat, and doesn't sound too biased. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions. sk

I found the lactation consultant I saw at Kaiser Oakland to be very knowledgeable and helpful. I thought it was wonderful that the lactation services were built-in; there was no need for me to go out and find someone on my own. Also, can people please stop bad-mouthing ''Kaiser'' as a general statement? It is not constructive to be so vague (especially when it's not even your own personal experience). If you have a problem with a specific provider or service, then be clear about it, but usually people who say bad things about Kaiser have an issue with a specific person and not the whole organization. There are good and not-so-good doctors, nurses, etc. everywhere and usually there are two sides to every story. Patients are not perfect either and often have unrealistic or uninformed expectations. Happy at Kaiser

Questions about the Oakland birth experience

Nov 2010

We are planning to deliver our first child at Kaiser Oakland, where we are getting our prenatal care. I've read the archived reviews, and have some specific questions which weren't addressed in the archived reviews. Can anyone in the know give me some answers?

1) 2 friends who had recently given birth (elsewhere) required stitching, which was done very poorly, both instances by a resident. I read that Oakland is a teaching hospital and the delivery team are residents. Does anyone know when the resident cycle starts at Oakland--i.e. when do they come in brand new? And during delivery, is it possible to ask to be attended by a doctor with more experience and refuse to be stitched/treated by a new resident?

2) I read that Oakland only has double/triple rooms after birth. Is it possible to request a single room? This may be my tipping point as it's really important to me.

3) I also read that the facilities are showing their age. Anyone know if any of the new buildings are for labor and delivery?

Right now I'm still planning on staying with Oakland (as opposed to Walnut Creek) but the issues with residents and shared rooms especially are making me sway. Any advice/experience would be greatly appreciated. --Planning ahead for baby

I had a baby at Kaiser Oakland this past summer.

I can't speak to your question about residents, because I had a scheduled C section so my obgyn delivered.

You are right about Oakland doubling and tripling patients. They had told me ahead of time that because I was going to have a surgical delivery, I would likely get a single room. No such luck. It was a busy week and I was there for 3 days in a triple room with 1 other woman. I couldn't have gotten a single even if I requested one - too full.

I have friends and colleagues who get their obgyn care in Oakland but deliver in Walnut Creek to ensure they get a single room. No shame in that. The doctors in Oakland seem to understand. I didn't get that option since I had the surgical delivery, but I don't think going to WC is a big deal. Its the beauty of being part of the bigger Kaiser system! have the delivery you want

I would suggest going to Walnut Creek Kaiser. They have midwives and a much newer nicer facility. Most rooms are singles rather than doubles. I delivered in July and I had to walk around outside in the dark....I felt safe in Walnut Creek and would never have been able to do so in Oakland. It's worth the drive through the tunnel! Worth the drive
As a doula I have worked at both Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser Walnut Creek. Here is what I know about the questions you have asked-

1) Yes, you can request to be treated and or stitched by an attending while at Kaiser Oakland and they will do what they can to get you one. The new batch of residents come in at the beginning of August each year. That does not mean that all of the residents are new though. Some are staying on for the their 2nd, 3rd etc. years and some will be brand new.

2) You can request a private room but there is no guarantee that you will get one. That is the same at Walnut Creek as well. Generally they try to place everyone in a room alone until there are too many people and then they start doubling up.

3) My understanding is that there will not be L&D in the new buildings, but I could be wrong.

I would tour both facilities and see how you feel. They are very different and just being there may help you make a decision. I have had lovely experiences with clients at both hospitals.

Best wishes for a beautiful birth! Anna

I delivered my first child at Oakland Kaiser in Sept. 08 and am getting ready - literally, any minute now! - to deliver my second there. Overall, it is just fine and the facility is nothing to worry about. Re. your specific questions:

1) Yes, you will see residents, and only a full-fledged doctor if you have a problem (which I did not). A resident stitched me up, and as far as I know, it was fine - I didn't have any particular pain that I attributed to the stitches per se and they fell out without me noticing in the appropriate period of time. I believe the new ''class'' comes in in October, but I think they also stay two years, so you have 1st and 2nd years on the floor at a time. The resident who delivered my baby and stitched me up is now, I see, on staff, so presumably that speaks to the high quality of residents they get at Oakland.

2) The recovery rooms are all set up to be triples, but if the floor is not full, you can ask to be in one by yourself. When I delivered in 2008, the entire place was packed so that wasn't an option, but I have a colleague who was initially with a roommate, asked if there was a free room, and got it. Luck of the draw, I guess, and try not to deliver during a full moon! Apparently that sparks labor.

3) ''The facilities are showing their age.'' Well, yes, that is one of the reasons why they are building a new hospital there. But obviously L&D is going to stay with the main hospital so it will be a while before it moves. Believe me, when you are in labor, you will not notice any cracks in the plaster or whatever! Since I'm about to have my second child at Oakland Kaiser

just two years later, you can tell I think the quality of the medical care is fine. It is not a touchy-feely birthing center... it is a hospital. They did what they needed to do for me and my baby, and I recommend it. (Like I said, though - I think it would be better if the recovery wing is not full! Can't control everything.) Kaiser mom

I can't answer all your questions, but will tell you about my experience almost 2 years ago.

1) I had minor tearing and stitches; the resident did them and I had no problems at all. I don't know when the cycle is; I suspect you can request the attending, but it depends on what else is going on that night. Ask your OB.

2) It is false that all rooms are doubles/triples. There are a number of single rooms, as well as some doubles and a triple. We were told that they fill all the singles first, then the doubles and triples with one person, and only if necessary double up, and never on the first night if they can help it. I was there on what they told me was a busy night, and had a triple to myself. I only stayed one night; it's possible I would have had a roommate the second night.

3) My understanding is that there are new facilities for L&D, but I don't think they're open yet. The facilities are old, but I think that says more about how they look than how up-to-date their equipment is. It didn't bother me.

My recommendation is that you go on a tour of both facilities. You can see the rooms, ask your questions, etc. That's what I did, and discovered that I felt more comfortable with Oakland. In retrospect, I'm SO glad, if only because the 10 minutes drive to Kaiser Oakland while in labor was so painful -- I can't imagine the ride to Walnut Creek! And if they'd said I wasn't ready to be admitted and sent me home ... Also keep in mind that when the time comes, a facility can be full and they might send you somewhere else. My understanding from my OB is that this happens more often at Walnut Creek, because they do more births there, but that may have changed.

I know people who've had great experiences at Kaiser Oakland and Walnut Creek -- both challenging and ''easy'' births. I know people who've had difficult experiences at both facilities as well. Go with where you feel most comfortable, and then go in with a positive attitude. Happy Oakland Mama

Hey There!

I would ask those questions of your OB at Kaiser as well. The last thing you want to do is go in with a certain expectation because of information you got here and have it be ''against policy'' or something else that will create a sense of conflict for you while you are in labor. I would recommend that you take a tour of the L&D at Walnut Creek too. I've attended a few births at the Kaiser in Walnut Creek and it's a very cool place. And, there aren't any residents there. It's where I'm planning on having my first (almost halfway there!). I chose it because of the relaxed atmosphere, nurse midwives, and access to an OB, IF i need it. I definitely don't want my birth to be a teachable moment, especially if stitches are involved.. I don't mean to be selfish, but that's just not how I want it to go, especially for my first.

As far as the rooms go, everything is first come first served. if they don't have enough room for everyone to be on their own, you get a roomie, and there isn't really a way around it. I don't know if one hospital has more recovery rooms than the other, or how many people they serve.

Definitely go get a tour of the L&D in Walnut Creek and ask your provider more questions about how it works in Oakland. anon

I delivered both my children (now 4 years old and 21 months old) at Kaiser Oakland. My first was born by a medically necessary, unplanned c-section by a relatively new resident. It was clear from the directions given by the attending physician that this was the resident's first try. Perhaps I was too tired from the 36 hours of labor preceding the surgery, but I raised no objection, and the surgery went just fine. The resident stood on one side of me and the attending physician was immediately opposite her, literally ''on top'' of the situation. It was clear to my husband and me that the situation was under control. I found it quite amusing in the days after the surgery that every doctor and nurse who came to check the incision/stitching remarked about how great it looked - I kept on telling them I couldn't take any credit... I don't mean to minimize the surgery, but wanted to say from first hand experience that the supervision was thorough and the resident did a good job.

I had a single room after each of my deliveries, so it's definitely possible to get one. I believe they try to give the singles to c-section moms (to the extent available). The facilities are certainly not new, but I had no problem with them. It's clean, the staff are wonderfully supportive and I was perfectly happy to go back for my second delivery. The food is atrocious, but I just ate it anyway - it was only for a few days - and your friends and family can certainly bring you food from outside.

Good luck with your choice, and congratulations! Happy Kaiser Oakland Mom

I am in the ''love Kaiser camp.'' We are now with UHC, due to a job change, and I'm grieving but trying to move on. I gave birth to my daughter in 06 at Kaiser Oakland and actually considered the residents a plus -- the nursing staff (which was GREAT) does most of the work anyhow. As it turned out, I tore badly in 3 places and the stitching was done by the doc, not the resident. The attending resident was very concerned about me and checked on me several times before we were discharged (it was actually her concern and a conversation with my husband that tipped me off to how bad it was, since I was over the moon about my daughter being with us at last). I subsequently had a scar revision, but that was because I am a notoriously bad healer, not because they did a shoddy job. And in any case, the doctor did the stitching.

Room assignments are the luck of the draw as I understand, but the facilities seemed just fine to me. Take a tour and pepper them with questions -- that's what the L&D tours are for. We met half the residents and the anesthesiologist on our tour, and were able to put our minds at rest. Still over the moon

Feb 2009

Re: Baby at Oakland vs. Walnut Creek Kaiser?

I delivered my first baby at Kaiser Oakland on Sept. 30. Early in the pregnancy, I seriously considered delivery at WC, because like you I tend to think that the more medicalization, the worse off for the mom, and that the CNMs might help avoid medicalization. I was swayed to Oakland mainly because I heard a bad WC delivery story from a friend; but now, based on what I learned through my own experience, I am even more glad I stayed in Oakland. I delivered naturally with no meds (not even an IV lock!), and the residents were basically fine with it (ok, they really wanted me to have the IV lock, but took my polite refusal). If you have an uncomplicated delivery and (this is key) labor at home until ''transition'', by the time you get to the hospital, it's showtime and there is no time for interventions! (I arrived at 8 cm dilated and baby was born 2.5 hours later.) Please bear in mind the additional travel time to WC if you live on this side of the tunnel - we had a 10 m! in drive to Oakland Kaiser and it was brutal for me since I was in *very* active labor; can't imagine making it all the way to Walnut Creek. And yet I am so glad I stayed home as long as I did and ultimately had the med-free delivery I wanted. I recommend getting a great doula to help at the hospital, too - she will help you interpret what the med staff is saying. The doula and your own personal emotional and physical preparation will go a long way to helping you get the delivery you envision. Oakland Kaiser Just Fine for Uncomplicated Natural Delivery anon

I had my daughter at Oakland Kaiser in 2006 (mistakenly so...we had just moved to Oakland from SF and didn't quite make it to SF =), and I have done lots of pediatric care at Walnut Creek Kaiser. I am not sure about rates of csections there since I had her 17 minutes after we arrived (yowza!), however, I can speak to the facility. Oakland Kaiser's facility, room space, etc. does not compare to Walnut Creek...they are even more dirty 'around the edges'...a result of (from what I hear) just an older facility. Also, I was shocked to learn I had to share my room with TWO other mothers, when the room was really only big enough for 2 total. There wasn't even enough room on the side of the bed for someone to walk when the bassinet was there, and my family had a really hard/uncomfortable time visiting. The toilet (shared between 3 new mothers, which was gross enough), was also too close to the wall so your leg almost touches the wall, and you had to sort of slide across the seat to wipe. The care I received there was good, though...although a couple of the nurses were a little scary.

I stopped taking my girls to the pediatrician office there after I noticed a drug exchange going on between a couple of pre-teens who were in the waiting room the same time as me & my younger daughter.

SO...don't feel guilty about anything! You have to go where you feel most comfortable. Congratulations & good luck! Sandra

I had my daughter at Kaiser Oakland in Jan 07. We ended up transferring there after our planned home birth became higher risk. The residents and the nurses were truly wonderful. I think (at least then) that all of the residents were younger women, which was really lovely. I had an extremely detailed birth plan and they not only read it, but went through each part with us and respected as much of it as their protocol would allow (pretty much the whole thing). I ended up tearing quite a bit and then resident MD spent a long time sewing me up (it was a weird kind of tear), she was a perfectionist, which in the long run I think is good. I healed perfectly and quickly.

I have heard some good things about Kaiser WC, but the complaints I've heard have to do with how potentially busy they can be, due to Kaiser patients coming from all over in order to have a midwife-attended birth. I have heard things about having to share a recovering room, which you may or may not care about. I liked the privacy we had at Kaiser Oakland, though they did not have laboring tubs or birth stools, or birth balls available. I'd check with them now, as well as Kaiser WC.

Also consider how far you live from each facility. Riding in a car while in labor is no fun at all. kaiser oakland fan

I didn't do any comparison shopping because i live in rockridge (so very close to Oakland Kaiser) but i am very happy with my birth experience in june 2008. i can only compare to my first son's birth in jan 2006 at cpmc in sf. kaiser was great - birth rooms don't have windows like cpmc but i the staff was warm and professional. they are very interested in what the mother wants; they check in frequently but let you labor in peace. I had a vaginal birth with no problems.

I was concerned about the recovery rooms. I know they have some single but a lot of double and even triples. I wasn't looking forward to sharing to be honest. But after doing a tour I actually wanted a double/triple because the singles are really small. I ended up in a triple but as the sole occupant. Very nice indeed. Good luck! brenda

Hello, I'm sorry my response from fall 2006 was not archived, but I still stand by what I said. My experience at Kaiser Oakland was outstanding. The residents were great -- our crop was a bunch of kick ass young women, who were clearly briefed in the latest and greatest. At no time did I feel like I was being experimented on. The nursing staff were exceptional. Everyone was very supportive. When we moved to pitocin and an epidural, well that was my decision -- before that was my decision, I was fully supported in my desire for natural childbirth. Oakland is just as much the Bay Area as Walnut Creek is, and people in Oakland also want to do natural childbirth, so I don't think this is treated as an exotic request at Oakland.

The main thing is, I think you will find the nursing staff at Oakland very supportive of your wishes. Unless something goes very wrong, you will be dealing more with the nurses than with the residents in any case. Our experience with the residents was that they were quite progressive.

I'd encourage you to take the tour at Oakland and meet the residents and other staff. Our experience was great. Merrilee

Sept 2008

I'm due with twins in March 2009...we live in Hayward but work in Berkeley. I understand you can choose which location to have delivery (Hayward, Oakland, Fremont, Walnut Creek). If so, I'd like to get recent experiences about twin delivery in the different locations. Thanks.

Congratulations on your twin pregnancy! My twins were born almost 22 months ago via c-section at Kaiser Oakland. Our experience there was fantastic. The operating team was great, the aftercare nurses were great. I can't say enough good things about the staff. The rooms were remodeled 2 years ago, and there's a nice covered veranda on one side of the after care ward that you can walk up and down in. Compared to my birth experience with my singleton at Alta Bates, we definitely got more attention with the twins and it was a much more positive experience.

All that being said, my advice on your twin delivery is:

- You may be in the hospital up to 4 days and in certain circumstances longer. With twins there is a greater chance of premies or a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) stay. So my advice would be to pick a hospital that is closest to your home so your husband or any family that is staying at your house can easily commute back and forth from home for a shower and change of clothes, or if you babies have to stay in the hospital, it will be easier for you to commute back and forth. I know some families were one baby was sent home, the other had to stay longer in the NICU. So it's less stressful to be closer to the hospital.

-- Kaiser Oakland had a dry erase board in the room, and I assume others do too. If not, bring a notebook and pen. Keep track of your pain meds and don't get behind - the nurses if they aren't there on time. Pain meds aren't as effective if you are behind schedule. Also, if they aren't working for you, as for something else.

-- Get all the lactation advice you can in the hospital. We got crappy advice from the first one we saw, and the 2nd one gave us great advice that worked for us. So don't give up.

-- Join a parents of multiples club. You will get INVALUABE advice and support, and all of them have email forums to ask questions from more experienced members. I'm a member of Twins by the Bay, which serves Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Albany, Richmond, Piedmont, Alameda, Lafayette, Orinda, & Moraga. There is also the Twin Valley Mothers of Twins Club; and The Tric City Moms of Multiples: I don't know which one would be close to you, but you can also search for a club by zip code at the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs: anon

Sept 2008

I chose to have an elective c-section for the birth of my first child, and plan to do the same for my second. (No interest in VBAC). I recently moved to the East Bay from San Francisco, and now must chose a new OB at Kaiser Oakland. Can anyone here recommend a female OB at Kaiser Oakland who is pro-choice as far as elective c-sections are concerned, experienced and courteous? Thank you. anonymous

My twins were delivered by c-section at Kaiser Oakland and it was a wonderful, positive experience. Much more so than the vaginal birth of my singleton at Alta Bates. My OBGYN is Dr. Erica Breneman and I think she?s fantastic ? just what you describe ? concerned, experienced & courteous. But just so you know, Kaiser is a residency hospital so you?ll get whatever team is on duty when your c-section is scheduled. Since I was delivering twins, I had a double team and thought all the doctors were amazing. anon
Sept 2008

Re: I live in Richmond - which Kaiser for delivery?

Our youngest grandchild, who is now 3 months old, was born @Oakland Kaiser. My daughter-in-law felt that she got extrememly good care, as did the baby. There were some complications that had not been expected (a Caesaean was absolutely necessary to save the baby from possible harm because of a change in the position of cord & baby), but she recuperated rather quickly. She was kept in the hospital for about a week, no move made to kick her out w/a minimum stay; had excellent nursing care, got several visits from lactation specialists, was given help in getting her own body back into shape, & liked the pediatric care. The food wasn’t very good, but good medical care is a lot more important. (We brought in some good salads & pizza from nearby Piedmont Avenue for them.) The baby is now 3 months old, gaining weight amazingly well (breast fed), strong, alert, & now beginning to take long stretches on some nights. The parents are on the older side. They live in the Richmond Annex-El Cerrito area. Oakland Kaiser has some incredibly good medical personel. Sorry for the spelling mistakes; I am a dreadful speller. Happy Grandmother

May 2008

Does anyone have any experience or advice with either Kaiser Oakland or Richmond as far as pregnancy and childbirth? I just found out I'm expecting and don't know anything about the facilities or medical staff here. I've been to Kaiser Oakland for a regular OB apt. twice, and my son has been to both Oakland and Richmond for pediatrician appointments, but our last birthing experience was with a private insurance program and hospital and not at all like the Goliath that Kaiser is, i.e. if I needed to call my doctor I actually called the office and talked to the same receptionist every time--not like the many layered phone tag of the Kaiser system. So I guess my question is, what was your experience and are there people that you would recommend? Thanks so much! expecting mom

It's my understanding that Richmond doesn't have delivery facilities and that all Richmond OB patients deliver at either Oakland or Walnut Creek.

I delivered at Oakland and have no complaints. In fact, I really liked the staff and we had a nice experience there delivering our child. ~Good times at Oakland Kaiser


Richmond Kaiser does not have L&D. Your options in the East Bay are Oakland, Walnut Creek, and Hayward. If you deliver at Oakland, your baby will be delivered by a resident, not the OB/GYN you see for prenatal care. The residents are on a team that is overseen by an attending. Walnut Creek has midwives for deliveries. I don't know much about Hayward.

I delivered at Oakland Kaiser and had a good experience with my residents. Seriously, I was so focused on labor that I didn't really tune into who was doing what. You can go on tours of the L&D departments and at Oakland, you can go to a session where you can meet all of the residents. Even though you're still early, you may want to do that now so you can make your decision.

had an Oakland Kaiser baby

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I just delivered at Kaiser Oakland, and my pre-natal care was at Kaiser Richmond. If you want to work with a doctor, I highly recommend Carla Wicks. She's warm, enthusiastic, caring and knowledgable. If you prefer a nurse practitioner, I liked Anne McKenzie. She's also warm and caring, with just a slight ''edge'' to her that I enjoyed. I think both these women are pretty popular, so if you decide to pick either one of them (or both, like I did), I suggest that you book appointments in advance (i.e. don't wait until your current appointment to try to book the next one).

I've delivered babies at both Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser Walnut Creek. Richmond does not have a Labor & Delivery unit, so most Richmond patients deliver in Oakland though Walnut Creek is also an option. Both experiences were generally good, though not perfect. In Walnut Creek, the anesthesiologist took two tries to insert my epidural. In Oakland, the triage nurse told me to go home when I was pretty far along. I didn't go home, and the baby was born within an hour and a half. Other than those mishaps, my experiences were great at both facilities. I loved the L&D nurses and the postpartum nurses, the food was actually pretty good, and I didn't feel rushed out when it was time to go home. My delivery in Oakland was so fast that there was no time for music, lighting, etc ... but I got the impression from my pre-delivery visit there that the staff is open to parents' wishes. The rooms in Oakland were small but adequate. We were in a private room with a shared bathroom. ! My husband did NOT like the pull-out chair that was provided for him ... it was too narrow, so that he spend the night lying on two hard pieces of wood (and he's pretty skinny). Kathryn

Hi, My doctor is at Richmond Kaiser. Her names is Amanda Calhoun. I love her! She helped me through a miscarriage and also delivered my first child in October! I would recommend going to Richmond for your appointments. They are more thorough than Oakland, and seem to be more personable. I had a bad experience with a nurse practitioner at Oakland. She basically put my life at risk.

Richmond Kaiser is actually voted something like number 4 of the Kaiser in Northern California. Unfortunately they do not deliver babies. You have to go to Oakland. I had a good experience their. My labor and delivery was pretty much text book. The only complaint was they do not have tubs to be in just showers.

When I asked my doctor if she recommended Oakland or Walnut creek for labor, she said, Oakland was really good at being attentive for the labor and delivery but lacked in recovery. Walnut Creek was more attentive at recovery but lacked somewhat in delivery, so if you know you are having a c section go with Walnut Creek. Good Luck Happy Mom

I had an excellent prenatal and birthing experience at Kaiser Oakland in 2007. My Ob/Gyn is Dr. Laura Minikel, who I recommend very highly. She is warm, respectful, patient, informed and informative, and very responsive to questions and issues that arise both during and outside of regular office visits. The nurse she most commonly works with in clinic, Margaret, is also great. Dr. Minikel helped me understand all options related to screening tests, showed genuine enthusiasm for me and my husband at every visit (even though she sees this stuff all day, every day), and helped me get prepared for birth by recommending classes, possible doulas, etc.

Kaiser Oakland is a teaching hospital, so they have Ob/Gyn residents who do much of the work on the labor and delivery ward, supervised by attending physicians like Dr. Minikel. So - your usual Ob/Gyn very likely won't be the person who delivers your baby. I knew this from the outset and it was not a big deal to me - had seen a resident deliver my sister's baby at UCSF and knew that most of the interaction you have in labor is with the nurses anyway!

I had a natural childbirth at Kaiser Oakland in Nov 2007 and had incredibly supportive nurses throughout, and had an attending physician (not a resident) with me during a good part of late labor and for about 2 hours of pushing! (Maybe it was a slow night.) She was Dr. Caryn Rybczynski and she was incredible - said all the right things and helped me stay with my planned natural childbirth even when I was starting to ask about an epidural. She has a baby herself and I think she'd be excellent in the outpatient setting as well.

So, I can't speak to Kaiser Richmond, but my experience at Kaiser Oakland was really wonderful from start to finish. (The only downside is that they have some shared rooms on the recovery ward, until their new hopsital is built. I shared one my first night - not the greatest, but not such a big deal.) I'm sure experiences vary by what nurses or doctors you get and what's happening in your labor, but I found everyone to be very respectful, supportive, and knowledgable throughout.

As for dealing with the ''behemoth'' - yes, when you call your doctor, you are calling a call center, but they can leave a message for your doctor just like a receptionist in a non-Kaiser office would, and my doctor always called back that day. With Kaiser you are also able to e-mail your doctor through the website, which I used several times and my doctor always responded within a day or two. The fact that Kaiser is all one system can actually be really helpful if you ever have to work with other doctors as I did - they all see your same electronic medical record and know what's going on with other doctors, pharmacy, past medical history, etc. GOOD LUCK!

Full disclosure: I am an employee of Kaiser Permanente in their national offices, but feel I have an objective view as a patient (my work doesn't involve clinical care, service, or insurance issues). New mom in '07

Note: A review was also received for Kaiser Vallejo
March 2008

Re: Childbirth at Kaiser Walnut Creek
Hi, I can't advise on WC Kaiser, however, can let you know that you have another Kaiser birthing option in the east bay and that is Oakland Kaiser. I just gave birth to our first child (2 weeks ago!) at Kaiser Oakland and was very impressed with my experience. Loved the nurses, the lactation specialists were fantastic, the doctor I dealt with and the peds were great. Our experience was quite positive.

Their labor & delivery and family care floors are relatively new as well. Having never given birth before, I don't have anything to compare it to, but I was pleased.

I know you can sign up for free Labor & Delivery tours at both facilities (Oakland and WC) and then you can compare them to what you remember from SF Kaiser. Good luck & congratulations! Carol

Feb 2008

Does anyone have any experience with Kaiser Oakland Hospital's maternity ward? When I gave birth to our first child, they did not have this facility open for birthing. We had a choice of Alta Bates or Kaiser Walnut Creek. We chose Walnut Creek, which was fine. They have nice facilities and midwives on staff. This time around however we may want to use a maternity ward closer to home since we'll have to arrange for care for our first child during delivery. We'll of course be going on a L&D tour but if anyone has any experience with KP-Oakland, we'd be most appreciative. anonymous

We delivered baby #1 at Kaiser Walnut Creek, but opted for #2 at Kaiser Oakland, also to be closer to home - I have to say that I liked Oakland better for the birthing part, the doctors and nurses were just lovely and it felt great (it was also a LOT faster the second time for me) - the aftercare was not as good, I had a semi private room but the nurses were not as good, there was a lot of noise, it was not very clean, etc - if you want more details feel free to email me....and good luck! anon
I delivered at Kaiser Oakland and for the most part it was great. The resident on duty had a lot to learn about bedside manner, but the nurses, especially the one attending me during labor, were lovely. We were lucky in that there was hardly anyone else on the floor, so we got a lot of attention. I think a good deal depends on how busy they are when you happen to go into labor, which is beyond anyone's control. JS
I delivered my twins at Kaiser Oakland and have nothing but praise for that facility. I had a high risk pregnancy and went into triage several times late at night to make sure I wasn't in pre-term labor. Everyone was fantastic, down to the security guards who would see me sitting on a bench waiting for my husband to come out of the parking garage and would offer to get me a wheelchair.

I ended up having a c-section and thought the team we had was amazing. Very positive, supportive and skilled. I was impressed at how they treated the birth as the special occasion it was, the weren't at all jaded like the doctor and nurses I had the first time around at Alta Bate. My twins totalled 15 pounds and I had a rough and painful recovery. The nurses were fantastic; they were responsive to my needs and worked to find ways for me to get relief. We were there for 4 days and although I was ready to go home, I was sad to leave. anon

Jan 2007

Please bear with me, this is yet again, another search (albeit one for more recent aka. 2006) for advice on Kaiser's L&D - our first baby was born at WC - good experience but nothing so stellar, our second is due in a few weeks and we're looking at Oakland to be closer to home - whatever your experiences with the Oakland facility (and/or vs. WC or Hayward) would be MOST appreciated - specifically, quality of care, access to private room, thoughts on residents/vs. midwives in terms of respecting your wishes and general asetetics... curious about new l&d...

I gave birth to my daughter at Kaiser Oakland in October. I have decided that I will have my next child at another Kaiser location. First off, I wanted a natural birth and I made that clear during my paperwork and birth plan. I was under tremendous pressure to use uterine stimulants (which lead to pain medication). I had to suggest that we use drug-free ways to get labor going after a couple of hours had passed and I wasn't as far along as they wanted me to be. It ended up working, but after 6 more hours of labor the doctors never checked on me. I had to call them in when I was ready to push...but, at that time (10cm dialated) they found out that my daughter was breech and then I was rushed in for an emergency c-section. The machines that were attached to me were also not working very well so I was having long and strong contractions that were not registering. I did have an amazing labor and delivery nurse, Evie, that really helped my natural labor possible and helped with the acceptance of surgery. As far as the recovery goes, I had pretty much no help breastfeeding...especially from the lactation consultants. My daughter never learned to latch at the hospital and I was given nipple shields and a supplemental nursing system that I was never taught to use. Because of the poor breastfeeding relationship, I was pressured by the night staff at the hospital to give my daughter a bottle of formula. The nurses used guilt and fear to get me to do it, and I'm now sure they wanted her eating formula because they had NO training in helping new moms breastfeed. The day staff in recovery was very helpful and reassuring. My experience giving birth at Kaiser Oakland really was like night and day. I had troubles with the L&D doctors/residents, but the nurses were really looking out for me and my wishes. In recovery, I had great experiences with most of the day staff, but when nighttime rolled around it was completely different. If you have any other questions feel free to email me. HTH. Christina

Nov 2006

I'm looking for recent childbirth experiences at either Kaiser Oakland or Vallejo. The most up-to-date ones I could find in the archives for Oakland were over a year old, and I couldn't find anything on Vallejo. If you received prenatal care and/or delivered at either facility in the past 6-12 months, would you mind sharing your experience (and any recommendations for NPs or MDs)? If you have your own doula, does that work within either facility? Thanks
Choosing between Kaisers

I gave birth to a healthy little son at Kaiser Oakland last year. The nurses varied in experience and attitude widely--the first woman we worked with was very flexible and informed about different midwife-type positions, how to move a stuck baby, etc. The next woman was not so inclined but was amazing when we had to quickly move to a C-section (after something like 32 hours of induced labor). One thing to ask about at Oakland is if they are staffed for the weekend--this seemed to be a problem last year. They didn't want to admit me for an induction (I explained it was imperative--I was over two weeks late) and one night I was left without meds, no answer to my nurse call button, no food, stuff like that! My room was next to the nurse's station and I heard much bellyaching about too many patients all night. oakland mom
We gave birth at Kaiser Oakland w/in the past 6 months and had a great experience. The classes they offer seem designed way more for the partner than for the Mom-to-be, but otherwise very informative, friendly, and supportive about alternatives to today's birth norms. Since Oakland is a teaching hospital, though, make sure you have a birth plan or they'll do what's easiest to teach with. We found out the hard way when they raised the delivery table and I had to push while lying flat (not the norm at good hospitals these days). Also, make sure you get the printed layout of the floor plan they have so you can ask for the larger delivery rooms. There's a big discrepancy in their size and the smaller rooms made us so claustrophobic on the tour! happy in oakland
I delivered at Kaiser Oakland in November of last year. It was a great first birth experience. I had some reservations because I hadn't heard anything about the facility, but it turned out to be fine. The nurses were awesome. The rooms very clean and comfortable for me and my husband. I had all my pre-birth visits with NP Linda Franz who is patient and kind, but very down-to-earth and comforting.

The only thing that I didn't like about my experience there was the birth preparation class. I'm sorry that I don't remember the instructor's name, but she was awful. She talked about herself the whole time and was just a ditz! We signed up for the class where we attended once a week for a few weeks. Each class got progressively worse, but we kept going because we were afraid to miss something! The last class was taught by a substitute instructor named Joan Bryant. She was amazing!! She is also a doula and she was so wonderful. She answered all of our questions and gave us some good tips that were actually useful to us during the birth.

Good luck and have a wonderful pregnancy/birth! nm

Our daughter was born Sept 2006 at Kaiser Oakland and it was a wonderful experience. I highly recommend their Labor & Delivery Unit. The care was personalized, top notch and patient-centered. The medical residents were an amazing group of diverse, talented, friendly, skilled women. We went through three nursing shifts and everyone was great. Our doula was welcomed by both doctors and nurses and easily incorporated into the care team -- she even led the pushing. The nurses asked us for our birth plan to ensure that it was not overlooked. We were not rushed after the birth of our baby and were given plenty of time to hold her before the bathing and exams began.
satisfied new mom
Hello, We had our baby at Kaiser Oakland on November 6th, so this is a very recent recommendation. In short, we were very impressed and pleased with Kaiser Oakland.

We went in with our expressed intention to have as few interventions as possible, and the staff and doctors were very supportive of this. At no time did a doctor or nurse walk in and say, ''so, are you ready for your epidural now?'' Things didn't go as we had planned -- my contractions were close together, painful, and my labor was slow (typcial with first labors). I wound up opting for pitosin and an epidural, but up until then, both doctors and nurses were very supportive and offered suggestions for different techniques and positions. I had great coaching from one of the nurses (named DL) when it came time to push. Our little one was born with her hand by her face, so I wound up having some pretty significant tearing (unanticipated -- up until then it looked like I'd have no tearing). The doctors did a nice job sewing me up, and the doctor who delivered us came by the next morning to check on us, saying she hadn't been able to sleep because she was worried about me (until then I hadn't realized how bad my tear was). Our little one also swalllowed miconium, and there were two pediatricians on hand to help with her post birth.

Kaiser Oakland is unusal and unique in the Kaiser system (at least in NoCal) in that it's a teaching hospital on both the ob.gyn side and on the pediatric side. The residents in labor and delivery work in teams of three. The current crop are all female, competent, and pleasant to deal with(and TV good looking, I'll add, in every size, shape, and color). Our labor was long, so we had an opportunity to meet many of them.

The labor and delivery rooms were nice enough, private, quite, with a shower but no tub. We could control the lighting, the temp, etc. They all have a tv with a DVD player. In recovery, we were in the family care unit, which has singles, doubles, and triples. We lucked out and had a double to ourselves for most of the time there. We asked about how singles are doled out and it's first come first serve, although one nurse commented that the singles were for C Sections and ''emotional cases.'' The pediatric residents were also very cool. The nursing staff in the family care unit is great, and offered useful tips on breastfeeding and other things. We had a daytime nurse named Laura who we loved.

I have to say that I find a lot of the comments about Kaiser Oakland to be somewhat offensive, and wonder how much of this is socio-economic. I find Kaiser Oakland to be delightfully diverse, and also just a great place to get care. There is a ''meet the doctors'' orientation session that's held weekly, and I'd urge you to go to this -- they will happily answer any questions you have. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch! Merrilee

Another really incredibly positive birth experience at Kaiser Oakland -- and with the same nurse mentioned in the Nov 19th edition of this newsletter, D. L. Betts. Our daughter was born six months ago, so the first year residents that are there now would be a different group ... but the folks that we worked with were all great. Being a teaching hospital earns Kaiser Oakland points in my book -- folks are flexible, friendly, and not at all jaded about giving care.

Here's why I was delighted with them: My water broke and my contractions were not starting naturally within their ''legally allotted'' time frame. The nurses encouraged me to come in, but were never rude about it, and then when I checked in they were very friendly and accommodating about allowing us to try to get labor started naturally. I ended up with pitosin, which I was not happy about (I have a huge fear of intravenous needles etc), but the attending OB was totally open about listening to my fears and discussing how they wanted to administer it (I requested that they give it to me slowly, having attended a birth (not at Kaiser) where it was not administered slowly, which led to a brutally difficult delivery). D.L., our nurse, rocked. She was fantastic. My husband and our friend were coaching me, and D.L. checked in periodically, always at the right time. She made sure I was not attached to too many wires and tubes, she made great suggestions about ways to manage labor, and she made the key suggestion that got me through without anaesthesia: putting me in the shower. And then she convinced the resident who delivered our girl (Dr. Karen Maloney) to check my progress *while I was in the shower.* The two of them did not make me move to a bed, which would have been a lot more comfortable for Dr. Maloney. Now, if I had been at a non-teaching hospital with doctors established in their ways, I am betting this would never have happened. Also worth noting - Dr. Maloney is an osteopath.

The staff was incredibly caring, they checked up on us the next day and came by to snuggle the baby, and we really made a human connection with them. Post-partum, equally good. I'm rambling on here, but I'd also like to tell you that we met our doctor's pediatrician during our two day stay. (Dr. Anjana Ray at Richmond Pediatrics, which is worth checking out. She was the attending at the hospital while we were there. Her practice was full but when we asked she agreed to take us in.) Another thing you should know -- Kaiser Oakland averages about seven births a day. They are not a baby factory, which we really liked. After hearing birth stories from other area hospitals, we always feel like we made a great decision
another happy Kaiser Oakland mom

[Editor]a review was also received for Vallejo

October 2006

I'm due to deliver baby #2 at Kaiser Oakland sometime in the next 5-10 weeks. #1 was also a Kaiser baby, but delivered at Alta Bates. I had a terrible initial experience at Alta Bates in that we requested a private room, but were put in a FOUR person room! I've never been more miserable. It's VERY important to me this go-around to get a private room and I have to know how likely that is at Kaiser Oakland? Who do I need to know? I'm not above bribery, I just need to know who to schmooze (I'm kidding...a little). In all, I'm a happy Kaiser patient, but still wondering what to expect at the new maternity ward I need my sleep!

Hi there- I think there is no way to plan for or ensure your own room at kaiser Oakland unless you have a high risk pregnancy or a C-section. Those women are given first priority. It's pretty much the luck of the draw--if they have a lot of deliveries that day, then you're stuck sharing. When I gave birth, Oakland was full. I ended up at Walnut Creek and had a WONDERFUL experience. I think that they have a larger facility so your chances of getting your own room might be greater. I had my own, but I also had an emergency C-section. Regardless, Kaiser has a maximum of 3 to a room. I think Walnut Creek has 2 to a room, max. Not sure though. Oh, and also, even if you get your own room at Oakland, you will likely have to share a bathroom. This was a struggle for a friend of mine who had her own room but shared a bathroom and the woman in the other room kept locking the bathroom door and forgetting to unlock it from her end. It was kind of a problem. In any case, my experience in WC was so positive that I am planning to go there for number 2, should we have another. I apparently can continue to see my OB here in Oakland and give birth wherever I want. Anyway, the main point is that you cannot designate it because it's truly about capacity and how many women go into labor that day. I've been told by Nurses that it tends to get full closer to a full moon, not that this helps you any, but given that I had to be in the hospital for 5 days, before, during and after the full moon, I found they were least for that particular cycle. Good luck! Anon
Unfortunately, it doesn't matter who you know but rather how many babies are born on the same day as yours. In fact, for Baby #2, Kaiser Oakland turned us away for my delivery because their L&D rooms were all full. I was redirected (by phone, thankfully) to Kaiser Walnut Creek - which was also full! They redirected me to Hayward & I had my baby 20-25 minutes (3 pushes - and this was a VBAC) after arriving there. It was a beautiful birth with a wonderful midwife. However, they have NO private rooms in hayward, but I was out in less than 24 hours so it didn't matter as much to me. Best of luck with getting your wishes. -Anon.
Regarding getting a private room at Kaiser Oakland, it is all going to depend on how many other people are having babies at that particular moment in time. I'm sure there are people on every shift you can try to appeal to, but my understanding is that private rooms are on a first come, first serve basis. And frankly, I wanted to be on the good side of everyone working my delivery, so I didn't even press it- when I went into labor earlier this year, they told me they were packed and didn't even know where they were going to put me after. Then 16 hours later I had a private room. So you never know. You can always call and see how full they are, but if that baby's going to come, the it's goning to come. Good luck
Kaiser Member
I believe that unless you have a c-section or things are slow you will probably have to double up. I had a c-section so I had a room to myself. I shared a bathroom though. Before my delivery I took a class on childbirth, through that I was able to arrange a maternity ward tour. We got to see all the rooms and setups as part of the tour. We might try to schedule something like that so that if you are able to influence your room selection you have a better idea of what's available. My delivery & hospital stay were very positive Jennifer
It's been over a year and a half since I delivered at Kaiser Oakland but I do remember that they were very clear that the singles were given out on an ''as needed'' basis. Basically, they spread the mothers around as much as possible (depending on how full they are), but the only women who were guaranteed a single on the maternity floor were those who had had complications during delivery. We were in a triple-converted-to-a-double and the family we shared with left after about 18 hours. Good luck!
Oakland Kaiser Mom
April 2006

I just found out today that Kaiser WC is no longer taking referrals from Kaiser Oakland for labor/delivery. I delivered my first child in Kaiser WC with a midwife and had exactly the birth I'd hoped for and didn't have to fight for it. We used a midwife and had an unmedicalized experience--no drugs were even offered. I had planned to go there again with #2, but was told today that that is no longer an option as of a few weeks ago. I'm so disappointed and sad and worried that I'll have a completely medicalized, unsupportive birth experience (I'm due this summer) and that I'll have to fight to have the birth experience I want. There are only a handful of experiences on the archives. Can anyone share their more recent experiences? Am I worrying needlessly?
Mom hoping for an unmedicalized birth

I delivered at Kaiser Oakland in October -- I had to be induced because I was two weeks past my due date. I was given pitocin and that causes very, very strong contractions. (at least for me it did) I had my baby after about 11 hours of labor, and I have to say that overall, it was a great experience. And what made it so awesome was the nurses! I went through I think three shifts of nurses, and every nurse I saw was just amazing. They really worked to advocate for me. Two that really stand out were Evie and Tina. At one point there was a doctor who wanted to do a c-section because she was convinced that my baby was going to be very large, and my nurse helped the doctors understand what I wanted. (a natural labor) I have very fond memories of the nurses both in labor and delivery and in recovery. One of the recovery nurses, Kristen, spent I think a couple of hours as we were waiting to discharge talking with my husband and I, answering our questions about baby care and giving us advice. I know that everyone's experience is different, but I can wholeheartedly recommend the nurses at Kaiser Oakland -- they are the people who really make a difference in your birth experience, because they spend so much more time with you than the doctors do. lambie
It's my experience that at Kaiser Oakland you can have the birth you want without feeling attacked by the medical staff. Just state your wishes when you arrive - or have a doula to support you in this. We live in an area where doctors are aware of the ''types'' of births most of us desire. You will not have a fight there. So, I think yes, you are worrying without cause. Relax and enjoy your Oakland birth. -Kaiser Oakland Fan
I have a client right now (I am a doula) who was told by her OB that she could not transfer from Oakland Kaiser to Walnut Creek Kaiser for the birth of her child. She did some further checking and spoke to member services who told her that they are taking transfers again. This was just last week. She was able to transfer and has her first appointment set with a midwife. You may want to try member services and see what they say. The docs may just not be caught up on the policy yet. For what it is worth though, I have had good experiences at Kaiser Oakland as well. Delivering there does not have to be the end of your vision for your birth. Good Luck! Anna
I'm not sure why there seems to be an assumption that the Kaiser Oakland facility is more intervening or any less progressive than Walnut Creek's, but I've read a lot of posts from people who have not delivered there that seem to imply it is substandard to Walnut Creek's. I'm not sure if there is an underlying socio-economic bias, but in my experience it is completely untrue.

A few notable things about the Kaiser Oakland facility- 1- they're moving towards becoming a ''mother-baby'' hospital (I believe its called) which means that they do what they can to encourage the contact between mother and baby among other things. For example, Kaiser Oakland does not have a ''well-baby nursery'' so unless there is a medical reason to take them from you, the baby won't leave your side (beneficial to them financially too but who cares!). 2- they have a corridor along the outside of the post-delivery rooms which enables your guests to visit without having to stand in your room the whole time or out in the medical area getting in the way of doctors and nurses. 3- they have versitle beds with squat bars that allow you deliver in many ways other than lying flat on your back which is great for a medication free birth!

4- is my personal experience: I ended up having to schedule a c-section and I could not have been more amazed by my experience. The all-female staff was so friendly and nice that they put me very at ease. Not only did they not take my baby away from me immediately after the birth, but they actually offered to let me breastfeed on the operating table while I was being put back together. The baby NEVER left my side and the anesthesiologist held my baby over my chest for about 15 or 20 minutes while she nursed. I can't tell you how much that meant to me after having had a previous c-section at a different facility where I got to look at my baby for about 15 seconds and then was wheeled into a post-op room to recover (alone) for about 4 hours- no breastfeeding, no eye contact, and my husband wasn't even allowed to come in to see me.

All in all, I had a wonderful experience at Kaiser Oakland. I didn't get the opportunity to use my doula for my attempt at a VBAC, but in the tour it was made known that the birth could be what I wanted it to be- you just needed to know what you wanted.

I think you will be fine- I wouldn't be too disappointed about having to deliver at Kaiser oakland- Its a great place.

Good luck with your delivery- I hope its everything you want it to be. Kaiser Oakland Fan

The team at Oakland Kaiser seems pretty open to minmal intervention--have you been to one of their ''meet the doctors'' sessions? You should go so you can get a better feel for how they work.

I had a baby at Kaiser Oakland last June and it was a good experience. I was not as ''unmediacalized'' as you want, but then I had a high risk pregnancy and had to have my baby a month early. (She is doing great!) Mary Ellin

I gave birth to my son in December at Kaiser Oakland and was VERY happy with our experience. I had planned a home birth and after 40 hours of home labor transferred to Kaiser due to lack of progression. Our midwife called ahead and they had a room ready for me. They did take some time making us get checked in in some other non-labor room but then put me in the labor room. I labored for 10 hours overnight and had the same kind and compassionate nurse (Lisa Davis) and resident (Ametha) the whole time. The doctor was respectful of us and our midwife, explained everything and answered my questions about pros and cons of interventions. I asked for and got an epidural and pitocin but in no way felt anyone pushed anything. Nor did anyone seem critical of the planned homebirth or the amount of time I had already been laboring when I arrived at Kaiser. There was one nurse who came when the baby was born and tried to override our wish to wait to cut the cord and to leave the baby on me untoweled off for a few moments, but I feel the doctor actually tried to divert her some without being confrontational and when she saw we seemed at cross purposes she just left and never came back.

Our baby never left us, we didn't get almost all of the ''standard '' tests/needles/blood draws. We told the hospital we wanted to go home and they told us we could leave anytime but before 12 hours we'd have to sign some waiver so we just waited the 12 hours. The nurses on the floor basically left us alone and the nurse who was on as we were closing in on the 12 hrs got us the wheelchair and got us all ready and said it would be 12 hours by the time we were pulling out of the parking lot basically, so I feel she was helping us to get home asap within the parameters of their allowable time.

Anyway-I felt we were so lucky with the resident and nurse who provided our primary care and we had a wonderful birth and have a great son. Melanie

I delivered a baby at Kaiser Oakland by planned c-section during the winter (hoping for a VBAC, but didn't go into labor within a week or so after my due date). I was very happy with the quality of medical care at Kaiser Oakland, but I was somewhat unhappy with the facility itself, as well as with the way I was treated on a personal (non-medical) level by a couple of the staff members. I had a private room for post-partum care. It was VERY small; so small that it was crowded even with just my husband there, much less than when my mom visited too, or when one or two staff members were there. The privacy curtain was too close to my bed, so no one could stand on that side of the bed without either having the curtain open, or having it drape down their back. In addition, when it was drawn, it blocked my view of the clock. Most of the nurses requested that I record when and how long my baby nursed - how can I tell if I can't see the clock?

Another post mentioned the corrider along the outside of the building. I personally found it to be a misuse of space. It must face a westerly or southerly direction because it gets unbelievably hot in there in the afternoons when the sun shines (and as a result the rooms on that side also heat up - I was using the air conditioning, even though it was at most in the upper 50s outside). In addition, it is strewn with extra chairs from the rooms because the rooms are so small. As a result, there isn't room there for new mommies to walk with their babies in their bassinets (my only option since my husband wasn't around much due to issues of his own and I wasn't about to leave my baby alone in the room), so I had to walk in the main corrider and contribute to the chaos there, getting in the way of medical staff who were trying to do their jobs. (Speaking of the main corrider - most of it is lined with desks/counter space and even stand-alone tables where the nurses (mostly) do some of their work. It is cramped and noisy; medical records lie all over the place, or are being displayed on computer screens. Not exactly private.)

Another problem with walking in the main corrider with your baby is the alarm system. I appreciate the unfortunate need for having babies tagged so they cannot be removed from the facility without ''permission'', but the system is set to be extremely sensitive. I was told that if I walked by the elevators and doors with my baby while either was open, that the alarm would go off, so I made a point of walking by that area as quickly as I could, which admittedly wasn't very fast at first. A staff member walked up behind me at one point and opened the door and guess what, my baby set off the alarm. Surely the staff members are aware of this issue and could wait an extra five seconds to be sure they don't set off the alarm. I didn't even know the person was behind me. Anyway, once the alarm goes off, it is not only surely annoying to staff and patients alike to hear the thing blaring loudly, but it also requires that my baby's nurse turn it off (persumably she would be the one to ''verify'' that everything was ok). So, I hated walking in the main corrider because I felt like I was in the way (which I was) and because of the alarm issue. And I would have hated walking in the outer corrider, had there been room, because of the heat.

I definitely did not like having my baby taken for the hearing test/vaccination(s?)/etc. Part of the reason for this is that I simply don't even know what was done. I don't know how long the absence lasted, but it seemed like forever; I had even asked my husband if it didn't seem excessively long for what we thought was happening. The baby's picture was also taken at that time, and then offered for sale. That is all well and good - in fact we planned ahead of time to buy the pictures. But, I didn't know the photo shoot would be happening. If I had known, we would have changed the baby's shirt at least. We were hoping to have the picture taken in our clothes, not a hospital t-shirt - and certainly not a t-shirt on which there was a huge yellow spit-up stain. Of course, the stain wasn't visible in the proofs - and I didn't know know it was a problem until the pictures came in the mail $$$$ later.

Even though I had a private room, I had a shared bath. I was less than thrilled about this for two reasons. First, I know I sometimes spent quite a bit of time in there myself, as did the women on the other side. The room is then obviously not accessible to the other patient. Second, and more importantly, they just cannot be kept adequately clean. This is disgusting and I apologize, but there was blood (not mine)in the bathroom on at least two occasions when I was in there. I know that the first time I used the restroom with the help of the nurse and then again when my catheter was removed, there was a pretty big mess in there, so it isn't a big surprise that there would be blood in there. The nurse did clean up afterwards, but I suspect she isn't as thorough as the housekeeping staff (who did clean in there regularly too). I know there were doing their best to keep it clean, but I still think it is extremely unpleasant to have to share a bathroom with someone who leaves blood here and there, through no fault of her own.

In terms of personal treatment: one morning I got up around 6:00 and took a stroll with my baby. I saw food trays in the hallway and saw someone delivering food to patients. I still had not received breakfast by 9:45, so I finally asked for it. I did get my food, but the person who brought it to me treated me like I was making an unreasonable demand. I realize I undoubtedly interupted whatever task she was doing at the time, but I don't think it is unreasonable to have breakfast before 10:00. Then, they brought me lunch about 11:45. Hmmm - not hungry then.

When we finally got around to leaving, things did not progress as smoothly as I would have liked, and we took forever getting out. I am pretty sure the unit was pretty busy at the time and they probably really did need my bed, but I didn't think it was necessary to overhear one staff member asking my nurse if ''that lady in Room X ever get out of here''. Part of the delay was their own fault (pharmacy didn't have my prescription because no one had ever sent it to them). In addition, when we did finally manage to leave, we stopped to pay our bill, as we had been instructed by someone from the business office who stopped by. The person who wheeled me down to the parking lot therefore just had to stand around while my husband took care of that; why they couldn't have told him to take care of it immediately before we left (as he did with picking up the pharmacy order), I don't know. But that was a waste of at least fifteen minutes of her time.

In sum, although I haven't commented on medical care at all, I was very happy with that and have no complaints. The doctors I saw were all great and definitely spent the time to explain whatever was necessary and answer questions, and the nurses were really terrific too; they did their jobs in what I would consider to be less than ideal conditions in a professional, caring way. I'd recommend Kaiser Oakland for medical care (including L&D) in a heartbeat. But be prepared for a less than ideal facility.

Nov 2005

Has anyone recently delivered at Oakland Kaiser? I am trying to decide between Oakland Kaiser or Walnut Creek. I am being strongly encouraged to go to Oakland because Walnut Creek Kaiser is very busy. I had a bad experience with the residents at Oakland Kaiser/Alta Bates in 2000 and then a great experience with the mid wifes at Walnut Creek 2003. So we are inclined to hedge our bets and trek out to Walnut Creek. Thanks for all your stories and recommendations anon

I would love to hear about anyone's experience who's given birth at Oakland Kaiser recently (since the new building was completed and they stopped using Alta Bates for deliveries). Any suggestions on obtaining a natural birth there are especially appreciated. Thank you! Annie
I gave birth at Kaiser Oakland a year ago and it was fine. It was my first child so I have nothing to compare it with, but it was not lacking in any major ways. Since you have had prenatal and other care at Kaiser, you know how it it--if you want something, you sometimes have to ask for it firmly, but they do give it to you.

I arrived after my water broke, with contractions just starting. It was busy so I waited in the triage room until a L&D room was available. The nurse it the L&D room tried to give me the hard sell on an epidural but backed off when I said firmly that I did not want one. The nurse was the main person taking care of me, with the resident and the ''real doctor'' popping in once or twice to check on me, and finally to deliver the baby. I had an almost natural birth as I requested Fentanyl and was given it promptly.

I was in a triple recovery room but the two other ladies left that day and the nurses moved me to the window-side bed that night and I was alone until the middle of the night when someone else came in. The triples have divider curtains so you do have privacy, and you have access to a big glassed-in hallway with a great view of the east bay hills and the bay so you can show baby where he or she lives!

Not knowing anything about Walnut Creek Kaiser, I can't imagine it is that much better. I think if you live closer to Oakland there is no reason not to have your baby there. It would be terrible to drive out from Oakland to WC and get turned back around! I would recommend however:
- Telling the nurses what you want, ie, no epidural, right away and in no uncertain terms. (It is busy and I think some nurses just want you to be quiet and make their life easier.)
- Bringing one more support person besides your partner, ie, your mom or a doula, so if someone needs to go get someone or something, you will still have a friend with you.
- Bringing bottled water to drink during labor (They do let you drink but they will just give you dixie cups!)
- Bringing a hot pad for your back and washcloths to put on your forehead (You would think that they would have these things in a hospital, and no doubt they do, but it is a lot easier if you have your own. Otherwise you will get paper towel compresses.)

One more plus of Oakland Kaiser--you can send your husband out for food from Piedmont Avenue! anon kaiser mom

I gave birth to my baby at Kaiser Oakland in December of 2004. My husband and I were pleased with the care I received. And as for your worries about overcrowding? We had a triple room to ourselves for the entire two days after we gave birth -- a wonderful way to rest and bond with our baby! happy with Kaiser
I gave birth at the newly renovated Oakland Kaier last December. I found all the staff to be superb. Unfortunately, I never dilated so I had to have an emergency c- section. They were very sensitive and told me exactly what would happen. I found the after-care amazing, too. When I needed someone tough (a nurse who would MAKE me stand up after the surgery) they had just the right person assigned for that. I was very happy with the whole experience. I only encountered one nurse who made me uncomfortable, and I told her to leave. Just like that, it was done. Contrary to what some folks say, I felt I did have ''control'' over my care.

Very happy with Oakland Kaiser delivery. Susan

I had a natural childbirth at Kaiser Oakland near the end of August 2005. I have to say I had an excellent experience and Kaiser Oakland followed my birth plan to the letter wherever possible. The birth itself was beautiful and almost coreographed (lights very low, doctors and staff coming and going and setting up very quietly in spite of the fact that the baby decided to come right at shift-change!) They also seemed to go out of their way to set me up with nurses who understood the desire for a natural birth and all were very supportive. My only complaint was too much time spent in triage when we first arrived (which caused my labor to stall).

I would strongly recommend getting a doula if you hope to go natural. Most hospitals are so used to the medicated approach they don't know what else to do if you don't want the meds. A doula will have other choices to offer you. Her support alone might make the difference.

I'm happy to talk with you more about my experience. Just send me an email. Kim

I work for Alta Bates but have health insurance with Kaiser. My first child was delivered at Alta Bates and the second at Oakland Kaiser. My husband and I both agree that our experience at Oakland Kaiser was much better than at Alta Bates. Too many specifics to go into, we were just taken care of better at Kaiser. anon
I gave birth at Kaiser Oakland in August. It was my first baby and I felt very well taken care of by the labor and delivery staff. The room was great. It was busy, but we got in with no problem--I think it was during a lull between two storms. The labor and delivery nurses I had were wonderful. Everyone really explained things to me and my husband and were just very supportive and caring. I didn't have a natural childbirth (I had an epidural), so I can't really speak to that concern, but I didn't feel pressured by the nurses to get drugs.

My experience in the maternity ward was completely different however. We were put in a triple that was being used as a double, which means sharing a bathroom with another woman and her partner. Even as just a double, the room was way too crowded to move around. Just a few hours after my delivery (in the middle of the night!), the engineering dept wanted to move everyone out of the rooms to fix the toilets. The nurse kept it from happening, but the whole scene was chaotic in a lot of ways and I hardly slept. Dealing with the bathroom is enough of an issue after giving birth! The nurses seemed very competent, but they were just too busy to really take care of everyone. We got an early discharge and left less than 24 hours after delivery, which looking back was really too early for me physically, but I just wanted out of the whole place. Laura

I highly recommend Kaiser-Oakland. My oldest is 18, but 18 years ago, I went through the same dilemma. When I toured Kaiser-Oakland, it seemed like something from Calcutta. I decided to go with Kaiser- Oakland over Kaiser-Walnut Creek because it was closer and had larger facilities in case anything went wrong (I was 35 then). I had a birthing room, which is private, constantly monitored by really good RNs and good doctors-----though if the Maternity ward is busy when you're there, it'll seem like they're darting in and out of several rooms at once (they probably are). At delivery time, they stay in your room throughout the delivery, which can take a really, really long time. If you're looking for country club personal treatment, it may be disappointing, but the level of professionalism is way up there with the best. Also, if there's ANYTHING wrong with that baby when it comes out, Kaiser-Oakland is where you want to be, not Kaiser-Walnut Creek. They have a terrific Intensive Care Nursery----if there's any problems and the baby gets whisked off to Intensive Care, you don't want to have to be going to Kaiser- Walnut Creek to visit or nurse your baby in Intensive Care------- you'll want to be close by. Both my kids ended up in Intensive Care and I was a wreck. They both received top care and also, I have had the BEST Pediatric care imaginable at Kaiser-Oakland since they were born there. You may get a resident during the wee hours, and they're not as experienced. Also, when you are in labor and decide it's time to go to the hospital, it's hard for me to imagine you'd choose a lengthy journey when you're in dire pain, over a short ride. Very important, if you don't already know: which ever Kaiser you choose, go in to their Admissions office at least a couple weeks before your due date and get all your paperwork filled out ahead of time---they keep it on file for when you go in, so that when you arrive in dire pain and ready to push your fist through some slow clerk's face, there won't be any wait. Good luck and congratulations. Linda
June 2005

Hello, This question was asked in '04 but there's been nothing new for about a year and at the time, the new L&D facilities at Kaiser Oakland were still quite new. Any more recent feedback? Is getting a private room likely? Are there tubs? Do residents still do most of the deliveries? Are there any midwives? Thanks much! Expecting

My first baby was born at Kaiser Oakland in November 04. I had a very fast labor (arrived fully dilated and delivered 30 minutes later), so I didn't have time to suss out the place very thoroughly, but I thought it was pretty good. I had gone on the tour, so I know the answers to some of your questions. All labor and delivery rooms are private, with showers, but no tubs. Deliveries are performed by residents, with an attending physician available if anything comes up. There are no midwives (you have to go to Walnut Creek for that). The L&D rooms are pretty nice, and everything is new and shiny. The recovery rooms are singles, doubles, and triples, doled out on a first come, first serve basis. We had a double to ourselves for the 24 hours we were on the maternity floor. The staff was generally respectful, friendly, disinclined to overmedicalize the experience, and supportive of my desire to avoid drugs (not that there was time for drugs anyway). The nurses, as is the case anywhere, varied widely - the delivery nurse was very nice, and the baby nurse who transitioned us to the recovery floor was terrific, friendly and funny and flexible. (When we balked a bit at giving the baby a bath, she said frankly that there was no particular reason to do it, and she cheerfully helped my husband wrestle the baby into her clothes.) Another baby nurse was curt and not very helpful, scolded me for keeping the baby in bed with me instead of leaving her in the bassinet, and got very huffy about the fact that the baby was unbathed (thus posing a health hazard to other, cleaner babies). The resident who did the delivery didn't have great social skills (and looked to be about 12 years old), but seemed perfectly competent. It was overall a positive experience, and I'd certainly do it again. Sara
I just had my 2nd baby at Kaiser Oakland. I had my first at Alta Bates in 1999. My experience at Kaiser was 100% better than Alta Bates especially for post partum. The staff was attentive, friendly, and helpful. The atmosphere was quiet, relaxing and respectful. I would highly recommend Kaiser Oakland. However, I do not think they have midwives. sherna
Oct 2004

Can any new moms or health care workers comment on the new labor and delivery facilities at Kaiser Oakland? I just had a tour and I wasn't as impressed as I'd hoped I would be, given that it is brand new. How well organized are they? Any overcrowding problems? (It seemed small.) Did you get a choice for a private or shared post-natal room? How were the nurses? I heard that they have all been recently hired, at good wages, and so Kaiser has attracted good people... but that because everything is still so new, there are still lots of kinks. What was the attitude toward medical pain relief vs. natural labor? Any and all comments would be very helpful as I decide whether to go there or to another Kaiser facility!

[no replies received]

June 2004

Although Kaiser patients (Oakland) have been delivering their babies at Alta Bates Hospital since 1998, someone told me that it is going to change very soon. Since Alta Bates-Summit is planning to take all L&D to Ashby campus, there will not be enough space for Kaiser patients, and Kaiser patients births will be in the Oakland facility... Is that true? It is very important for me to know this. I am switching health insurance carriers and I am considering Kaiser but only if L&D can be at Alta Bates... Thank you for your help! Alta Bates nurses made a difference in my life

It's true that Kaiser patients will stop delivering at Alta Bates starting about August 11. It's not because Alta Bates doesn't have room, though, it's because Kaiser is completing a new labor and delivery center of their own on their Oakland campus--it actually sounds really, really nice. Tours for Kaiser members either have started or are starting soon; if you're considering Kaiser, you could probably ask for a tour. I'm a Kaiser patient with a baby due August 6, so I'll probably still be at Alta Bates, but from what I've seen, I'd be quite comfortable going to the new center. Kaiser's pre-natal care has been good as well; I switched over from HealthNet shortly before getting pregnant, and have been comfortable with the change. Don't worry!
Yes, Kaiser's L&D is moving back to Oakland. They told us (in April) it was originally supposed to happen in June, but has been pushed back to August (but who knows?). You could call Kaiser to get the latest news.
I have also heard that kaiser is taking their L&D contract back from Alta Bates though I don't know why. I heard this from a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) nurse at Alta Bates who is a friend of mine so I think it's pretty reliable information. though how soon this will happen is anyone's guess. kaiser now has to hire a whole new crew to replace the nurses and others that they laid off or relocated when they sent L&D to Alta Bates back in the 90's ilona RN
Kaiser will open on August 11 to use the Oakland Medical Center for all L&D. If you plan to deliver after that date - Alta Bates won't be an option for you. But the delivery system at Oakland will be new and improved, so I hope if you stay with Kaiser, you find out more about it through your provider or NP. Joyce
As far as I know Kaiser is moving out of Alta Bates very soon. It was supposed to happen in July, but the date has been pushed back -- I've heard September or even November. I'm not sure where the Kaiser patients will go. I know this because I'm due 8/1 and was unsure whether I'd be delivering at Summit campus or Alta Bates since Summit maternity is due to close and move to Alta Bates as soon as the Kaiser patients transfer out of Alta Bates. I would call someone at Kaiser to confirm where their patients will deliver after the move. Sierra
Yes, Kaiser is moving to it's Oakland facility in July 2004. Then the nurses at Summit are being forced to close their labor and delivery unit and move to Alta Bates in August. Needless to say, not many people are happy about these changes but we were not asked. Now the only place in Oakland to have a baby is at Kaiser and Highland. Very sad for the community and the physician and nursing staff at Summit. A Summit Nurse
I received a letter last summer telling Kaiser patients that their Oakland facility would be re-integrating their L&D services as of July 2004 and would no longer be delivering at Alta Bates. As far as I know, this is still true. I left Kaiser in January for this very reason. Erin
Editor Note: from 1998-2004, Kaiser patients' labor and delivery took place at Alta Bates Hospital. See Alta Bates Birth Stories
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